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Breaking Bad Fantasy League: Episode 1, “Live Free or Die”

It’s been a long wait, but Breaking Bad is finally BACK, yo, and the season 5 premiere did not disappoint. But if you thought the actual show was dramatic, wait ’til you see how the matchup between Alex’s Los Pollos Hermanos and Lou’s Fightin’ Meth Heads played out. Grab your scorecards and get ready for a down-to-the-wire nail-biter!

Los Pollos Hermanos:

Walt:

Honestly, if all 16 remaining episodes are just Walt, Jesse, and Mike going on MacGyver-meets-The-A-Team-style capers to destroy all the remaining evidence, I’ll be happy. The Magnet Gambit was truly a stroke of brilliance. Sure, Jesse gets most of the credit for yelling “WHAT ABOUT MAGNETS HUH” while Walt and Mike bickered like an old married couple. But it was Walt’s confidence, the cocky afterglow emanating from the murderboner that’s been raging in his khakis since Gus went kablooie, that really made the whole plan come together. Unlike last season, when his temporary victory over Gus quickly gave way to panic and desperation, Walt is in control. And when Walt’s in control, he’s a total goddamn badass.

In fact, Walt’s badass levels were off the charts from the moment he played with his food at Denny’s.
We don’t know exactly what the flash forward means yet, but we know this much: He’s got a dashing new beard and a good-lookin’ toupee. He’s got a new identity and a fancy New Hampsire license plate. He gives over-talkative waitresses hundred dollar tips. Oh, and he just bought a HUGE FUCKING GUN, presumably for use in the drug war with his partner-turned-rival Jesse. (Presumably.) It appears as though he’ll become a mysterious stranger in his own town, which can only mean he’ll be the league leader in badassery for the foreseeable future.

Back in the “current” timeline, Walt basically spent the whole episode spittin’ out one badass line after another, occasionally taking breaks to build a huge magnet that would successfully erase visual proof of his role in the biggest drug trafficking operation in the Southwest. The flipside of such badassery, of course, is hubris, and hubris, of course, will be Walt’s downfall. But let’s just enjoy Uber-Walt while it lasts, shall we?

Badassery: Lifting a glass of whiskey to himself in the mirror. Responding to a terrifyingly angry Mike with a calm “May I?” Quoting that scene in Gone in 60 Seconds when Nicolas Cage says “In 60 seconds we’ll be gone.” Telling Mike that the Magnet Gambit worked because he SAYS it worked. Physically intimidating Saul into keeping him as a client. A very strong showing for this early in the season, and there’s nowhere for him to go but up. 4 POINTS

Humor: Walt let other characters do most of the work here, though his Clarence Darrow burn on Saul was pretty funny. 1 POINT

Morality: Unless Walt is buying that HUGE FUCKING GUN to go save some orphans from Nazi-trained rogue circus bears, I don’t see him doing much in the Morality category. His soul is burnt to a crisp at this point. 0 POINTS

Intelligence: Without his scientific brilliance, the Magnet Gambit probably wouldn’t have worked, but boy, was Walt being awfully open about the whole criminal conspiracy aspect of his plan or what? He practically announced to those anonymous junkyard workers that they were there to destroy evidence of a major crime. Maybe junkyardsmen have a strict “no snitchin’” code, but it still seems like a huge loose end. Also, leaving that truck behind maybe wasn’t the brightest idea. 3 POINTS

Kill Count: Nothing… yet. 0 POINTS

Total points: 9


Hank:

Hank didn’t do much except limp around crime scenes looking like a half-melted Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. But his dogged obsession with Fring finally paid off, and he’s officially out of the mineral-collecting doldrums of Season 4.

Badassery: Did you see how intensely he stared at Fring’s laptop? If looks could kill, Walt wouldn’t have needed the magnet at all, cuz that laptop would be DEAD. 2 POINTS

Humor: Though usually pretty reliable in this category, Hank didn’t even bother to call Gomez “burrito breath” or “taco face.” 0 POINTS

Morality: He gets a point for not calling Gomez “burrito breath” or “taco face.” 1 POINT

Intelligence: He’s smart enough to figure out 99% of the case, but still hasn’t surmised that his erratic, newly rich, scientific genius of a brother-in-law is the guy making all that high quality meth. But things seem to be percolating in that bald noggin of his. 2 POINTS

Kill Count: After being proven right, I’m guessing he’ll get his badge and gun back from the DEA soon. At which point, he will RAIN FIERY DEATH DOWN UPON THE MASSES or at least shoot a guy in self-defense. 0 POINTS

Total points: 3


Saul:


Saul easily led the team in Humor points this week, scoring early and often on both Skyler and Walt.
Especially effective was his Nick-at-Nite method of legal counsel, using Hogan’s Heroes to helpfully illustrate the concept of pretending you know nothing. Is this reference foreshadowing the re-introduction of Madrigal Electromotive, the shadowy German corporation with ties to Fring’s operation? Is Madrigal run by a bunch of comically inept German prison guards with wacky, over-the-top accents? We can only hope.

