Opening with a sullen and disheveled looking Walter White (Bryan Cranston) sitting in a Denny’s restaurant sporting messy hair and a scruffy beard, viewers quickly learn that breakfast is not what he’s there for. White uses an alias and meets with a man in the restroom where he exchanges cash for keys to a car awaiting him outside. As he opens the vehicle’s trunk, it is impossible not to notice that it has a massive gun and ammunition.
The stark difference in Walt’s appearance, the fact the he is using a new identity and he’s in possession of a weapon indicates that viewers are getting a look into his perilous damned future.
The next scene returns to present day as Walt quickly disposes of any material linking him to the events surrounding the demise of his former boss Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), which he planned masterfully last season. Walt soon realizes that all is not well and that surveillance footage of him and partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) cranking out millions of dollars worth of meth, was saved on Gus’ laptop which was now in the hands of the police.
Jesse, Walt, and Mike (Jonathan Banks), Gus’ former right-hand man who desperately wants Walt’s head on a platter, soon agree on a plot to destroy the incriminating evidence using a high-powered magnet. Once in effect, Mike disables a camera and opens the gate, allowing Walt and Jesse to enter in an unmarked truck. Once activated, the device causes everything in the police department’s evidence room situated on or made up of metal to succumb to the magnet’s powerful force.
Walt also learns the fate of his wife Skyler’s (Anna Gunn) former boss and lover Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins), who suffered a near fatal fall last season; he is hospitalized and appears paralyzed.
Upon returning home he embraces Skyler and tells her “I forgive you”, conveying that he has moved past her decision to give money he earned to Beneke, a man he despises, to cover his IRS woes. This line is terribly ironic because although her actions can be viewed as a betrayal, Walt’s sins are far greater. His decision to abandon his predictable life as a high school chemistry teacher to become one of America’s finest meth producers has placed his family in jeopardy many times. It seems as though Walt never fully grasps or acknowledges the emotional and mental strain his decision has placed on his wife.
Overall, the season premiere was far from being one of the best episodes of the series; after all viewers have seen Walt and Jesse get out of situations through more dynamic means including mowing down their opposition with a car and shooting people at point-blank range.
Though the magnet plot was effective, it lacked suspense, excitement, and a sense of danger. Perhaps if their plan entailed something more James Bond-esque, maybe breaking into the evidence room by scaling down the side of building and shooting someone with a silencer, the scene and the plot would have had more of an edge.
The plot would probably fail to entice someone watching for the first time to devote their Sunday nights to the show. Having a plan that was less tepid and more explosive would have been more successful at captivating.
Despite the episode’s shortcomings, don’t be discouraged. Viewers will be eager to see the events leading up to Walt’s broken state in the opening scene and will continue to tune in to watch the brilliant cast bring their complex characters to life.
Based on the show’s history, season five will feature many events that will leave viewers at the edge of their seats.