Breaking Bad Review: “Live Free or Die”

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.


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?