Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad Round Table: "Live Free or Die"

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It's the beginning of the end for Breaking Bad, as this AMC masterpiece kicked off its final run of 16 episodes with "Live Free or Die" on Sunday night, an episode that focused on Walter White officially moving all the way from Mr. Chips to Scarface.

And also on magnets.

In this edition of the TV Fanatic Round Table, panelists Matt Richental, Dan Forcella and Lisa Palmer break down the installment and look ahead to how this incredible series might actually end...

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What was your favorite scene from the episode?
Matt: The cracked photo in the evidence room and how it's safe to assume the Cayman Island intel discovered on it will play a role going forward. In what played out as a slow episode in terms of plot development, this was yet another example how Vince Gilligan and company think about every conceivable detail.

Dan: My favorite part had to be when Walt and Mike were arguing over what they were going to do, and Jesse continued to say magnets. They were so determined to not listen to him. It proved to be that much better when his idea actually worked!

Lisa: I loved seeing Walt's ego from the last few minutes of the Season 4 finale ("I won") carry over into the Season 5 premiere. I read an interview where Cranston talks about how he changed his posture for this season now that Walt has had the ultimate victory. He's standing up straighter and he's talking a very different game. I liked seeing his pride overshadow any logic after the magnet worked in the line "Because I say so." His "I forgive you" to Skyler was a chilling close second. 

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Funnier moment: The universal symbol for keys, or magnets... bitches?
Matt: I'm a sucker for Mike. He's just so exasperated and so ready to be done with Walt and Jesse, yet he continues to be dragged into their dysfunctional relationship.

Dan: While Mike's "universal symbol" comment might have been funnier, Jesse's was better because it's much more fun to say. You can yell that up and down the streets, and any Breaking Bad fan will know what you're talking about. Magnets! See.

Lisa: Jesse's "Yeah bitch! Magnets!" was too perfect. Aaron Paul's comic timing is always great. So was the deadpan look Mike and Walt gave him when he suggested magnets in the first place. He looked the part of a child in the background of parents arguing.

What would be your next move if you were Skyler?
Matt: It's not too late for her to work out immunity for herself and turn Walt in. She's embezzled, but she hasn't killed anyone or taken over the New Mexico drug trade. The FBI would gladly work out a deal in exchange for a Most Wanted criminal such as Heisenberg.

Dan: I mean, I would have gotten out of dodge a longggggg time ago, but I would be lying if I said I didn't want her to stick around to the end. She SHOULD leave with the kids, but I WANT her to stand by Walt to the end.

Lisa: I'd tread carefully and lay low. The thing is, she's in the game now. When she agreed to take on the car wash and enable Walt's lifestyle, she made a decision, for better or for worse, to tie herself to Walt's decisions. He's in a real state of blind overconfidence right now, so even if she wanted to leave him, now might not be the time since it might send him soaring over the edge.

What will cause Walter to be in bearded machine gun owner mode?  What's that scheme all about?
Matt: This is a copout non-answer... but deal with it: I obviously have no idea what's actually going on. But the opening just tied up everything that makes Breaking Bad one of the best shows in history. Every plot point is so thoroughly and perfectly thought out. If the premiere marks Point A, the writers already know that Walt in his beard make up Point B, and viewers can sit back with the utmost confidence that they'll connect the two in the most gripping way possible.

Dan: That's what gets me all tingly. A flash forward with a new hair do is always fun. That trip to Denny's is going to happen after Walter paints himself into yet another corner that leaves him with only one option: murder his brother-in-law Hank with a machine gun.

Lisa: His confidence has definitely taken a hit in that scene. And he's in disguise. Something along the way must have gone wrong, and I'm sure his ego has isolated everyone who has tried to help him at this point to where he is completely alone in his dealings. But it definitely looks like he will be the One Who Knocks!

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Strawberry fields

Favourite scene - Walt and Mike fighting, while Jesse jumped with his "magnets" idea. That was just hilarious. Also the entire scene with destroying the evidence was awesome. Funnier moment - "the universal symbol for keys" was probably the best line from Mike ever, but I will always choose Jesse above everyone else. It's always and forever Jesse for me. Plus I totally agree with Dan - "magnets, bitches" will now be like a code phrase for all the "Breaking Bad" fans. It's perfect :D As for Skyler - she has every right to be freaked out. Walt went from being lost and crying in front of his son to becoming a badass killing machine and poisoning an innocent kid. On the other hand, when she visited Ted and he was ranting about not saying anything to anybody, in one second she became cold. Her "good" was very much Walt-like. So maybe they are perfect for each other. The story behind the machine gun is probably something that none of us could ever guess. So I'll just pass.

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I agree: the machine gun is for Hank. My guess is that Walt has hit the big 52, knows he's not going to make it to 53, and has already been caught dead-to-rights by Hank and has been run out of town by him, with the promise that Skyler and the kids don't find out what a jerk their father is so long as Walt hits the road and stays gone forever. With time running out, Walt has decided to take his frustrations out on Hank. Who will give Hank his minute warning this time?

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Hmmm. Walt spends his 52nd birthday alone at a New Hampshire Denny's with a new identity. Since he gave the waitress his last $100 as a tip, this flash forward appears to be a nice setup for the final act where Walt dies in a blaze of machine gun glory or wreaks vengeance on some poor bastard(s). Maybe Walt is even in witness protection when everything goes down.