Jul 16 2012

Breaking Bad Review: “Live Free or Die”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

I haven’t made up my mind whether or not I’m going to do a weekly review for Breaking Bad yet. It’s looking likely, as there isn’t anything I’d really consider “reviewable” out for a little while at least until Dexter comes back.

I did weekly recap/reviews for Breaking Bad last year, but there was a select contingent who didn’t deem them quite worthy of the show’s caliber. I tend to miss metaphors, forget subcharacter names, things like that, and all around under-appreciate the show. According to them at least.

I do appreciate Breaking Bad, I really do. I think Bryan Cranston’s performance as Walter White is the best on television bar none, year after year, and Aaron Paul ain’t too shabby as Jesse either.  I did think last season was overly slow, though things did pick up at the very end, and things ended, shall we say, with a bang.

Last night we saw both the distant and recent aftermath of Walt’s (successful) plan to blow up Gustavo Fring. The show opened with a flash forward set somewhere in the future, where Walt has hair again and he somehow needs the use of an alternate identity and a military grade machine gun. I missed it when Breaking bad stopped doing little teasers at the beginning of each episode that hinted at what was to  come. But when the plane crash turned out to be the dumbest plot development in the show’s history, maybe they learned their lesson about building to an anti-climax.

And hipster glasses to boot.

But this is more than just a scorched stuffed bear in a pool. This was a full-fledged scene featuring Walt way in the future. I wonder if each episode will now open like this for the duration of the season, or if it was a one-time peak and we’ll be wondering about it for some time. Either way, I’m sure we won’t know what the hell is going on until pretty far into the season.

The rest of the episode focused on the immediate aftermath of the explosions, with Walt cleaning house of bomb and poison-making materials. We’ve all been wondering for a while now what’s happened to Mike, and I even suspected that he might end up being the main villain of this season attempting to off Walt. But events had him, Jesse and Walt all team up to destroy a laptop that incriminated all of them.

It was very…Ocean’s 11 meets MacGyver. Breaking Bad usually prides itself on scientific realism, but I have my doubts that a industrial magnet loaded into a truck pulled up next to a police station would produce their desired result. They should do a Mythbusters about that. In any case, it DID make for good TV, and the laptop was destroyed. It did, however, reveal a new clue to the police hidden behind the photo that they might not have caught otherwise. It appeared to be banking information, which could lead to a whole treasure trove of other goodies.

“YO WHAT ABOUT MAGNETS!”

We also learned the rather surprising fact that good ‘ol Ted is still alive, and that was a rather fantastic scene where he gets scared straight by Skylar without her even having to say anything. It was perhaps her first taste of the kind of power Walt now has, though she’s been scared of him since  his legendary “I’m the one who knocks” speech from last season.

We’re left with not many clues as to where this season is heading, though I wouldn’t expect that from the premiere. Most of the time the first episode of a season is a bit of clean-up from the last one, and it took the entire hour here. But I do have to wonder, with Mike on their side and both cartels dead, who exactly is left to be Walt’s foil? No characters that have been on the show previously come to mind, so I would expect the introduction of a new player some time soon. I’m just glad Jesse and Walter aren’t at each other’s throats anymore, and Mike on their side is an added bonus. Though I’m not sure how long he’ll stay that way.

What do you want to see out of this season of Breaking Bad? What’d you make of last night’s premiere? What metaphors did I miss?





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20 responses so far

  • Bryan

    Please keep the reviews coming. For every negative post there is a large handful of people that enjoy the review but just don’t mention it

  • the_nightman_cometh

    “who exactly is left to be Walt’s foil?” Nobody!
    Everything is in place for Walt to be the shows bad guy for this, the final season. I can’t see them going down any other route. He’s essentially the “top dog” in the Albuquerque meth trade now. All his actions in the previous season (hell even the show’s title) point to him turning to the dark side (to borrow a phrase!)- He poisoned Jesse’s girlfriend’s kid, allowed Jessie’s junkie gf to die, Hank was almost crippled because of his actions,
    All those events must have happened for someone to find out about them along the way. I could potentially see Jesse finding out about the poisoning somehow and turning to Hank for help, or capping Walt off himself.

  • the_nightman_cometh

    Also I liked how the opening mirrored the very first episode- It’s Walts birthday and he is served bacon (the real stuff this time not the veggie crap from S1E1!)

    Also the colour of Walts clothes moving from neutral Biege/Brown to a “darker” navy, I think I read something on Upprox that explains it better though…

  • Big Dave

    Her name is Skylar White not Marie (that is her sister). Otherwise I liked the review!

  • Sam

    Skylar! Walt’s wife is Skylar! Change it before the trolls say you don’t understand anything about the show because you mixed up the sisters’ names.
    I really loved last night’s episode. It was well paced and had quite a few awesome moments. My favorite was the very brief shot of the fly in the blown up lab. I can’t help but think that it’s the same fly from the season three episode titled Fly. On any other show I would scoff at anyone suggesting it was on purpose, but with breaking bad where the most minor of details can become vital I can only think it was an absolutely brilliant touch.
    Paul I have to admit I was completely with you on the season 2 plane crash at first but after thinking about it and watching the series again I am now convinced it was a God damn brilliant piece of storytelling. See it just shows how through a series of minor events caused by Walt’s inaction he more or less caused a chain reaction that led to a plane crash. It was just a step showing how much Walt will hurt others to get what he wants to

  • Dick_Umbrella

    “We also learned the rather surprising fact that good ‘ol Ted is still alive, and that was a rather fantastic scene where he gets scared straight by Marie without her even having to say anything.”

