WOW! You saw the first episode of Season 5A* by now - or I certainly hope you have, because I plan to talk about it in this post. So if you haven't seen "Live Free or Die," just stop reading right now. There will be spoilers, you have been warned and I simply cannot abide whiners.
Let's start with the title, which is the state motto of New Hampshire. In the cold open, Walt presents a New Hampshire driver's license to get the "birthday discount" (after all, as the chatty Denny's waitress puts it, "free is free")' and his car has NH plates. We're probably all glad to see the Aztec go, but NH is a long way from NM, so something very strange has happened since the end of Season 4.
"Live Free or Die" starts with a cold open that looks further into the future than we've been taken before. I suspect Gilligan will take his time getting us back to this point on the circle, but he starts with an open that left me with my jaw dropped. As Walt breaks his bacon into pieces and spells out "52" on the plate, we've come full circle from the pilot episode in which Sky decorates his plate with veggie bacon (truly an unholy thing; little wonder Walt broke bad eating that sort of non-food) for what is Walt's 50th birthday. Walt has hair, so time has clearly passed. And this version of Walt has plans. Plans that involve our favorite thoughtful dealer in unlicensed firearms.
What the hell has happened?
By the end of the episode (I'm not going to spoil too much here, but there are a couple of biggies coming up), we learn a couple of truly disturbing things. Maybe Walt actually IS the Danger, the One Who Knocks ("OWK," my term). Certainly Jesse, Saul, and even Mike (yay, Mike's back!) seem to view him with a newfound caution. Skyler's out and out scared of him, and Sky's becoming a scary being in her own right. Just ask Ted. Yeah. Ted.
The storm clouds are gathering, children. And the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked alike.
So much more will come for Season 5A, but I'm actually blogging this as I travel home from Vancouver, which hosted the 5th Biennial Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses. Travel has not been without glitches and I won't be home and over jet lag before this needs to be posted, so I tapped this out from 38,000 feet in the air and am posting it before I collapse from jet lag. That's how much you matter to me. We (my co-author was there in Vancouver with me) actually had a makeshift viewing party Sunday night, which was great fun as we introduced a number of friends to the show. What an episode to start on!
*just to be clear, "Season 5A" refers to the eight eps that will air in the summer/fall of 2012. The remaining ones airing in 2013 will be referred to here as "Season 5B," since Vince Gilligan talks about all these episodes as "Season 5."