With only 8 episodes left until the book closes on Walt, Jesse, Skylar, and Saul, we’re taking this opportunity to look back on how far we have come. Breaking Bad has become the de-facto show for water cooler conversations thanks in large part to the series’ ability to shock audiences with the unexpected. There have been startling deaths and monumental speeches, the likes of which could rival any show on TV. But what makes the series’ iconic moments all the more notable is that they make sense within the context of the show.

And while the final half of the show’s fifth season will likely give us some of the best moments of the entire run, these are our 5 Best Breaking Bad Moments (So Far). It goes without saying this post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Breaking Bad seasons 1 – 5.1. So, if you’re not caught-up, proceed at your own risk.

Seen In: Season 5, Episode 5 “Dead Freight”

This moment from the first half of Season 5 is important for two reasons. One, it continues Vince Gilligan’s trend of shocking viewers with unexpected deaths. Most audience members likely thought Walt & Co. were doomed when a youngster happens on their heist, but few expected Landry from Friday Night Lights Todd, a seemingly good-natured young adult, would pull a gun and shoot an innocent kid.

The other reason this moment is important is because it irreparably severs the bond between Walt and Jesse. Jesse’s relationship with kids has been a common theme throughout the series, and after witnessing so many untimely deaths Jesse finally had enough. However, instead of siding with Jesse, Walt became even more obsessed with his business than ever. Could this moment have been the final straw in Walt’s dark descent into madness?

Seen In: Season 4, Episode 6 “Cornered”

Walt has had some pretty memorable speeches and lines over the past five seasons, many of them directed at his wife Skylar. This particular speech made our list because it is the first time Walt opens up to Skylar and shows just how deep into this rabbit hole he has fallen. He can no longer say that he’s a naïve chemistry teacher trying to support his family, Walt has become a full blown pseudo-kingpin at this point. While Skylar thinks Walt is the victim, Walt’s competition, in fact, are the victims.

This is also the beginning of the end for Skylar as well, one of many instances where Walt shows himself to be a different man than the one she married. A lot changed after this moment, and it doesn’t seem like it will ever go back to normal. The once happily married pair still remain civil, and she even uses her accounting knowledge to help Walt launder money, but there’s no denying something changed in Skylar after this conversation.

Seen In: Season 3, Episode 7 “One Minute”

We forget that, because he is on the opposite end of Walt’s morality line, Hank Schrader is a good cop. Yes, he has some mental health issues – a storyline explored in Season 2 – and those came to a head when he spotted Breaking Bad‘s iconic bald twins in a home improvement store parking lot. What transpires is a brutal shootout that leaves all parties involved either brutally injured or dead. And while the shootout results in Hank becoming permanently scarred (both physically and emotionally), it also gives him a singular focus: finding the mysterious Heisenberg.

There isn’t a ton of violence in Breaking Bad overall, but when Gilligan & Co. choose to take the reins off a little bit, they always satisfy. We can only hope that if Hank and Walt ever come face to face in the final half of the season, that their subsequent showdown is as memorable, well-choreographed, brutal, and tense, as this one.

Seen In: Season 5, Episode 7 “Say My Name”

We knew going into Season 5 that we’ll likely have to say goodbye to some great characters, but that didn’t make saying goodbye to Mike Ehrmantraut any easier. Had Walt killed him two seasons ago we might have cared less, but after learning more about him, and seeing his complicated relationship with his daughter, this scene was tough.

In a lot of shows that involve crimes of any kind there is usually a “bad ass,” a character that carries himself or herself in such a way that they become electric on screen. Mike was that character. Yes, as is common in Breaking Bad, Mike wasn’t the stereotypical version of a bad ass, but his street smarts and attention to detail made him unique. He was as likable as he was menacing, but he was ultimately in Walt’s way.

Seen In: Season 4, Episode 13 “Face Off”

On the opposite end of the Breaking Bad death spectrum is this moment, easily one of the most talked about in the entire series. Gus Fring was a complex villain, to the point that we didn’t even know if he was a villain half the time. But, when push came to shove, and Walt’s family was on the line, audiences found out who was “good” and who was “bad.” And in the end Walt won.

At first, however, it seemed like Walt hadn’t won, that Gus had survived Hector Salamanca’s attack. But then, as the camera panned around from left to right, we realize that Gus is merely keeping up appearances and is actually missing half his face. Gives an added meaning to the episode title doesn’t it? There may never be a villain as well-developed, or as quietly menacing, as Gus Fring, which makes his death all the more riveting.

Although we narrowed our choices down to just five entries, there were a few moments that came very close to making our list including:

  • Jesse killing Gale in Season 3, Episode 13
  • The “Magnets Bitch!” moment from Season 5, Episode 1
  • Jesse’s acid bath from Season 1, Episode 2
  • Walt saving Jesse from the dealers in Season 3, Episode 12

But what about you? What are your favorite moments from Breaking Bad so far? Let us know in the comments below.

Breaking Bad returns for its final 8 episodes on August 11, 2013 at 9pm ET on AMC.