Rian Johnson might be recognized for his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and more recently, the whodunnit Knives Out, but he also directed several episodes of Breaking Bad. In fact, Johnson was behind the camera on the show’s best- and worst-rated episodes. In total, Breaking Bad spanned 62 total episodes across five seasons. The popularity of Vince Gilligan’s drama series then spawned a prequel, Better Call Saul, and a sequel film, El Camino.
Johnson got his start in filmmaking with three short films before his 2005 breakthrough, writing and directing a neo-noir mystery titled Brick. Three years later, Johnson developed The Brothers Bloom before developing Looper, a 2012 sci-fi movie starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. Although Johnson primarily worked on projects seen on the big screen, he also dabbled in TV. Prior to joining Breaking Bad, Johnson directed an episode of the FX series, Terriers.
Before Breaking Bad came to an end, Johnson directed three episodes of the hit series. First came “Fly,” the tenth episode of season 3. Johnson then returned in the fifth and final season to direct “Fifty-One” and “Ozymandias.” The director described his time working on Breaking Bad as a vital learning experience since he had the opportunity to work with elite talent like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. He also worked closely with Gilligan to envision the tone and visual aspects of his trio of episodes. Interestingly enough, two of the three sat on opposite ends of fans’ rankings.
Rian Johnson’s Breaking Bad Episodes Were Memorable
“Fly” was technically the worst-rated episode in Breaking Bad‘s history, coming in with a 7.8/10 rating from viewers on IMDb. The episode, however, was very divisive as many viewers perceived it as one of the best. Packed with symbolism and deep dialogue, “Fly” was a bottle episode featuring just Walter White and Jesse Pinkman who fear that a fly has contaminated their meth production. The reception didn’t form a clear consensus, and the episode is the only one to sit below a rating of 8.0/10.
On the other side, “Ozymandias” holds a perfect score with a 10/10 rating on the IMDb list. The episode carries a notable connection to the famous Percy Bysshe Shelley poem of the same name, and it features the death of a principal character and the end of Walter White’s drug empire. Not only is it viewed as Breaking Bad’s best episode, but it’s also regarded as one of the greatest episodes in TV history.
It’s not often that a recurring director will hold the status of having one of the worst- and best-rated episodes in the same series. If anything, the divisiveness prepared Johnson with what was to come when he joined the Star Wars franchise. The Last Jedi is still the most heavily debated installment in the series’ history. While many fans despised what Johnson created, others believe his story and character development deserved more credit. Just like the case with Star Wars, the debate continues with Johnson’s Breaking Bad legacy.