“Yeah, Bitch!! Magnets!!” | Review: Breaking Bad 5.01
TV Diary | Breaking Bad – Episode 5.01 – “Live Free Or Die” – Original Airdate: 7/15/12
Episode Grade: A-
Ed. Note: Yeah… so it was my intention to shelve TV Diary, as I’d said in my last post way too long ago. And largely, it still is, except that I kind of made my bones last year on this site with my reviews of Breaking Bad so, with its return for the first half of its fifth season spanning over the next eight weeks, I felt compelled to run these shorter reviews because it’s, you know… Breaking Bad. I’m a lying liar, I know. Anyway, enjoy.
To those who are criticizing “Live Free Or Die,” Breaking Bad’s triumphant fifth season return, I have but one request. Shut up. No, seriously. Shut up. What? That’s not fair? Ah… you might be right. I apologize. Let me phrase it like this: Shut the fuck up. This is the second-to-last season opening summer premiere we’re going to get  and I’m not going to have your entitled whining ruin it for the rest of us. So just keep your mouth shut, OK? For the rest of us, “Live Free Or Die” may not have lived up to the tension-filled heights of Gus murdering Victor by SLASHING HIS THROAT WITH A GODDAMNED BOX CUTTER in last season’s season-opening “Box Cutter,” but it still had more than enough goodness to let us know that Vince Gilligan and company have slacked exactly zero percent over the past year. After the now traditional puzzling season-premiere cold open , much of “Live Free Or Die” finds Walt, Jesse, and a reluctant Mike scrambling to tie up some loose ends in the wake of Gus having half of his face blown off. Walt realizes that the security camera that Gus had trained on them every minute that they were in the superlab could theoretically have been recording footage that could now serve as the smoking gun (lab?) that could bring all of them down, so the unlikely trio hatches a scheme to destroy the laptop that contains the footage, which is now in the possession of the Albuquerque Police Department.
What results is one helluva good caper episode, with the impetus for the scheme hatching from Jesse’s brain . Suffice it to say that it involves an industrial strength magnet, an abandoned truck, and Walt and Jesse getting close enough to APD headquarters to erase the contents of Gus’s laptop via said magnet. Maybe I’m a sucker for a good caper, but watching this unholy trio put their plan into motion and execute it seemingly perfectly  was a blast. That the chaos caused in the APD evidence room allowed the police to uncover more information about Gus’s dealings that they otherwise may not have thanks to a broken picture frame caused by Walt and Jesse’s intervention was just the icing on the cake. I appreciated Gilligan’s approach in bringing the three men together because, although Mike can barely contain his disgust for Walt  at this (or any) point, the possibility that Gus may have recorded all three men in the lab at one point or another served as an organic reason for them to be forced to team up. Plus, Jonathan Banks’ performance as Mike is a treasure and I’ll take more of it any time Breaking Bad wants to give it to us. “Live Free Or Die” also served to further illustrate that Walt’s descent into pure villainy (as per Gilligan’s stated goal for the series – to show how a good man can be corrupted into an unrecognizable version of himself) is in full, glorious effect. From Walt telling Skyler, “You don’t think I rate a ‘hello,’ at least?” after she returns home following his confirmation of his involvement in Gus’s death, to answering Mike’s question about why he’s so sure that leaving the truck behind at APD wasn’t a bad idea (“Because I say so.”), to his chilling “I forgive you,” to Skyler after learning about her attempt to pay Ted Beneke off in season four and the subsequent unfortunate events that befell him, Walt is a full-on villain now. The only question left is how deep he will go, which is something I’m beyond anxious for Breaking Bad to answer over the next two months. Breaking Bad is back, everyone. And that’s for damned sure nothing to complain about.
 Thankfully, AMC has done the right thing and has decided to split this final batch up into two bite-size chunks to be aired over the next eight weeks, with the ensuing eight episodes airing over another eight weeks this time next summer. I applaud AMC loudly for this because I wasn’t ready in any way, shape, or form for this to be the last summer of the show. I just wasn’t, and you probably weren’t either if you’re being honest with yourself.
 Here (DEEP BREATH) showing Walt with a full head of hair and a full beard wielding a fake ID from New Hampshire, celebrating his birthday in a Denny’s while conducting a business transaction with Jim Beaver’s (Deadwood) gun dealer, Lawson, for an assault rifle in the bathroom. As Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall pointed out in his review, the “52” that Walt fashions out of the bacon on his breakfast plate signifies that the rest of the episode takes place roughly a year prior to the open. Whether we’ll know how we got to the Denny’s by the end of these eight episodes remains to be seen.
 As shown in a great scene where Walt and Mike argue with one another, all the while Jesse is in the background asking a variation on, “What about a magnet?” four or five times before The Bickersons actually pay attention to him.
 Well, almost perfectly. As a friend pointed out, one of the great things about Breaking Bad is that every action on the show causes another domino to fall.
 Although he’s clearly developed an affinity for Jesse, as evidenced by the paternal disappointment in his, “Oh, Jesse,” line reading when he realizes that Jesse’s thrown his lot back in with Walt.
*One of the things that Breaking Bad does better than maybe any show except arguably The Wire is its ability to make being a criminal look like the most unglamorous thing in the world. There are always repercussions. There is stress on stress on stress. And although Walt has gotten away with almost everything to this point in the series, he’s going to go down soon. And he’s going to go down spectacularly.
*Ted ain’t dead, but he’s in a very bad way and his misfortune serves as an object lesson to Skyler on exactly who she’s in bed with at this point. Just as I’m sure that Jesse’s going to be the one to eventually put Walt down, I have a feeling that Skyler’s going to have a big hand in his demise before everything is said and done.
*I wonder how Denny’s feels with the continued product placement as the go-to diner for meth-producing megalomaniacs?
*Toasting himself in the mirror is a very Walt thing to do.
*According to Gomez, teeth do a “popcorn thing” when they get too hot. Who knew?
*The look on the APD officer’s face as he enters the evidence room and sees what’s happening is priceless.
*Very nice point made by The AV Club’s Donna Bowman in her review of “Live Free Or Die”: Walter’s “I forgive you,” to Skyler at the end of the episode is almost the inverse of her “I fucked Ted,” at the end of season three’s “I.F.T.” Gotta love a show that brings things full circle in this way.
*”Keys, scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys.”
*”You know how they say it’s been a pleasure? It hasn’t.”
*”If you have any brains, you’ll take that money you saved and you’ll skip town. Now. Today.”
*”What’s wrong with them, anyway? Why would anyone wanna put a metal ring through their prick?”
*”YEAH, BITCH!! MAGNETS!! OOOOHHHH!!”
*”Because I say so.”
*”You’re not Clarence Darrow. You’re a two-bit, bus bench lawyer and you work for me.”
*”We’re done when I say we’re done.”
*”I forgive you.”