TV Review: “Breaking Bad” Episode 5 – “Dead Freight”

Written by Devin Barnes August 15, 2012

“There are two kinds of heists: those where the guys get away with it, and those that leave witnesses.”

“Dead Freight” is a near-flawless episode, containing one of the strongest endings of the series. It’s an absolutely gasp-inducing final minute, reminiscent of Walter White – who had been the model of diplomacy beforehand – running over two soulless, armed drug dealers with his Aztec, snatching a gun from their shaking, bloodied fingers and shooting the still-living dealer in the head. This time, the victim – I won’t specify who, on the off-chance you haven’t seen it yet – is far from soulless, and certainly not armed. It’s a heartbreaking, astonishing wrap-up to an already thrilling episode, one that left me holding my breath in horrified shock some ten minutes after the hour concluded.

In a desperate bid to save her life, Lydia – having been accused of treachery – proposes access to a veritable ocean of methylamine, and that Walt, Jesse and Mike “rob it, like Jesse James.” She grants them access to a desert location, with a train carrying enough methylamine to satisfy Walt’s lustful urges for power and influence. Tensions surface between Walt and Mike, the latter believing the heist to be too risky, but Jesse – ever the peacekeeper – proposes an intriguing notion: “what if we could rob the train without anyone knowing it got robbed?”

“Nothing stops this train.”

Jesse’s plan to swap out the coveted methylamine with a water-based substance of equal weight is quite smart, and – with this in mind – it seems the heist may be a rousing success. The set-piece of this train heist is wonderfully expansive, upping the ante with difficulties involving “good Samaritans” fixing the temporarily detained train route, with Mr. White’s obsessive “all-or-nothing” perfectionism tampering with the  mechanics of the mission. But, all in all, the five amigos (including newcomer Todd) end up pulling off this highly difficult heist with flying colours, and it goes to show that Breaking Bad is increasing scope and vision this season with superlative results. Aside from the occasional hitch and some unbearable moments of suspense, everything goes perfectly – it’s a joyride. Until that final moment. Until an innocent child witnesses their crimes.

Like cowboys in the old west.

What happens next?

Other interesting components involve the continuing disintegration of Walt and Skyler’s marriage, reduced from a loving, mutually respectful relationship to a reluctant business venture, with Skyler doing everything in her power to keep her children at Hank and Marie’s, safe and sound. “Do that, Walt,” Skyler fearfully implores, eyes cold as ice, “and I’ll be whatever kind of partner you want me to be.” Skyler, being highly intelligent, appeals not to Walt’s crumbling sense of propriety, but his power-crazed ideals. “I’m not your wife,” Skyler adds, with a disspiriting shiver. “I’m your hostage.”

Walt’s emotional breakdown is a clever ruse, as it grants him opportunities to bug Hank’s computer and office, but it is also highly telling of who this character has become. His reasons for collapsing in tears – Skyler doesn’t love him anymore, he’s made so many mistakes – are all perfectly valid, but he doesn’t genuinely feel these emotions. It’s a manipulative furtherance of his control over the DEA. Yet even Walt, child poisoning monster that he is, may have qualms over an innocent child’s shooting. Todd was instructed to leave no witnesses in the aftermath of the heist – does he feel he was “following orders,” or that his actions had justifications? How will our band of meth-dealing miscreants deal with this heinous act? It’s hard to say, but two things remain undeniable: Breaking Bad is one of the best shows to ever appear on television, and that ending will leave viewers reeling for hours on end.

Don’t wave at Todd.

Rating: 9/10

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Devin Barnes

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on TV Review: “Breaking Bad” Episode 5 – “Dead Freight”. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment