The episode opens in another of the show’s signature abstract scenes; Walt tearing his bacon so he can arrange it to his liking on his plate. As camera angles change, it becomes apparent that he’s in a breakfast bar. He’s grown back his hair, signaling a significant passing of time since the last season ended, and he still sports the beard. His waitress, eager to make conversation, informs him that birthday meals are free, but in vain as Walt insists he’s fine, to which the waitress observes “Free’s good. Even if I was like rich, free is always good.” Walt gives in at this and gives her his ID to confirm his birthday. After a few more minutes of surface chattering, Walt takes note of a man entering the bar. They both go to the bathroom, where Walt exchanges an orange paper bag, presumably of meth, for a pair of car keys. “This won’t be crossing the border, right?” the man asks, and Walt informs him that it won’t even be leaving town and ask if it came with an instruction manual. The deal ends and as Walt leaves the bar, he leaves a hundred dollar tip under his plate for the waitress. He retrieves a bag of money from the trunk of one car and opens the trunk of another to find what looks like a shotgun alongside a manual and some ammunition, and that classic, smoked away introduction plays. This is Breaking Bad season five, people. Get fuckin’ excited.
Apparently, everything above is still to come. After the opening credits finish rolling, the episode returns to the concluding scene of season four; Walt telling Skylar “it’s over, we’re safe. I won.” After the phone conversation, Walt rushes home to clean away his bomb laboratory of a kitchen and disposes of any incriminating materials. Finished and relieved, he pours himself a glass of wine, but is sent scrambling again at the thought of another problem; he runs to his backyard and takes the Lily of the Flower plant to throw away, confirming that yes, Walt indeed was the one who poisoned Jesse’s girlfriend’s son, not Gus, and also that he really is one hell of a manipulator and knows how to get shit done. His wife and children come home and Walt listens to his son’s infamously innocent and thoughtful perspective of Gus’s death from what he’s heard on television and from Hank. Walt then confronts his wife. She’s scared of him. After she leaves the room, Walt stands to alert again. “Oh shit.” Scene change.
Hank, fully hazmat-suited, is accompanying the DEA and crime scene investigation team in analyzing the superlab that Walt and Jesse burned. Hank’s partner informs him that nothing in the lab is traceable, not even the teeth from the bodies. It seems Walt and Jesse made a clean getaway, until Hank notices a heap of metal hanging from the wall. Yup. It’s that mother fucking camera. Oh shit indeed.
After Mike, still recovering in Mexico, is told of Gus’s death, he takes to his wheels and speeds back to the US. On the way, he runs into Walt and Jesse, who are presumably also looking for him, on a one lane road in a slightly dramatic near-collision. Mike pulls a gun on Walt with clear intentions to kill, but Jesse intervenes, pulling the classic Jesse line that kept them alive for so long; “if you kill him you gotta kill me too.” Oh Jesse. If only you knew the things Walt’s done to you. Walt tells everyone that the camera, if it’s surveillance was recorded, could incriminate all three of them, and realizing the need to cooperate, Mike holsters his gun and signals his hands for the keys to Walt’s car, to which Walt shakes his head, to which Mike replies “Keys scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys.” Kind of funny in the moment, probably not so much here. The three convene at Jesse’s place, where Mike’s contact confirms that the laptop storing the surveillance footage was taken into evidence. “You know how they say it’s been a pleasure?” Mike asks as he puts on his coat to flee town, “it hasn’t.” Jesse and Walt convince him to stay and cook up a plan - credit to Jesse here - to destroy the laptop despite its being locked into evidence. The next day, they buy one big ass electronic magnet and a truck to it in. A test run shows that the plan will work as its supposed to. They are a go.
In the mean time, Skylar goes to visit Ted in the hospital. He fell and was hurt while trying to escape during Paul Goodman’s intervention involving two thugs hired to force him to sign a check to pay off the IRS (all so that Skylar won’t be investigated for fraud, compromising Walt’s drug business). Ted tells Skylar that he hasn’t and won’t say a word, that he told the police he just fell on accident. Good boy.
Queue the Mission: Impossible theme song. It’s dark. Mike sprays down the police station’s camera, blinding it, and the truck rolls into position beside the wall behind which the evidence vault is believed to stay. Walt cranks the power up slowly and the evidence in the vault starts to go crazy in a somewhat eerily frenzied race towards the magnet. They bust out, and, quite notably, Walt establishes alpha over Mike with his “because I said so” reply to Mike’s questioning whether the plan worked. But did it? As the police go through the dislocated evidence, they reregister the laptop as damaged, though, quite frankly, the damage looks minimal. To add to the worry, a picture frame previously un-notable in evidence has been damaged, revealing some sort of meth distribution manifest. The new find is recorded.
In the episode’s conclusion, Walt makes yet again another power move over his lawyer, Saul Goodman, and whispers into Skylar’s ear “I forgive you.”
The premiere was incredible in that it brought back the classic Breaking Bad atmosphere at full throttle. Character and relationship development is still as intricate and as well-planned as always, and Mike’s disgruntled humor only adds to the show. As far as expositions go, however, this premiere was somewhat mellow. Yes, it started with a problem; the camera, but that problem seems to have been solved quickly and I for one, despite the few other problems that exist, feel the trio of guys to be in no immediate danger. There’s been no indication of what will fill the rest of this season or even the next episode, leaving me a bit disappointed (I like a good cliffhanger). That said, I still have questions that will certainly continue bringing me back to the show; why does, Walt, in the future, buy a weapon? Is the laptop really completely destroyed? (probably). Who does that distribution manifest lead back to? Mike?