Which was the best season of Breaking Bad?

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AFBrat77

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Poll: Which was the best season of Breaking Bad? (65 votes)

Season 1 14%
Season 2 12%
Season 3 14%
Season 4 38%
Season 5a (8 episodes ending with Walt leaving the business and Hank on toilet) 11%
Season 5b (8 episodes starting with Hank leaving the bathroom and ending with series finale) 37%
I haven't seen at least 3 of these seasons 11%

I am redoing this Poll as the original Poll was "lost in translation" to the new format.

Season 3 for me,

I loved the episode "Fly" and especially the last 2 of the season...."Half Measures" and "Full Measure"

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#51  Edited By sammyjenkis898
Member since 2007 • 28392 Posts

Ernie continues to articulate everything I could not. God love him.

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#52 ShadowsDemon
Member since 2012 • 10059 Posts

Last few episodes of Season 4 blew me away...so S4.

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KHAndAnime

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#53  Edited By KHAndAnime
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@Macutchi said:

@KHAndAnime i didn't bother quoting you to save space. you seem to have backtracked a little from your initial "shark jumping disappointment" statement to "very good, but not great." ;)

but everyone's obviously entitled to their opinion. i personally don't think the ending, or the show itself, was muddled at all. it was quite obvious that walt was not a completely bad person. one of the things i found fascinating about the show was the character development and the psychology behind walt's rise to power. walt, as he admits to sklyer at the end, was "good at" being a drug lord and outwitting the law and he clearly became much more comfortable in this skin as the seasons progressed, fed by the increasing power he had, the promises of further riches and the risk of losing it all through either the da or a rival... but he didn't quite evolve to gus -like levels of utter ruthlessness and complete detachment from human compassion. i think this was evident throughout and even towards the end (for example, the phonecall he made to skyler when he threatened her and confessed to everything, knowing that the police would be listening and it would exonerate her, and the tears that came during and just after this call).

but that's the beauty of breaking bad - you can interpret things very differently to other people as events resonate differently from viewer to viewer. and for the record, no i didn't know that about decapitated heads... i won't ask how you discovered that ;)

Something can be very good, but very disappointing as well. Not sure what makes you think there's anything contradictory about it - there's more to life than "black and white" ;) Season 5 of BB was a good demonstration of "jumping the shark" - unrealistic and farceful scenarios depicted on the show in contrast to the realistic precedence of the previous seasons purely to bring in entertainment value. They could have done very well in Season 5 without all the outlandish and surreal scenarios, they just chose to go with the "more fake but more entertaining" route that they did a really good job of avoiding up to this point.

If you don't find the point muddled, then answer me this.

What do you think of Walt and Jesse's final encounter? Why does it make sense to you that Walt would think Jesse works with neo-nazis and is cooking meth after everything that has happened? I think Jesse made it very clear that he's done with the meth business (which helped put everyone in their predicament towards the end) - it makes absolutely zero sense from anyone's point of view that Walt would think Jesse is working alongside the neo-nazis.

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#54  Edited By KHAndAnime
Member since 2009 • 17565 Posts

@ernie1989 said:
@KHAndAnime said:

Apologies for the spoilers, wasn't expecting anyone who actually cared about spoilers to be reading a review of the last season. If I cared about watching BB and haven't seen it yet, I don't see a great reason to even be in this thread. But maybe I'm the only one in the world who tries to avoid discussion regarding shows I haven't actually seen yet.

Anyways, I don't have particularly high standards, so I don't think I'm being particularly harsh. I'm only comparing the standards of the season to the preceding seasons, which all felt significantly less rushed and significantly more cohesive. Everything I mentioned, I personally found to be obvious flaws with the show that often left me scratching my head at what I was watching. I watched the entirety of season 5 with a couple other people so I have other people's insights into the season's strengths and flaws. And I'll say this season had some of the highest highs, and some of the lowest lows. And it's the lows that left me thinking that the season was very good, but not great. I found Gus walking out of the room with his facing missing to be more believable than the bulk of Season 5. Did you know even decapitated heads in real life still exercise muscle memory and make expressions for a short amount of time after the decapitation? People have survived crazier things in real life, like putting a shotgun to their own heads. Gus was basically just "going through the motions" for the few seconds he was partially alive. Not far fetched at all IMO.

