Breaking Bad is pretty much an exercise in bad decisions. There’s no need to say producing meth to pay for cancer treatment and leave a nest egg for your family is bad decision. That’s the premise of the show. So given that we are already in a situation that defines bad judgment, here are the ten worst decisions made by the characters of Breaking Bad:
Hank takes Walt on the ride along – Season One Pilot
This is the one that started it all. It was an unknowingly bad decision on Hank’s (Dean Norris) part, but of course without it we wouldn’t have the story. It’s significant because it sets up an important dynamic between Hank and Walt (Bryan Cranston). I doubt it’s very common for DEA agents to bring family members for a ride-along to a drug bust, but Hank doesn’t view Walt as having any impact. Hank’s pattern of underestimating Walt plays a large part in Hank’s failure to see the truth.
Jesse doesn’t meet with Walt in the Plaza – Season Five Episode 12 “Rabid Dog”
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) pretty much defines bad decision making. Whether it’s leaving the keys in RVs ignition and draining the battery in the middle of the desert or selling meth at his NA meetings, he just can’t seem to get things right. We know deep down he is capable of getting on the right path if only he could make the right choices and that makes his decision not to follow Hank’s plan and meet with Walt in the plaza all the more tragic. Not only does it derail Hank’s plan to take down Walt but it’s the final nail in the coffin for Walt and Jesse’s relationship. Up until that point, Walt still wanted Jesse as a partner. Jesse’s decision here directly led to Hank’s and Andrea’s deaths and his own imprisonment with Jack’s gang.
Jane’s dad gives her one more day – Season Two Episode 12 “Phoenix”
I loved the contrast between Jane’s (Krysten Ritter) dad (John de Lancie) and Jesse parents. Jane’s dad never gave up on her while Jesse’s parents had long ago washed their hands of him. Still, Jane is the one that dies while Jesse lives because despite having everything Jesse didn’t – a supportive father and a real job – she took didn’t appreciate what she had and threw it all away. In Jane’s death we truly see how low Walt is sinking and of course the death directly leads to plane crash that kills 167 people.
Hank decides to take down Walt on his own – Season Five Episode 9 “Blood Money”
Pride is a weakness for Hank. We saw it when he didn’t want to leave the hospital to be cared for at home after being shot and becoming partially paralyzed, but it’s no more apparent than when he decides to go after Walt on his own. His rationale is that he wants to gather enough evidence for an iron-clad case but it’s pretty obvious that Hank takes Walt’s duplicity personal. We can’t blame him for that, but he if had clued the DEA in on what was going on things might have unfolded differently. Unfortunately his partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) ended up paying the price with him.
Mike decides to work with Walt after Gus’s death – Season Five Episode 3 “Hazard Pay”
Mike (Jonathan Banks) always had a good head on his shoulders and his instinct to get out of town after Gus’s (Giancarlo Esposito) demise was the right one. Too bad his loyalty to his men got in the way. When he decided he needed to partner up with Walt in order to make some pay-off money, and to replenish what he wanted to leave to his granddaughter, we knew trouble was brewing. Mike and Walt were a toxic combination that was doomed from the start.
Walt tells Jack the coordinates in the dessert – Season Five Episode 13 “To’hajiilee”
There was never anything good about Walt working with Todd’s (Jesse Plemmons) career-criminal uncle Jack (Michael Bowen). Unlike Walt, Jesse, Saul, and even Gus, Jack had no conscience and certainly no greater purpose other than immediate gratification. We already knew Walt had made a mistake in bringing in Jack’s help with the prison hits and it got even worse when he hired Jack to kill Jesse. But when he called Jack with the coordinates to his location, also location of his millions, in the dessert it spelled utter disaster. I call this the worst decision Walt ever made.
Marie pays for Hank’s physical therapy using drug money – Season Three Episode 9 “Kafkaesque”
Granted, Marie (Betsy Brandt) didn’t know she was using drug money to pay for Hank’s treatment, but she did know the money was illicit. Considering Hank is a member of law enforcement it probably wasn’t the best idea, especially since she kept it a secret from him. On the one hand he probably did get the treatment he needed to recover from the paralysis, on the other hand if he hadn’t got back on his feet so quickly he might not have figured out Walt was Heisenberg and gone after him, and therefore would have lived.
Skyler gives money to Ted – Season Four Episode 11 “Crawl Space”
While I don’t blame Skyler (Anna Gunn) for being mad at Walt, she handled the situation wrong on every front. Her reasoning that she didn’t want Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) to know what a bad guy his dad was goes beyond common sense. Even accepting that she decided to be complicit in his illegal activity, going behind his back to give Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins), her former lover and boss, money to pay his back taxes was just plain stupid. It’s likely her actions would come back to bite her because her dumb secretary act went right out the window as soon as her face was all over TV with Walt. Chances are the IRS reopened that investigation.
Saul helps Walt poison Brock – Season Four Episode 12 “End Times,” Saul’s involvement revealed in Season Five Episode 1 “Live Free or Die”
Saul (Bob Odenkirk) pleaded ignorance of what Walt was really up to in this case, but he still knew it involved something happening to a child. The poisoning of Brock (Ian Posada) was probably the worst thing Walt did to an innocent person and it was for completely selfish reasons, though letting Jane die ranks up there too. In both of those cases he did it to manipulate Jesse and he had no regard for morality of his choice.
Walt partners with Todd after Jesse leaves – Season Five Episode 7 “Say My Name”
It’s hard to believe Walt would be so stupid as to bring an outsider into his operation. By that point his ego had taken over and he assumed he could control everything. Still Todd had demonstrated zero business sense, a lack of good judgement, and sociopathic tendencies in his cold-blooded killing of the kid on the bike. Of course, bringing Todd into the fold spelled the beginning of the end for everything Walt had done.
Breaking Bad Images: AMC