Okay, so first thing's first: we open the fifth season with what is apparently a flash-forward, to Walt -- who's sporting hair, hipster glasses, a fake New Hampshire ID and fake name, and the telltale cough of someone whose lung cancer has maybe come back -- purchasing a no-fucking-kidding automatic rifle. So things are going well in the future!
Back in the present, we pick up right after Walt and Skyler's phone call, where Walt declared that he won. Skyler and the kids return home, though she is rightly scared as shit at what her husband is now capable of. Walt has bigger fish to fry, however, when he realizes (at about the same time that Hank discovers at the scene of the burned-down America's Meth Kitchen) that Gus's ever-present security cameras were obviously feeding to somewhere and, knowing Gus, he kept a record. So Walt and Jesse race out towards Mexico to find Mike, while at the same time Mike gets the news of Gus's demise and hauls ass to New Mexico. They meet in the middle and forge a HELLA-tenuous alliance to retrieve/destroy the hard drive that is, by now, in police evidence. Delightfully, it's Jesse's idea to use magnets that ends up being the winner, and it all adds up to Walter White taking the next step to comic-book villainy by using a giant junkyard-sized magnet to destroy the laptop from outside the evidence building. Of course, the damage the magnet causes to the evidence room also leads the cops to Caribbean bank account numbers Gus kept hidden behind a photo of him and his Pollo Hermano, but otherwise a rather successful venture. Wait until next week when he gets his hands on that weather machine!
In other news, Saul pays Skyler a visit to let her know that Ted Beneke is awake and in the hospital, after last season's attack. Skyler is horrified at the turn of events that she's ultimately responsible for, and when she goes to visit Ted at the hospital -- where he's wearing one of those halo-collar things like that one guy in Office Space -- he is petrified of her. Ted promises Skyler he won't say anything about anything and begs her to spare him and his family. Skyler sees him looking at her the way she was looking at Walt earlier and, while freaked out at what she's become, says the only thing she can think of: "Good."
Walt pays Saul a visit, and Saul is suuuuper eager to sever his ties now that he feels he has an opening. But, see, Walt is pretty much in charge now. And he makes sure Saul knows, in no uncertain terms, that he stops working for Walt when Walt says. Then he heads home to Skyler, lets her know he knows what happened to Ted, wraps her up in the creepiest, most predatory hug of all time, and tells her he forgives her. Welcome to the home stretch, you guys. Walt is TERRIFYING.
Previously: Walt took it to Gus Fring but good, not only blowing him to kingdom come but burning his entire superlab to the ground. R.I.P. America's Meth Kitchen. We also saw how far he would go to attain dominance, specifically poisoning young Brock in order to turn Jesse against Gus. Hell of a guy, that Walt!
We open the new season, as we have many a Breaking Bad season, in an unfamiliar environment, not sure of where we are in time and space. Disorient me, Vince Gilligan! Lay me down right here and disorient me! We're at what turns out to be a Denny's, where Walter White sits alone at the counter, not eating his eggs and bacon and hash browns (does that count as a Grand Slam? I was given to understand that a Grand Slam included a pancake). A word about Walt's appearance: he's got hair on his head, for one. He looks scraggly and unshaven. He's wearing some oversized hipster glasses. He's changed. Of course, he's still paranoid and grumpy, those things have not changed. He breaks up his bacon and fashions the number 52 out of the pieces, laying them over the eggs and hash browns. He tells the chatty waitress that it's his birthday. [Note: An eagle-eyed forum member also pointed out that it was his 50th birthday in the pilot episode. This time around, though, Walt gets real bacon instead of imposter veggie bacon. He's also not wearing his wedding ring! -- Rachel.] She tells him birthday celebrants eat free, but he brushes her off. She's all, "Really? Because free is good. Even if I was rich, free is always good." He's convinced, and he reluctantly shows her his ID -- a New Hampshire ID, in fact. White the waitress chats on about New England, Walt clocks a man who enters the diner and heads right for the restroom. Walt waits the appropriate amount of time before following him in.
Hey there, Jim Beaver, patron saint and frequent guest star of critically-acclaimed male-driven cable dramas! Last we saw Jim, he was selling Walt the titular .38 snub in last season's second episode. Looks like there's another arms deal happening, as the two men stare straight ahead at the washroom sinks as Walt slides Lawson an envelope of cash and Lawson wants assurances that Walt won't get caught taking it across the border. Walt assures him it's never leaving town, and after Lawson tells him he printed out some instructions on how to operate "it," he hurriedly takes off. Alone, Walt stifles a cough (red flag) and then pulls out a bottle of pills and takes one (RED FLAG). So ... is his cancer back? That's certainly the impression we're meant to have.