Breaking Bad: “Live Free or Die”
Walter White is the one who knocks in this fifth season opener.
July 16, 2012 5:51 pmTerry Yates
So few television series have the balls to tell a good story anymore. It was a conclusion I came to as I was marathon-ing The Sopranos this past spring. If any network show had a character half as badass as Gustavo Fring they would’ve found any way possible NOT to have him die at the end of ANY season. Sure, he’d get exploded, but would have somehow used one of his minions as a meat shield, only get enough woundage to make a badass scar or the need for an eye patch. Maybe he would’ve died, except some dark drug cartel would drag him back to a black site laboratory and piece him back together. Any other show runner would’ve pussed out in the writer’s room when it came time for the best antagonist in cable television history was to meet his end. Fortunately for us Vince Gilligan doesn’t shy away from strong narrative, and ultimately Breaking Bad is about Walter White being a badass. Although, I would love a Gustavo Fring’s Box Cutter Delights cooking show.
At the end of last season Walter had weaponized a Hector Salamanca to finally rid himself of a Gustavo Fring and be king of the mountain, telling Skyler “I won“. There’s still some loose ends that Walt may need to tie up, like Mike, who we last saw in a makeshift hospital full of bullet holes. Hank is probably close to discovering Walter’s ties to Gale, Gus and all that blue meth that’s been running around New Mexico. Jesse’s got some extra attention due to him running his mouth about ricin. All and all this seems to be a great way to start another season of Breaking Bad: in the utter pits of bleakness and despair!
Walt begins his season with a free Denny’s breakfast. He picks up a set of keys from a man and asks if what he’s getting has a manual or something to go with it. Even though he’s “won”, it’s nice to see how uncomfortable he still is in this world that he’s been slowly eroded by. When he pops the trunk to the car we get to see that it is filled with what looks like an assault weapon and plenty of ammunition.
The next scene it looks like we flash back to post-Gus-Fring explosion where Walt is busy getting rid of all the incriminating evidence strewn about casa de White. Eventually, Skyler and Walt Jr show up having released themselves from the Schraeder’s. Of course Walt thinks he’s in store for a hero’s welcome, but is once again met with Skyler’s frosty Skyler shenanigans. Sure she’s okay with him being alive, but she’s also afraid of Walt, he’s shown, once again, what he’s capable of…the depths he will go to and how careless he seems to be.
Following up from last season when Walt and Jesse torched the lab to cover their tracks, we see Hank looking around trying to find any evidence. For the most part, Walt and Jesse did a great job covering up, except that Hank notices a melted camera.
This melted camera plays in to the next scene where we see Mike, alive and well feeding his chickens. He’s given word about Gus’ demise and we next see driving down a dirt road, where he just so happens to run in to Walt and Jesse. The scene looks to be going the wrong way when they convince Mike that he needs to help them dispose of the hard drive that houses all that camera footage that would incriminate all of them. Mike’s shown great loyalty in the past, and if anything he’s a shrewd businessman, so this need to help Walt is an uneasy alliance at best, and I hope to see more of Mike being a thorn in Walt’s side as the season progresses. Unfortunately for this posse, the police done got the laptop all locked up in their evidence room.
There’s a great scene between Mike and Walt trying to find a way to get to the evidence room. Walt talks about using his chemistry powers, while with each one Mike curtly puts in it’s place as a garbage plan. Meanwhile, out of focus in the background Jesse keeps piping up about a magnet. It’s a total Jesse idea, but it’s so genius in it’s plainness that it might just work.
A loose end that was hanging around from last season was Skyler and her Ted problem. Towards the end of last season, after Ted failed to pay off his IRS bill, instead buying a new car, Skyler sent some thugs over to get him to “do the right thing”. Instead, Ted tried to run from them, slipped on his rug and cracked his skull on a cabinet. Saul comes in to let Skyler know that Ted has just woke up. I sort of thought this loose end would vanish due to the abbreviated nature of this end run of Breaking Bad, but I guess Skyler needs something to do. She visits Ted at the hospital, and is clearly dismayed at what’s become of him. He tells her that he hasn’t said anything to anyone about the real reason he’s up in the hospital. To which Skyler replies “Good”.
Mike, Jesse and Walt attempt to test out their new magnet idea at a scrap yard. Oddly enough, it works. Victory for Jesse Pinkman! But Walt wants to go bigger. That night they go to the police department and begin their magnet erasing romp. It all starts swimmingly well, slowly everything in the evidence room gets pulled towards the wall, and the police officers computer goes on the fritz. Walt’s hubris gets the better of him though, and as the police start to figure out what’s going on, he turns up the magnet to the max causing the truck housing the magnet to tip over onto two wheels, ostensibly making him and Jesse sitting ducks. Fortunately, they escape with Mike as wheelman accomplice, and as he’s grilling Walt about leaving behind evidence and prints, Walt tells him to not worry, there’s no prints or real evidence to tie them to this spree.
It’s the standard Walter White ego that pops up from time to time during a Breaking Bad season, and we all know it’s going to come back and bite him in the ass at a later time. Perhaps this hubris laden mentality is what Heisenberg represents, and he’s slowly eroding what’s left of Walter White? After the scene with Saul in which he lets him know they’ll be done when he says they’re done, we begin to understand what Skyler was afraid of.
As predicted the laptop is destroyed but one of Gus’s pictures, also broken, shows some hidden information in the form of routing numbers to one of his Cayman bank accounts that wasn’t in the manifest.
At the end of the episode, after learning that Skyler gave Ted a fair amount of money to cover the audit that could’ve ruined everything, Walt hugs her and says “I forgive you.” What’s interesting to note is the double meaning. Is she forgiven for misdeeds or does Walt forgive her for saying she fears what he has become?
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10