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Why Breaking Bad Fans Skip This Episode On Rewatches

In the annals of television history, there are few series quite as universally revered as AMC's meth-fueled crime saga Breaking Bad. Set largely amid the sun-bleached vistas of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the series followed the meteoric rise and cataclysmic fall of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school teacher and former chemistry prodigy who eventually became the figurehead of an international methamphetamine ring.

Created by X-Files alum Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad premiered to raves in the Winter of 2008, and aired a total of 62 episodes over its five-season run, including its masterful 2013 finale. Along the way, the series made stars of Cranston and co-star Aaron Paul, earned a fat stack of Emmys for everyone involved, and helped put AMC on the map in terms of prime-time original programming. 

While it was on the air, there was little question Breaking Bad ranked among the best shows on television. These days, it's widely believed to be one of the best ever produced.

If nothing else, Breaking Bad has certainly developed one of the most staunchly-devoted fanbases the small screen has ever seen. In fact, die hards obsessively watch and rewatch it in its entirety with near pious zeal, and feverishly debate the merits of each and every episode therein. 

Well, that may not be entirely true. Turns out, there's at least one episode of Breaking Bad that even some of the most devoted of fans claim they skip whenever they indulge in a re-watch. Surprisingly, it's also one of the best reviewed episodes in the series' canon: season 3's Rian Johnson-directed "Fly." The reason they skip it? Seems some believe the episode doesn't contribute quite enough to the series' over-arching narrative.   

'Fly' is actually one of Breaking Bad's most ambitious episodes

For those not in the know, "Fly" is what's known in TV land as a "bottle episode" (i.e. set in a single location, and featuring limited cast). Like most bottle episodes, "Fly" was born of budgetary restrictions, with Gilligan telling Vulture the series had gone way over budget on season 3, and was in dire need of a money-saving episode. As such, "Fly" found Walt and Jesse the only series regulars on hand, spending the entire episode in their underground meth lab trying to kill a fly before it contaminates a batch.

On the surface, that may not sound like the makings of the sort of high-octane drama Breaking Bad was known for. But "Fly" was easily the most artistically ambitious Breaking Bad episode to date, with Johnson taking a swing for the fences in terms of style, making exceptional use of not only his single-location restrictions (via some wild photographic tricks), but also a simmering script in which subtext alone drives the action.

For their parts, Cranston and Paul bring some serious heat to the mix, building all that subtext into a powder keg of dramatic energy — one that always seemed to blow at just the right moment, but never quite in nuclear fashion. The episode is particularly intriguing in the context of where each character is in their own overarching narrative, with Jesse consumed by guilt over Jane's death and pushing his luck by skimming meth from their supply, and Walt struggling to maintain some semblance of control as his personal and business lives spiral into chaos.

So even if it doesn't land with the fire and fury of an "Ozymandius," there's as much going on under the surface of the bottled-up "Fly" narrative as any other Breaking Bad venture.      

Some Breaking Bad fans still feel 'Fly' brings too little to the table narratively

Ambition aside, "Fly" was actually pretty divisive when it premiered in 2010. And some Breaking Bad fans still have trouble seeing below the surface of the episode, with user rcilia even posting an entire Reddit thread proclaiming it the worst in Breaking Bad's near-flawless batch.

Not surprisingly, reactions to the post are as mixed as they were to the episode, ranging from doleful indifference to utter adoration. In fact, some of the early reactions err on the side of positive, with Shaq_Bolton feigning light praise, "Eh... it's not bad imo. I don't really understand why it's so many [people's] favorite episode though," and ChanceisGaming107 offering a similar read: "It's not one of my favorites but I still think it's a pretty good and interesting episode." 

At this point in the action even rcilia offered some metered words of praise, stating, "It is the 'worst' episode of the show, but to be fair, it's still 7.8/10, which is not that bad!"

Sad_plankton was the first to offer a harsher insight, even going so far as to claim it offers nothing to the series narratively. "No idea why people defend this episode so much," they wrote. "You miss absolutely nothing if you skip it." Other "skip it" claims quickly followed, with WTender2 bluntly offering, "I skip it 100% of the time," and fairlane2720 claiming to pass "Fly" by on every Breaking Bad rewatch: "I've rewatched BB 5 or 6 times and ['Fly'] is the only episode I skip over entirely."

Still, skipping even a single episode during a Breaking Bad rewatch just seems blasphemous, especially one with as much going on as "Fly." But hey, it's generally best not to try and change the mind of a Breaking Bad fan, so let's just leave things as they lie.