‘Breaking Bad’: The Best and Worst Episodes of the Series Were Directed By the Same Person
Though many fans consider Breaking Bad the best dramatic television series in history, that doesn’t mean every episode was created equally. Different directors contributing to the finished product meant the individual episodes were each slightly unique.
The series is hailed for telling a complete story from start to finish. However, certain episodes of Breaking Bad receive more attention — both good and bad — than others. The weirdest part of all? The most popular and the least popular episodes of Breaking Bad were directed by the same person.
Rian Johnson directed 3 episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’
There’s no denying Rian Johnson’s talent and how much he contributed to the overall feel of Breaking Bad. The 46-year-old director is best known for crime thrillers and sci-fi films including Looper (2012), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and the critically acclaimed murder mystery Knives Out (2019).
Johnson also directed 3 episodes of Breaking Bad. “Fifty-One” received the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing — Drama Series. “Fly” is one of the most hated and most controversial episodes in the series. And “Ozymandias” is often heralded as the greatest hour of dramatic television in existence.
Critics and fans had mixed review of ‘Fly’
There are certain fans who see the genius behind Breaking Bad Season 3 Episode 10, “Fly.” The entire episode depicts Walter White trying to kill a fly that’s become trapped in Gus Fring’s underground meth lab. Critics claimed the “bottle episode,” which had a single setting, was boring and didn’t advance the story forward. However, most fans recognized there was more than a fly on Walter White’s mind.
Showrunner Vince Gilligan already admitted that the bottle episode was partially chosen to keep costs down. But even Johnson recognized the benefit of going deeper with character development.
“[Working on ‘Fly’] felt like theater more than TV, in a way. Because we would rehearse the acts… it was all in this one location, so we kind of approached it much more like a play than like an episode of TV where you’re jumping around to different locations, different characters,” Johnson told IGN.
“Fly” was Johnson’s first directing opportunity with Breaking Bad. It’s the worst rated episode of the series.
Rian Johnson helped make ‘Ozymandias’ a masterpiece
On the other end of the spectrum, season 5 episode 14 of the series is the highest rated episode of Breaking Bad and is sometimes called the greatest television episode ever made. Johnson also directed “Ozymandias.”
At first, he couldn’t believe Gilligan trusted him with taking on the crucial third to last episode of the series. “I was just thrilled when I got the call, and then I read the script, and I was like, ‘Oh my God. Are you sure you want me to do this one? Do I really get to do this one, really?’” he recalled.
He continued: “I think that the overall feeling for everyone involved with that episode was just, ‘Let’s get it right. Let’s do this justice.’ Because, as a culminating moment in the whole series, there’s so much riding on it in terms of how much Vince and the whole writing team had built into this massive arc.”
Johnson worked with the same writer for ‘Ozymandias’ and ‘Fly’
But he and writer Moira Walley-Beckett, who also worked on the script for “Fly,” were obviously up for the challenge. TV Guide chose “Ozymandias” as the best television episode of the 21st century in their 65th anniversary issue.
Reviewer Alan Sepinwall said, “If you were to ask me what is the best hour of dramatic television ever, I would say Breaking Bad‘s ‘Ozymandias’ and not think twice about it.”