A good part of me wishes I went back in time and Season 5 unfolded differently. It catered too closely to what people were expecting, which is the exact opposite of what seasons 1-4 did. And VG says himself in interviews that he wrote this season to please the most people. When a writer is writing to simply please an audience as opposed to having an actual idea of how he wanted it to end in the first place - it feels gives me the a strong impression that the point of the show isn't to tell a compelling well-thought out story, but instead simply put the audience through a rouse of entertaining scenarios irregardless of how much sense they actually make. Whatever point the show tried to make ended up being completely muddled once we got to the end. Instead of a becoming a truly "bad" person, we get a man who has good intentions from start to finish - and his only disregard for life is for the very people who want him dead. I was hoping Walt would actually "break bad", but the worst we get from him is the execution of other criminals, accidentally getting his brother-in-law killed, and working with people who are worse than he initially suspected (Tod) . And it leaves me feeling like Walt was more of a product of his surrounding circumstances rather than the heinous villain that people make him out to be.

I really did enjoy the season, it just didn't meet my expectations. Watching The Wire during the year wait between seasons 4 and 5a and 5b probably "did the show in" for me, so to speak.

The thing about Breaking Bad is that it always walked a fine line between the realism one finds in many independent films and the exaggerated action one finds in many comic book adaptations. In other words, there was always something taking place that simply wasn’t realistically possible by any means in every season of the show. Just a couple months ago, there was an episode of MythBusters that totally busted two scenarios: the one where Emilio’s body gets dissolved and the one where Walt blows up Tuco’s office with fulminated mercury.

Anyways, as the show widened its scope and Walt’s business expanded, there was a shift from earlier seasons to latter seasons, which is something that starts to happen when the airplanes crash right over Walt’s house and Tuco’s cousins show up like they’re some sort of twin terminators, going from more realistic than stylized to more stylized than realistic. So, honestly, I can’t really understand why it is people get so hung up on plausibility within the context of this show, arguing about why something is or isn’t possible, when there’s clearly all kinds of things in the show that are very deliberate in the way they defy the odds in a manner that’s anything but real, like Walt’s plan going perfectly in the finale (at least in the short run) after a scene in his car asking for help only to have the keys for it land straight into his hands.

Unless we’re talking about the actions of the story’s characters, of course, who are probably the most real thing on the show – whether or not their behavior is consistent given what we know about them and what it is that’s happening to them at the moment in other words (something I’m not going to go into here given how long discussions on these sorts of things have gotten in the past).

And as far as Vince Gilligan is concerned, I remember reading in a couple of interviews that he and his writers wanted to satisfy themselves first and foremost as opposed to the fans. Whether they had a specific point to make is anyone’s guess, but ending it that way it did was clearly intended and what we got is what we got.

However, I, personally, just interpret the show given what’s there regardless of what the people who work on it say about what it is they were trying to do. That said: just because it’s called Breaking Bad doesn’t necessarily mean one has to view the show through a “moral frame” (for lack of a better term). It’s an aspect of the show that’s important, the shifting moral values that is, but I don’t think one needs to stick to that as much in order to find something of value in the show, which is something I am sure Vince Gilligan wouldn’t have a problem with considering how much effort he and everyone else who worked on the show placed in providing pieces of evidence through the work people in general and especially on Reddit could interpret in a wide variety of ways. That’s something they were pretty good at doing.

