‘Breaking Bad’ PREMIERE Recap (Season 5, Episode 1): “Live Free or Die”
I feel like I have been waiting years for the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad to start. The fourth season’s explosive finale left things wide-open and raised many questions regarding the future of the show. Over the past few months, we have seen various casting announcements, the news that the season will be split into two parts – eight episodes this year and the remaining eight sometime next year – and numerous interviews and reviews discussing how crazy this final season is going to be. Over the past year, the fifth season of Breaking Bad has possibly become my most anticipated event – and in a week that also features the release of The Dark Knight Rises that’s a pretty crazy thing. Regardless, Breaking Bad is finally back; it’s time to see how much lower Walter White can go.
First thing’s first: that cold open has to be the most interesting one they have done so far. Walt is all alone celebrating his 52nd birthday (reminder: the show started with Walt turning 50, so this is just over a year in the future) in a Denny’s. Not only is he sporting hair again, but he’s also got a new name and a new address (New Hampshire). He goes to the bathroom and meets up with the gunsmith from last season (played by the wonderful Jim Beaver, who you may recognize from Deadwood or Supernatural), who hands him a set of car keys. The keys lead Walt to a car with a machine gun in the trunk: now what exactly would Walt need with a gun like that? And how did he end up in this position? Shit is obviously serious one year in the future.
And after that brief but intriguing prologue, we’re back where the fourth season left off: Walt has just blown Gus to pieces and poisoned a child, which constitutes winning in his book. After Walt disposes of all of his incriminating evidence (the stuff he used to make the bomb and the plant he used to poison Brock), his family arrives home. Skyler is now terrified of Walt, Walt Jr. can’t shut up about how amazing Hank is for being right about Gus all along, and Walt is realizing he just forgot something very important: the camera in the lab.
I’m not going to go into detail about what happens in the rest of “Live Free or Die” but rest assured it’s classic Breaking Bad. Walt, Jesse and Mike are forced to work together to dispose of Gus’s computer, which contains footage of the three in the lab (I’m reminded of Stringer Bell’s speech in The Wire about taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy, but whatever); the only problem is the computer is safely tucked away in the police evidence room. A lot of fun is then had with giant magnets and batteries and getaway vehicles, a lot of which reminded me of how silly and funny Breaking Bad was in its first season. This was a nice reminder of how the show wasn’t always so dark and serious, but it’s almost certainly the calm before the storm– the prologue implies this much.
While the three musketeers are busy cleaning up their mess, Skyler is meeting Ted in the hospital, who is actually alive – well, barely. As much as Skyler is terrified of Walt, Ted is just as terrified of her: he reassures her that he has told the police nothing. Still, I can’t imagine this is the last we will see of Ted. That guy has a habit of reappearing at the worst of times. He’s like a cockroach.
At the end of the episode, Walt seems satisfied that he’s removed all evidence he was ever in the employ of Gus Fring. And even though he’s dead, I don’t think this is the last we’re going to see of Gus either – the incident with the magnet accidentally uncovers a note beneath a photo of Gus. We know from his flashback with the cartel that there’s more to Gus than meets the eye… and I think it’s only a matter of time before Walt learns who Gus really was.
Unfortunately, there are now only seven more episodes of Breaking Bad to air this year. Fortunately, if they are all of this quality, then these first eight will be plenty to keep me satisfied during the wait for the second half. Breaking Bad is already going down as one of the greatest TV shows ever made; I hope to see this season go down as one of the greatest seasons of TV ever made too. I don’t think Vince Gilligan and co. are going to disappoint me just yet.
Image credit: AMC
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