Sunday night, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” will draw to a close. How will the saga of Walter White conclude? How will the tragedy of Jesse Pinkman be resolved? What questions will be answered, and what questions won’t?
You can bet we’ll all be glued to the television to find out, but as we build to whatever Vince Gilligan and company have in store for us in the series finale, we can’t help but think back on what it was about this show that made us sit up and take notice first. So the HitFix editorial team (well, those of us who watch) was queried on just that: When did you know you were hooked on “Breaking Bad?”
Check out a slew of testimonials on the next page for our thoughts, and be sure to let us know in the comments section what it was about this series that first drew you in. It goes without saying, significant SPOILERS follow.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I knew I was hooked, and I think it’s because that moment never really came, at least not on a conscious level. I started watching the show on Netflix on a whim, and by the time I had finished the first season, not continuing to watch simply wasn’t an option. Seeing Bryan Cranston’s proverbial “everyman” inexorably chip away at his humanity episode by episode made for a gripping morality play that I found impossible to look away from; the genius of the show is how it keeps us invested in the outcome even as we begin to understand it can only end badly for all involved.
Timing is everything. When “Breaking Bad” premiered, I really liked the pilot, but by the end of the first season, I was done with the show and dropped out early in the second season. Then, over a year later, I started over and the second time around, the pilot still worked, but the bathtub full of ooey, gooey, liquified human remains crashing through the ceiling in Ep.2? Suddenly that struck a crazy, disgusting, audacious, hilarious chord, which carried me through what I still think is a bumpy first season and slingshotted me through the second season into the real meat of the show in season three.
I was so emotional after the scene in the third episode of season one (“…And the Bag’s In the River”) when Krazy-8 is chained in the basement and Walt’s resolve to kill him wavers. When Walt puts the broken plate together upstairs, it’s this “ah-ha” moment for him as much as it is for us. Walt became my eyes (and ego). The manner in which Krazy-8’s arm swung back in an attempt to stab Walt, as Walt choked the life out of him was so sad, and so fast. This was a perfect portrait of two guys just trying to survive. It was a portrait of odd, sick sympathy that other crime shows neglected.
Read more testimonials on the next page.
I started “Breaking Bad” late, watching on Netflix in the lead-up to season five. It was the season three episode where Gus takes Walt to the superlab, “Mas,” where I was absolutely convinced I needed to keep watching. For me, that laid out the true scale of what could take place on the show. The vast increase in meth-producing capabilities of the superlab over the RV, the added power and danger it afforded, raised the stakes in a way I loved. Other episodes may have shown the possible scope earlier, but with the intro of the superlab I saw that the show was committed to going bigger and better than it had before and that the characters would only find themselves in a whole lot more hot water, that things weren’t simply going to continue as they had been.
In a tense sequence of season one’s “Crazy Handful of Nothin’,” Walt temporarily gets the upper hand on Tuco (Raymond Cruz), a much meaner and more seasoned criminal, surrounded by intimidating gunmen. In a display of one of the show’s early themes — that brains often outdo brawn — Walt uses his superior chemistry knowledge to make Tuco’s hideout go boom with the aid of fulminated mercury. “Breaking Bad,” especially in the early days, was able to incorporate different facets of applied scientific knowledge into increasingly outlandish criminal situations, which couldn’t have been an easy feat for the writers. Little did I know how much more science and mayhem was to come.
The season two premiere, “Seven Thirty-Seven,” was the moment I knew “Breaking Bad” had its hooks in me. Starting with saturated, mostly black-and-white shots of the Whites’ backyard swimming pool, a toy eyeball floats by. Sirens fade in. A one-eyed, bright pink teddy bear hovers submerged in suspended animation. What the hell is going on here? It would be a motif repeated a couple of times throughout the season, that ominous battered bear foreshadowing whatever terror was to come, the Whites’ home increasingly revealed as ground zero for some awful calamity. Leading into the season finale, the initial images of which showed not just a home in disarray but an entire city, we still had no idea what happened, but that first glimpse of chlorine-soaked pink fur made it clear to me this was a show that would keep you guessing and forever be three steps ahead of its audience.
The final episode of “Breaking Bad” airs tomorrow on AMC.