Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki

"Live Free or Die" is the first episode of the fifth season of Breaking Bad and the forty-seventh episode altogether.



At a counter in a Denny's restaurant, a man served his breakfast: bacon, two eggs sunnyside up and hashbrowns. The man breaks his bacon strips in half, then arranges the pieces into the number 52, referencing a White family birthday tradition. This man is revealed to be Walter White – in deteriorating health, sporting a different pair of glasses, a full head of hair, an unkempt beard and no wedding band. We are a year into the future.

Walt gives a fake name (Lambert, which is Skyler and Marie's maiden name) and bears a false ID from New Hampshire. Excusing himself to the bathroom, he trades an envelope of cash for a set of keys in the bathroom with Lawson, his previous gun dealer. Walter asks if Lawson had included instructions; the dealer tells him he printed some pages from the internet. Lawson asks Walt for his word that "it" won't be crossing the border. Walt assures him that "it" won't be leaving town. Before exiting the bathroom, Walt lets out a slight cough and pops a pill.

Leaving a generous $100 tip under his untouched breakfast plate for the waitress, Walt exits the diner and locates the car that the keys belong to. Opening the trunk, "it" is revealed to be an M60 machine gun with ammunition and a printed instruction manual. Walt looks around cautiously, drops his bag in with the gun and slams the trunk shut.

Act I

Returning home following the explosion at Casa Tranquila and the destruction of the superlab, Walt disposes of all evidence from the pipe bomb, then quickly remembers to also throw out the potted Lily of the Valley plant from which he took the toxin used on Brock. Walt Jr. and Skyler return shortly thereafter and, although Jr. is excited that Gus' death means Hank will be labeled a hero, Skyler is now terrified of her husband and warily tells him so. Walt takes a drink of celebratory whiskey, but suddenly remembers the security cameras inside the destroyed superlab.

Meanwhile, Hank and Gomez survey the charred remains of the superlab, noting that it was identical to Gale Boetticher's designs. Gomez remarks that the corpses – who were shot by Walt – have been burned beyond recognition in the fire. Hank notices the remains of the security camera with great interest.

The meeting in the desert

In Mexico, Mike feeds chickens outside the temporary medical clinic where he had been recuperating from the shootout with the Cartel. After learning of Gus' fate, Mike furiously drives off to go kill Walt. As Walt, Mike, and Jesse cross paths in the desert, Mike immediately pulls a gun on Walt, determined to shoot him. Jesse shields Walt and states that Mike will need to kill him too, finally convincing Mike to lower his pistol. They ask Mike where Gus kept the footage from the security camera – reminding him that he has an interest in helping them, as the footage would also implicate him. After a heated argument, the three agree to find a way to destroy Gus' laptop, which Mike tells them was kept in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos.

Act II

Mike fakes a call to the Albuquerque Police, finding out that the laptop had already been placed in their evidence room. Mike informs them that the laptop is completely inaccessible and that he's going to leave the area for good. As Mike and Walt argue back and forth about how to break into the evidence room, Jesse suggests that they use a giant magnet.

Acting on this idea, the trio meet with Old Joe at his junkyard to borrow the electromagnet he uses to move wrecked cars. The magnet is wired to 42 car batteries inside a moving truck. Mike is not convinced about this plan and just wants to leave them to it. However, Jesse convinces him that he's certain it will work, but that it's a three-man job, so he begs him not to leave.

Ted in the hospital

Saul visits Skyler at the car wash to inform her that Ted Beneke had an accident. She is suddenly terrified, thinking Saul means to tell her Ted is dead, but he reassures her that Ted has just woken up from a coma.


After some arrangements, Walt and Jesse do a preliminary test out in the junkyard and as their juiced-up magnet utterly wipes their test laptop, Mike (and all) are equal parts surprised and elated to see it work so successfully. They congratulate Jesse for his fine idea.

Skyler visits Ted at the hospital, where he is in a spinal neck brace being treated for severe head trauma. Skyler, her face etched with guilt, can hardly find the words of apology she needs to say, whilst Ted's eyes seem to mirror some of the fear that's been filling Skyler's lately, but his ironically for the Skyler that set the 'heavies' on him. With that in mind, and mentioning that he has a family, he promises her he will never speak a word of the events that transpired.

That night, Mike hot-wires the gate into the APD parking lot. Walt and Jesse drive the magnet-equipped truck alongside the building to the wall outside the evidence room. The magnet disables the guard's computer, alerting the police. Determined to ensure that the operation will work, Walt cranks the magnet up to its maximum voltage, sending a force so strong it tips the truck over against the concrete wall. The police security guard finds the evidence room half destroyed by the magnet, surprised to see all the metallic evidence stuck to the center of one wall, and sends officers outside to investigate, but Walt and Jesse escape with Mike in his car, leaving the truck behind. Mike is doubtful of the ploy's success, wary of any left-behind evidence. Walt insists that he made sure no fingerprints or traceable evidence was left behind. Mike still not convinced, argues why he should take it on faith or be so certain that it worked. Walt, sitting smugly in the backseat, cockily responds, it worked "because I say so." Mike responds with a long icy stare into the rearview mirror at Walt.

Act IV

The note behind the photo

The police officers clean up the evidence room and find a smashed picture frame with a photo of Gus and Max Arciniega. When they inspect the picture more closely, they find a hidden list of account numbers for a bank in the Cayman Islands.

Walt visits Saul's office where Saul explains what transpired in regards to Skyler giving Ted $600,000. Walt reprimands Saul for allowing his wife to give such a large amount to a man she was sleeping with. Saul, exasperated by an unappreciative and ungrateful Walt, attempts to sever all ties, insisting "He's done" - but Walt backs him into a corner in the office and menacingly responds, "We're done when I say we're done."

