Breaking Bad is one of the greatest shows of all-time, so while Cajun Boy recaps each episode, I’m here to give you a little something extra via the Breaking Badass Power Rankings, which ranks the most badass characters from every episode. Why “Badass?” Obviously, the so-not-clever-that-it’s-clever name, but also because Breaking Bad is the kind of a show that makes you want to drink an entire bottle of bourbon before watching it, to soothe your soon-to-be-tense nerves. That’s pretty badass. /realizes everything in that intro should be past tense now
Not Ranked: Hundreds of melted and buried corpses.
#10. Uncle Nazi and the Good-Time Gang
What could they have done differently? Well, first off, they could have decided to not hate everyone who isn’t white. (Living in Albuquerque was a poor choice.) Beyond that, and to focus specifically on the events of “Felina,” Uncle Nazi should have popped Walter when he had the chance. Outside or immediately inside. But the dreaded P-word, pride, seeped into his tattooed pores. He couldn’t kill the great Heisenberg while the sickly Walter White was accusing him of being something less than a great man who partners with rats. If only he, or anyone else in the gang, had been a great man who keeps his deadly promises…and throws car keys into the trash. Oh well, at least Uncle Nazi died the way he lived: smoking cigarettes, the ORIGINAL cancer killer. (Please don’t feel free to use that, Smokefree.gov.)
#9. Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz
-1: Elliott’s ears.
-5: Elliott’s lack of protection for his wife.
-5: Elliott’s posture (or his pants? I can’t tell, but: boooooo).
-10: Elliott’s emasculating butter knife.
+1: giving a lot of charity and treatment centers.
-100: Elliott and Gretchen functioning as atypical yuppies who are impossible to root for.
Actress Laura Fraser to Rolling Stone, on the possibilities of a Lydia spinoff: “Who the fuck would watch a show about Lydia?” Actress Laura Fraser in that same interview with Rolling Stone, on whether it’s fun playing “someone so awful”: “Oh God, yeah! To play someone that disgustingly irritating is hysterical. I mean, she makes me laugh so much. It’s so tense to play her, because she’s always on the verge of a heart attack, and when the day’s over, I feel immediate laughter.” Actress Laura Fraser to GQ, on Lydia being a “very, very sick little bunny”: “You know, she’s a very, very sick little bunny.” I miss actress Laura Fraser more than I miss Lydia.
(Here is the point where I SHOULD say something about Walt turning Lydia’s daughter into an orphan, and how the only reason she died was because of his ego, and how maybe we should be a little upset about this, and how the episode telegraphed the obvious ricin reveal, and how I immediately felt guilty for smiling during Walt and Lydia’s “flu” phone call, and the general tidiness of the finale, where everything kind of worked out for Walt, who died admiring his work, but I’ll leave that to other hand wringers. There are plenty of them on Twitter.)
Two Years Later. INT: the Lambert House
“Mama Skyler, tell me the story about the Heisenboogie and Princess Marie.”
“Again, Holly? I told you that story last night, and the night before, too.”
“Again! Again! Again!”
“OK, well, once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a troll named Wicked Walty. He spent his days in an underground lab, making blue potions and minding no one’s business except his own, but at night, he roamed the streets as the evil Heisenboogie. One evening, after eating four entire buckets of fried chicken, the Heisenboogie climbed a hill and came across a lovely princess named Marie. She was dressed all in purple…”
“Just like my Aunt Marie!”
“Exactly. The Heisenboogie threatened to eat Princess Marie and began charging at her. But before he could land a hand on her purple dress with purple jewels, she grabbed something from her legally purchased purse.”
“What was in the purse?”
“A soul stealer. She said the magic word three times — crystals, crystals, crystals — and the Heisenboogie was no more. No one knows where he went, only that he’s gone. All thanks to Princess Marie’s stealing. The end.”
Todd’s famous dying words: “But what about the Americone I got y…”
“Damn Flynn, you wearing those camo pants smoother than a slice of butter dripping down some flapjacks.”
Flynn breakfast fashion jokes are the new Flynn fashion jokes are the new Flynn breakfast jokes.
#4. Badger and Skinny Pete
“Whole thing felt kind of shady, y’know? Like, mortality wise.” If all tweakers and slingers were as well-spoken as Badger and Skinny Pete, maybe the government would be, like, cool with meth, y’know?
For surviving, Skyler finishes the season at #3. The tender scene between wife and husband was my favorite from the episode. Where most everything else was built on betrayals, schemes, and machine guns, Walt’s goodbye to the woman he used to call his wife was heartbreaking in its simplicity: just two great actors, talking. He gives her his lottery ticket, which contains the GPS coordinates where Hank and Gomie are buried, and she gives him the opportunity to see Holly one last time. As Walt gazes at the only person in the world who doesn’t see him as a monster through tear-stained eyes, Skyler allows herself the briefest of smiles. For a second, she sees the man she fell in love with, before Hank took Walt on a ride-along. Then it’s gone, as is Walt. For good, this time.
#2. Walt/#1. Jesse
Both men were going to die at the Nazi Compound. Both men got in over their heads in the meth game. Both men had really terrible hair by the end of the show. So why is Jesse ahead of Walt? First off, because Jesse’s alive and Walt isn’t…unless that old TV adage is true, and that because we never actually see Walt die, just his bleeding, wrinkled corpse on the floor, with a bullet in his gut and cancer eating away his insides, he’s still alive.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Walt’s dead, yo, with his body giving up in the environment where, post-Gray Matter, he proudly felt his life most mattered, that he wasn’t just living out the days until he was living no more. (Again, I’m resisting the urge to discuss at length about how this storytelling decision made sense thematically, if not emotionally, for the same don’t-want-to-complain reason that I still love Lost***, even if I wasn’t 100% enamored with the finale. And no, I’m not comparing “Felina” to “The End”; what I meant was…NOPE. NOT GONNA DO IT.) It was the best he could have hoped for after fleeing New Mexico for the colder pastures of New Hampshire, but again, he’s dead, Jesse’s not, and now I’m imagining Jesse need for speeding his car to Andrea’s house, then Lydia’s and Mike’s, where he picks up Brock, Kiira, and Kaylee and they move to sunny Florida and open a successful kid-friendly woodshop together and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s my Breaking Bad ending, and I’m sticking to it.
***: it’s legally required to mention Lost in your recap of a series finale.