Yesterday was 4/20, or “Weed Day,” and, in my home state of Colorado, it’s perfectly legal as long as you’re twenty-one or older, but, everywhere else, it’s against the law. Today would make for the perfect “National Drug Testing Day,” if there was one. In recognition of all this drug culture, and also because yesterday was my grandma’s birthday (this woman has been alive since television was invented, so the fact that she thinks Breaking Bad is the greatest TV show she’s ever seen really says something), here are the seasons of AMC’s Breaking Bad (2008-2013), ranked from weakest to strongest.
- Season Three
There’s no such thing as a “bad” season of Breaking Bad, but the thing about perfection is that it’s fleeting, and the third season doesn’t compare to the others as well as the rest do to each other. The race-against-time finale is probably one of the most intense in the series, but the episodes leading up to it can be repetitive and unfocused. There’s only so much Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler (Anna Gunn) divorce drama I can take before it feels like… well… an actual divorce, and the first half of the season before the Cousins (Daniel and Luis Moncada) shoot Hank (Dean Norris) doesn’t feel like it belongs to the same season as the second half, after.
- Season Two
The second season undoubtedly features the most explosive finale, and the most thematically sound, considering that Breaking Bad is preoccupied with actions having consequences, but, boy, oh boy, is there a lot of buildup involved in this one. For a drama about meth cooking, Season Two is heavy on the drama, but light on the meth cooking. It suffers from the incomplete Season One, which was forced to end abruptly during the 2007-2008 Writers’ Strike, and so it starts off by tying up the loose ends there, then spends the remainder of its time defining itself as a season.
- Season One
As mentioned, the first season is a halfling with an abrupt ending. But, also, I don’t know how it would’ve been able to keep up that introductory tension for the proper length. It gives us what we want and it leaves us wanting more, and that’s what it’s supposed to do.
- Season Five (Part One)
It’s really only a setup for the final episodes, but it’s one hell of a setup. Walt’s character development becomes as epic as a Greek tragedy, and Skyler’s descent into madness measures the ironic toll his lifestyle takes on the very family he’s sold his soul to protect. Just when you think everything’s resolved, you remember that there’s still half a season left…
- Season Four
Critics often compare this season (aptly) to a game of chess between Walt and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). It’s storytelling at its most clever and entertaining. It’s high-quality without being pretentious, and those last couple of episodes – not just the season finale – are a trip to watch.
- Season Five (Part Two)
Breaking Bad is probably one of the only programs, ever, that gets better as it goes along, instead of worse. By that logic, its finale should be the best of the best, and it delivers. Walt’s beloved family crumbles all around him, leaving behind only his true motivation for his crimes – himself.