Breaking Bad Season Premiere Review: Live Free Or Die (Season 5, Episode 1)


Although this summer is all about The Dark Knight Rises dominating the big screen and receiving all of the attention, the most interesting and best piece of visual media happening in July is happening on the small screen with AMC’s Breaking Bad.

The world is about to get a whole lot more interesting as Walter White walks back into it. Last year, Breaking Bad set a very, very high bar for television with its fourth season, a searingly brilliant game of chess spread across 13 episodes of mounting tension, brutal cliffhangers and one of the most deeply satisfying season finales any series has ever given us.

To recap, Gus is now dead and presumably it is Walt who claims the right to meth throne of the Albuquerque, after blowing up the former kingpin. As he darkly told Skyler in the last season, he is the one that knocks. But it came at a price and we watched our central protagonist turn into a super villain, as it was revealed that he held no bones about poisoning a child to get himself to safety.

And with the ever growing threat of a cancer that is growing inside of Walt and as his fate reaches further out of his grasp, he is now taking control in ways that most people on death’s door wouldn’t. The big question for Season 5 is where will Vince Gilligan and his amazing team of writers take us? Considering last year’s exceptional season, what can they do to up the stakes? Will this man, who only 46 episodes ago was a character who had our utmost sympathy, turn into Gus Mark 2 and become a vile, self serving antagonist? Will the cancer make a more violent return? What will Skyler do, now knowing what her husband is capable of?

So Walt reigns supreme and the relief for everyone is that Gus is dead, but Jesse and Walt still have work to do. First of all, they have some mess to clean up. With Gus now dead and being blown up with Hector Salamanca, the DEA now know how deep Fring was involved with the Mexican cartel and the Albuquerque drug scene. The now burnt down super lab is crawling with agents, including Hank, and everything has been totally decimated, but the fire hasn’t totally destroyed everything. Hank and Gomez notice some melted white plastic while investigating, which we know to be a camera.

So now Walt and Jesse must come up with another ingenious method of destroying the laptop, that stores the camera’s footage, while it remains locked up in police custody. Coming along to help them is Mike, who has now recovered from the shooting and agrees to help remove any trace that could link them all back to Gus.

Turns out the plan is to drive a highly charged magnet (which they buy from the scrapyard manager Old Joe, who destroyed the RV from Season 2), drive it in a large van outside the police station and turn it on, in hope of removing the evidence. Initially, this seems to work, but the van is left behind, inside the station, and while the laptop may have been destroyed, something else hasn’t. Everything from Gus’ office was bagged, including a picture frame. Due to the magnet, the frame was smashed and the picture shifted, revealing a piece of paper that has on it what looks to be a hidden list of personal contacts.

Meanwhile, Skyler isn’t sure what the hell to do. Her husband is now a very dangerous and potentially unstable man, the look of fear on her face every time Walt is in the room speaks a thousand words. But this isn’t the first thing on her mind… Do you remember Ted Beneke? Yeah… Ted’s not dead. The trip that we all thought killed Ted actually just gave him severe injuries. He’s now in hospital with a brace screwed into his head but can still remember everything. He promises not to tell anyone about the incident as long as Skyler pays the money he owes to the IRS.

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