Bad Ass Quote of the Week
“Son of a bitch. Son of a Bitch! Get outta my way kid! Let him talk… I am done listening to this asshole talk. Now get outta my way.” - Mike Ehrmantraut
Thoughts on “Live Free or Die”
The long wait is over, and the new season begins with a flash forward. On to a paper placemat with an ad entitled “rethinking refreshment” a breakfast plate of eggs, hash browns and bacon is served. No, it’s not a Walt Jr. scene! We see Walter White’s hands appear and break the bacon slices in half, forming the number 52 out of them over the breakfast. The waitress asks. “What happened there?”
Walt says, “It’s my birthday.”
This is a call back to Episode 101, when Walt is greeted by Skyler with a similar breakfast on his 50′th birthday, the number laid out in veggie bacon. At least he got real bacon this time!
Walt looks completely different. In addition to a very haggard expression, he has a full head of hair, a full beard and heavily framed glasses. He is wearing a military style coat.
When offered a free breakfast for his birthday, Walt demurs, to which the waitress says, “Free is good, even if I was rich, free is always good.”
Walt reconsiders and produces ID showing that he is from New Hampshire, although from the conversation with the waitress, it is evident that he is still in Albuquerque.
Lawson, the illegal gun dealer (from whom Walt bought his pistol in Episode 402) arrives, and Walt follows him to the rest room. There he passes Lawson an envelope full of money and receives a set of keys in return. Lawson asks for assurance that whatever he is selling Walt, it will not cross the border, and Walt says it will not leave the state. Lawson leaves saying, “Good luck, I guess.”
Walt coughs and takes some pills. On his way out of the restaurant Walt leaves a $100 tip next to his uneaten breakfast, and as he passes by her, the waitress says “Happy Birthday Mr. Lambert.”
Interesting that Walt has chosen Skyler’s maiden name (Lambert) to use on his fake ID. Where is Skyler and his family at this point? Are they still alive?
Outside Walt removes a duffle bag from the trunk of his car – a Volvo displaying New Hampshire license plates bearing the state motto “Live Free or Die.” Like Gus before him, Walt is driving a Volvo. It must be the preferred brand of drug kingpins, or perhaps they get a discount at the dealership if they display their union card.
Walt locates the car left for him by Lawson by clicking the alarm button on the keychain he received, and opens the trunk of the car to reveal an M60 machine gun, 4 cans of ammunition and the “manual” Lawson printed for him. He puts his bag into the trunk and closes the lid.
This opening flash forward scene has a lot to say to us, without revealing much. The indication that this is Walt’s 52′nd birthday puts this scene about one year in the future from where the story is right now. The first four seasons of Breaking Bad covered roughly one year of Walt’s life – Junior as much as said so in Episode 410 – “Salud”. I believe what we have seen here won’t be resolved until near the end of the final eight episodes of this series (Season 5 B). I don’t think there is any way that in this eight episode “half season” the show can cover a year of story timeline… so we are going to be waiting a while for answers to this one.
All the references to “Live Free or Die” lead me to believe that Walt has reached a point where he is fighting to stay alive and free (the motto on his license plate, the words of the waitress about “Free is always good”, and even the purchase of the machine gun). Walt’s appearance even prompts comparisons to a “survivalist” look – someone that’s going to hide out and weather a storm – whatever that storm may be. An M60 is a much more effective weapon in a defensive posture, than in an attack (I have over 25 years in the Infantry to back up this knowledge). The only result you will get from charging up a hill like Rambo against an armed enemy while firing your M60 from the hip is a quick death. The chances of you shooting someone are very slim. I believe Walt is headed somewhere to hole up and “Live Free or Die”.
Thinking about Walt’s generous tip to the waitress, perhaps he is also at a point where despite everything he has done to earn his money, it hasn’t brought him one whit of happiness, and he must make little gestures with it to derive any good feeling from it.
All this speculation aside, I am always aware that flash forwards on this show seldom end up being what they appear on the surface.
Wow… all this and we’re only at the opening credits!
We see a replay of the telephone conversation between Skyler and Walt from the end of Episode 513 – “Face Off” where Walt replies to Skyler’s question of “Was this you?” with “I won.”
Walt returns home and quickly cleans up his bomb making bits and bobs in the kitchen, stowing them in the trunk of his car. I guess his neighbour “Becky” didn’t spot all this stuff when she went in to make sure Junior hadn’t left the stove on in “Face Off”. Walt is about to pour himself a celebratory scotch when he realises he forgot something. He runs out and throws the Lily of the Valley plant in his trunk also.
This should remove any doubt that Walt was behind the poisoning of Brock, for those who were not convinced at the end of last season.
