‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5, Episode 5: ‘Dead Freight’ Recap

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Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Dead Freight Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 5: Dead Freight Recap

In a somewhat amusing bit of network synergy, AMC managed to have both the premiere of Hell on Wheels and Breaking Bad feature two very different groups of outlaws robbing trains. While the former centers on the railroad – which is, in fact, that program’s lifeblood – the same activity is new territory for Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his crew, and yet it manages to make for another fantastically tense and well-paced episode.

As season 5 rolls along, Vince Gilligan continues to tease his audience with the season’s cold open, asking them to double check every image, event and spoken word to hopefully understand just how things can go from empire building to having Jim Beaver deliver a car with a machine gun in the trunk. Meanwhile, the evolution of Walter White progresses as he brazenly manipulates everyone he can in order to achieve his new, all-consuming goal of creating said empire where he assumes the throne.

The latest step includes an unscheduled visit to his brother-in-law’s new office to procure some much needed information regarding the GPS trackers that were found on the bottom of a container of methylamine at the Madrigal warehouse. Walt shuffles in and greets Hank (Dean Norris) with a hangdog expression and – taking his time – goes into increasingly uncomfortable detail about how his marriage to Skyler (Anna Gunn) is falling apart. As Walt eventually breaks down, the look of abject terror on Hank’s face is an early highlight to the episode. It also leads Hank to give Walt a moment alone to collect himself…and bug his office.

With their new inside track into the goings on at the DEA’s office, the next order of business is for Mike (Jonathan Banks) to verify that Lydia (Laura Fraser) was or was not the person responsible for the poorly concealed tracking device on the methylamine. After a brief conversation with Hank, the listening device reveals that his office had nothing to do with tagging the warehouse’s barrels. Mike, who’s been itching to do away with Lydia for a while, seems intent on getting rid of her at that moment. That is, until Hank places a call to another office and finds out the GPS units were indeed the work of some sloppy law enforcement work. With Lydia having earned yet another reprieve, she begins to negotiate by offering knowledge of vast quantities of the chemical Walt’s burgeoning empire so desperately needs.

With the others absent, Walt and Lydia talk details, but she wants assurances that a bullet won’t find its way into her brain once she reveals the location of this supposed “ocean” of methylamine. While they talk, Walt seems as intrigued by the notion of her putting a hit out on Mike as he is pleased to hear Lydia assume he is the brilliant chemist everyone keeps talking about. There’s nothing like a little notoriety to get Walt feeling good about his recent life choices. As it turns out, Lydia’s plan is to rob a train carrying thousands of gallons of methylamine, by using her inside knowledge and going full Under Siege 2: Dark Territory on the train crew. With such a narrow window in which they can work, Mike sees the only way to make such a heist plausible is to kill the two-man crew – an act that doesn’t exactly fill him with excitement.

Murdering innocent civilians seems like the gang’s only option until Jesse (Aaron Paul) devises a risky, but rather crafty solution to the problem that requires they bring in a few extra hands; namely, Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Kuby (Bill Burr). Together they venture out into the desert to plant two tankers: one with water and an empty one to deliver the stolen methylamine into. The plan is to stop the train, take what they need of the chemical and replace it with water. As Walter explains to a very inquisitive Todd, if all goes according to plan, the only ones being blamed will be the Chinese manufacturer for delivering a slightly diluted product.

Aaron Paul Breaking Bad Dead Freight Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 5: Dead Freight Recap

Back at home, Walt is forced to be the bad parent and insist that Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) go and stay with his aunt and uncle without offering an explanation. Afterward, Skyler makes an appeal to her husband that she will be whatever kind of partner he wants, as long as Walt Jr. and Holly aren’t in the house and, as she sees it, in imminent danger. Walt seems to find these terms acceptable for the moment and even openly admits to his plan for train robbery when Skyler makes a crack about the dirt on his pants. The scenes between Walt and Skyler have been some of this season’s best, as the question of what she will do next is nearly as tantalizing as connecting the dots to the season’s opener. Intriguingly, Gilligan and his writers have managed to make one of the more sympathetic characters in the show also one of the most despised and it will be interesting to gauge reactions to Skyler and Walt as the series draws to a close.

