Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 5: Dead Freight
Gut: Redheaded conman is excellent at all sorts of conmannery; Walt learns quickly: Skyler notices his conspicuously dirty pants, so next time he wears knee pads, and brown instead of blue; It seemed to me that Mike had Lydia call Hank’s office with Walt’s phone—why?; Perhaps Jesse honed his idea-making-while-others-are-yelling skills when he was a kid trying to lie to his parents about his drug use.
This episode does not warrant a humorous recap, so let’s be serious. I wrote this in my notes during the opening sequence:
motorbike in desert. LITTLE BOY. brave, tarantula. puts it in a jar, seals. jar in jacket. will probably die by the end of this episode.
Given Mike’s heist quote in last week’s preview and the fact that rarely is a shot wasted, that was not an outrageous conclusion. But the beautiful thing about this show is that I forgot all about that little boy by the end. If I had to create a shortlist of the series’ best episodes, Dead Freight would be on it, along with Fly, Crawl Space, Half Measures, Peekaboo and 4 Days Out. The train-robbing scene—the entire episode, really, but especially the train-robbing scene—is a clinic in suspenseful television.
I shouldn’t skip to the end. Walter’s teary vent to Hank marks his second fake soliloquy in two episodes. Walter White is as good an actor as Bryan Cranston is. I mean, goddamn, manipulating someone so that they close the blinds? Certainly in Walt’s cheery visit to the DEA there were echoes of Gus Fring. Gus would never be so bold as to plant something in the office, though. No challenge is too big for Walter. That he proved Mike and Jesse wrong by beating the clock will only serve to fuel his all-conquering ego. (Wait, didn’t I say that after the magnet caper?)
Mike was pissed off the entire episode, and his calm eagerness to explode Lydia’s skull gave the warehouse scene a lot of its tension. He is one to expect the best out of his nemeses—as in his clinical takedown of the cartel men at Chow’s place in Season 3—so it’s no surprise that he overestimated the Houston Police in the Case of the Silly Puddy GPS. Just imagine how pissed he’s gonna be at the very beginning of the next episode. I assume it will pick up right where this one left off.
The only part of the episode I disliked was melodramatic Skyler. She’s not Walter’s hostage, and she’s lying to herself if she really thinks that.
We saw the edges of the “no” spectrum this episode. From the humor of Hank’s rapid-fire to the horror of Jesse’s roar, we caught the full emotional weight of the word. How Jesse responds in next week’s episode will determine is he escapes from this heist as unscathed morally as he was physically.