Walt is about to drink his scotch when his family returns home. Junior is extremely excited by the death of Gus, and Hank’s elevated heroism. It is obvious that Junior’s admiration for Hank at this time irritates Walt. Interestingly Walt says “Your uncle is safe? How do they know that?” I think he is jealous that the authorities are not concerned about him… the man who killed Gus. Walt wants to be recognized for his “brilliance” and achievements… his ego always gets in his way.
Walt leaves Junior to watch things unfold on television and goes back to his bedroom with Skyler and Holly. He greets Skyler and gets no answer. He snuggles with Holly for a bit, obviously joyful to see her. Walt then asks Skyler if he at least rates a hello, which she returns. He then asks if she will talk to him or at least show some relief that he is ok. She says she is relieved and scared. When asked what she’s scared of she replies “You.”
Skyler has now discovered what her husband is capable of, and it frightens her deeply – and she only knows the half of it!
Walt finally gets to sip his scotch – toasting himself in the mirror. After thinking for a moment, he stands up and says, “Oh shit!”
He’s forgotten something important. What did observing his reflection remind him of?
Hank, using his cane, climbs down into the burnt out, flooded and destroyed super lab. We are not treated to the Hank “Gloat a Thon” that we were probably all expecting, but perhaps Junior has done his back-slapping for him. Hank is all business – the white knight in his white chem-suit? It speaks volumes that he is in the lab the very next day after the bombing. He’s still on a mission.
When Hank asks Gomez about the two bodies discovered in the lab, he’s told that they have not been identified. I don’t have a “Gross Out Quote of the Week” here, but if there was one, Steve Gomez would have been it with “Nah, not much left. Apparently the teeth do this popcorn thing when they get too hot, so they tell me. Whoever torched it did it up right.“
Hank then spots a piece of wreckage that he correctly identifies as a camera.
Mike is recovering in Mexico, feeding chickens. Is he the last of the Chicken Man’s empire? We also meet our new favourite member of the show’s cast… Wendell the Chicken! Mike’s doctor receives a phone call, and shares the news with Mike that “Gustavo is dead”.
Mike jumps in a car and starts racing back to Albuquerque – evidently to avenge Gus. This reveals a lot, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Mike speeds along a dirt road through the desert, and another car travelling in the opposite direction speeds towards him. They play chicken (hmm… chicken again) until they pass each other and then spin to a halt. The occupants of the other car are Walt and Jesse.
Mike immediately raises his gun to kill Walt, but Jesse places himself between them. Mike is determined to kill Walt, while Jesse tries to convince him that he has to hear what Walt has to say. Also revealing is what Mike says next, “What’d you do Jesse? Do you even know? Do you even know what you’ve done?”
As I noted in my article on Questions for Season 5 to Answer, Mike is a practical man. Mike will not serve someone if it doesn’t benefit him, but once he chooses someone to serve, he is loyal. Now with Gus dead, Mike has no real reason (not in his interest) to go after Walt (or Jesse). Unless – there is something else there – something (someone) above Gus which Mike is aware of, which he either serves, or it serves him to avenge Gus for. Mike’s speedy flight back to the U.S. and his asking Jesse if he knows what he’s done are very ominous signs of things to come in my opinion. There is something bigger than Gus out there… and Mike knows what it is!
Jesse informs Mike, “If you kill him, you’re going to have to kill me too.”
Mike, obviously driven by the bond he has developed with Jesse, lowers his gun and says, “Oh Jesse. Jesus, what is it with you guys, honest to God?”
Walt and Jesse remind Mike about the cameras from the lab, and that the video captured by them has not been destroyed. This video footage will implicate them all. Mike discloses that the video was recorded on a laptop in Gus’ office, and that all images were fed straight there. He then moves to the driver side of Walt and Jesse’s new muscle car and holds his hand open. To Walt’s quizzical look he says, “Keys scumbag…. it’s the universal symbol for keys.”
Yet another of Mike’s bon mots this episode!
The three of them take off in the car. I have no idea when or where Walt and Jesse got this new ride. Possibly from one of the two goons Walt shot in the lab, but I don’t remember either of them frisking the bodies for keys. Not a big issue I guess. I do like seeing the three of them in that car!
Gus’ laptop gets tagged and bagged as evidence by the police under the supervision of Hank.
At Jesse’s house Mike impersonates a postal inspector, trying to locate the items impounded from Gus’ office under the ruse that Gus committed “meter fraud” – saving 2 cents every time he used first class postage. On ending his call with the police, Mike remarks, “We’re boned.”, and putting on his jacket adds, “Well, you know how they say it’s been a pleasure? It hasn’t.”