So, for someone like myself, the finale elevates the series given what we got. I understand that for some, it doesn’t work out that way, which is cool too. Not everybody has to like it as much as I do or interpret it in the same way. But I will say this: if you’re comparing Breaking Bad’s final season against the standards set by the seasons preceding it, then why in the world do you feel the need to mention The Wire almost every single time you’re talking about Breaking Bad? It’s just a little suspect that you’re mentioning the apple every time we’re all talking about the orange knowing you’re one of the two or three contrarians that feels the need to go at length about how this show is jumping the shark.

But then I’m, like, one of the biggest defenders of this show. So whatever, right?

Damn BB fanboyism, it sometimes feels like communicating with a hivemind :P. Anyways, In one of the interviews conducted right after the end, specifically regarding the ending of the show (the ending he wrote), he plain as day said he didn't write it for himself, but to purely to please as much of the audience as possible. Everything else before that was likely written how you describe (with writer-satisfaction first), but the ending wasn't. As for Mythbusters, the fact that Mythbusters even had to test those scenarios is a demonstration that they aren't a huge challenge to an audience's suspension of disbelief. You're comparing scenarios that, to a normal person, 'could happen' given the proper circumstances and a slight suspension of disbelief - to some of season 5 scenario's that absolutely couldn't happen and doesn't even need to be tested by Mythbusters because it's plain-as-day fake and could only happen in a comic book.

The Wire is worth mentioning because like Breaking Bad, it's one of the best shows of all time. Both shows are about crime, drugs, families, and a tapestry of interwoven fates. For me, Breaking Bad was the most realistic crime-fiction I've seen up until I saw The Wire. That show's effort to maintain verisimilitude and avoid comic-book situations is what kept it strong from start to finish. Subtlety and realism, combined with a narrative, simply has more of an impact than melodrama and blatant cheesiness derived from unrealistic scenarios. It's not really hard to compare apples and oranges when you've got a stale apple and a fresh orange, is it? :P If you like both apples and oranges, you might just opt for whatever is "fresher" and better in quality, despite the base difference between the fruits. I'm not saying BB is stale, I'm just demonstrating how easy it is to compare apples and oranges.

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#55  Edited By sammyjenkis898
Member since 2007 • 28392 Posts

Breaking Bad established it's hyper-realistic sense of reality in 'Crazy Handful of Nothin'. Once Walt threw that piece of fulminated mercury, I knew that this show was not attempting to take place in our every day reality. It was not a show that could sit alongside The Sopranos and The Wire. The only thing that the latter and Breaking Bad have in common is the fact that drugs are in the center. You're watching the show with the wrong mindset if you expect it to go the route of Simon's show.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there's any show that Breaking Bad should be compared to, it's The Shield. The time frame, the family arc, the hyper-realistic sense of reality, indulgence of the protagonist, blind by his ego, similar final seasons, etc. Gilligan has gone on record stating he's a huge fan of Ryan's show.

It took these liberties and blended them with humanistic elements that are actually grounded in reality. That was what made the show successful (in my eyes, at least.) That's why it appealed to me. I didn't go into the show expecting pure realism; I expected a blend of humanism and grandiosity. Saying that this creative style was absent from the series prior to season five is just foolish. I can think of at least five moments during the first four seasons that could be placed alongside Hank's ambush and the magnet ride.

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#56 ernie1989
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@Brutal_Elitegs said:

ernie, what are your thoughts on The Shield?

Honestly, I couldn't get into it even though I went as far Season 5 because none of the characters really appealed to me in a way that made me care for them. So all it ever really ended up looking like to me is a show about a bunch of guys dealing with scummy people and trying to be awesome through that, which is something the show's visual style is very consistent with.

But I also understand that others find that there are other things of value here and that its last couple of seasons really elevate it. That said, I'll definitely finish it one of these days and even go as far as giving it another try. I just don't, however, feel the urgency to do so any time soon and especially now that I'm watching Enlightened and Girls and Masters of Sex.

