But let’s back up to the start of the episode.
Walt goes to visit Hank in his new office. After chit-chatting for a while, Walt breaks down into tears telling Hank that Skyler doesn’t love him anymore and thinks he is a bad father. Hank tells Walt that he is a great father, and doesn’t know what else to say. Hank asks if Walt wants some coffee and then leaves to give him some space. Once again Walt uses a truth wrapped in a lie to his advantage. After Hank leaves Walt bugs his computer and hides a receiver in a photo, and finishes up just as Hank walks in. Walt plays it off as looking at happier times, and then slithers away.
Then we cut to Walt, Mike, Jesse, and a hostage Lydia in an underground room. Mike gives Lydia a chance to call Hank and ask if he had put the tracker on the methylamine barrel, and Hank says he doesn’t know anything about it. Walt changes his vote from two episodes ago and agrees to kill Lydia, but at the last second they overhear Hank calling the Texas DEA office and discover they got sloppy and put trackers on all the barrels.
Now without a way to get any methylamine, Lydia proposes the train heist. There is a dead spot they can use to their advantage and get a whole of ocean of meth from. Walt and Mike argue the logistics while the camera slowly pushes in on Jesse, who once again provides the answer to their problems.
The episode also intercuts with Hank and Marie at their house. Walt Jr. is moping around their house, and declines Hank’s invitation to watch Heat on Blu-Ray. He goes back home and locks himself in his room, just as Walt walks in the door. Walt Jr. wants to know what is going on, and Walt refuses to tell him anything, so Jr. reluctantly goes back to Hank and Marie’s. Skyler asks Walt if he was out burying bodies, to which Walt responds, “Robbing a train.”
I was confused by the return of Walt, which seemed to signify that we weren’t going to see the train robbery. I was disappointed at this, and failed to consider that we would flash back to it, and of course we did. And after ramping up slowly throughout the episode, the glorious climax of Dead Freight started.
The last quarter of Dead Freight was an adrenaline-pumping action scene. Season five started with Walt, Jesse, and Mike using magnets to destroy police evidence, and four episodes later things have escalated into a Jesse James-train heist. After agonizingly building up suspense with the Good Samaritan and Walt’s refusal to quit draining methylamine, the scene ended and the plan worked. Then, we see a kid, who we were introduced to in the cold open, drive up. The kid waves at our lovable group of thieves. And after Todd waves back, he pulls out a gun and shoots the kid.
That’s what Breaking Bad has been doing this season. It’s given Walt, and in some ways, the audience, what they’ve wanted. Walt is on top. But we can’t just celebrate a heist of illegal drugs. Whenever the heist is finished, the audience is relieved and excited. And then our excitement is quickly shot down. Breaking Bad has always been about consequences, and Dead Freight reinforced that in a sickening way.
Todd shooting the kid is going to affect the rest of the season in a major way. Jesse shouted in protest right before Todd shot the kid, and now will likely be heartbroken. Walt, who has previously poisoned a kid, will have to be careful with how he handles Todd. Todd wanted to impress Walt and Jesse and was following orders when they made a point of saying no one could know about the heist. But if Walt lets Todd off the hook, Jesse will have a problem with it.
I have a feeling Todd isn’t long for this world, but the same can be said for Lydia, same for Skyler, same for the entire cast, really. At the start of this season I thought that most of the plotlines would be wrapped up at the end of the first eight, but now it looks like we will likely get something major (Hank finds out about Walt, Skyler dies) as a cliffhanger and the main storylines will go into the back half.
Still, with a shortened split-season and only three episodes left in 2012, I have a feeling these next three will have the nonstop pace of something like Crawl Space or End Times. I’m not sure how Breaking Bad is going to follow up a kid being shot, but there’s not a doubt in my mind it will only get darker from here.
- I loved Hank calling Walt Jr. “Emo McGee”.
- The final helper of the train heist is Kuby, an associate of Mike and Saul who was last seen asking Ted Beneke for money. Kuby is played by comedian Bill Burr. Nice to see him return.
- Beautiful cinematography by Michael Slovis. This was easily one of the best looking episodes the show has ever done. We also got two Breaking Bad POV shots tonight: one on the dirtbike, and one on the train.
- Also, great music tonight by Dave Porter, especially during the train sequence. Breaking Bad has started to use score more the past two seasons, and it has payed off well.
- Next week on Breaking Bad: ‘Buyout’: Walt, Jesse and Mike distress over the future of their business; occupational hazards weigh heavily on Jesse.