Jesse tries to convince Mike not to leave, that they have to do something, and Walt wants to know details of the police evidence room where the laptop is being held. Mike maintains that it is impossible to get into, impossible to get a “device” inside, and impossible to blow up from outside – shooting down Walt’s arguments one by one. In the background Jesse keeps interjecting “Hey guys what about a magnet?” until they finally look at him. He demonstrates with a pantomime how a magnet could do the job. The dumbfounded looks on Mike and Walt’s faces are priceless.
All I could think of at this point was the difficulty Walt had with his magnetised bomb in the hospital.
The three go to visit Old Joe (the rather well-educated junk yard owner who destroyed the Methabago) and ask about using his industrial magnet (which is “paying the bills” lifting cars). Old Joe tells them their idea is do-able but expensive. Walt tells Jesse he doesn’t have any money right now and asks Jesse if he can he spot him his share (due to “an IRS issue”). Walt has no compunction about asking this, probably not even remembering he refused such a request from Jesse before (Episode 204 – “Down”). Jesse doesn’t hesitate, “Yeah, whatever.”
Mike, still skeptical of the plan, tells Jesse to take his money and skip town. He asks Jesse if it’s a serious question when asked if he doesn’t think the plan will work. Jesse tells him it’s a three-man job, and the only way he knows it won’t work for sure, is if Mike isn’t with them.
At the A1A Car Wash (thanks for the T-Shirt AMC!) Skyler is reading about Gus online when Saul pays her a visit. He tells her the police may call, and that she should play it cool – there was an incident with Ted Beneke, an “Act of God” and “we’ve got a problem.”
An upset Skyler asks Saul if Ted is dead. He responds, “Oh no, h-he just woke up.”
Damn! Ted didn’t die. Well I was wrong on that one! Vince Gilligan (or should I say the “Villigan”) sure misled me with the falling oranges and the phrase “Act of God”. I should know better by now…
One of the most humorous scenes of the episode occurs back at the junk yard. A cube van is wired up with Walt / Old Joe’s new electromagnet device and they are about to test it. Old Joe leads them through a list of metal objects they should make sure they don’t have on their bodies, including (ahem) genital piercings, to which Jesse comments “What are you looking at me for?”
Continuing with his list Old Joe goes through guns, knives, tools, keys, plates in your head, and artificial hips – at which point Walt gestures and looks at Mike. Old Joe finishes with credit cards, “You want that plastic working come Miller time.”
Mike comments, “You know, I can foresee a lot of possible outcomes to this thing, and not a single one of them involves Miller time.”
“PMA – Positive Mental Attitude”, says Old Joe.
They test the magnet’s effect on a laptop computer, and it succeeds fantastically, not only crashing the laptop, but ripping it out of Jesse’s hands to fly through the air and smash against the side of the truck. As the junkyard employees celebrate, Jesse exclaims “Yeah Bitch! Magnets. OH!”
Mike comments that all the evidence in the room flying around will make a lot of noise to which Walt answers “It won’t matter. In 60 seconds we’ll be gone.”
Skyler arrives at the hospital to see Ted and is very upset to see how awful he looks with a shaved head and his neck immobilized by a halo brace screwed into his skull. She is on the verge of apologising to him when he immediately tells her that he hasn’t said anything about what happened except that it was an accident. Concerned for his family, he vows never to breathe a word of this. Skyler composes herself to say, “Good.”
She may be scared of Walt, but she can still break bad herself when she’s protecting her family (including Walt). Ted is terrified of her!
At the APD Northwest Area command (where the evidence room containing Gus’ laptop is), Mike works some “Mike Magic” to get Walt, Jesse and the magnet truck (MagnetoBago?) into the compound. They pull the truck up a curb next to the evidence room about 2 meters from the wall. As they turn on the magnets, the police’s computers all die, and as Walt cranks up the juice, more and more objects start flying and sticking onto the wall of the evidence room, ultimately pulling down four shelving units. Walt insists on cranking the electromagnet up to maximum strength, which results in the truck tipping to get caught against the wall. The police rush out to find the empty, tilted truck.
You just know that this wouldn’t have been a “Walt and Jesse Caper” © if something like the truck tilting didn’t happen.
Jesse is celebrating as he, Mike and Walt drive away. Mike is concerned about the truck being traced, or that the plan may have not succeeded in destroying the laptop. Walt reassures all of Mike’s doubts about his plan. Mike asks, ”Am I just supposed to take that on faith? Why? How do we know?”
“Because I say so.”, Walt replies. The first view of his new “God complex”.
At the evidence room the police are re-cataloguing the evidence and recording the damage to each item. The screen of Gus’ laptop is broken, and the evidence bag is still sealed. A framed photo of Gus with Max has broken glass and the photo has slid out of the frame. This reveals a page behind the photo on which is written BancSuisse- Cayman, along with the routing number and account numbers for wire transfers. You can almost hear the ominous organ music that should play here.
