Best TV universe of all time?
Vince Gilligan and his writing team have crafted not one, not two, not three, but two fantastic TV series that rank amongst the finest pieces of entertainment this century. Add onto that El Camino and you get a hattrick of successes.
Now that Better Call Saul has come to a close, the Gilligan-verse has also sadly concluded. How would I rank all of the seasons? And El Camino?
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12 – Breaking Bad Season 1
- BEST EPISODE – Crazy Handful of Nothin’
- WORST EPISODE – Gray Matter
Unfortunately, the season that started it all is the one that most fans agree is the weakest.
Episodes like “Crazy Handful of Nothin'” almost make up for it, but Season 1 is the slowest paced of all the Breaking Bad seasons. On top of that, its finale is half-baked and rushed due to the writer’s strikes of 2008.
It’s far from bad though – the characters are already fascinating, and the writers prove at this early stage that actions have consequences.
11 – Better Call Saul Season 2
- BEST EPISODE – Nailed
- WORST EPISODE – Rebecca
Better Call Saul’s second season just didn’t really add anything new to the mix.
A lot of the Mike side of the story (like fighting Tuco) feels more like fan-service than a realistic plot, and it’s the Jimmy vs. Chuck parts that carry it all. On the whole, it’s decent.
10 – Better Call Saul Season 1
- BEST EPISODES – Five-O / Pimento
- WORST EPISODE – Alpine Shepherd Boy
I reckon Better Call Saul has a stronger introductory season than Breaking Bad.
It’s fascinating to see all these characters before they were engulfed in the criminal underworld, and episodes like “Five-O” and “Pimento” proved the writers still knew how to craft intense action.
9 – Breaking Bad Season 2
- BEST EPISODES – Grilled / Phoenix
- WORST EPISODES – Down / Over
I used to have Season 2 of Breaking Bad over the third season, but I think it’s the slow stretches between episodes that lets it down.
There’s quite a bit of filler here, but when this season hits it hits hard. “Grilled” is a phenomenal second episode, “Better Call Saul” is an amazing character introduction, and “Phoenix” and “ABQ” made for a devastating finale.
8 – El Camino
El Camino was exactly the kind of story I wanted – it’s a great epilogue for Jesse, and his journey was both heart-breaking and fascinating.
It can be a little slow at times, and I’m not entirely sure if it justified its own existence, but it was a thrilling ride nonetheless.
7 – Better Call Saul Season 4
- BEST EPISODE – Winner
- WORST EPISODE – Piñata
Better Call Saul was in full flow by this point, and I loved how they dealt with the aftermath of Chuck’s death.
The whole superlab arc was one of my favourites, and it all culminated with possibly my favourite Mike moment ever – his final moments with Werner in “Winner” were chilling.
Also, Lalo gets introduced in Season 4. ‘Nuff said.
6 – Better Call Saul Season 3
- BEST EPISODE – Chicanery
- WORST EPISODE – Expenses
Season 3 of Better Call Saul was when they started firing on all cylinders, and it was around this time that the “BCS is even better than BB!” discourse came about.
Adding Gus and more of the cartel to the mix made the Mike stuff far more interesting, and the lawyer side of it is some of the best writing they’ve ever done. “Chicanery” is a prestigious episode for good reason.
5 – Better Call Saul Season 5
- BEST EPISODES – Bagman / Bad Choice Road
- WORST EPISODE – Namaste
Seasons 3 and 4 were really great, but it was Season 5 that started to make Better Call Saul one of my favourite shows of all time.
Lalo Salamanca became the GOAT that he was always destined to be, and the back half of the season was filled with classics like “Bagman” and “Bad Choice Road”. After the finale, my hype for the last season was through the roof.
4 – Breaking Bad Season 3
- BEST EPISODES – One Minute / Half Measures / Full Measure
- WORST EPISODE – Green Light
Despite the slightly slow start, Breaking Bad Season 3 won me over completely in the second half – there’s an argument to be made that “Sunset” onwards is when the show hit full speed and never stopped.
The mid-season episode “One Minute” has both one of my favourite action scenes (Hank’s fight) and favourite acting performances (Jesse’s breakdown), and the two-part finale “Half Measures” and “Full Measure” left me floored on first viewing. It’s not quite TV at it’s very best, but it’s damn close.
3 – Better Call Saul Season 6
- BEST EPISODES – Plan and Execution / Point and Shoot
- WORST EPISODE – Black and Blue
There’s been a few naysayers who claim that Season 6 of Better Call Saul is an average season (mainly due to the slow spell and odd time jump), but I wholeheartedly disagree.
It delivered on every front, and episodes like “Rock and Hard Place”, “Plan and Execution”, “Point and Shoot”, “Fun and Games”, “Waterworks” and “Saul Gone” will stick with me forever. Not perfect, but as entertaining as it gets.
2 – Breaking Bad Season 4
- BEST EPISODES – Salud / Crawl Space / Face Off
- WORST EPISODES – Thirty-Eight Snub / Open House
A perfect season of television, and yet there’s inexplicably still a better season yet to come.
In my opinion, Breaking Bad Season 4 is the second best season of TV in history. The cat-and-mouse chase between Walt and Gus is the most enthralling piece of media ever, and some of the individual episodes like “Salud” and “Face Off” left me gobsmacked.
1 – Breaking Bad Season 5
- BEST EPISODES – Dead Freight / Say My Name / Ozymandias / Felina
- WORST EPISODE – Madrigal (I guess)
If Season 4 of Breaking Bad was pure perfection, Season 5 managed to transcend any pre-conceived notions we had on what a TV show could accomplish.
There’s never a dull moment, as every episode is filled to the brim with pulsating action and masterful character work. The second half of Season 5 is second to none – “Ozymandias” and “Felina” are probably my favourite and second favourite TV episodes of all time respectively. Nothing else will ever come close to this.
Aaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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