But first, those pesky dots must be connected. The train heist involves little more than some mostly adlibbed subterfuge, but it manages to be an appropriately pressure-filled few minutes in which Jesse and Todd race to complete their tasks while Kuby keeps the train from rolling down the track with a disabled dump truck as an obstruction. Things get even tenser when a Samaritan arrives and essentially takes Kuby out of the equation. Even though the train begins to roll away, Walt won’t settle for anything less than full capacity of the methylamine tanker, pinning Jesse under the train until it passes and forcing Todd to leap off as it picks up steam.

The celebration of a heist well done is short-lived, however, as it becomes apparent they’re playing to an audience of one: a young boy on a dirt bike with a penchant for tarantulas. The kid waives at them just before Todd shoots him in cold blood. Considering the lengths to which the crew went to spare innocent lives, this likely isn’t going to leave Todd in a very good position.

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Breaking Bad continues next Sunday with ‘Buyout’ @10pm on AMC. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. Actually I disagree about Todd. IMO this will only raise his stock with Walt because he’s now proven he will do whatever is necessary to get the job done. I also noticed that when the Train was starting to move Jesse & Mike were panicking but along with Walt, Todd was still cool as a cucumber.
    Now don’t get me wrong, I hate trying to validate a child murderer but as Walt is trying to build his empire Todd seems like a valuable asset.
    Also, I doubt that this will be the last time the bugs in Hanks office will come into play. I can see a time when the name Walter White is mentioned and we see the reactions of Hank and Walt as he’s listening.
    But as always with Breaking Bad everything I just speculated will probably not happen. It happens every week. And I end up swearing I’ll stop guessing and go along for the ride but I just can’t help myself. :)

    • I actually get the feeling that Walt is not going to really like Todd. Todd was asking a lot of questions about them and seems a bit too eager to move up the chain. I think Todd is more dangerous that he seems to be even after shooting the child.

      • Todd was asking a lot of questions, but Walt being the former teacher, loves it and loves answering his questions. When Todd shoots the kid Walt makes no attempt like Jesse to stop him, but he is still visibly shocked. I think he is impressed by Todd

        • What if Walt takes a liking to Todd….taking him under his wing…eventually replacing Jesse with Todd. Jesse loves Walt though, Jesse will see that Todd is slowly taking his place, while at the same time realizing that Walt isn’t the man he wants to look up to. I can see this leading to Jesse possibly having it out for Walt, eventually coming to a Jesse vs. Walt showdown of sorts….

  2. Haha totally agree, nobody can predict what is going to happen, that’s why it’s the best show on tv!!

    I think splitting the series into two parts is the biggest con to the viewer ever!

  3. I agree with Kevin. Todd seems like an excellent asset. But I don’t think Mike and Jesse are going to enjoy is company any longer. Great episode!

  4. I don’t like the fact that Walter is becoming an utter pillock. I get why he is and why it is nessercary etc and I still love the show, but if/when he does die, I don’t think i’ll care as much as i’d like to. I think i’ll be saying good riddance. Not going to be a very sad conclusion. I prefered Walt’s character and mannerisms when he was a rookie. Mike is a bit of a prat, Skyler is vile, hank isn’t as funny anymore, Marie always moans. The only characters I still love are Walt.Jr and Jesse lol. At least I love to hate the characters though. Except the time wasting Marie. No one cares that she steals things.

    Love the show. Totally saw that kid being shot coming when he appeared in shot at the end. Still a little shocked. Great show, one of the best.

  5. These episodes keep getting better and better each week! I can’t imagine how it will end.

  6. I would like to see an episode of Breaking Bad rip off “RONIN”, specifically the b**** from Grey/White paying her dues for being the first to steal Walt’s formula (you know how Walt feels about his formula). We will need at least three cars, one of which has to have a moon roof for the hand held heat seaking missle, another to block and slow the victum car from the front and mike tracking and handling communications from a suitable van. Naturally since this is a comedy, there will have to be near misses. The first shot of the missle has to go the wrong way and take out some old unused gas station. The b**** has to go and White later gets the company back. Superlab of the future.

