Breaking Bad 5.05 ‘Dead Freight’ Recap

Some people say that Breaking Bad has turned into a more of a crime drama with each passing season. To prove that is true we had an episode that featured a complex plan, a high-stakes heist, and mortal consequences for one of the characters featured in the episode. Now that you’ve hopefully had the chance to clear Breaking Bad off of your DVR queue, let’s discuss what happened during ‘Dead Freight ‘in full.

 

That opening…

This show doesn’t shy away from having inscrutable cold opens. Take the pink teddy bear for example, no one knew what that could possibly mean until the plane collision was revealed at the end of the season. We open this week to a young boy on his dirt bike joy-riding through the desert terrain. He stops and finds a tarantula which he, as little boys love to do, puts into a jar to take home. There’s nothing else in the scene except for the very faint sounds of a train in the distance. And roll credits.

The new boss

Hank’s setting up his new office when he gets a very special visitor, Walt. Hank actually gets some decent screen-time in this episode but unfortunately so much of it is as one of Walt’s many fools as he tricks Hank with an epic display of crocodile tears in order to implement computer surveillance in his office. It’s evident that Walt isn’t upset his marriage is basically done for so much as he’s pissed Skyler won’t come around to his way of thinking. It was a very clever ploy on Walt’s part to scare Hank out of the office with the knowledge that Hank isn’t a ‘share your feelings with me’ kind of guy so he should get points for that–the icing on the cake being Walt cradling of a photo of Hank and Marie as he sniveled about losing that love with Skyler all while planting a bug in the frame.

Negotiate for your life

Lydia winds up in the kind of room people likely don’t tend to walk back out of as she’s interrogated by Mike, Jesse and Walt. They still think she’s the one behind the GPS debacle with the methylamine barrels. She’s forced to make a call to Hank’s office so they can find out who was and lo and behold it wasn’t Lydia but the Houston Police Department getting sloppy about things. However, they’ve put those trackers on every barrel in the warehouse so Lydia’s status as a source of the necessary cooking component is null and void.

After a quick 2-1 vote in favor of offing her, Lydia manages to save her skin at the last second by claiming she knows where they can get ‘an ocean of methylamine’. She and Walt have a personal sit-down and again the other men who know too much are brought up as well as the fact that Lydia only recently put a hit on Mike. Clearly, the nine men won’t live to see the end of the season because I know the words ‘loose ends’ have to be screaming inside of Walt’s head each time somebody brings them up. She sets out the plan for how they can get the methylamine and it’s a doozy as it involves an actual train robbery. Everything about it sounds far too good to be true so it’s amazing that they actually agree to it–albeit with a Walter White-style spin on things.

You broke it, you pay for it!

Things wouldn’t be right with a decision made by the team if Walter and Mike didn’t get the chance to bicker about it first. So Mike tries to persuade Walt to just go about doing Sudafed cooks so that they can at least get some sort of product out on the streets. Walt’s ego couldn’t possibly allow for the integrity of his crystal being compromised as he refuses to even think of such a thing, and he continues to push the train heist option. He’s also livid at Mike that they would be forced to cook without proper product mainly because of the nine guys who need to keep getting paid off lest they blow the lid on the Gus Fring operation. While they’re arguing, Jesse is sitting behind them like a child between two parents who need to get divorced already, but it’s in those moments that again this season (never forget the magnets) Jesse comes up with an idea to pull this crazy robbery off.

Robbing trains…with science!

How do you rob a train without robbing a train? It’s a logical quandary that Walter White (the teacher) could’ve posed to his students, and it’s fitting that it’s his former student Jesse who helps come up with the answer. In a lovely bit of exposition for the audience, Walt and Jesse give new guy Todd (Jesse Plemons) a nifty lecture that explains how they’re going to rip off the train. It involves swapping out the methylamine with water (there’s a slightly different weight ratio between them and it’s an issue of volume) so that the assumption will be that China merely sent them a weakened batch instead of a bunch of meth makers obtained it on the sly.

Flynn Vs Walt

The domestic side of things showed more of the same of the season as Walt dealt with Skyler refusing to forgive/love/not want him dead. We saw earlier in the episode that Jr. and Holly had been staying with Hank and Marie, but as anyone who’s ever hosted a teenager knows they’re not exactly keen on feeling like they’re being baby-sat. This leads to Walt and Jr. (calling himself Flynn again as he always does when he’s angry with his home life) having a minor confrontation.  Jr. doesn’t want to be kicked out of his own house and you can see Walt trying to get his son to understand that he doesn’t actually want to force him out either but he has to.  After Jr. angrily leaves, Skyler is left to give Walt the only proposition she can: she’ll be whatever kind of partner he wants as long as the kids remain far away from the imminent danger at their front door. After the amazing emotional blow-out between the Whites last week this week’s scene between them didn’t really pack as much punch as things settled into a sort of complacent unease between Walt and Skyler. It really feels like Jr. is just absolutely going to stumble into the truth about his father any day now no matter what efforts his mother makes to try to prevent it.

The Train Job

It delivers on everything you want from a proper group heist. There’s tension, teamwork, and Bill Burr providing the distraction while the crew works. Of course, it also gives us a huge wrench in the works thanks to a good Samaritan who shows up to offer Burr’s truck driver help in getting his stalled vehicle off of the tracks (so that the train would have to stop in that exact spot). It was thrilling watching Walt push his and everyone else’s luck by forcing the team to keep from pulling out of the operation even when the train was getting set to roll on. I don’t think there could be a better visual metaphor for the harm Walt will put Jesse into than when he was trapped under a moving train because Walt wanted to finish grabbing the right amount of methylamine from the tanker. Amazingly, the crew gets what they came for and no one seems to be any the wiser as the train continues on its path.

…That ending

Mike explained in this episode that there are two kinds of heists, ‘the kind where you get away with it, and the kind that leaves witnesses.’ Just as everyone is in the midst of celebrating their misdeed that’s when the boom drops when the camera pans over to the kid from the cold open. He’s standing there watching and there’s just no way of knowing how much he’s seen or if he’s seen a thing at all. Walt, Jesse, and Todd stare in shock at their uninvited guest as he gives them a friendly wave. Todd waves back with a slight smile on his face before he whips out a gun and shoots the kid in the face, killing him instantly before Jesse can finish shouting the word ‘no’.

Todd is not only the kind of guy who notices nanny cams in houses that are about to be used for illegal reasons. He’s also the kind of guy who shoots first and doesn’t bother to ask questions later. It’s going to be interesting to see how this is handled by the group at their next meeting, but it says something about this show that they can still shock you with such a scene even though he’s not the first kid that has met some form of harm on this show. And hey, Walt and Jesse were the ones who told Todd that absolutely no one should ever know this robbery took place besides them. So, really he was only trying to be a team player. Next week’s episode is called ‘Buyout’ and I don’t think that refers to money…I think it refers to the kind of thing Mike is an expert at.

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