Monday, July 16, 2012

Bad Is Back

It's been a long wait, but Breaking Bad returns for its final season with "Live Free Or Die," and puts us right back in the thick of things.

The opening sequence is bewildering.  Walt, with a full head of hair and a complete beard is served breakfast at a Denny's.  He forms the bacon into a "52." In the pilot, Skyler made a "50" out of Walt's veggie bacon for his birthday, but there's no way Walt is 52 yet.  He's not even 51, and it's doubtufl he'll make it much past that.  It turns out he's in disguise, with an ID from New Hampshire (helping explain the title) of a Mr. Lambert who's 52nd brithday happens to be today. (Still sort of strange to celebrate it.)  He's at the restaurant for a weapons pickup from his favorite independent gun dealer.  We still don't know, however, how this scene will fit in with the rest of the show.  Last season we started with flashbacks, but now it looks like we're going to get flashforwards.

(During the break we see the first of several ads for AMC's Small Town Security. I'm not interested.  Why are they always trying to tie tiresome reality shows to their top-notch programs?)

When the show starts again, we're back to how we ended last season with Skyler on the phone to Walt after he "won." Now Walt goes home to wipe the place clean of evidence (Mike isn't available) before his family gets there.  He tosses the bomb makings into a trashbag and puts it in his car. He thinks a bit more and also gets ride of his poisonous lily of the valley.  I wondered if Jesse might ever run into that.  Walt is thinking ahead.

Junior comes home and Walt plays the hearty father, though Sklyer barely talks to him.  Junior is excited about all the action with Gus and how Uncle Hank knew all along what was going on.  Hank is a hero!  In the bedroom, taking care of Holly, Skyler is scared.  Of Walt.  (Skyler seems to have taken off some of the weight she put on last season, and also seems to have aged a bit.  Since season three to four and four to five are instantaneous changeovers it'll look weird when people watch the series all at once.)

As Walt drinks a bit of alcohol, celebrating his success, he has a realization.  Cut to Hank, hobbling, but happy to search the torched superlab.  It's a great vindication.  He figured who Gus was when nobody else could, and thought he was crazy for even thinking it.  Meanwhile, what's that up in the ceiling? A video camera.

Over in Mexico, recuperating Mike is feeding chickens when he gets the news about Gus.  Up to this point, he probably figures Gus pulled it off and they'll all be sitting pretty.  He grabs a car and rides back to the USA, meeting Jesse and Walt in the middle of nowhere.  He's mad enough to shoot Walt.  Really?  They've had their differences, and Mike responded angrily when Walt suggested they kill Gus, but Mike not that long ago liked Walt and felt bad when he was ordered to kill him.  He's since grown to like Jesse, who saved his life (which means Gus almost got  him killed), but why should he be so mad about Walt doing what he can to save his life?

Anyone, Mike is grouchy, but Jesse and Walt remind him about the video.  Mike knows it all went to Gus's laptop in his office at the chicken shack. (I often wondered about that.  I figured he wouldn't keep anything since it was incriminating, but I suppose there's some stuff stored on his hard drive.  There's also still a video out there in Mexico of Jesse explaining how to cook meth.  Will that resurface?)  Anyway, Hank is already a step ahead and they've tagged the laptop and stored it in the evidence room.

At Jesse's place Mike makes a phone call and cleverly discovers they've got it.  The three men discuss their options.  Mike sees only one--get out of Dodge.  But Jesse has seen the master chemist get out of tight spots before.  Amazingly, Jesse comes up with the solution this time--magnets.  Yeah, science!

They go to the junkyard run by Old Joe (played by the great character actor Larry Hankin).  He's got magnets, of course, for a price.  Jesse will have to pay since Skyler spent Walt's money.  They decide to rig up a master magnet in a truck, drive it up to the room where the computer is stored and wreck it.

Meanwhile, at the car wash, Saul pays an unwanted visit, as they all are.  He's worried about the cops, due to Ted.  Not over the murder, as Skyler thinks.  No, he's survived. (We already know this because we saw the actor's name in the credits.)  Anyway, clam up, he says to Skyler.  So Ted is yet another loose end that has to be dealt with.

Walt, Jesse and Mike test the magnet in the junkyard and it can work. (Not unlike a fancier version of the battery Walt rustled up for "Four Day Out.") Over at the hospital, a teary Skyler visits Ted.  She's worried, but Ted is a lot more scared than she is. He's discovered what happens when he messes with her.  He promises he's said nothing, it was all an accident.  Skyler seems almost happy at the power she wields.

At the station with the evidence room, Mike uses his skills to open the gate. Jesse and Walt drive the truck near to the evidence room and turn on the juice.  All hell breaks loose and by the time to cops run outside to see what's happening J and W are long gone, with Mike driving the getaway car.  Mike says they left behind all that evidence, but Walt explains there's nothing tying the truck to anything and no fingerprints.  He's seen to that.  But did it work?  Sure it did, Walt assures them--because he says so.  This new man is more Heisenberg than Walt.

(We cut to a commercial for Microsoft.  Would they want a commercial here after we've just seen a scene with computers being ruined?)

Next day, the cops inventory all the damage.  The computer has been hit, probably can't be salvaged (I'm guessing, for plot reasons).  A photo of Gus is out of its frame--behind it seems to be some routing numbers to a bank in the Cayman Islands.  Sounds like trouble's ahead.

Meanwhile, the news, empowered Walt confronts Saul.  How dare he let Skyler, even if she's also a client, give away all that money to Ted.  Of course, Walt was scrambling for his life then and Saul advised against it, but you don't cross Heisenberg.  Saul also brings out the ricin cigarette he had Huell take to fool Jesse into thinking Gus poisoned Brock. In fact, Saul is offended that the kid ended up in the hospital. (This is all for slow learners, since it was made perfectly clear last season what happened if you paid attention.)

Saul says they're quits but Heisenberg won't have it. Nothing is over until he says it is. (By the way, we know that Saul is the one guy whom Walt has demonstrated he can actually beat up.) Gus is looking better as a boss every second.

Walt comes home and goes to Skyler. She explains, somewhat nervously, that Ted won't talk.  Walt hugs her and says he forgives her. When Saul first met Walt he said the meek schoolteacher was a Fredo.  Well now it looks like Walt is Michael.

So we've got plenty to worry about as Walt has to avoid being discovered. Presumably, he will rebuild Gus's empire with the help of Mike and Jesse, while Hank is close on his tail. It's great to have the show back. My only complaint is the hour went by too quickly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the beard and the hair and the glasses, I thought Walt looked a lot like Mandy Patinkin in the opening scene.

12:13 AM, July 16, 2012  

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