    On an important note. Every year many die because they come upon crimes, specifically drug transactions. It is believed by many that the whole OJ affair was simply the Brown woman walking into the wrong place at the wrong time. In 1987,accross from the NY Chrysler Bldg a man was shot dead in a car,(9mm not too messy the police said the next morning) right in front of me, the gentleman hitter motioned that I”m not here for you , not paid for you. You keep walking and I’ll go take the #7 Subway. I writing so I guess I kept walking. The motionless driver was still there the next morning. The police explained why the driver looked OK, like he was relaxing. He stayed in the car until a truck came and took the whole unopened car away at 5pm, that is 24 hours sitting in prime NY real estate just up the block from the UN.

    This whole drug thing well in 1990 it would take my sister’s life. She was found hung upside down in a Miami motel closet. In the real world, the drug stuff is nasty and takes no prisoners.

  7. “Are we in the meth business or the money business? Neither, I’m in the empire business”

    Best line of the entire show!!

  8. Man, I had no clue how the boy was going to play into the episode and was celebrating the heist with the rest of the group until the boy showed up. My mind then started racing about how they would deal with the situation (as I’m sure Walt and Jesse’s would have been had this been real) in 2 mins no less. I couldn’t bring myself however to even contemplate gunning him down in cold blood so when Todd pulled out the gun I had the same guttural reaction that Jessie had. “NOOOOOOO”, was all I could say, the TV faded to black and I was left a bit dumbfounded.

    So, excellent job sucking me into the show. Not since LOST have I had such emotional reactions.

    And Todd…..Smart and a bit TOO dutiful. It looked like he was going to play a bigger role in all this but I know that Jessie will now want to kill him. Mike might understand, might, but being so close to his grand kid he might just gun him down on the spot. Walt, considering how selfish he is, I can see praising Todd for his decisive decision (plus he didn’t have to do the deed) and being able to hold Jessie at bay with some coldly rational logic (that Jessie always buys into)

    Of course now they will have to dispose of the body and this is where I’m thinking the tarantula will come into play. They will take the boy to some place far away from the heist spot but when found, the spider will lead them back to that area.

    These writers are very clever. I wish they could be “logic” consultants on some of these movies like TASM for instance. ><

  9. Killing Walt is a cop out, as everyone is expecting it to happen. I think the writers are more creative than that.

  10. I couldn’t help but think that Walt not wearing gloves when bugging Hank’s office and PC is going to come back to haunt him in some way. The show is usually too good at making sure all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed to allow something like that to slip by.

  11. I cant help but feel that with the Scarface reference last week and Hank saying he had bought Heat on blu ray we are heading towards an epic showdown between Hank and Walt, it has been cat and mouse between them throughou the series, Hank has almost caught Walt so many times, this strand of the story will be the most devasting, I’m probably wrong but I love guessing, sooooooooo good

    • I totally agree!

      IMO, the relationship between Walt and Hank is the best part about that show. I’m always wondering how Hank is going to react when/if he finds out about Walt (if he doesn’t already know something!). It feels like things are moving to a show-down like you said.

      Hank’s promotion solidified it. You’ve now got the ultimate good (Hank) against what will become the ultimate evil (Walt).

      Mmmmmm, juciy!!

    • Another possible reference to Heat: Early in the movie a member of the heist crew is too quick to kill someone, as Todd was. he’s made to pay for his quick trigger, but everything comes crashing down as a result.

  12. Ya everyone assumes Walt will die, I dont see it happening. And Jesse and Walt BOTH made it CLEAR to Todd, that he understood NO ONE else but them was to know about this. THEY are just as accountable as Todd, come on people.

  13. omg they just killed the kid! :( poor jesse. argghhh so annoyed.

  14. Opening: Spider. 8 legs. Free.

    Middle: 4 people (Walt, Jessie, Lydia, Mike). 8 legs. Free.

    End: One bullet. Spider/4 people. 8 legs. Trapped.

