Breaking Badass Power Rankings: ‘Live Free Or Die’

Breaking Bad is the greatest TV drama of all-time (THIS IS A FACT), so UPROXX is going all-out on coverage of the show this season. Cajun Boy will be writing an episode recap (with GIFs!) every week, while I’ll be handling the Breaking Badass Power Rankings, which will, well, rank the most badass characters from every episode. Why “Badass?” Obviously, the so-not-clever-that-it’s-clever name, but also because Breaking Bad is the kind of a show that makes you want to drink an entire bottle of bourbon before watching it, to soothe your soon-to-be tense nerves. That’s pretty badass.

Episode: “Live Free or Die”

Unrated: Old Joe the Crazy Junkyard Owner, Holly, Police Officers Who Have to Put Everything Walter and Jesse Messed Up Back In Their Proper Place, Denny’s Waitress (she earned her $100), and Jim Beaver.


Though, to be fair, their fist bump was pretty great.

Walt, Jr. didn’t have much to do in “Live Free or Die,” other than look like a “lovable dork with Vampire Diaries hair and wardrobe,” to quote Joanna Robinson, and question his barely-there dad about why their TV isn’t turned on. Hasn’t he heard: Gus Fring is dead??? That bit of news elicits a “holy sh*t” reaction from the Man-Formerly-Known-As-Flynn, which is strong enough language that I thought about bumping him up over the next person on the power rankings — and then he went and said, “Aunt Marie’s pretty freaked.”

Well, by golly, I hope the good folks down at the pharmacy can fix her right up, yes indeed.

The expression you see above, that’s the look a man who has just been put in his place gives. The rumors that Saul pissed himself after Walter growled, “We’re done when I say we’re done” remain unverified, but, c’mon, it happened. If it hadn’t been for the Walter White-approved glass of whiskey I chugged before watching this episode (“So good, you’ll cheer yourself in a mirror!”), I would have pulled a Miles Davis myself.

I’ve already accepted that I will undervalue Skyler’s badass ways for every episode this season. She’s never as showy as Walter or as loud as Jesse, but her husband would have been in the slammer a long time ago, were it not for her recently discovered thrill from doing the wrong thing. That’s kind of badass? But Skyler has a limit. She would never do the terrible things her husband has, and she’s still looking out for her family. There was a time that was true of Walt, too, but now that Skyler has gone and f*cked Ted and Walt, Jr. keeps talking about how much of a hero Uncle Hank is, his motivations behind becoming the King are for personal gain and…

See, even in my Skyler entry, I end up talking about Walter. You’ll get your due, Skyler. That scared look of disgust you gave at the end of the episode when your monster of a husband was hugging you: great acting.

A collection of CLASSIC MIKE lines from this episode:

-“I am done listening to this asshole talk.”
-“Keys, scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys.”
-“You know how they say it’s been a pleasure? Well, it hasn’t.”
-“Oh, so now you want to blow up a police station?”
-“I can see a lot of possible outcomes for this thing, and not a single one of them involves Miller Time.”

To say nothing of the Dave Clark Five reference. Am I already writing spinoff fan fiction featuring Mike driving away from Albuquerque with his feisty pet chicken Wendell while “Catch Us If You Can” plays in the car? Yes, yes, I am. It’s on my computer, in a folder that also contains a Choose Your Own Adventure story where Jesse gets a ring on his penis at the end of every situation and lyrics for a song called “Magnets: How Do They Work?” I can’t imagine that idea has been done before.

Anyway, Mike: not a happy camper. The man just wants to chill with Wendell, but that so-and-so Walter continues to be a thorn in his side, or whatever the chicken version of that cliche happens to be. After their laptop-zapping plan goes well(ish?), Mike drives the King and Jesse away from the tilted U-Haul and towards safety(ish?). He’s not as convinced that everything went as smoothly as his backseat accomplice claims it did, though. “How do we know?” he asks. Without a moment’s hesitation, Walter responds, “Because I say so.”

And the car goes quiet.

Hank was right. We’ve known this for awhile, but as Walt, Jr. excitedly tells his dad, Uncle Hank’s suspicions that Gus Fring was up to no good were on the blown-off nose. A co-worker of his (Gomez, perhaps? I couldn’t tell) says something along the lines of, “Yeah, yeah, rub it in my face now,” but Hank’s beyond receiving petty congratulations from his employees — he’s pissed off and on the hunt. And considering he’s the only officer who notices the camera perched above the room, he’s clearly the best man for the case. Walter had better watch out.

: The Hank Schrader‎ Story

Before this becomes a “Luke, I am your father” situation, Jesse doesn’t actually yell, “Magnets, BITCH.” He says, “Yeah, BITCH” and “Magnets, OHHHHHHHHH.” So get it right, BITCHES.

Don’t you feel bad for Jesse? You see Mike, who has developed a fatherly affection for the kid, trying to convince him to ditch Walter, who’s been the source of every terrible, awful thing that’s happened to him over the past year. But like a rascally, baggy pants-wearing puppy that doesn’t know otherwise, Jesse keeps following “Mr. White” because he doesn’t know any better. He’s already in this deep, has an addictive personality, and everyone (R.I.P. Jane and Combo) and everything (R.I.P. countless beer-soaked XBox 360 controllers) he’s loved has turned to sh*t, so what else is he going to do? Not work at Denny’s, certainly.

Still, for that “yeah, SCIENCE” rehash, he’s this week’s number-two badass. Which only leaves…

All hail the King.