Walt returns home to a frightened Skyler and tells her that he knows what has happened to Ted, why she did it and that he forgives her. She hesitantly accepts his hug.

Official Photos


  • This is the first episode in which the opening titles have been corrected to reflect the proper electron configuration of barium (Ba), 2-8-18-18-8-2. Previously, these numbers, 2-8-18-7, were erroneously copied from bromine (Br).
  • This is the first episode since Crazy Handful of Nothin' where Walt has a full head of hair, albeit only in flash-forwards.
  • The episode title "Live Free or Die" refers to New Hampshire's state motto and the license plate on Walter's car. Additionally, the motto is a foreshadowing that Walter's fate might either be a life of freedom, or death.
  • Walt's New Hampshire car is an older model Volvo, which happens to be the same brand of car Gustavo Fring drove.
  • Mike mentions that the police evidence room will have Halon because it doesn't destroy evidence. Halon fire extinguishers accomplish this by not producing any type of residue afterwards.
  • Old Joe references String theory (a theory which is a candidate for a "theory of everything") and the "god particle," which is another name for the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson was actually discovered just 11 days prior to the airing of this episode; it was just a theoretical particle up until July 4, 2012.
  • The episode correctly shows the effects of a magnetic field on a laptop or computer. It would have little effect on the laptop components (barring metal reinforcements, which can be attracted), but will destroy a magnetic hard drive. Thankfully for the trio, Gus' laptop was an older model that doesn't use solid-state drives (flash memory), which are immune to strong magnetic fields.
    • The behavior of the magnet inside the truck and the tipping is correct as well. As electromagnets are not omnidirectional, i.e. they work in a specific direction, the truck elements did not cave in. Furthermore, the tipping was a result of the attraction to the ferrous metal rods embedded in the reinforced concrete walls of the evidence room. At max setting, the truck could not keep the magnet immobile and it tipped.
  • The truck used to contain the magnet is a 1977 Ford F-350.
  • Gus' laptop is a Samsung RV511.
  • The laptop that Walt and Jesse used to test the magnet is a Dell Latitude D630.
  • This episode confirms Saul had Huell take the ricin-laced cigarette from Jesse's pocket.
  • This is the shortest episode (42 minutes) of the series.
  • Marie Schrader does not appear in this episode.
  • This episode was the series' most-watched episode at the time of its airing with 2.93 million viewers, but was later passed by "Say My Name", which had 2.98 million.
  • When Bryan Cranston visited Conan O'Brien on his talk show, Conan called the episode "amazing".
  • The episode title "Live Free or Die" is a shout-out to The Sopranos episode with the same title name. Both are final season episodes referencing the New Hampshire state motto, and depict a character on the run having breakfast at a diner.

Episode References

  • Walt's arranging of "52" with bacon mirrors Skyler arranging "50" with veggie bacon in the "Pilot".
  • True to other season premieres, the first few seconds of the episode overlap with part of the previous season's finale.
  • However, this is the first season premiere to not feature any characters being killed.
  • Ted Beneke describes his memories of the accident with "I tripped and fell. That is all I know", which is very close to "I woke up, I found her, that's all I know" told by Jesse in "ABQ" to the police.
  • The opening scene where Walt hands over his ID from New Hampshire to the waitress alludes to the events of "Granite State".


According to Vince Gilligan in an interview, their original plan for the outcome of the M60 question was for Walt to use the M60 to save Jesse from Jack's gang. The plan was for Jesse to be arrested, convicted and heading to prison, and Jacks' gang would be on the way to kill him while he was in a prison bus. However, they scrapped the idea because they knew that Walt "wasn't Rambo". [1]




  • James Harris as Duty Officer
  • Monique Candelaria as Waitress (Lucy)
  • Gail Starr as Nurse

  • Uncredited

  • Breanna Perera as Woman in Denny's
  • Todd Sopher as Magnet Guy #2

  • Filming Locations

    • A flash forward shows Walt having his 52nd birthday at a Denny's. The Denny's where this was filmed has since closed, as well as the Valero gas station in the background. As Walt walks to the Cadillac, the "Columbia" street sign is focused for a second. It is now a Chipotle Grill located at 2608 Central Ave in Albuquerque.
    • The police station where Walt, Mike, & Jesse use a magnet to wipe the laptop in the evidence locker is the real NW Area Command police station located at 10549 Cibola Loop NW. Filming was done at the back gate and roof. The location where the truck was parked can be seen from outside the gate. The sign shown in the scene does not exist (although it was accurate so it may have been removed).

    Featured Music

    • "Love is Running Through Me (aka "Running Through Me")" by Javaroo (during the teaser in Denny's)
    • "Music for Your Soul (aka "Conversations")" by David Castle (during the teaser in Denny's)
    • "Cleaning House" by Dave Porter (as Walt cleans up the bomb making equipment & Lily of the Valley from his house)

    Memorable Quotes

    Walter: "So are you going to talk to me here? Are you going to show some kind of–I don’t know–some kind of mild relief that I’m alive?"
    Skyler: "I am relieved, Walt. And scared."
    Walter: "Scared? Scared of what?"
    Skyler: "You."
    ―Walt and Skyler in their bedroom.

    "Keys, scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys."
    ―Mike to Jesse and Walter.

    "You know, I can foresee a lot of possible outcomes to this thing, and not a single one of them involves 'Miller Time.'"
    ―Mike to Jesse, Walter, and Old Joe

    Mike: "Well, you got all the answers. So you tell me, Answer Man, did all that even work just now?"
    Walter: "Yes. It worked."
    Mike: "And I'm supposed to take that on faith? Yeah? And why? How do we know?"
    Walter: "Because I say so."
    ―Mike and Walter about the ploy's success.

    "We're done when I say we're done."
    ―Walter to Saul after Saul tried to quit.