Live Free or Die (Breaking Bad)

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"Live Free or Die"
Breaking Bad episode
Live Free or Die.jpg
Walter threateningly tells Saul that their business is not quite finished.
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 1
Directed byMichael Slovis
Written byVince Gilligan
Produced byBryan Cranston, Diane Mercer
Featured musicDave Porter
Cinematography byMarshall Adams
Editing bySkip MacDonald
Original air dateJuly 15, 2012 (2012-07-15)
Running time43 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Face Off"
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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.

The episode is titled after the official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire, seen on a license plate in the opening.


The episode starts with a flashforward to Walter White in a Denny's restaurant, on his 52nd birthday.[a] 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,[b] he seems despondent. He meets with Lawson 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. Soon afterward, Skyler arrives home with Walt, Jr. 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 and Marie Schrader 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, still recovering at Gus's makeshift clinic in Mexico,[c] is told by a doctor that Gus has been killed. Furious, Mike attempts to drive across the border, and he comes across Walt and Jesse Pinkman. 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. Mike discloses that the feed went to Gus's laptop computer in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos. He repeatedly urges Walt and Jesse to 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 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 highly secured evidence room. The trio manages to acquire a truck fitted with an industrial electromagnet from junkyard owner Old Joe and drive it to the outpost. 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 have different reactions to Walt's hubris: Jesse's expression conveys shock at Walt's answer, while Mike's expression conveys skepticism.

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, revealed only because of the destruction within the evidence room. 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 approaches Skyler at the car wash and tells her that Ted Beneke survived the injury from his encounter with Kuby and Huell. Skyler visits Ted in the hospital and finds that he has been fitted with a halo brace. An intimidated Ted tells her that he will remain silent about what caused his injury. 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 Walt in a plastic bag, remarking that he had no idea Walt was going to poison Brock in the service of killing Gus. Saul tries to end his and Walt'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 was praised for the flashforward cold open and Cranston's performance.[citation needed]

In 2019 The Ringer ranked "Live Free or Die" as the 23rd best out of the 62 total Breaking Bad episodes.[8]


  1. ^ Foreshadowing the events of "Felina".
  2. ^ This is a callback to the pilot episode, where Walt's family presents him with breakfast topped with a "50" to celebrate his 50th birthday.
  3. ^ Following the events of "Crawl Space".


  1. ^ Rhodes, Joe (July 15, 2011). "Shattering All Vestiges of Innocence". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 14, 2011). "AMC & Sony TV Reach Deal For 16-Episode Final Order Of 'Breaking Bad'". Deadline. Retrieved June 15, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Kar, Ian (July 15, 2012). "AMC Makes 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Premiere Available Online For Dish Customers". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (July 16, 2012). "AMC's 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Premiere is Most-Watched Episode Ever". Zap2it. AMC press release. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Daniel Chin (September 30, 2019). "The Ringer's Definitive 'Breaking Bad' Episodes Ranking". The Ringer.

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