[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 1 "Live Free Or Die"


Courtesy of Sony Television
A couple weeks ago I was reading an article, I can't remember where, that suggested while the tongue was planted firmly in the cheek, that Mythbusters should do a Breaking Bad themed episode. See if acid really could eat through a bathtub and floor, that sort of thing.

Thing is, after this week's premier, I'm fully endorsing that idea, because I want to see if a wreaking yard magnet hooked up to 24 batteries in parallel can generate enough pull to not only wipe a computer, but pull a Uhaul over on it's side. I want to see that, and until they tell me otherwise, I'll believe that it worked because Walt told me it worked.

Reviewing Game of Thrones was easy, because there is enough going on with that show that they drop the ball from time to time. Reviewing Eureka is easy because they've sucked more often then they haven't this season. Reviewing Breaking Bad is going to be hard, because they rarely misstep. They rarely turn in half finished work, and Cranston is always on his game. There are few imperfections on the side of the bottle. So, we'll see how this goes.

Hit the jump for the review.



At this point, I'm convinced that Bryan Cranston would look with any combination of hair and facial hair. If they gave him cornrows and Hitler's moustache, he'd pull it off. And it also leads us to my favourite narrative device Breaking Bad uses, and has used to great effect in the past: the non linear story. The writers on this show, Vince Gilligan especially, uses the cold opens so effectively to fill in plot details, character moments, or set up a pay off we won't know is coming until after it's hit us. They never waste a minute on this show. It's tight, and tense, and keeps us in the dark, but never wastes our time. Game of Thrones staff and execs need to watch the whole series on DVD from the beginning before starting off on season three, because they'll learn some very important lessons. So it looks like the trip to Denny's is the beginnings of another pink bear.

Remember back to season two, when we first met Saul. He was the big man, with a plan and a deal, and Walter was still uncertain and cowered before Saul's obvious superiority. Now watch this one. Listen to how Saul talks just as much and Walter keeps just as quiet. But the lack of hesitation, the gravitas Cranston brings to Walter just sitting there, even before the threat. Saul's the one cowering now, and I am racking my brain trying to figure out if there is another character on another TV show ever that has under went such a complete and dramatic transformation. All good characters grow, they learn, they adapt to new surroundings and situations, but they remain basically the same person. Walter White went from being Batman to the Joker in four years.

Watch the scene with Walter drinking the scotch. It's like Gollum's conversations. One minute he's calm and collected, the next he's neurotically hiding evidence. He keeps going back and forth, until one side runs out of stuff to do. I always figured Walter's obsession about perfection would be his undoing, but I see now that it kind of was. Because once he expunged the last evidence connecting him to Gus, Walter ceased to exist. Up till now, even last season, Walter was Walter at work, he was Heisenberg while cooking, and he was a cuckold at home. His demeanour, his body language, it all changed depending on who he was talking to. But that last scene. It's like watching a movie where multiple personalities are duelling over control of a body. Walter is gone, there is nothing left. Heisenberg wins.

So, once again, Walt and Jesse are working together, so we'll see how long that lasts until Jesse does something to piss Walt off. If I have one complaint about the show it is how in love Gilligan is with the pair, and how no matter what happens, the reset button seems to keep getting pushed on their relationship. Even Mike, the gruff henchmen, comments on it in this episode.

Now, it's a race to see what will undo Walter. My guess is something to do with the Tom story line. I know it's a cliche, but they got Capone on tax evasion, and that story line has a bunch of loose ends. Equally possible is Walter's reaction to Tom; maybe he goes, like with other things in his life, a little too far. Or maybe it's something we haven't seen yet, like the note tucked into the broken picture frame. Walter has always been his worst enemy, and for him to be the instrument of his own destruction seems appropriate.

For this week, we got a junk yard man waxing philosophic about theoretical physics (with a well timed mention to the Higgs boson). Gods, I love this show.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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