Monday, July 16, 2012
Breaking Bad: "Live Free or Die"
[As with my Louie recaps, I am going to quickly write these Breaking Bad episode reviews in the little time I have in the morning before going to work; so the write-ups won't be as in-depth as I'd like, but please comment on anything I may have missed. I'd love to have a discussion on it.]
Fucking magnets, how do they work? Really fucking well, bitch.
Yes, Breaking Bad is finally back, and with the first episode of the fifth season comes something of an annoyance for me. As you know, I am a huge fan of this show. In fact, Breaking Bad and Louie are my two favorite shows currently running. So, understandably, most of these episode reviews will be glowing to the point of sycophancy. Knowing that, I thought a good way to counter all the future Breaking Bad dick-sucking, would be to state right away a fault with the season premiere.
I found it a bit far-fetched that Jesse would have to give Mr. White the idea about the magnets. I'm nowhere near the intelligence level of Walter White, but as soon as Gus Fring's laptop and security footage were mentioned, my immediate thought was, "Ok, they'll use magnets to wipe the hard drive. That's a no-brainer." And yet, science-nerd-turned-evil-genius Walter's smart-man brain didn't immediately go there. Really? The junk man can pontificate on string theory and God Particles (which, great timing there), but Walt can't realize, "magnets and electronics no do get along." When it comes to this show, I'm willing to suspend disbelief about a lot of things—e.g. Gus "half-head" Fring walking and adjusting his tie—but not Walter's intelligence. But, still, a minor quibble about an otherwise great episode.
One of the things I love about Breaking Bad is the way each season starts up right where the previous left off. Just as the viewer is never given a break from the tense, thrilling plots, so the characters are never given a chance to breathe. Nothing lets up here. And so, it was at first jarring to see a bearded, non-bald Walter in the cold open. Maybe it's a flashback, I thought. No, this is clearly Heisenberg and not mild-mannered Walter White. Wow, a lot of time has passed. And, oh shit, fuck yeah, Jim Beaver's back. Weapons sale. Oh, shit is on.
As we soon realize, much as in the vein of season 2's cryptic cold-opens, this opening scene is a flash-forward. Walt is buying Rambo weaponry for some sort of future stand-off. This season will be intense. But, of course, because Breaking Bad seldom goes where we think it will, this episode was remarkably bloodless. In fact, it is one of the least violent episodes to date.
And yet, Walter has rarely been as terrifying. I really felt for Skyler in this episode. For one, we know what Walter has done to get to this point; if he can poison a child, who knows what else he's capable of (of course, there's not much worse than poisoning a child, but still). Also, with his new-found confidence, has come an evil-genius ego. Walter always thought himself the smartest man in the room, always wanted to be in command, always thought himself deserving of power; now he's got the body-count to back it up. He is clearly over the edge. To drive the point home, walking ego that is Walter White raises a toast to himself in the mirror. If no one else can see fit to congratulate his cunning, he certainly can. Clearly, there's no turning back.
Also, unrelated to anything, but however Breaking Bad ends, no matter who dies, I want see a spin-off that consists of nothing but Walter and Mike arguing with each other. Also, fuck Ted Beneke. Also, Bill Burr better have some scenes this season. Also, now that the bad guys did something as sciencey as use a huge elctro-magnet to wipe the hard drive in the evidence room, how long before Hank puts two and two together and connects Walter to these shenanigans? Also, can I watch the next episode right now?