Season five (part one, mind you) kicked shit off by tying up some loose ends from season four, a season which seemed to have one of the more definitive finales on Breaking Bad to date. Turns out we all forgot about Gus’ laptop and the feed from the superlab contained within it, leading to a big crazy heist of sorts being the central story of “Live Free or Die.” But though a number of things seem to have been resolved in the episode, there’s still an implication that Gus could haunt the gang regardless thanks to some writing behind a framed photo that’s been booked into evidence.
Saving the cold open for the end of this piece, let’s talk about the less mysterious parts of the episode. We’ve got Walt running around cleaning up after himself, throwing out the bomb building materials and tossing out the lily of the valley (I’d have been pissed if Jesse just spotted it while having a beer with Walt poolside one day or some bullshit like that) and then his family comes home before he can swig his celebratory drink. Walt Junior lays out some fucking embarrassing exposition for everyone and Skyler tells Walt that she’s scared of him.
Then he remembers the cameras in the lab and he and Jesse go and meet up with the fairly-back-in-fighting-form Mike, who wants to kill Walt but Jesse talks him out of it. Mike does some smooth work on the phone and figures out that Gus’ laptop has already been booked into evidence. Mike’s ready to run but Walt’s confident they’ll find a way to destroy. In a hilarious scene where Jesse is pulling on mommy and daddy’s pant legs while they argue over his head, Jesse comes up with the idea of using a magnet to destroy the laptop.
They go to the junkyard and buy a van and an uber-powerful magnet off the junkman, Walt needing to borrow from Jesse in order to cover the expense. They run the magnet van up to the side of the evidence locker, hit it full blast and get away clean. But while they seem to have successfully managed to fuck up the laptop, they also inadvertently give the cops a heads up that something’s behind the photo of Gus and his lover/partner, something that will probably end up on Hank’s desk toot-fucking-sweet.
Meanwhile Skyler learns of the major fuck up that went down with Ted’s intimidation from Saul, goes to visit him in the hospital. At first she’s apologetic when she seems him in all his bandages and braces, but after Ted pleads with her, tells her that he’ll never tell a soul about what really happened, she steels up towards him, says “Good” in I-have-the-power-to-end-you type way.
Speaking of talking tough, after the magnet works like a charm, Walt first gets in “I’m the one who knocks” mode with Mike before doing the same to Saul who tries to quit taking him on as a client. Then the episode ends Walt “forgiving” Skyler in a way that lets her know that yeah, she should be scared of him and yeah, he’s fine with his power over her being the basis of their relationship from here on out.
Now before I get into a whole lotta questions I wanna ask you Breaking Badasses out there, let’s talk the cold open some. We’ve got Walt hanging out in a Denny’s (is it the same Denny’s Walt and Jesse went to in episode one of last season following Gus’ box-cutter work?) waiting on Jim Beaver’s weapons dealer who gave Walt his snubnose thirty-eight last season. Walt’s got a whole lot of hair facially and head-wise and has apparently just turned 52 and is carrying a New Hampshire license and license plates on his very un-Aztec-y car. If we’re to believe what he tells the waitress he’s just come from there. If he’s being straight with her, dig this nerdy parallel: This episode shares a title with a season six part one episode of The Sopranos about Vito Spatafore coming back to New Jersey after hiding out in New Hampshire, whose state motto is…you get it.) Jim Beaver arrives and sells Walt a machine gun. Cue opening credits.
Is this going to be a situation like the black-and-white pool shots that opened every episode of season two, where every new cold open reveals something more about what’s happening in the future for Walt? Are we going to find out what Walt’s doing up in this season at the end of part one of this season or at the end of the show entirely? Guess we’ll find out next episode if the cold open picks up right after where this one ended or not.
Speaking of upcoming weeks, here’s some shit I’m wrestling with about this episode and the upcoming season as a whole. First, is Walt gonna let Ted live? The guy fucked his wife and Walt doesn’t like loose ends in the slightest. Also, when is Mike gonna hear the full story of why Jesse agreed to help kill Gus with Walt and if he does hear it will that influence Jesse’s trust of Walt? There’s already some major holes in what happened to Brock. If Gus had nothing to do with it and the lily of the valley was the cause of Brock’s poisoning, is Jesse just assuming that Gus, what, was planning on eventually doing something with the cigarette?
Also, do you think there’s gonna be another big bad guy on the show or is it simply going to be Walt trying to grab power? Gus took a long time to grow and be set up over the last two seasons and became almost mythical in his power and reach. Are they really gonna build up another character this late in the game from whole cloth for Walt to butt heads with on a level resembling anything close to that? I think Walt’s downfall has to be his own power-mad ego, that the real bad guy will be himself, that he’ll either be taken down by Jesse or Hank in some fashion.
But that’s a big, how-the-fuck-do-you-know-anything-about-it kind of question to ask at this point. The most pressing questions at this point are A) What the fuck is in that picture frame and B) How pumped are you to have Breaking Bad back in your life?