After last week’s visible disintegration of Skyler’s soul, Walt seems to have a difficult journey (that is if he even gives a damn about her salvation at this point) in getting his business partner, and wife, back in his corner. But, even more pressing to the budding junkie-supplier, is the flow of his precious methylamine—the chemical vital to the synthesis of his blue species of street candy.
In last week’s episode, ‘Fifty-One’, Lydia’s barrel of Methylamine was bugged, supposedly by the police, or, according to Mike, Lydia herself—a ploy to rid herself of her associations with Mike and his new gang. That makes sense considering Mike only several episodes earlier attempted to murder her with Lydia’s daughter in the adjacent bedroom. Not like the warmest way to start a new business partnership.
Tonight's episode of Breaking Bad, Dead Freight (correlation to Walt’s credence, last episode, that “nothing stop this train”?), is episode number 505 for the acclaimed series, a number that just so happens to be the area code for the show’s setting, Albuquerque. Judging by last week’s slow simmer of a ‘sode, and, this episode’s numerical significance—the city’s setting plays as big a part as any character on the show—I’m expecting the pot to boilith over with bubbling dramatic tensions and spurts of sauce (blood) interspersed throughout. If you don't believe me then believe show-runner Vince Gilligan, who said this episode will feature unforgettable moments. Yeah, I just peed a little bit too.
Our cold opening shows a Caucasian boy cutting across the desert in a motorbike. He comes across a giant hairy spider, allows it to traverse his hands, then plunks him down in a large glass jar. Jar in pocket, and off the bumblebee colored child races off. For a cold opening, this one is as vague as it gets.
When we begin the episode, Walt is visiting Hank at his office. He tells him he wants to see his kids. He breaks down crying to Hank that Skyler thinks he’s a bad father and doesn’t love him anymore. Hank is buying into it, catering to his feelings. Hank goes to get him coffee, and a s soon as he leaves the office, Walt plugs a device into his computer and bugs a photograph. Walt is becoming a master actor.
Mike, Jesse and Walt take Lydia captive.
“One last chance,” Mike says, his intimidation tactics concise and horrifying. She’s handcuffed to what looks like a rusty grill in a warehouse setting akin to something out of SAW.
They force Lydia to call Hank and ask if he planted anything in her warehouse of chemicals because she just so happened to stumble upon one. With the help of the bugs Walt planted earlier in Hank’s office, they suspect Lydia is lying after Hank confirms with his partner—off air—that the department had nothing to do with the planting of devices.
Mike and Walt have enough evidence, they believe, and are about to kill Lydia despite Jesse’s cry for a non-violent solution—until the bug picks up another Hank conversation. This time with a CIA agent who confesses he planted the bug along with all the other barrels.
Jesse was right. She didn’t plant the bug. How is he becoming the more intuitive and successfully creative member of the group? Talk about a character arch with upward mobility.
Lydia, still pleading for her life, as Mike and Walt are still weary of just her actual existence, says she knows where an ‘ocean of the stuff’ is. That piques the posse's collective interests.
After showing them some schematics, and a route map for a train loading with thousands of gallons of Methylamine, Lydia shows them the perfect place to rob the train: a dead zone, a place with absolutely no radio or cell phone contact.
Mike has his reservations, his thirst for death not as definable as before. In his opinion, the train conductor and engineer would have to die.
“There are 2 kinds of heists,” he says, “Those that get away with it, and those that leave witnesses.”
Jesse, even more so than Mike, does not want to continue murdering, but it’s becoming part of the job description. Walt, ever more so becoming as wicked as Gus Fring, wants to go thru with it, no matter the murderous outcome.
Mike’s drive to continue doling out ‘hazard pay’ to his comrades brings him to consider a pseudo-cook—a ‘stepped on’ cook where they create a shitty product just to make sure they get something instead of skipping the schedule and getting nothing.
Walt doesn’t mind skipping a cook because he doesn’t have “people” he has to pay off, like Mike. Once again, the ‘hazard pay’ issue is becoming an increasingly separating issue between Mike and Walt.
Jesse, once again showing his ingenuity (remember magnets?) says, “What if we can get the barrels of meth off the train without anyone knowing?”
In an interesting scene of pure bravado, as Walt and Jesse make the proper preparations out in the desert under the bridge in which the train will pass and hence the robbery will commence, the duo explain with puffed chests their plan to replace the respective weights of the exchanging liquids to upstart criminal Todd—he of the inquisitive, pest-control ilk that mentioned the security camera to Walt during their first home cook. He’s looks on enamored with the two.
Back at the White residence, Walt Jr. is pissed he’s being forced out of the house, to Uncle Hanks, with no reasoning. The real reasoning is because his parents are drug cooking/dealing money launderers with deadly enemies. That doesn’t seem so easy to explain, though. Walt shuts down his kid’s whining with a few icy glares and a short, Do what I say bitch-type comment.
Skyler, even more broken, tells Walt she’s his hostage. She’ll launder his money but the kids cannot be at the home. She fears for their safety too much, she says. If Walt agrees, Skyler will be whatever kind of partner he wants her to be. Walt seems to let the idea gestate.
“Out burying bodies?” she says, nodding towards his dust caked jeans.
“”Robbing a train.” he darts back. The honestly between them is sharp like barbs, spiteful. Aggressive candidness.
Bill Burr (top-ten best comedian today), one of Saul’s goons that had a hand in Ted’s neck-snapping slide into home plate, is tasked with stopping the train with a well-placed breakdown on the tracks.
Walt Jesse and Todd get to work. Mike is playing supervisor/lookout. They’re siphoning out the meth, as water is going back in to help offset the weight balance. Discretion is the name of the game here.
Mike says, ‘Oh oh’. Another car pulls up, a pick-up truck. He offers to help push the dump truck off the road. Clock is ticking.
Mike tells them to abort the mission now! The track is clear. Walt waits till the last second as the train starts to spin its wheels. 1000 gallons, they close off the valves quickly like a Nascar pit-stop, but Jesse is stuck under the train. Todd jumps off as the train moves off.
As the train skirts away, everyone’s safe and the victims are none the wiser to their misfortune. The gang has a small celebration around their newly acquired 1000 gallons of drug chems.
Then someone unexpectedly shows up. It’s the bumblebee kid from the cold opening. Apparently he’s still traversing the desert on his bike. Only problem now is, he’s just laid eyes on Walt, Jesse and Todd.
The boy waves to Todd. Todd responds by pulling out a gun and shooting the innocent kid to death as Jesse screams for him not to. Walt stands by idly.
This is uncharted territory for Breaking Bad, hell maybe even cable television. Our protagonists, whether you want to believe they are or not, have just had a hand in committing murder to an innocent child. Later on, we'll probably remember this at the crux of this show's final act, and, its fallout you can damn well be sure is going to hinge on Jesse's reaction in the coming episodes. We all know how much Jesse likes the kids. He's all about them babies, yo.