These account numbers are unnecessary as an additional clue if they only lead to Madrigal Electromotive. They are a good extra clue if they lead to Gus’ background in Chile, or they link Madrigal Electromotive with Gus’ Chilean background. Madrigal will already be on the DEA investigation list for owning Los Pollos Hermanos, supplying equipment to the super lab and for being mentioned in Gale’s notebook. The account numbers are connected to whoever Gus was raising money for – and if it wasn’t for Madrigal alone, it must be something to do with his background in Chile. I think these numbers must link the two, or be a lead towards the Chile connection.
Walt visits Saul. I guess Francesca doesn’t mind letting him into the office after his “gift” of $25,000 to her. Saul tries to explain his innocence in Skyler giving away Walt’s money, and also points out that Skyler was really trying to protect Walt also. Walt isn’t happy that Saul “took it upon himself to give away $622,000 of his money to a man his wife had been sleeping with”. Saul reminds him that he is a lawyer to both of them, but tries to balance his duties ethically. In response, Walt insults Saul’s ethics. Saul then pulls out a plastic bag containing the Ricin cigarette, explaining the risk that he took on to get it, as well as Huell who’s “got fingers like hot dogs” and could have easily busted it in two and poisoned everyone in the office. He also notes that Walt never told him that Brock would end up in the hospital.
This finally confirms for all the doubters that Huell lifted the cigarette from Jesse. I was skeptical about this at first, but after “Face Off” I had to pretty much accept it. There are still major problems with the timeline of Brock’s poisoning, and this encounter between Saul and Walt does not answer the question of who exactly delivered the Lily of the Valley to Brock.
Saul tells Walt to get that thing out of here and, “You and me, we’re done.”
Walt moves in close on Saul, backing him into the wall, and says in a menacing way, “We’re done when I say we’re done.”
He then returns home to Skyler and tells her he has heard what happened to Ted. She informs him that Ted is not going talk. In one of the most awkward hugs in tv history Walt embraces Skyler who stands straight and does not return the embrace. She continues to wear her frightened expression as Walt says, “I forgive you.”
This is more of Walt’s “God complex” coming out… he even looks like a priest bestowing some awkward blessing with this embrace. Or maybe a mafia boss delivering a menacing kiss?
This was an excellent episode, extremely well paced, and full of content, great humour and one liners (wow Mike!), and I could not have been more pleased with it! I am so anxious for the next one!
A few thank-yous are in order. First to my friend Lindsey for her corrections to my “Premiere Week” article – much appreciated.
Thanks to Bill, Trent and Nate, those hilarious fellows at Behind the Cutting Edge who make the Breaking Bad Edition podcast, for promoting Tucker’s Hole on Facebook, as well as the multiple shout-outs in your preview podcast! Give these guys a listen for a humorous and interesting discussion of Breaking Bad.
Much appreciation also to A.Ron and Jim over at the Breaking Good podcast, for their up front promotion of Tucker’s Hole in their season preview podcast as well. Jim and A.Ron give a very thorough analysis of each episode, and I highly recommend their show.
A big hand shake to Robin, otherwise known as the TV Critic, and host of the TV Critic’s Breaking Bad Podcast. Robin is on vacation for the first two weeks of the season, and has put a link to Tucker’s Hole on his site and encouraged his listeners to turn here for their “fix” while he is away. Much gratitude to you sir!
A bit of news from Lissy and Jason who host The Breaking Bad ‘Cast. Due to time constraints they will not be able to continue with the podcast this season, as they feel they would not be able to do it justice. Thanks for all the support in the past you two! I will leave a link to their podcast on the list here at Tucker’s Hole, for anyone watching old episodes who might be interested in listening to their shows.
This was a long article, but there was a lot going on in this episode!!
I have 2 new predictions this week…
The flash forward scene that was the “teaser” for this episode takes place about 1 year ahead of where we are in the story now, and we won’t have any questions about it answered in these first 8 episodes of Season 5 (Season 5 A). I will most likely make more predictions as a result of this scene when season 5 A is over, and this one comes true!
The bank account numbers discovered by the police behind the photograph of Gus and Max will lead to Gus’ connections with Chile, or will link Madrigal Electromotive with Gus’ Chile connection.
None of my predictions came true or were proven wrong in this episode.
My score so far since starting this site is 2 1/2 predictions correct, 1/2 prediction wrong, and 1 still pending.
Humorous Quote of the Week
“And what are you gonna do? You gonna put on your black leotard and go dangling on a clothesline?” - Mike Ehrmantraut