The episode opens in a Denny's restaurant, across the street from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. A man, sitting alone at the counter, is served his breakfast: bacon, two eggs sunnyside up and hashbrowns. The man breaks his bacon strips in half, then arranges the pieces into the number 52, referencing a White family birthday tradition ("Pilot"). This man is revealed to be Walter White, in deteriorating health, sporting a different pair of glasses, full head of hair, an unkempt beard and no wedding band. We are a year into the future.
A waitress tries to make conversation with him, but Walt is not very compliant and begrudgingly answers her benign questions, giving a fake name (Lambert, which is Skyler White's and Marie Schrader's maiden name) and shows her a false ID from New Hampshire he pulls out his wallet. Excusing himself to the bathroom, Walt then trades an envelope of cash for a set of keys in the bathroom with Lawson, his previous gun dealer ("Thirty-Eight Snub"). Lawson asks Walt for his word that "it" won't be crossing the border. Walt assures him that "it" won't be leaving town. Before exiting the bathroom, Walt lets out a slight cough. He pops a pill.
Leaving a generous $100 tip under his breakfast plate for the waitress, Walt exits the diner and locates the car that the keys belong to. Opening the trunk, "it" is revealed to be an M60 machine gun with ammunition and a printed instruction manual. Walt looks around cautiously, then puts his bag in with the gun and slams the trunk shut.
Returning home following the explosion at Casa Tranquila ("Face Off"), Walt disposes of all evidence from the pipe bomb, then quickly remembers to also throw out the pot with the Lily of the Valley plant from which he took the toxin. Walter White Jr. and Skyler return shortly thereafter and, although Jr. is excited that Gustavo Fring's death means Hank Schrader would be labeled a hero, Skyler is terrified of her murderous husband and warily tells him so, after appeasing Walt's questioning that she is indeed pleased to see him alive and safe. Walt takes a drink of celebratory whiskey, but suddenly shoots up startled, as he remembers the security cameras inside the destroyed superlab...
Hank and Steven Gomez survey the charred remains of Gus' superlab, noting that it was identical to Gale Boetticher's designs. Gomez remarks that the corpses - who were shot by Walt - are unidentifiable due to the fire. Hank notices the remains of the security camera with great interest.
In Mexico, Mike Ehrmantraut feeds chickens outside the temporary medical clinic where he had been recuperating from the shootout with the cartel. After learning of Gus' fate, Mike furiously drives the cartel's car to go kill Walt. As they meet up somewhere in the desert, Mike immediately pulls a gun on Walt, determined to shoot him. Jesse Pinkman shields Walt, begging Mike to listen, stating he'll need to kill him too. Mike lowers his pistol. They tell, then ask Mike, where Gus kept all the footage from the security camera - reminding him that he's equally implicated on there, so needs to help them. After a heated argument they agree to find a way to destroy the laptop which Mike tells them was kept at the back at Gus's office.
Mike fakes a call to the Albuquerque Police Department, finding out that the laptop had already been placed in the APD's evidence locker. As Mike and Walt argue back and forth about how impenetrable the vault is and creating an incendiary bomb to destroy the laptop would never work, they hardly hear Jesse's suggestion to maybe just use a giant magnet. When they finally get off each other's throats to listen, they're both stunned into surprised silence by Jesse's magnet idea, which might just work. The three meet with Old Joe at his junkyard to purchase or lease his electromagnet which he uses to move the cars about in his junkyard. Which they then hook up to 42 car batteries inside a moving truck. Mike's not convinced about this plan and just wants to leave them to it. However Jesse convinces him that he's certain it will work, but that it's a three man job, so begs him not to leave. After some arrangements they do a prelim' test out in the yard and as their juiced-up magnet utterly wipes their test laptop, Mike (and all) are equal parts surprised and elated to see it work so successfully. They congratulate Jesse for his fine idea.
Saul Goodman visits Skyler at the Car Wash to inform her that Ted Beneke had an accident. She fears, thinking Saul's announcing his death, but he calms her down insisting that Ted is still alive. He's just woken up from a coma. She visits Ted at the hospital where he is in a spinal neck brace being treated for severe head trauma. Skyler, her face etched with guilt, can hardly find the words of apology she needs to say, whilst Ted's eyes seem to mirror some of the fear that's been filling Skyler's lately, but his ironically for the Skyler that set the 'heavies' on him. With that in mind, and mentioning he has a family, he promises her he will never speak a word of the events that transpired. "Good," Skyler replies.
That night, Mike hot-wires the gate into the APD parking lot. Walt and Jesse drive the magnet-equipped truck alongside the building to the wall outside the evidence room. The magnet disables the guard's computer, alerting the police. In desperation, Walt cranks the magnet up to its maximum voltage, sending a force so strong it tips the truck over. The police security guard finds the evidence room half destroyed by the magnet, surprised to see all the metallic evidence stuck to the centre of one wall, and sends officers outside to apprehend the crooks, but Walt and Jesse escape with Mike in his car, leaving the truck behind. Mike is dubious of the ploy's success, wary of any left behind evidence. Walt insists he made sure no fingerprints or traceable evidence was left behind. Mike still not convinced, argues why he should take it on faith or be so certain that it worked. Walt, sitting smugly in the backseat, cockily responds, it worked "because I say so." To which Mike responds with just a long icy state into the rearview mirror back at Walt.The police officers clean up the evidence room and find a smashed picture frame wherein they find account numbers of a bank in the Cayman Islands annotated behind a picture of Gus and Max Arciniega - (possibly not have been so quickly found, if at all, had the frame not been smashed in the whole magnet turmoil.)