Badassery: This will never be Saul’s strong suit. (His suits are his strong suit.) But he looked even less badass than usual as he shrunk away from Uber-Walt’s menacing growl. 0 POINTS

Humor: “Rio de Caca.” 4 POINTS

Morality: Walt kinda had a point about Saul using the word “ethically,” what with him being consistently unethical and all. 0 POINTS

Intelligence: He’s staying out in front of the whole IRS thing, but he won’t start scoring major points here until he comes up with another brilliant legal maneuver. 1 POINT

Kill Count: The only person Saul might kill is Huell. I doubt Saul offers health insurance to his employees, so Huell’s diabetes is probably going untreated. We’ll see. 0 POINTS

Total points: 5


Walt, Jr.:

Flynn’s usual role as Mr. Breakfast was taken by Future-Walt, so the kid had to settle for being Mr.
Exposition. As he rambled on to his distracted dad about how it turns out Gus was a big time drug dealer and how they figure Gus was the one who tried to kill Hank and how soon everybody will know the truth, I imagined that it was Flynn, not Hank, who figured all this out. Flynn’s the one who connected the dots and finally unraveled the mystery. I mean, is it that far-fetched? Sure, he’s giving Hank all the credit, but he practically worships Hank. He’d never steal his uncle’s thunder. Is Flynn the true brains of the operation? All signs point to “nahh.”
Badassery: I’m holding out hope that Flynn becomes a major player, but for now, 0 POINTS

Humor: Not much here, either. 0 POINTS

Morality: Still pure as the driven snow. 4 POINTS

Intelligence: He gets a point on the off-chance that the above theory is accurate. 1 POINT

Kill Count: Nothing… YET. 0 POINTS

Total points: 5


Gomez:

Showed up at the burnt-out meth lab expecting to once again be the brunt of Hank’s boorishness, but Hank was too busy furrowing his brow to be boorish.

Badassery: Looks a lot better than Hank in that white hazmat suit. 1 POINT

Humor: Gets a point for the dialysis joke, even though I didn’t really get it. 1 POINT

Morality: The shifty-eyed way he said “so they tell me” after telling Hank how you can make somebody’s teeth pop like popcorn made me a tad suspicious. But for now, he appears to be a good guy. 1 POINT

Intelligence: Hank didn’t say it, so I will: TOLD YA SO, BURRITO BREATH! 0 POINTS

Kill Count: We’ll see if he pops anybody’s teeth like popcorn in the future. 0 POINTS

Total points: 3


BENCH: Looks like I picked the right starters, as neither Todd, Badger, nor Huell made an appearance. Although we did learn that Huell’s sausage fingers were nimble enough to switch out that ricin cigarette, so he probably would have scored a few points for me there.


The Fightin’ Meth-Heads

Jesse:

Magnets, bitch!

Jesse started out the show as a punk and an obstacle to the success of Walter White, but he has evolved into maybe the most sympathetic character on the show. He’s mostly lost his delusions of grandeur and is now just hoping to escape the drug business with his life. Between Gus trying to execute him in season 3, his aborted transfer to the Cartel in season 4, and Walt’s machinations, Jesse has barely scraped by with what little he has.

That said, it’s not as if he’s powerless; quite the opposite, in fact. The end of last season saw Jesse choosing between Gus and Walt and thereby deciding who the winner was. Already we are seeing a similar dynamic play out between Walt and Mike. While it might have been smart to abandon Gus, who already tried to kill him once or twice, Jesse’s salvation seems to rest with him siding against Walt this time.

Badassery: He had a kick-ass plan, but mostly just did whatever he was told. 0 POINTS

Humor: His description of the magnets working was hilarious, as was his reaction to pretty much everything. Plus he gets an extra point for reminding everyone of that hilarious ICP song. 5 POINTS

Morality: Misplaced though it may be, his loyalty to Walt is the only thing that kept Mike from shooting him on sight. He’s a messed up kid, but he’s got heart. 1 POINT

Intelligence: While Walt was trying to think of a convoluted scheme involving a bomb–sorry, “device”–to blow up the evidence locker, Jesse thought outside the box and came up with a hilarious and kick-ass plan. 4 POINTS

Kill Count: His only kill in the series so far has been Gale and that haunted him for the entirety of last season, so I kind of hope this stays low. 0 POINTS

Total points: 10


Mike:

Good ol’ Mike! While most people would spend several months recovering from a gunshot wound like that pussy Hank, Mike is up within a couple of days, ready to either feed chickens or shoot Walt in the face as the situation warrants.

