Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 1: Live Free or Die (SPOILERS)

I decided I’d do a short review (more of a recollection, really!), on Breaking Bad season 5 episode 1. I’ll possibly review the rest, too. As the title suggests, there be spoilers ahead!

Walter White sits in Denny’s restaurant toying with, but not eating, his breakfast and rearranging the bacon into the numbers “fifty-one” on his plate. An over-enthusiastic waitress talks at him but he’s in no mood to reply. He looks different – the hair, the glasses and she refers to him as Mr. Lambert. He’s driven a great many miles to get where he is. Walt eyes the man who has just entered and excuses himself, breakfast uneaten, following the man into the bathroom. The man wishes him luck as Walt exchanges a small package for some keys. In the parking lot Walt opens the boot of his new ride, revealing a machine gun, ammo and explosives. He chucks his bag on top of this hefty arsenal and shuts the boot…

Now back to a distraught Skylar and her phone call exchange with Walt at the end of the last season, him reassuring her, family in the background glued to the television and news of Gus’ demise.

So begins the first episode of the fifth season of Breaking Bad with a familiar flash-forward set-up. Much has happened and the story has escalated to such a point that without the trailer it would have been hard to imagine where the writers would take it, though everything so far has seemed almost plausible. The trailer, as it happens, reveals that Walt doesn’t fancy stopping any time soon, as does this episode.

The episode really kicks off when a severely ticked off Mike, still in Mexico, learns his boss is dead and by a whisker avoids a head-on collision with Walt and Jesse’s car when they intercept him. The rest of the show revolves around retrieving and destroying Gus’ laptop from a police evidence room with Mike’s help. A laptop containing CCTV footage of Walt and Jesse cooking meth.

Besides Mike we encounter a few other older characters – we discover Ted’s fate, see Saul again and return to the scrapyard. We also see a far more mobile Hank, still sharp and still on the hunt for whatever he can find. No doubt he’ll have some more battles to fight, though right now he’s loved up on hero cop.

Do you even know what you’ve done?! – Good question, of course. Do WE know what they’ve done by taking out Gus?

The stakes for retrieving Gus’ laptop are high – I certainly felt the tension and the resolution is thankfully both exciting and brief (if this was 24 they’d have dragged it out over three episodes).

While the episode in itself is of quite a high caliber, with some great one-liners from both Mike – (gesturing for car keys) “keys, scumbag, it’s the universal symbol for keys!” and Walt (to Saul) – “We’re done, when I say we’re done!”, we are given only brief hints at where the rest of the season could take us. Besides of course the initial flash-forward and that we learn a photo of Gustav’s has something hidden behind it (not previously listed in the police manifest). And also that Walt’s going to kick a whole host of ass, obviously after some world-changing event, (quite possibly bereavement and exposure, hence the name-change). Then there’s the fact he appears to be ill again. That’s enough to be going on with, I suppose, isn’t it?!

So we’ve tied up the loose ends from the forth season, but evidently only skimmed the surface with what’s in store for Walt and co in this one. Roll on episode 2!

SPOILERS: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 1 Analysis – IGN Breaking It Down

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