‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5 Premiere Review: “Live Free or Die”
Welcome back, one who knocks! After making a triumphant appearance at Comic-Con 2012, ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 cooks up its first episode of the year, as Walter and Jesse work with Mike to fix an unintended consequence of the police investigation into Gus' death, while Skyler learns of a surprising hospitalization.
Last season’s ‘Breaking Bad’ finale “Face Off” lived up to its title as Walter White finally won his deadly chess match with Gus Fring, blowing him half to hell in an explosion triggered by Hector "Tio" Salamanca, so how does “Live Free or Die” get us started? What will season 5 of ‘Breaking Bad’ bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 premiere , “Live Free or Die!”
At a local Denny’s, a man takes care to arrange his breakfast carefully on his plate, making what appears to be a “52.” When the waitress questions him, he explains that it's his birthday, and we see that the man eating is none other than Walter White, wearing new glasses, a full beard, and with his hair grown back! Clearly in some kind of disguise, Walter begrudgingly accepts the free meal for his birthday, showing her a fake ID, before a man walking in catches Walter’s eye.
In the bathroom, Walter meets with arms dealer Lawson, and the pair make an exchange, Walter assuring him the purpose of their meeting “won’t leave town.” Out in the parking lot, he empties his own car, and unlocks the trunk of the one he’d been handed, revealing a huge, M-62 rifle inside!
Cutting back to the present we know, Skyler finishes her phone call with Walter, who just “won” his deathmatch with Gus. He comes home later that night, tidying up the bomb-making materials (and the Lily of the Valley), and makes himself a drink. Just then, Skyler, Holly and Walter Jr. arrive, Walter Jr. unable to stop talking about all the commotion with Gus Fring having died and revealing to an envious Walter that Hank is being considered a hero for his efforts. Walt goes to talk to Skyler alone, asking for mild relief he’s alive, when she reveals how scared of him she’s become. After she leaves, Walt drinks alone, but comes to a startling revelation.
Hank investigates the burned-out remnants of the super-lab, noting what could have been a camera at the top of the room, while down in Mexico Mike feeds the chickens as he recuperates. The head of the triage unit gets a call informing them of Gus’ death, to which Mike immediately races back to Albuquerque to confront Walt. The two cars meet up in the desert, Mike tensely ready to kill Walter, but Jesse intervenes claiming that Mike needs to hear what Walt has to say. Walt lays out that the camera Gus kept in the lab must have recorded all of them, and may now be in the possession of the APD, or at least the laptop to which it fed.
Later, Mike confirms via phone that the laptop is in police possession, and advises both Walt and Jesse to skip town, as evidence lockers are next to impossible to break into, or destroy. While Mike and Walt argue about the futility of different approaches, Jesse comes up with a stunningly simple, yet effective idea: magnets, bitch!
The trio visit Old Joe at the junkyard, who agrees to rent them his industrial magnet (using Jesse’s share of the money, considering Walt’s is tied up with the IRS). Mike still isn’t sold on the idea, but Jesse placates him into cooperating. Meanwhile, Skyler researches Gus’ death on the internet, when Saul arrives warning her that the police may call. Not about Gus mind you, but a complete “act of God” that befell Ted Beneke. No, he’s not dead. He just woke up!
Back at the junkyard, Walt, Jesse, Mike, Old Joe and some lookie-loos watch as they test the magnet, which manages to both erase, and destroy the laptop by rocketing it out of Jesse’s hands and into the truck! Skyler meanwhile pays a visit to Ted, completely shaven and propped up with holes drilled into his skull. Nervously, Ted assures her that he’s said nothing to the police of what transpired, which she nervously acknowledges.
Later that night, Mike disables the police station’s cameras, before signaling Walt and Jesse to bring the truck. Clad in ski masks, the pair park the vehicle outside the police station, and slowly activate the magnet’s strength. As lights and metal objects in the evidence room start flying toward the magnet, the clerk overseeing the room sounds the alarm. Jesse thinks they should scram, but Walter continues increasing the power, which has the effect of tipping the truck over on its side! The police scramble outside, only to find the overturned truck empty.
In the getaway, Mike worries about evidence left behind that their efforts even succeeded, but Walt cockily assures him that they did, “because I say so.” Meanwhile, the police go through the evidence locker, assessing the damage and confirming that the laptop is indeed destroyed, but the destruction produced an unexpected side-effect: one of Gus’ framed photographs had hidden bank account numbers stashed in the frame, now exposed in the damage!
Later, Walt admonishes Saul for not involving him in Skyler’s decision to give Ted the money, to which Saul defends himself and drops Walter as a client for all the dangerous things he involves him in. Tensely, Walt moves toward Saul and menacingly declares “we’re done when I say we’re done,” and the lawyer backs down.
Arriving home for the night, Walter relays his sympathy to Skyler for what happened to Ted, hugging her, and telling her he forgives her, not seeing the horrified and scared expression on her face.
All in all, it's good to have 'Breaking Bad' back. We like that Vince Gilligan clearly has some kind of endgame in mind for Walter White, as we see the awesome flash-forward in the teaser. Beyond that, there isn't that much action, or excitement in 'Live Free or Die,' but it feels like classic 'Breaking Bad' and there's a lot to explore going forward. All in all, we still hail to the king.
Did you get your fix of ‘Breaking Bad’ bad-assery? What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Breaking Bad’ episode recap of ‘Madrigal” on AMC!