Badassery: If Mike had followed through and shot Walt in the face, this would get an 11 out of 10. For now, we have to be content with him driving angrily and impersonating post office workers to trick the police. 3 POINTS

Humor: Got in some good lines while arguing with Walt, but mostly sat this one out. 1 POINT

Morality: His loyalty to the job and his former employer, combined with his affection for Jesse, help him out here. Mike has consistently been a voice of reason on the show. 2 POINTS

Intelligence: He’s the only one on the show who can see where Walt is headed. 2 POINTS

Kill Count: Nothing yet, but Mike has one of the highest body counts on the series, so we can be sure to see some action later. 0 POINTS

Total points: 8


Skyler:

Continuing her strategy of being the worst character played by the worst actor, Skyler mostly sat this episode out. Her biggest scene was when Walt and Saul talked about how dumb it was that she gave her former lover $600,000 without a second thought and how that endangered the whole family. Way to be, Skyler.

Badassery: She would maybe get half a point just for Ted being terrified she’s going to order his death, but we dont’ give out half-points. 0 POINTS

Humor: The last time Skyler made a funny joke was two years before the show started. 0 POINTS

Morality: She doesn’t even consider offing Ted and recognizes that her husband is a total sociopath, even if she was complicit in his transformation. 2 POINTS

Intelligence: Usually Skyler’s strong suit since the writers have to give her something to do, but she doesn’t show it off in this episode. 0 POINTS

Kill Count: I will genuinely be shocked if this ever reaches above zero. 0 POINTS

Total points: 2


Ted Beneke:

Beneke is alive! All the haters can suck it! Sure, Beneke is a pretty lame character and his storyline mostly exists to give Skyler something to do, but I’m pretty stoked that this draft choice didn’t turn out to be totally worthless. Given that he exited season 4 as a possible corpse, he deserves major props for even being alive. He’s like Rudy, but paralyzed instead of scrappy.

Badassery: You all thought he was dead, but he came back! BEN-E-KE! BEN-E-KE! BEN-E-KE! 5 POINTS

Humor: Ted has told even fewer jokes than Skyler. 0 POINTS

Morality: He’s a good dad and businessowner except for the whole “embezzling money and then using the money your former lover paid you to clear your debts to buy a new car” thing. 0 POINTS

Intelligence: See Morality. 0 POINTS

Kill Count: He almost reached an all-time high in season four when he almost killed himself, but will spend the remainder of the season in the hospital. 0 POINTS

Total points: 5


Cancer:

*cough*

Cancer’s back, baby! While it has yet to kill off Walt at the time of his 52nd birthday, his cough in the bathroom tells us that the Big C isn’t done yet. It doesn’t get a whole lot to do in the season premiere, but I’d bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that cancer’ll become a major factor in Walt’s plans for season 5.

Badassery: It’s just biding its time for now. 0 POINTS

Humor: Man, the whole Fightin’ Meth-Head team is really relying on Jesse for humor, huh? 0 POINTS

Morality: Ha! 0 POINTS

Intelligence: Even with no brain, it knows to lay low and strike when Walt is least expecting it. 1 POINT

Kill Count: Realistically, this is at several hundred thousand for the year, but we are focusing only on in-show deaths. 0 POINTS

Total points: 1


Bench: Walt, Jr., mentioned Marie, but that was the most anyone on my bench did. Where are you when we need you, Wendy?


FINAL SCORE:

Fightin’ Meth-Heads – 26

Los Pollos Hermanos – 25

Lou comes out on top to grab the first victory of the season. If Walt hadn’t handed out a detailed syllabus of his highly illegal plans to the wacky junkyard owner, he probably would have grabbed enough points to give Alex the victory. But with Ted likely out of the picture, Lou may not have many scoring options in the coming weeks.

WAIVER WIRE:

No drops or adds so far, although the Christopher Lloyd-esque junkyard owner could be a solid pick-up for anybody with a shallow bench. From his topical reference to the God particle to his bizarre obsession with penis piercings, he’d score major points in the Humor category alone. However, unless the police manages to trace that untraceable salvage, it’s doubtful we’ll see him again. (Note: Since Alex picked first in the draft, Lou gets first pick on the Waiver Wire.)

Next week on Breaking Bad Fantasy League:  So, did the Magnet Gambit REALLY work? Will Skyler actually say something instead of just looking all worried? Will Walter, Jr. get back to his English-muffin-eatin’ ways? Looks to be another good game!

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Discussion

One thought on “Breaking Bad Fantasy League: Episode 1, “Live Free or Die”

  1. Im not sure everything in the truck was untraceable. What about the magnet? Even if it is untraceable, there are only a relative few places it could have come from and it will be obvious when they discover Joe’s went missing. Hank can already connect Joe to Jesse and the blue meth, having met them both at the junkyard in season 3. And of course Hank knows Jesse and Walt have a link. Will this be the clue that finally clues Hank in to Walt’s meth dealings? He’ll know Jesse wouldn’t ever know how to make that truck into a roving supermagnet.

    Posted by Andrew | July 17, 2012, 8:01 am

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