Like many shows that came before, the AMC drama Breaking Bad became progressively more popular as time went on. Walter White’s journey from high school chemistry teacher to drug kingpin earned a modest following in the first season and kept snowballing from there. By the fifth and final installment, the world was obsessed with Breaking Bad.
Four out of five of the most popular, most critically acclaimed episodes of the series are from season 5. However, the extraordinary finale isn’t the highest-rated.
That honor belongs to the third-to-last episode: “Ozymandias.”
‘Breaking Bad’ had an epic series finale
Pleasing fans in a season finale, especially one as closely watched as Breaking Bad, is a nearly impossible task. But with clever writers and the guidance of showrunner Vince Gilligan, the Breaking Bad finale, “Felina,” is about as close to perfect as you can get.
The episode shows the completion of everyone’s storylines. Walt returns to Albuquerque and finally admits his wrongs to estranged wife Skyler. He also pays a visit to former friends Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz and forces them to become custodians of his fortune so it will eventually be given to his family.
Walt kills Lydia by putting ricin in her Stevia packet. Then he heads to Uncle Jack’s white supremacist compound where Jesse is being held captive. He takes out Uncle Jack and his whole crew using a machine gun rigged into the trunk of his car. Jesse escapes and Walt takes one final look at the meth lab before collapsing dead.
‘Ozymandias’ is considered the best episode of all time
Not only is season 5 episode 14 the most popular episode in the series, many critics call it the best hour of dramatic television ever created. While the finale had a lot of drama, it was “Ozymandias” that kept viewers on the edge of their seats and begging to know what happened next.
In “Ozymandias,” which is named for the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Walt begins a downward spiral that will eventually culminate in his death during the series finale. Walt is involved in a desert shootout and begs for his brother-in-law Hank Schrader’s life, but Uncle Jack kills him anyway.
Enraged, Walt rats out Jesse’s hiding place and turns him over to Jack. He heads home and tries to convince his family to flee, only to find they’re more afraid of Walt than anything else. Walt gets into a physical altercation with Skyler while Walt Jr. calls the police. Then, Walt kidnaps his baby daughter and flees the house.
Walt quickly realizes he can’t keep the baby with him and drops her at a fire station. He calls Ed the Vacuum Repairman and disappears into a new life.
Both episodes are part of Walter White’s whole story
It’s difficult to rank one episode of Breaking Bad against another because they’re not meant to be watched individually. Instead, Gilligan tells a complete story during the series, which is a huge part of what makes it so popular. Fans appreciate the commitment to deep, immersive storytelling that Breaking Bad provides.
Both “Ozymandias” and “Felina” are integral parts of the Breaking Bad journey that help to create the greatest television series of all time.