Live Free or Die
Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 1 recap
Walt has hair! On his head! He looks so different, dressed in casual, slightly dirty clothes, unkempt beard, no wedding ring and black-framed glasses. He shows the chatty diner waitress a fake ID to get a free , greasy birthday breakfast (and to shut her up). New Hampshire, she remarks, is a long way away. He says he’s driven for about 30 hours; it’s not clear what state he is in or how much time has passed since the end of season 4. He exchanges cash for keys with a dude in the washroom, pops a pill, leaves a $100 tip for the waitress and heads to the parking lot. The keys were for a car that has a serious gun in the trunk, along with instructions (I don’t know anything about guns, but it looks serious).
Flashback to post-nursing home explosion, and Walt is frantically getting rid of the bomb-making ingredients and Lily of the Valley plant. Walt Jr. tells Walt the DEA narrative while Skyler’s all breathy and “ooooh what did you do Walt…?” Skyler’s now more frightened of her husband than the faceless “drug trade.” In an attempt to keep his family safe, he has terrified his wife.
Hank is touring the burned-out superlab. He’s on a freaking roll, and is the only one who notices the camera. Is the DEA incompetent or is Hank particularly brilliant? He’s also tense and quiet; even his partner remarks how he hasn’t thrown out an “I told you so.” Hank is past the point of caring if he’s right; he’s intent on finding every piece of the puzzle. Even with Gus dead, Heisenberg still lingers.
Mike is feeding chickens in the (Mexican?) desert. He’s told Gus is dead and races back to New Mexico and runs into Walt and Jesse on a dirt road. Mike goes to shoot Walt and Jesse intervenes; Mike screams that they don’t know what they’ve done. Walt and Jesse are super tight right now; killing Gale estranged them, but killing Gus has bonded them. They implore Mike to find the superlab camera hard drive. Mike discovers that the laptop holding all the camera evidence is locked away in an evidence room.
Jesse is the peanut gallery, trying to make his suggestion heard over Mike and Walt’s bickering. They go see an eccentric junkyard guy (is there any other kind?) to secure a giant magnet to sabotage the laptop. Mike still seems fond of Jesse, even though he knows Jesse must have been complicit in Gus’s murder.
Jesse seems more mature this season, almost peaceful. Mike tells Jesse to take his money and skip town, but Jesse is strangely optimistic. I suspect it’s because of Brock and Andrea.
Saul shows up at the car wash and warns Skyler about a call from the cops: Ted is awake. This is bad for Skyler – very bad. But I don’t know if she has the brain capacity to grasp “really bad.” She seems more wide-eyed than usual this episode, but I guess the shock of your husband blowing up an old age home to kill a drug kingpin can do that to a woman.
At the junkyard, there’s a lot of talk about Jesse’s possible body piercings. Mike, Walt and Jesse are being surprisingly careless with their identity and plan. Not only does the junkyard owner see what they are making, but so do two other workers. The magnet experiment works, and Jesse lets out his first “bitch!” of the episode. Mike looks quietly impressed. I suspect he’s hoping to kill Walt once the superlab evidence is destroyed.
Skyler is at the hospital for a visit with Ted, who is severely injured but assures Skyler he won’t tell anyone. He’s scared of her and thinks she’ll hurt his children. She wouldn’t, but Ted’s instinct is right—Walt probably would. Instead of being upset about Ted thinking she’s a monster, Skyler is relieved. I’m not sure if she’s relieved that she won’t be caught, or that she won’t have to protect Ted from Walt.
Jesse, Walt and Mike pull an old-fashioned caper under the cover of night by driving past the evidence room with giant magnets (this is getting into Myth Busters territory) to destroy the laptop hard drive. A photo of Gus and his murdered partner is damaged, thus revealing an inscription not previously noticed.
Jesse celebrates, Mike is skeptical, Walt is cocky as hell. It’s incredible how Walt hasn’t learned anything from the fall of the great Gustavo—hubris will get you every time.
Saul tries to explain the Beneke/IRS tax situation to Walt. “You’re a two-bit, bus bench lawyer,” Walt tells him. Ya, but isn’t that the beauty of Saul? Saul wants out, but is muscled into a corner by Walt who tells him, “We’re done when I say we’re done.”
Whatever is coming to Walt is going to be deserved; I’d like to see him get some comeuppance. He’s being a bastard. I miss the days when he used his brain to get what he wanted, not veiled threats of violence. And hasn’t anyone told Walt that a successful boss doesn’t micromanage? He’s trying to do it all and be it all (smart, tough, powerful, elusive, intimidating). You can’t be the boss if you are arguing with your bus bench lawyer.
Walt goes home to Skyler and she assures him that Ted won’t talk, and Walt gives her the creepiest hug EVER (Skyler looks a little frightened and seriously sketched out). Walt whispers, “I forgive you.” Who is Walter White to be throwing around forgiveness? He acts like all his decisions happen in a vacuum, and everyone else should have to justify their actions to him. Walt poisons the well and then punishes people for drinking from it.
This was definitely a nuts and bolts episode with not enough Jesse Pinkman, obviously (although I thoroughly enjoyed the Prince Albert banter). I don’t know if the camera/laptop storyline was necessary (why would the APD have it and not the DEA? Wouldn’t the police have immediately looked at everything on the laptop and then backed-up the hard drive before filing it in the evidence room?). But it answered a lot of questions that fans are going crazy on the message boards about: yes, Gus is dead; yes, Walt poisoned Brock without a doubt; Mike is alive; Ted is alive and won’t talk. There’s no great mystery lingering from season 4.
Now I want to know how Mr. Walt became Mr. Lambert. And where’s he going with that gun?
Attached - the cast of Breaking Bad at the premiere this weekend.
(Lainey: Did you know that Walter White was supposed to be either John Cusack or Matthew Broderick??? Click here to read more.)