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#57  Edited By KHAndAnime
Member since 2009 • 17565 Posts

@sammyjenkis898 said:

Breaking Bad established it's hyper-realistic sense of reality in 'Crazy Handful of Nothin'. Once Walt threw that piece of fulminated mercury, I knew that this show was not attempting to take place in our every day reality. It was not a show that could sit alongside The Sopranos and The Wire. The only thing that the latter and Breaking Bad have in common is the fact that drugs are in the center. You're watching the show with the wrong mindset if you expect it to go the route of Simon's show.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there's any show that Breaking Bad should be compared to, it's The Shield. The time frame, the family arc, the hyper-realistic sense of reality, indulgence of the protagonist, blind by his ego, similar final seasons, etc. Gilligan has gone on record stating he's a huge fan of Ryan's show.

It took these liberties and blended them with humanistic elements that are actually grounded in reality. That was what made the show successful (in my eyes, at least.) That's why it appealed to me. I didn't go into the show expecting pure realism; I expected a blend of humanism and grandiosity. Saying that this creative style was absent from the series prior to season five is just foolish. I can think of at least five moments during the first four seasons that could be placed alongside Hank's ambush and the magnet ride.

Not expecting it go to the route of Simon's show, just expecting consistency - or detail. Creating a chemical explosion in a tight-spot to save your life isn't all that crazy or dumb. How the chemical explosion is made isn't important (he's the chemist, we aren't). The depiction of that event was detailed and well thought out enough that it didn't seem too over-the-top. Bracing for an explosion would give you an upper hand in a room where people aren't prepared. On the otherhand: Creating a man-made machine gun turret, sneaking it into the "neo-nazi" compound, being able to properly position it unknowing where the meeting will take place, being able to trigger it at just the right time, etc. It's not just dumb luck, it's dumb. It's dumb to watch, and I think one of the greatest shows of all time deserved more than a "dumb" ending. There wasn't one aspect of the situation that was slightly believable if you managed to leave your brain on. That's not even my main issue with it. My main issue is that the characters become inconsistent and questionable. Would Gomez think it's a good idea to go on a 2-man drug lord hunt with no backup or information of it being told to the DEA? Would Walt think Jesse teamed up with killer "neo-nazis" right after having a melt-down about not being able to escape from Walt's meth business? Would Uncle Jack and crew go through the trouble of inspecting Walt and his car but fail to look in one of the most obvious places to inspect? All this stuff leaves me feeling a little iffy.

It's fine if these details don't mean anything to you (or if you've interpreted them differently), but for me - the devil is in the details and I interpreted a lot of them to be rushed and flimsy. I hold the show in the highest regard, just not the last season. I'm sure most fans were satisfied with it, but I don't think I'm alone in my disappointment. I personally felt the show was building up to something greater and possibly with something more meaningful and unique to say than the average show (plain old: bad guys get what they deserve). I'm glad most people were satisfied, because I've recommended the show to a lot of people. :P

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#58 Macutchi
Member since 2007 • 6997 Posts

@KHAndAnime said:

@Macutchi said:

@KHAndAnime i didn't bother quoting you to save space. you seem to have backtracked a little from your initial "shark jumping disappointment" statement to "very good, but not great." ;)

but everyone's obviously entitled to their opinion. i personally don't think the ending, or the show itself, was muddled at all. it was quite obvious that walt was not a completely bad person. one of the things i found fascinating about the show was the character development and the psychology behind walt's rise to power. walt, as he admits to sklyer at the end, was "good at" being a drug lord and outwitting the law and he clearly became much more comfortable in this skin as the seasons progressed, fed by the increasing power he had, the promises of further riches and the risk of losing it all through either the da or a rival... but he didn't quite evolve to gus -like levels of utter ruthlessness and complete detachment from human compassion. i think this was evident throughout and even towards the end (for example, the phonecall he made to skyler when he threatened her and confessed to everything, knowing that the police would be listening and it would exonerate her, and the tears that came during and just after this call).

