AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 5: “Dead Freight”
Directed & Written
by George Mastras
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Fifty-One” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Buyout” – click here
A boy on a dirtbike rides around the New Mexico desert. He stops at a certain point to capture himself a tarantula, which he stores in a jar and takes with him in his jacket. He speeds off into the desert, though we’ll see him again later.
At the DEA, Hank (Dean Norris) is settling into his new, bigger office. He gets a visit from Walt (Bryan Cranston) in the middle of the day. They chat about Skyler (Anna Gunn), after the recent birthday party incident. Walt opens up about his marriage falling apart. He starts to cry and makes Hank uncomfortable. It’s a ruse. The weepy brother-in-law takes time while ASAC Schrader’s getting coffee to hook a device up to the computer, so he and his business partners can keep a eye on things from the inside.
In a dingy basement, Walt, Mike (Jonathan Banks), and Jesse (Aaron Paul) take Lydia (Laura Fraser) for a meeting— a serious one. They need her to call the DEA. If she makes any wrong moves, Mike is going to shoot her in the head. She makes the call and asks Hank about the “tracking device” placed on one of Madrigal’s barrels. He doesn’t know anything about it.
“It’s always darkest just before the dawn”
Things are hot at the Madrigal warehouse. They’ll have to steal what they can while they’re able— until the bug in the office catches a call from Hank confirming another DEA team put the device there. Good timing too, or Lydia might’ve found herself six feet under. Problem remains all the barrels are being tracked. They’ll have to find a new supply. Cue Lydia. She potentially has “an ocean of” methylamine for them. Mike’s not keen on working with a woman who “put a hit out” on him, so Walt gets to work trying to smooth things over. Like Walt treats every other relationship in his life, he chooses capital over human beings, as he’s done so often with his family, deciding the methylamine is more important than Mike’s concerns. How do they get the chemicals? They’ve got to rob a fucking train in the desert, Wild West-style: “Like Jesse James.” Not all of them are thrilled with the plan. Yet none of them have a better one, except Jesse.
They head to the desert and scope out the “dead zone” where they can stop the train. The plan is to simultaneously pump out the methylamine while pumping water back into the train’s tanks so it won’t look like anything’s been stolen immediately. It’s going to take a bit of work to get prepared. They’ve got Todd (Jesse Plemons) along for the ride. Walt and Jesse make clear NOBODY can know the train robbery’s occurred— they stress this point hard to make sure he’s got his head on straight.
Back at home, Walt discovers Walt Jr (R.J. Mitte) has returned, refusing to go back to his aunt and uncle’s place. Skyler’s none too happy. She doesn’t want her children under the same roof as a violent meth dealer. Dad attempts to talk sensibly with his son, who’s unsure why any of this is going on. Skyler agrees to keep her husband’s secrets, like “a hostage,” so long as the kids stay away from the home.
The stage is set for the Great Meth Train Robbery.
Once the train is headed their way, the crew have Kuby (Bill Burr) shut down a dump truck right on the tracks so nothing can pass through, which is meant to give Walt and the boys time to pull off their switcheroo. The train’s stopped, the hoses are hooked up, and the operation gets underway. Walt, Jesse, and Todd oversee the pumping while Mike watches over Kuby’s distraction up the tracks.
Although they cut it close the job goes off without much of a hitch. Well, except for the kid and his tarantula arriving right as the lads are finishing off their heist. Unfortunately the strict guidelines Walt and Jesse gave Todd earlier make him do something terrible: he shoots the young boy dead right there in the desert.
The others are horrified by what he’s done, particularly Jesse, having seen enough kids die, or nearly die, for one lifetime. This will be another moral obstacle for the business partners to overcome. Not to mention they’ve got to get rid of another body. Not the first body they’ve disposed of— but it’s the first child.
A wild episode with such a grim conclusion— one that creates new, big issues for the central characters going forward. “Buyout” is next time.