Monday, July 16, 2012

TV Reviews: Breaking Bad "Live Free or Die"

Breaking Bad is probably one of the best television shows to ever grace the small screen. Reaching the heights of shows like Game of Thrones it is truly a captivating show to watch. If you're like me and loved Bryan Cranston in Malcom In The Middle then his transition from TV dad to TV badass was unprecedented. So it's clear to see that I am a huge fan of this series.

And this series' previous season was probably one of the best on television at the time. The proverbial game of chess between Cranston's Walt and his drug kingpin boss Gustavo Fring (played chillingly by Giancarlo Esposito) was full of twists and turns and the stakes were the highest they have ever been on the show. The way that season ended was probably one of the best season finales to date. So how does the season five premiere "Live Free or Die" hold up in the face of that mind blowing season finale?

It holds up rather well in fact. As the episode begins with a flashforward, which has become a staple of the series, of Walt with a full head of hair and a beard now living under a false identity. Immediately everything has become interesting as you wonder just how the hell Walt ends up at that point. However, we must return to the present and see the fallout of Walt's victory over Gus.

The way this plays out is rather fast paced, more so than the show normally is, as Walt, Jesse, and Mike (who managed to survive the events of season four) team up to erase the surveillance footage from the super-lab that Gus had stored on his laptop. The story jumps from Walt realizing this as a loose end to immediately racing out to the desert with Jesse to catch Mike in order to figure out where Gus kept the footage. It is a bit jarring but for the sake of time it is acceptable. Of course, how Walt and Jesse go about erasing the footage was probably the most memorable aspects of this episode.

The main problem facing them is that the DEA has already gotten a hold of Gus' laptop and there is no way to steal it from the evidence room. The resulting argument between Walt and Mike on how to approach this situation, with Jesse trying to tell him his idea about using magnets to erase the hard drive in the background, was my favorite scene in this episode. It is hilarious and shows how far Jesse has come since the first season as he is the one who comes up with the winning idea despite being in the same room with resident genius Walter White. The looks on Walt's and Mike's faces upon hearing Jesse's proposal is priceless. What follows is even more awesome.

To start, if this idea doesn't get its own show on Mythbusters I will be extremely disappointed because this is right up their alley.  So, the guys plan to use a powerful magnet to erase the footage without even stepping inside the building it's being held in. What they do is rig up an old Uhaul van with tons of car batteries and magnetize it. The resulting scenes of them testing it with a laptop and then actually using it are just down right awesome. Of course, not everything goes according to plan  and, like every other episode of Breaking Bad so far, it has unforeseen repercussions that will no doubt come back to haunt the characters.

The B-story of this episode falls to Skylar and her reaction to Walt's "big win" over Gus. I found Skyler was rather irritating in this episode as she became distant, once again, (or as Walt Jr. called it in season three "bitchy"). At this point it seemed like a step back for the character, though it also makes a kind of sense. Walt has definitely changed, and that change is scary. For the rest of the episode he is in full blown Hiesenberg mode as seen with his confidence after the guys' "big heist" and the commanding attitude he had towards Saul. I can understand why Skylar would be scared of Walt, but it just feels too much like it did in season 3, and Skylar has grown since then. And, if anything, she should know by now that everything Walt does, just as she did with Beneke and his tax problems, is for the family.

Speaking of Beneke, he's alive! After that hilarious fall last season I figured we would see the aftermath (had I not been led to believe that he had been killed by the fall mid-hiatus). It was surprising to see him in that hospital bed. Of course, despite what he tells Skylar, you know he won't stay quiet for long!

Needless to say, Breaking Bad is back and the season premiere was ridiculously awesome.

I give "Live Free or Die" four blue crystals out of five for a truly entertaining season premiere.

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