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.