Walt visits Saul's office where Saul explains what transpired in regards to Skyler giving Ted $600,000. Walt reprimands Saul for allowing his wife to give such a large amount to a man she was sleeping with. Saul exasperated by an inappreciative ungrateful Walt, attempts to sever all ties, insisting "He's done" - but Walt backs him into a corner in the office and menacingly responds, "We're done when I say we're done."
Walt returns home to a frightened Skyler and tells her that he knows what has happened to Ted, why she did it and that he forgives her. She hesitantly accepts his hug.
- James Harris as Duty Officer
- Monique Candelaria as Waitress
- Gail Starr as Nurse
- Breanna Perera as Woman in Denny's
- Todd Sopher as Magnet Guy #2
- This is the first episode in which the opening titles have been corrected to reflect the proper electron configuration of barium (Ba), 2-8-18-18-8-2. Previously, these numbers, 2-8-18-7, were erroneously copied from bromine (Br).
- This is the first episode since Crazy Handful of Nothin' where Walt has a full head of hair, albeit only in flash-forwards.
- The episode title "Live Free or Die" refers to New Hampshire's state motto and the license plate on Walter's car. Additionally, the motto is a foreshadowing that Walter's fate might either be a life of freedom, or death.
- Walt's New Hampshire car is an older model Volvo, which happens to be the same brand of car Gustavo Fring drove.
- Mike mentions that the police evidence room will have Halon, because it doesn't destroy evidence. Halon fire extinguishers accomplish this by not producing any type of residue afterwards.
- Old Joe references String theory (a theory which is a candidate for a "theory of everything") and the "god particle" which is another name for the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson was actually discovered just 11 days prior to the airing of this episode; it was just a theoretical particle up until July 4, 2012.
- The episode correctly shows the effects of a magnetic field on a laptop or computer. It would have little effect on the laptop components (barring metal reinforcements, which can be attracted), but will destroy a magnetic hard drive. Thankfully for the trio, Gus' laptop was an older model that doesn't use solid-state drives (flash memory), which are immune to strong magnetic fields.
- The behavior of the magnet inside the truck and the tipping is correct as well. As electromagnets are not omnidirectional, i.e. they work in a specific direction, the truck elements did not cave in. Furthermore, the tipping was a result of the attraction to the ferrous metal rods embedded in the reinforced concrete walls of the evidence room. At max setting, the truck could not keep the magnet immobile and it tipped.
- The truck used to contain the magnet is a 1977 Ford F-350.
- Gus' laptop is a Samsung RV511.
- The laptop that Walt and Jesse used to test the magnet is a Dell Latitude D630.
- This episode confirms Saul had Huell take the ricin-laced cigarrette from Jesse's pocket.
- This is the shortest episode (42 minutes) of the series.
- Marie Schrader does not appear in this episode.
- This episode was the series' most-watched episode at the time of its airing with 2.93 million viewers, but was later passed by "Say My Name ", which had 2.98 million.
- When Bryan Cranston visited Conan O'Brien on his talk show, Conan called the episode "amazing".
- Walt's arranging of "52" with bacon mirrors Skyler arranging "50" with veggie bacon in the "Pilot".
- True to other season premieres, the first few seconds of the episode overlap with part of the previous season's finale.
- However, this is the first season premiere to not feature any characters being killed.
- Ted Beneke describes his memories of the accident with "I tripped and fell. That is all I know", which is very close to "I woke up, I found her, that's all I know" told by Jesse in "ABQ" to the police.
- The opening scene where Walt hands over his ID from New Hampshire to the waitress alludes to the events of "Granite State".
- Walter: "So are you going to talk to me here? Are you going to show some kind of–I don’t know–some kind of mild relief that I’m alive?"
- Skyler: "I am relieved, Walt. And scared."
- Walter: "Scared? Scared of what?"
- Skyler: "You."
- — Walt and Skyler in their bedroom.
- "Keys, scumbag. It’s the universal symbol for keys."
- ―Mike to Jesse and Walter.
- Mike: "Well, you got all the answers. So you tell me, Answer Man, did all that even work just now?"
- Walter: "Yes. It worked."
- Mike: "And I'm supposed to take that on faith? Yeah? And why? How do we know?"
- Walter: "Because I say so."
- — Mike and Walter about the ploy's success.
- "We're done when I say we're done."
- ―Walter to Saul after Saul tried to quit.
- "Love is Running Through Me (aka "Running Through Me")" by Javaroo (during the teaser in Denny's)
- "Music for Your Soul (aka "Conversations")" by David Castle (during the teaser in Denny's)
- "Cleaning House" by Dave Porter (as Walt cleans up the bomb making equipment & Lily of the Valley from his house)