but that's the beauty of breaking bad - you can interpret things very differently to other people as events resonate differently from viewer to viewer. and for the record, no i didn't know that about decapitated heads... i won't ask how you discovered that ;)

Something can be very good, but very disappointing as well. Not sure what makes you think there's anything contradictory about it - there's more to life than "black and white" ;) Season 5 of BB was a good demonstration of "jumping the shark" - unrealistic and farceful scenarios depicted on the show in contrast to the realistic precedence of the previous seasons purely to bring in entertainment value. They could have done very well in Season 5 without all the outlandish and surreal scenarios, they just chose to go with the "more fake but more entertaining" route that they did a really good job of avoiding up to this point.

If you don't find the point muddled, then answer me this.

What do you think of Walt and Jesse's final encounter? Why does it make sense to you that Walt would think Jesse works with neo-nazis and is cooking meth after everything that has happened? I think Jesse made it very clear that he's done with the meth business (which helped put everyone in their predicament towards the end) - it makes absolutely zero sense from anyone's point of view that Walt would think Jesse is working alongside the neo-nazis.

you and i have very different definitions of jumping the shark it would seem. i'd use that term when a show's ideas have dried up to the point that they resort to desperate tactics that go against everything that came before to try and boost ratings. so yeah i do think that the two things are mutually exclusive. if something's very good, it certainly hasn't jumped the shark, at least not in my world.

to answer your question. why do you think walt thought jesse was working with the nazis? to me it seemed walt knew full well the situation jesse would be in (he has an excellent ability to anticipate these kind of situations as he demonstrates throughout the seasons), so he provoked uncle jack into bringing him out in the open and then did what he did to save them both. unless i'm missing something obvious?

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#59  Edited By Brutal_Elitegs
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@ernie1989 said:

@Brutal_Elitegs said:

ernie, what are your thoughts on The Shield?

Honestly, I couldn't get into it even though I went as far Season 5 because none of the characters really appealed to me in a way that made me care for them. (*) So all it ever really ended up looking like to me is a show about a bunch of guys dealing with scummy people and trying to be awesome through that, which is something the show's visual style is very consistent with.

But I also understand that others find that there are other things of value here and that its last couple of seasons really elevate it. That said, I'll definitely finish it one of these days and even go as far as giving it another try. I just don't, however, feel the urgency to do so any time soon and especially now that I'm watching Enlightened and Girls and Masters of Sex.


Is that including season 5? I'm guessing it doesn't (*)? I can't wrap my head around leaving the show hanging after watching season 5.

But yeah, definitely get back to it.

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#60  Edited By ernie1989
Member since 2004 • 8547 Posts

@KHAndAnime said:

Damn BB fanboyism, it sometimes feels like communicating with a hivemind :P. Anyways, In one of the interviews conducted right after the end, specifically regarding the ending of the show (the ending he wrote), he plain as day said he didn't write it for himself, but to purely to please as much of the audience as possible. Everything else before that was likely written how you describe (with writer-satisfaction first), but the ending wasn't. As for Mythbusters, the fact that Mythbusters even had to test those scenarios is a demonstration that they aren't a huge challenge to an audience's suspension of disbelief. You're comparing scenarios that, to a normal person, 'could happen' given the proper circumstances and a slight suspension of disbelief - to some of season 5 scenario's that absolutely couldn't happen and doesn't even need to be tested by Mythbusters because it's plain-as-day fake and could only happen in a comic book.

The Wire is worth mentioning because like Breaking Bad, it's one of the best shows of all time. Both shows are about crime, drugs, families, and a tapestry of interwoven fates. For me, Breaking Bad was the most realistic crime-fiction I've seen up until I saw The Wire. That show's effort to maintain verisimilitude and avoid comic-book situations is what kept it strong from start to finish. Subtlety and realism, combined with a narrative, simply has more of an impact than melodrama and blatant cheesiness derived from unrealistic scenarios. It's not really hard to compare apples and oranges when you've got a stale apple and a fresh orange, is it? :P If you like both apples and oranges, you might just opt for whatever is "fresher" and better in quality, despite the base difference between the fruits. I'm not saying BB is stale, I'm just demonstrating how easy it is to compare apples and oranges.

