Breaking Bad is full of some of the best moments in dramatic television. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the biting institutional criticism of The Wire, or the mafioso humor of The Sopranos, but –holy shit– it sure does have existential bitterness in spades. It even has the most horrifying episode in the history of television.
There I said it: Season 2, Episode 6, ‘Peekaboo’ is the most horrifying episode of television in the history of television. Yeah, that one. The ‘ATM Episode’.
While we pace anxiously for the next 48 hours reading cutesy ‘Best of’s’ on the internet, as we wait for the end of the end to begin…let’s take a look at the one early episode where every decent human being’s soul shits itself and cries.
In short, ‘Peekaboo’ is where Jesse actually starts to turn into a good person, and Walt passes the point of no return on his highway to hell.
But what’s so horrifying about it? Simply put: live-action, real world junkies. Up until now, we’d seen the somewhat comical meth-whore that Jesse occasionally rolls with (sucking dick for ice was never so amusing!), but we’d never seen some real life addicts and the serious bummer of a world that those addicts occupy. In this episode we see two post-hipster meth addicts fuck-over each other and their child for that sweet sweet rock. We see Jesse spend hours in their dilapidated house trying to get back a few hundred dollars. We see Jesse give a shit about someone other than himself. Walt, on the other hand, wraps another thread around the giant ball of lies that will eventually crush him and his family (probably).
You can always turn back to this episode whenever there’s a meth-making montage set to music from the 50s. You can always turn back to this episode when the wacky meth dealers do something wacky. That tiny chuckle you get will always be drowned out by the sickening thud of an ATM crushing a dude’s skull. Or the slurp of a meth-head removing a condom-wrapped fix from his anus. Or a developmentally disabled toddler requesting food. Yeah, this cast a pall over the series that no chuckle can brighten.
Red Wedding has nothing on it. Nothing. Junkies are terrifying. Junkies with kids are even more real world terrifying. Have a sunny weekend!