    I. Am. Speechless.

  15. Uh oh. I think Walt will see great value in having someone like Todd around, and it’s Todd that’ll become Walt’s new ‘son’ figure, and that’s going to be pushing Jesse away.

    Walt and Todd will side against Mike and Jesse.

    Whatever will happen will be messy.

  16. Whilst Todd was following the ‘no witnesses’ rule, he did it without really thinking about it or even consulting Walt. Now they have to cover it up, hoping that the proceeding missing person/murder investigation doesn’t find the tank of methylamine.

    Of course the kid could have quickly fled on his bike and reported them causing far more trouble.

  17. I see Mike refusing to work with Walt any further and Todd becoming the “new Mike” in a fashion. He’s the one that has to do the dirty work that Walt and Jesse really don’t want to do/know about. It might take a bit of time to get past the cold-blooded murder, but I think they’ll accept that it was *necessary*.

  18. Does anyone else not get the feeling that Todd left his tool bag on top of the train? We saw him jump off, but I did not see him throw down or carry a bag. Uh-oh?

    • I just rewatched that scene to confirm and yes, he did throw his bag off the train.

      Now that I’ve confirmed that… HOLY CRAP! After yelling NOOOO! when Todd shot the kid I was speechless… I whimpered out a what the F#@% and then a jumble of incomprehensible noises followed…

  19. Simply the best US TV series…ever. Bar-None, even at Binion’s Horseshoe in Reno. Take this one to the bank.

  20. I believe that Walt will kill Todd. Walt commented to Jesse last episode that he thought Gus killed his loyal henchman after expertly completing the “cook” to prove a point, but he now believes he killed him because he did not know his place. Todd’s act saved them, but he did not know his place.

  21. Wow, this is all getting really crazy, and really good. FML, only three more episodes before the break in the season. Things are getting so crazy after each eppisode. Something tells me we’ll see Walt go on the run/hiding by the end of the half season…

  22. 1. I was pissed at Walt for putting everyone in danger in the end just because he wanted all 1000 gallons (rather than settling for 900+! Seriously Walt..)

    2. I agree with other comments that I think Walt will see Todd as a valuable asset. I also suspect he kept Lydia around for more than just the methylamine. I think Walt may try to use her against Mike later after finding out she tried to kill Mike for self preservation.

    3. I’m starting to see a pattern that Walt is surrounding himself with more and more of the self-interested, ruthless, can-be-bought characters rather than the ones that are loyal, just and try to do the right thing, as the former will help him build his empire and the latter will get in the way.

    4. That is with the exception of Jesse. But I suspect he is keeping Jesse around mostly because Jesse would be a big threat and competition to him if not on his side. Also because he can still manipulate Jesse. Maybe also because of what they have been through together, but I don’t think that’s the main factor of his consideration!

  23. The kid didn’t seem to understand what he was witnessing. The heist went according to plan, and, as suggested by Walt, the diluted methylamine would therefore have been blamed on the Chinese exporter. Perhaps the situation with the kid was destined to be the object of paranoia regardless. Todd dealt with a loose end then and there, which i think walt will appreciate. It would have only been more difficult the more they debated how to handle him. Now it’s done. I don’t think Walt will shed too many tears over the kid. To him, killing the kid was unfortunate, but it was something that was necessary for the safety of his family, or something to that effect.

  24. Wow. It’s quite disgusting seeing people rationalize the killing of a child. Imagine if Walt or Jesse found out their child was killed while riding a bike by some robbers because they wanted to “protect their operation”. They would be so enraged and the viewers would feel sympathetic and all sad for them because we see how they are reacting.

    Some people’s rational can be quite shocking sometimes. Regardless of if that little boy was a main character or had parents who will probably never see, I still feel sad and angry at Todd for killing him.

  25. Ok…Todd is a scary sociopath. But I must say I am thoroughly impressed with Jesse Plemons in this role. He looks and acts like a boy scout and then he pulls out a gun and shoots a kid in cold blood and excuses it as “s*** happens”. I mean wow. Great acting.

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