Breaking Bad is primarily a character drama, but it can also be a damn good crime show, and after the emotionally draining Season 5, Episode 4: "Fifty-One," it's nice to take a break from the constant angst with a little heist excitement in Season 5, Episode 5: "Dead Freight." After all of the absurd stunts Walter and Jesse have pulled off over the seasons, why not throw in a little train robbery?
A note: Breaking Bad is a story about moral decline and the reasons people commit crime; in that spirit, we'll be using our recaps to track the moral state of the key players each week. Sound good? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode: "Dead Freight."
Walter White: "I'll Deal With Her"
The good news: Walter seems to give in to Skyler's request to let the kids stay with Hank and Marie, so, hey, that's a good thing he did. Is it because he's delusional enough to think he can win Skyler back? Did her little speech about the danger the kids are in knock a shred of sense into him? Whatever. It is still the best move he makes this week.
Well, that, and he doesn't shoot the little boy at the end of the episode. What would he have done if the new guy didn't step in and make the decision for him? We genuinely don't know.
The bad news: It's telling that twice this season Jesse has come up with the clever, nonviolent, science-based idea while Walter pushes for the simpler, dirtier route. Walter isn't thinking like the man we met in Season 1 — innovative and solution oriented — he's thinking like a drug lord. From offering to "deal with" Lydia to advocating killing two innocents to pull off the heist to putting Jesse and the newbie in danger by refusing to stop when the plan starts to go awry, Walter is in this thing to dominate, and he is getting reckless about the body count.
Around Jesse and Mike, Walter doesn’t bother to disguise his transformation (much). He's at his most masterfully creepy when playing the part of poor, beaten down Walter White around others. Using a twisted version of the truth about his wrecked family life, he cries in Hank’s office. (we think that Walter is still unhappy about Schyler’s loathing for him and genuinely bewildered by it.) Of course, he's just hanging about so he can plant a bug when Hank temporarily exits the room. The callous way Walter uses his real emotions to manipulate others to his own advantage that leaves us with chills.
Jesse Pinkman: "Can't We Just Tie Them Up or Something?"
The good news: Jesse started asserting himself last week, and he keeps it up in this episode, fighting for Lydia's life even when it seems clear at least for the moment that she did plant the tracker. He even comes up with a heist plan that keeps everyone happy and allows them to leave the train engineers alive. Jesse Pinkman: Drug Lord with a heart of gold — and a brain. Who woulda thunk? Well, he's always been the one with the big heart , but this season he's stepping up to the plate, trying his best to go toe-to-toe with Mike and Walter when he needs to.
The bad news: That blind spot for Walter. Just saying, we'd be a bit more concerned if our mentor seemed so blithely a-okay with offing two innocents for the sake of some methylamine. Depending on how Walter reacts to the murder of the kid next week, maybe some of Jesse's faith will be shaken. If there's one thing we know he has a firm moral line about, it's hurting children.
Mike Ehrmantraut: "I Am Going to Pull My Pistol Out, and I Am Going to Shoot You in the Head."
The good news: Mike's a consummate professional. He'd rather skip the train heist than needlessly up the body count. He'd rather cut the operation short when things go wrong than risk everything. He once again sits firmly between Jesse and Walter on the morality scale. He definitely isn't a softie like Jesse, but he lacks Walter's ambition and, with it, his willingness to do virtually anything for more power.
The bad news: Mike's a consummate professional. He still wants to shoot Lydia in the head even though it turns out the DEA planted the tracker, just because she's a loose end. Above all, he's in this to protect himself. That's better than being in it to gather as much power as possible (lookin' at you, Walter), but the man's not gunning for any humanitarian awards.
Lydia: "I'm Talking About an Ocean of the Stuff"
The good news: She wasn't dumb enough to plant the tracker, which means she didn't doublecross Mike. So, that.
The bad news: Jesse was once a character driven by weaknesses — his addiction, his desperate need for approval and love. These elements of his character still exist, he's become stronger, more self confident. It seems Lydia has replaced him as the weak one, but her weakness comes in the form of cowardice. And, unlike Jesse, she has very few appealing characteristics. She's as ruthless as Walter at his worst, without his competence; she still makes no apologies for putting the hit out on Mike and his guys, and she seems baffled that any of them would have an issue offing the engineers.
There's no question that Lydia's in over her head. Just consider how many times she's almost got herself killed in the last few weeks. But we get the feeling that if a genie popped up, her wish would be to be better at the game, not out of it. Any sympathy we might have had for her vanishes when she demands her cut of the stolen methylamine. She could have just asked the guys to leave her in peace, instead.
Hank Schrader: "Emo McGee"
The good news: We love Hank's awkward attempt to comfort Walter as he cries in his office, especially his little speech about how Walter's a great dad. It's painfully ironic and totally off base, but sweet. Also good: Hank's annoyance at the DEA agents who planted trackers on the outside of Lydia's methylamine canisters. That's probably bad news for Walter — a Hank who's both obsessed and methodical is dangerous indeed, though obviously he'll be hindered by Walter's new bug (not to mention he's technically no longer in charge of rounding up the bad guys.)
The bad news: We guess it's kind of not cool to make fun of a teenager. But seriously, Hank's great.
Notable Scenes, Quotes, and Other Thoughts
- The actual heist sequence is edge-of-our-seat thrilling.
- Hey, a totally inexplicable cold open that comes back in a big way by the end of the episode! Somehow, they never get old.
- Is it just us, or did Walter have to take a private moment to wipe away some real tears before getting down to business planting the bugs in Hank's office?
- Mike line of the week: "It's a pistol, not a gun."
- "Emo McGee" is the best nickname for Walter Jr.
- This episode features a scene where Jesse comes up with the solution while Mike and Walter argue. It's reminiscent of the moment when he comes up with the magnet plan in Season 5, Episode 1: "Live Free or Die," and it's presented in a similar way: Jesse sitting as the other two stand in the foreground.
- An isolated railroad is a perfect opportunity for some gorgeous, sweeping landscape shots. This being Breaking Bad, we're not disappointed.
- Although Walter and Skyler's conversation feels like a bit of a retread of their scene from last week — albeit with a different conclusion — we love the line, "I'm not your wife, I'm your hostage." Perfect summation of the situation.
- So, the new guy shot a kid. Did not expect that. Still processing, really.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!
Read the rest of Wetpaint Entertainment's Breaking Bad coverage here.
Breaking Bad airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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