This weeks Breaking Bad, “Dead Freight”, has one of the most confounding cold opens of the series. A young kid buzzes through the desert on his dirt bike, stops, catches a tarantula in a jar, and continues on. Yes, we could drill down on the symbolism and try to figure out what the message is, but by the end of the episode it’s loud and clear not only what the opening scene means, but just how far Vince Gilligan and crew intend to push our characters this season. Here’s a clue: to the breaking point.
“Dead Freight” will be a delight for Breaking Bad fans who love a good heist story. After the crux of last week’s episode, trackers on methylene barrels at the Madrigal warehouse, Walt, Jesse, and Mike find themselves with a problem. No Methylene, no meth. The only available option would be to go back to a supply of cold pills, which would kill their production and profits. The ego of Heisenberg comes through and before we know it a plan is in place that exceeds anything Gus Fring would have ever dared to do.
In a way “Dead Freight” is a study in extremes. What risks are Walt willing to take to become King? What murderous lengths will Mike go to in order to protect their operation? Ultimately though, the episode ends with a shocking open ended question: how far down Walt’s rabbit hole is Jesse willing to go? “Dead Freight” is ultimately Jesse’s episode. We’ve seen Jessie mature over the seasons, and begin to question the implications of his actions for those around him.
Walt has exploited Jesse’s inner drive to do well and protect those he loves since season one, and the lengths he has gone to to exploit it have become more and more extreme–allowing Jane to die in her sleep, poisoning Brock, among a bed of numerous deceptions. In “Dead Freight” both Walt and Jesse are tested as they become jointly responsible for something that reflects deeply in both of their character arcs. Game change? You bet. And, given what happens earlier in the episode very likely foreshadowing of a larger tragedy yet to come.
Breaking Bad “Dead Freight” airs tonight on AMC at 10pm EST.