I’ll definitely have to find that interview and check it out. Either way and as I said before, I mainly stick to the text and cast aside the extra-textual, so this part of this discussion is also something that’s going to be cast aside for the sake of being as efficient as I can be here.

The thing about some of these scenarios is that it always caused certain people to question the plausibility of them since day one so that by the time they got to the plane crash and Tuco’s cousins, they either jumped ship or re-evaluated their perception of the sort of show they were watching and, therefore, suspending more disbelief as the show moved along to the point where they were suspending just as much as they would for some of the action movies we see today.

I also hold the opinion that for one to continue using the apple to frame one’s perception when the show demonstrated as far back as Season 1 that it was an orange (and if one wasn’t convinced of it yet, then they got confirmation of it as soon as those cousins walked away from that explosion without looking back) is just the wrong way to go about things because one’s looking for qualities that simply aren’t there, which isn’t really fair.

Because I can always flip it around, use orange to perceive apple, and say that Season 5 of The Wire is the best season because it’s not as grounded in reality as what preceded it and that, in general, the show fails to provide the visual finesse Breaking Bad was always able to provide – which is a criticism that would render the apple stale. Except I don’t because The Wire, as others have pointed out, is as grounded in realism as one can get and it’s visual style is purposely not as finesse in an effort to be consistent with that degree of realism, which goes way beyond how far Breaking Bad ever wanted to go realistically.

And to comment on what you’re saying about Walt’s plan in the finale being dumb luck: yes, he is very lucky and I can understand one feeling it was dumb in general if you were expecting something that functioned according to what would actually be probable with all the factors at play, but, as I mentioned previously, Vince Gilligan and his writers were extremely deliberate in the way they did that within the context of a show and especially a final season where nothing ever went as perfect as it did for Walt in the finale.

The fact that “Felina” is also the most silent episode of Breaking Bad while also portraying Walt as a ghost cast in shadows indicates to me that there’s more at play here than what we’re given at face value and that reductive statements like “bad guys get what they deserve” don’t really apply considering Walt died with a smile on his face.

What really bothers me, and I don’t know if some of the rest of you feel the same way, is that a lot of critics judged the finale according to what to show was when that’s really no longer what it is. Instead of re-evaluating what came before or admitting they really need to see the entire work again to pass judgment, they simply said that it was too perfect or too tidy while having a notion of what it is they thought the show they were watching was, which really annoyed the hell out of me – the sheer audacity of them trying to tell us what the show is as opposed to what they think it is and especially when it’s what it was at a time when they had not seen the show in its entirety.

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#61  Edited By jdc6305
Member since 2005 • 5058 Posts

I thought season 1 was the best followed by 2.

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#62  Edited By ernie1989
Member since 2004 • 8547 Posts

@Brutal_Elitegs said:

Is that including season 5? I'm guessing it doesn't (*)? I can't wrap my head around leaving the show hanging after watching season 5.

But yeah, definitely get back to it.

It includes about five episodes into Season 5 and yeah, I can understand what you mean about leaving a show hanging after that long (unless you mean to say that something big happens at the end of the season), but I kind of just lost interest so I really didn't think about it much.

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#63 Brutal_Elitegs
Member since 2004 • 16426 Posts

@ernie1989 said:

It includes about five episodes into Season 5 and yeah, I can understand what you mean about leaving a show hanging after that long (unless you mean to say that something big happens at the end of the season), but I kind of just lost interest so I really didn't think about it much.


I'll just say, in the hope that the expectation doesn't dampen your viewing experience, that I don't think you would have stopped watching had you made it to the end of season 5. Something happens, which is why I figured by that comment (*) you made that you hadn't made it as far as the end of season 5.