For a few weeks, I’d heard that Vince Gilligan was touting episodes 5 and 7 of this Breaking Bad mini-season as the two that would cause the most discussion. Episode five, named “Dead Freight”, aired last night. As you can probably judge from my headline, I think Gilligan’s warning was spot-on. Let’s discuss, shall we?

-Nobody does a cold open as well as Gilligan and his crew. It all started in the pilot episode, with Walt frantically driving an RV through the desert in his tighty-whities, and then recording a message to his family. Last night was no different. For the entire episode, the audience is left to wonder just what the hell that kid and his tarantula would have to do with the episode. And given the high state of tension that has surrounded the show during the entire run, something as innocuous as a kid on a scooter in the desert picking up a tarantula takes on so much more meaning as a plot device than it has any right to have.

-It’s a shame that the last 20 minutes will overshadow the earlier scene in Hank’s office. Bryan Cranston acting as Walter acting as sad Walter acting as sad Walter (but acting just obviously enough that you could tell sad Walter was faking)… was tremendous. Give that guy some more awards. He deserves all of them.

The tension on Walt’s face there is the same tension we probably all felt watching the ending of that episode.

-And how about those last 20 minutes? That sequence goes down as an instant classic in the series, right there with Don Tio ringing his bell, Jesse at Gale’s doorstep, the bathtub, the crawl space, Hank’s one minute with the twins, and all of the other great moments. It was an amazing homage to Michael Mann’s Heat (1995). They even referenced the movie earlier in the episode, when Hank tries to use Heat on blu-ray to lure Walter, Jr. out of his room. I’ve never seen any other TV show that has made me feel tension the way Breaking Bad does, even once. And Breaking Bad has done it multiple times at this point. That they punctuated their escape by the skin of their teeth with a colossal error (Todd offing Tommy Tarantula) makes it that much better.

-The show never loses its humor. My favorite exchange of the night: Skyler asking Walt if he’s been out burying bodies, followed by his cold, lifeless, non-chalant reply, “Nope. Robbing trains.”

-Tonight, it dawned on me that Hank’s career is probably going to go in the crapper the second his superiors find out that he couldn’t identify his own brother-in-law as a drug dealing mastermind. Add another thing that Walt’s choices will ruin to the massive pile.

-Lydia has been a great addition to the show. I was a little nervous when they introduced the idea of 11 Fring employees because I feared the show would become bogged down in its final season, wasting time introducing new characters. But Lydia stepped right into the void seamlessly and the others were deposited in prison, away from the chance to harm the show. The cat and mouse game she played with Walter during her interrogation scene was a fun scene, and it helped further establish the calm, calculating Walt as chilling.


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  1. That was one hell of an ending last night! My wife was all kinds of distraught when they killed the boy. Here’s what was truly brilliant about how it was all laid out…

    At the beginning of every episode, you just know bad things are going to happen on the show, but the question is always “What?”. So you see this kid on the dirt bike. And somehow he spots a tarantula crawling across the ground as he’s riding. Having that big furry thing crawling over his hands and arms was tension filling in and of itself. But then the tarantula is safely placed in the jar and the kid rides off with nothing happening to him.

    The episode goes down…

    Walt scams Hank. Lydia almost gets offed. Jesse comes up with another brilliant scheme (he is truly mastering grace under pressure! The more Mike and Walt argue, the more resourceful Jesse becomes). Walt and Skyler have another showdown. They pull off the heist and everything seems right in the meth making world.

    But then the kid pops up again (which I’m sure most of us completely forgot about given all that happened in the episode), and then you know bad things are gonna happen. But instead of Mike doing the deed, the tanker driving guy who came off as a bit of a dolt at first pulls out a gun and kills the kid. And then it just ends.

    I may have to have a physical if I plan on seeing this show out to the bitter end! I’ll probably need some heart meds. Or at the very least, a very stiff drink!

    • You and Dan both nailed it. The writers did a good job putting the kid out of mind because otherwise, it was telegraphed. I think they even had a train whistle in the background when he picked up the tarantula. I’ll have to re-watch to see if that’s right (I saw it on the AMC discussion board for the show).

      The phrase “I need a drink” popped into my head a few times last night.

  2. Dan

    Wow. What a stunning end to a very tense episode. I’d totally forgotten about the cold open by the time we got to the end of the episode. I figured they might have to capture the boy or try to convince him not to talk. I had no idea that would happen.

    I kept expecting that the guy on top of the tanker would be the one who screwed up and messed up the heist because the camera kept focusing on him. Instead, it was for a completely different reason. Walt has been so creepy this season that I’m expecting him to brush off the kid dying and make Jesse realize what he’s become. It’s rarely predictable, though.

    • My expectation was that Todd would die. He was just kind of a guy who was there (and I was a little shocked they’d trust someone else like that… and sure enough, it backfired).

      When the kid showed back up, I said “Oh shit!”, then giggled, and started clapping… and then when his story ended, I covered my mouth in shock. There is no other show that makes me behave in this way. Not even close.

  3. Definitely my favorite episode of the season so far. What a thrilling heist. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. And that final moment in the episode. Holy shit.

  4. Bryan

    Walt wants to get rid of Mike and it looks like he just found Mikes replacement – Todd

    • I get the feeling Todd’s in a whole heap of trouble. But I could see the new Wacky Walt admiring his “quick decision making” or something.

  5. Man. I don’t even know what to say about that ending. I totally forgot about that little kid from the beginning…

    I thought Todd was going to die in an accident or that he would botch the robbery. It turns out that he fucked everything up, but not in the way I expected.

    • That’s one of the best parts of those writers. Everyone has more or less known what’s supposed to happen with the show since day one- Walt’s going to degrade into a pile of mush. And yet, they find ways to surprise everyone all the time. I love it.

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