    I think you mean Skyler. Great recap, though.

  • Sam

    …well that fly died. But I still say it was on purpose as a throw back to that episode.

  • Kong1965

    Pretty obvious that the foil for Walt this season will end up being Hank in one fashion or another. My prediction all along has been that Hank will ultimately be the one bringing Walt down, sort of closing the circle in terms of his introduction to the world of meth, and the world crashing down around their families as a result. It’s Hank’s road to complete recovery, and the end of a monster he unwittingly created.

    BTW, can’t disagree more about the plane crash. Keep up the reviews, but I gotta say, if you can’t deal with a little criticism from web weenies, then you’re in the wrong business. Suck it up.

  • Mark

    I thought the opening sequence was Walt in some sort of disguise, but the flash forward makes more sense.

    I suspect there might be some Germans coming in the mix, and the preview for next week hinted at it, too. Remember that El Pollos Hermanos is owned by a German conglomerate, and Gus purchased the industrial HEPA filter through this company. They’re going to come investigate now that Gus is gone. Maybe there’s room for redemption if Walt helps Hank bring down the Germans? Germans are scary, after all. Just ask Mr. Burns.
    http://vimeo.com/10752016

  • GrandWazoo

    I have a question. You mention nothing “reviewable” is out until Dexter. Do you consider any TV show besides Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Dexter, to be reviewable? I ask because those are the only TV shows you have reviewed in the last year. I’m not nitpicking or trying to insult you, I’m just wondering if you have any other shows you would put into that category?

  • Jobin

    Great review, keep it up!!!

    It’s sort of difficult to tell who Walt’s foil will be this season, but Hank is the best candidate. However, this is problematic since Hank has been receiving less and less screen time since the first season and therefore less character development. His appearance in this episode was quite forgettable when compared to the other goings on, but I guess consistent and balanced character development is something that most TV dramas struggle with. I hope this season leads to an epic showdown between Walter and Hank (or even Jesse), but I’d like to see Hank’s character fleshed-out a little more in the subsequent episodes.

    PS Am I the only one who thinks Mike is a very boring character?

  • Sam

    @Jobin
    Yes. Yes, you are. Mike is awesome.

  • Short Dude

    SPOILER ALERT (I think)
    *
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    *
    *
    *
    They mention Gus Fring’s backers (supposedly a group of Germans) during the Comic Con panel. One of them was some lady who was just added to the cast.

    *
    *
    *
    *

    *

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    BREAKING BAD is one of the best shows on TV. Personally, I think the pacing of last season was deliberately a little off b/c they were in that process of negotiating how long the show would stay on. Because that process went on so long, I think it probably made developments stagnate a bit in the writers’ room, but I loved the ending. Hopefully, this last go round will be equally tension-filled.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Ant2206 ant2206

    “Who exactly is left to be Walt’s foil?”

    1) Hank, who’s currently circling closer and closer to the truth. Everyone seems to forget that Hank has been Walt’s true nemesis from season 1.

    2) Jesse. I fully expect that the person to ultimately take Walt down (and probably the reason why Walt has the machine gun and is on the run, on his own) is Jesse. He got tough under the tutelage of Mike last season, and all it will take is for him to learn that Walt poisoned Brock. Possibly through Saul.

  • Don

    I still think Walts biggest enemy is himself. Just some of the things the character does I can’t help but facepalm and think “For someone so smart, this character is a complete dumba$$”.

    Not sure how the show will end, but I hope it is with Walts downfall and how he brought upon himself.

  • angryman

    if they played this season out in a memento-ish fashion, i wouldnt be too upset.

    and keep the reviews coming, i loved them last year

  • Mark Jr

    I missed the reviews last season, but I’m looking forward to these.

    I’m thinking maybe Hank (Walt’s brother-in-law) might be a kind of “antagonist” (for lack of a better word) as he gets closer and closer to exposing Walt.

  • albo

    Just one editorial nitpick – you say rather a lot. At least once per article, but twice back to back here.

  • Rogan

    I like the sites recaps and reviews, keep’em coming!
    Did anybody else notice that Walt said ‘I’ a lot in this episode?
    He told Mike the laptop was destroyed ‘because he says so.’
    He told Skylar that he’d won, and intimidated her by saying that he’d forgive her.
    He intimidated Saul telling him that their relationship ended when he wanted it to end.
    I thought it was a bit “Godfather like” behaviour from Walt, maybe hinting that he will now be in total control of the drug scene, and will be the new capo.
    I believe Mike will join up with Walt against a new foe, but the show will develop into Walt’s downfall because of his past actions , like Jesse finding out about his girlfriends death and the kid poisoning.

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