Breaking Bad 

Breaking Bad’s “Crawl Space” Was One Of The Show’s Most Stressful Episodes

Breaking Bad had many stressful episodes throughout its run but season 4's "Crawl Space" cranked the tension levels to maximum.

While there’s plenty of stressful episodes to pick from, Breaking Bad’s season 4’s “Crawl Space” might be one of the show’s most intense. Prior to Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was best known for comic roles like Hal in Malcolm In The Middle. He seemed like an unconventional choice to front Breaking Bad, where a meek chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer decides to cook meth to make quick money for his family. He teams with former student Jesse (Aaron Paul), and things go to hell as he tries to balance his normal life with slowly becoming a drug kingpin.

The intent of Breaking Bad was to see a regular man morph into a hardened criminal over time, which the show pulled off beautifully. From the casting to the writing and direction, Breaking Bad made for superb television. It came to an end in 2013 but the franchise is still going strong. Walt’s sleazy lawyer got his own spinoff in the form of Better Call Saul, which details how James Morgan McGill (Bob Odenkirk) became Saul Goodman. Jesse also received an epilogue in the form of Netflix’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

One thing Breaking Bad excelled at was building tension to almost unbearable levels. Season 4 is commonly considered one of the show’s finest, which detailed the power struggle between Walt and kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandorlian). Episode 11 “Crawl Space” is also regarded as one of the season’s best episodes and is a veritable masterclass in stomach knotting intensity.

breaking bad season 4 crawl space

By this point in Breaking Bad season 4, Walt and Jesse have had a major falling out that led to a bloody fight. Gus wants to phase Walt out and use Jesse to cook his meth, with the only thing keeping Walt alive being Jesse’s loyalty. Gus also wants to get rid of Walt’s DEA brother in law Hank, who is covertly investigating him. In “Crawl Space” Walt even intentionally gets himself and Hank into a car accident to disrupt his investigation, which does little to throw him off.

In previous episodes, Skylar (Anna Gunn, Deadwood) tried to pay off ex-boss Ted’s IRS bill using Walt’s stashed money. If Ted was investigated it could leave her open to an audit too, but her plan backfired when Ted used the money to buy a car instead. In Breaking Bad “Crawl Space” she tries to take matters into her own hands. She has Saul send his men Huell (Lavell Crawford) and Patrick Kuby (Bill Burr) to force Ted to pay his bill. While Ted does so out of fear, he later slips on a carpet trying to escape and bashes his head.

Walt is later kidnapped by Gus and brought out to the desert, with the latter plainly stating that he’s to stay away from Jesse. He also says Hank will be killed and if Walt interferes, his family will die too. Breaking Bad “Crawl Space” finds a desperate Walt deciding to go into hiding with his family, which will cost $500, 000 in cash. He also orders Saul to call the DEA to warn them about an attempt on Hank’s life. The episode ends with Walt back in his house in the crawl space, utterly confused as to why there’s not enough money. He frantically yells at Skylar to explain, and she reveals she gave the money to Ted.

Breaking Bad “Crawl Space” ends with Walt screaming in horror, before breaking down and laughing uncontrollably at the utter mess his life has become. The entire episode is designed to tighten the noose around Walt and Skylar, and it remains one of the show’s most viscerally tense episodes.

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