Live Free or Die (Breaking Bad)

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"Live Free or Die"
Breaking Bad episode
Jesse stops Mike from killing Walt.
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 1
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Vince Gilligan
Produced by Bryan Cranston, Diane Mercer
Featured music Dave Porter
Cinematography by Marshall Adams
Editing by Skip MacDonald
Original air date July 15, 2012 (2012-07-15)
Running time 43 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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Breaking Bad (season 5)
List of Breaking Bad episodes

"Live Free or Die" is the fifth season premiere episode of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, the first episode of the first part of the season and the 47th overall episode of the series. Written by series creator Vince Gilligan and directed by Michael Slovis, it originally aired on AMC in the United States on July 15, 2012.

This episode is titled after the official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire: Live Free or Die.


The episode starts with a flashforward to Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in a Denny's restaurant, on his 52nd birthday. Walt, sporting regrown hair and a beard, is using a New Hampshire driver's license and an alias. As he chats with the waitress and arranges his bacon in the shape of the number 52 (a callback to the first episode, where his family presents him with breakfast topped with a '50' to celebrate his 50th birthday), he seems despondent. He meets with Lawson (Jim Beaver) in the restroom, where he is given the keys to a car that has an M60 machine gun and ammunition in the trunk.

In the present, Walt disposes of the pipe bomb materials and the Lily of the Valley plant involved in his successful plot against Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Soon afterward, Skyler (Anna Gunn) arrives home with Walt, Jr. (RJ Mitte) and Holly. Walt, Jr. explains that Gus's illicit activities are the subject of a media frenzy and that the DEA believes the danger against Hank (Dean Norris) and Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) has abated. Skyler tries not to speak to Walt, explaining that she is now "scared" of him. Walt suddenly remembers the surveillance cameras that Gus installed in the superlab, realizing that the footage Gus may have collected could incriminate him.

The following day, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), still recovering at Gus's makeshift clinic in Mexico after the shootout at the cartel compound, is told by a doctor (J. B. Blanc) that Gus has been killed. Furious, Mike attempts to drive across the border, and he comes across Walt and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Mike prepares to shoot Walt, but Jesse persuades him to stand down as Walt explains that the security footage collected from the lab stands to incriminate Mike as well as Jesse and himself. Walt and Jesse insist on tackling the problem posed by Gus's surveillance footage; Mike discloses that the feed went to Gus's laptop computer in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos. Mike repeatedly urges Walt and Jesse to instead take their money and flee the area while they still can, but his pleas are ignored. Meanwhile, Hank, having found the surveillance camera in the burned-out superlab, seizes the laptop as evidence.

Walt, Jesse, and Mike learn that the computer is being kept at an Albuquerque Police Department outpost. Mike advises that they all leave the city, but Walt pursues Jesse's idea of using a powerful magnet to destroy the hard drive on the laptop without having to break into the APD's highly secured evidence room. The trio manages to acquire a truck fitted with an industrial electromagnet from junkyard owner Old Joe (Larry Hankin) and drive it to the APD facility. Once activated, the magnet destroys the evidence room and, presumably, the information on Gus's laptop. Despite being forced to abandon the truck, the three escape. As they drive away, Walter defies Mike's doubts that everything is settled, ultimately telling Mike that everything worked perfectly, "Because I say so". Mike and Jesse react to Walt's hubris by looking at each other.

Later, during an inventory of the evidence room, the police discover a slip of paper with details of a Cayman Islands bank account hidden in a framed picture from Gus's office, only revealed because of the destruction of the evidence room. Ironically, the laptop was encrypted and thus useless to the DEA even before Walt and the others destroyed the evidence room; Walt's efforts have only given Hank a fresh lead in the form of the bank account information.

Meanwhile, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) approaches Skyler at the car wash and tells her that Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) survived the injury from his encounter with Kuby (Bill Burr) and Huell (Lavell Crawford). When Skyler visits Ted in the hospital, she finds that he has been fitted with a halo brace. An intimidated Ted tells Skyler that he will remain silent about what caused his hospitalization. Elsewhere, Walt argues with Saul about the lawyer's failure to inform him about Skyler's bailout to Ted. It is revealed that Huell was told to pickpocket Jesse's ricin cigarette, which is why Jesse believed it was lost; Saul presents the cigarette to Walter in a plastic bag, remarking that he had no idea Walter was going to poison Brock in the service of eliminating Gus. Saul tries to end his and Walter's business relationship, but Walt coldly tells him, "We're done when I say we're done".

When Walt returns home, he tells Skyler that he knows what happened with Ted and forgives her. As Walt hugs Skyler, she reacts with visible but unspoken dread.


In July 2011, series creator Vince Gilligan indicated that he intended to conclude Breaking Bad with the fifth season.[1] In early August 2011, negotiations began over a deal regarding the fifth and possible final season between the network AMC and Sony Pictures Television, the series' production company. AMC proposed a shortened fifth season (six to eight episodes, instead of 13) to cut costs, but the producers declined. Sony then approached other cable networks about possibly picking up the show if a deal could not be made.[2] On August 14, 2011, AMC and Breaking Bad's production team agreed to renew the series for a final 16 episodes.[3] Filming began for the season on March 26, 2012.[4]

Following a dispute between AMC and Dish Network that led to Dish's dropping AMC as of July 1, 2012, AMC posted the episode online for streaming.[5] The episode is the shortest in the series, with a runtime of approximately 43 minutes.[citation needed]



"Live Free or Die" was the most watched episode in Breaking Bad's history at the time, with 2.93 million viewers.[6][7]


The episode has received unanimous acclaim from television critics, and currently earns a 99 out of 100 score based on 22 reviews on the aggregate review website Metacritic.[8] Praise centered on the flash forward cold open and Cranston's performance.[citation needed]


  1. Rhodes, Joe (July 15, 2011). "Shattering All Vestiges of Innocence". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hibberd, James (August 1, 2011). "'Breaking Bad' shopped to other networks as fifth (and final?) season renewal talks drag on". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Andreeva, Nellie (August 14, 2011). "AMC & Sony TV Reach Deal For 16-Episode Final Order Of 'Breaking Bad'". Deadline. Retrieved June 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Radish, Christina (March 23, 2012). "Bryan Cranston Talks BREAKING BAD Season 5, Directing an Episode of MODERN FAMILY, and More". Collider. Retrieved June 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kar, Ian (July 15, 2012). "AMC Makes 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Premiere Available Online For Dish Customers". Retrieved July 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kondolojy, Amanda (July 16, 2012). "AMC's 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Premiere is Most-Watched Episode Ever". Zap2it. AMC press release. Retrieved July 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kondolojy, Amanda (July 17, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Beats 'Breaking Bad' Premiere, + 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'Very Funny News', 'Real Housewives of New Jersey', 'Falling Skies' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Breaking Bad: Season 5". Metacritic. Retrieved July 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links