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‘Breaking Bad’ Review: “Dead Freight”

Breaking Bad Season 5 Dead Freight
AMC

Breaking Bad’ season 5 cooks up its fifth episode of the year, as Walter, Jesse and Mike come up with a daring new plan to steal methylamine from a freight train following Lydia’s barrel tags, while Walter Jr. reacts poorly to his new living situation with Hank and Marie.

Last week’s ‘Breaking Bad’ episode “Fifty-One” saw Walter celebrating his fifty-first birthday almost a year after first being diagnosed, while Skyler seemingly went off the rails and Jesse found a complication to their partnership with methylamine supplier Lydia, so how does “Dead Freight”  keep things moving?  What will season 5 of ‘Breaking Bad’ cook up next?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 episode 5, “Dead Freight!”

A young boy rides his dirt-bike through the desert, only stopping to collect a passing tarantula in a jar, before he hears the noise of a train in the distance.  Hmm.

Over at the DEA office, Hank unpacks into his new digs as ASAC, when Walter pops in for a visit.  He thanks Hank for all his help in taking care of the kids lately, catching him up on Skyler’s progress, before breaking down in tears that Skyler doesn’t love him anymore.  Visibly uncomfortable, Hank draws the shades before volunteering to excuse himself to get them coffee.  His ploy proving successful, Walter quickly composes himself and attaches a device to Hank’s computer, also installing a bug in a framed photo of Hank and Marie before the man himself nearly catches Walt!

Elsewhere, Walter, Jesse and Mike remove a hood from Lydia’s head, revealing a dank basement.  Disoriented and fearful for her life, Lydia follows Mike’s instructions to call Hank Schrader and follow a script they’ve written out of her, not tipping him off in any way lest Mike shoot her in the head.  Though nervous, she goes along with the call, where she gently questions Hank about the GPS devices attached to the bottom of her methylamine barrels, though Hank seems to know nothing about it.  After hanging up, they listen has Hank asks Gomez about the trackers, though he claims to know nothing of them either.  Lydia’s lie seemingly uncovered, Mike, Jesse and Walter reason that the DEA will almost certainly now watch the warehouse’s movements, meaning that they have a limited amount of time to steal what barrels they can, “dealing with” Lydia in the process.  Oh noes!

Just then, the group overhear as Hank places another call to Houston PD, who answer that yes, in fact they were the ones to sloppily place the devices outside the barrels, and not Lydia.  The woman seemingly vindicated, Mike still asserts that they’re better off killing her even as Jesse believes she saved their lives, even if Mike is still bitter about the hit she placed on him.   Lydia counters that if they spare her life she’ll show them how to get an “ocean” of methylamine.  Intrigued, the men silence their arguments.

After Walter does his best to confirm that they can trust her, she reveals that a train carrying 24,000 gallons of methylamine passes through Albuquerque once a week, though Mike reminds her that robbing a train after 9/11 sets off hundreds of alarms.  She counters that for a three mile stretch, the train travels through a dark zone of no communication or cell phones either, with only a two person train crew to be dealt with.  Mike remains adamant that they’d most likely have to kill the crew, though Lydia scoffs that that should be a problem for them

While Hank and Marie deal with Holly and Walter Jr.’s bitterness, Walter Sr. argues with Mike once more about the possibility of ramping down their operation.  Walt still doesn’t think they should have to pay for Mike’s 9 guys, while Mike tries to remind him of the damage he inflicted, when once again Jesse interrupts them with the idea to save the day: what if they could rob the train with no one knowing?

The next day, the trio examines a stretch of track, measuring a small stretch between a road crossing and a patch the train travels above ground, and Jesse claims its perfect.  The group then uses a backhoe to dig out a pit, placing two thousand-gallon containers there to be buried.  Todd aids in filling one of the containers with water, which Jesse explains will compensate for the train’s weight loss after their robbery.  Sure, people might notice that the methylamine is marginally watered down after their take, but hey, a bad batch is China’s problem.

Back at home, Walter Jr. tries to force his way back into the house, but his father’s stern words soon get him out again.  Skyler insists that she’ll never change her mind about Walter, and that she’ not his wife, but his hostage.  Still, as long as he agrees to have the kids out of the house, lest they be home when anyone comes to the door to stick a gun to his head once more, she’ll be whatever kind of partner he wants of her.  Launderer, secret-keeper…more?  Doubt it.  When Skyler questions the dirt on his pants as coming from digging graves, Walter blithely responds it came from robbing a train.

After Lydia sends out the train manifest that night, Walter, Jesse, Mike, and Todd ready their positions for the heist.  Kuby parks a dump truck full of dirt on the train tracks, making it appear broken down, which succeeds in stopping the train atop Walter, Jesse and Todd.  When it comes to a  complete stop, the trio races to assemble their hoses, tanks, and generator to hook them up to the train, while Mike keeps watch from a nearby bush.

The train crew agrees to help Kuby fix the truck, or at least get it off of the train tracks, while Todd up top and Jesse below the train set up the methylamine flow.  Kuby flips a switch so as to prevent the truck from starting successfully, and doesn’t contribute much to the efforts to push either.  Unfortunately, a good Samaritan driving by in a pickup truck agrees to help push the vehicle off the tracks!  Uh-oh!

Mike tells Walter to abort, as the pickup slowly pushes the truck forward, though Walter holds on at everyone’s peril.  The truck clear of the tracks, the conductors walk back to the train, but Walter presses Todd and Jesse to keep going!  At the very last second, they meet their goal of `1000 gallons of methylamine replaced by water, but the tight timing means that Todd and Jesse have to race to detach the hoses and close up.  Todd finishes up and  has to leap from the moving train, but Jesse’s narrow window of escape means that he has to lie under the train until it passes!

Seemingly triumphant, the three men laugh and cheer to their success (yeah, bitch!) until Walter notices something on the other side of the tracks.  It’s the little dirt-bike boy, having stopped to watch them!  Uh-oh.  The boy waves, and Todd tensely waves back, before pulling out his gun and emptying a round into the boy’s chest, to Jesse’s screams of protest.  Thankfully, he didn’t hit the tarantula.

‘Breaking Bad’ series creator Vince Gilligan previously said that episodes 5 and 8 of the current season would prove particularly devastating, so while still shocking and tense, the drama of “Dead Freight” doesn’t hit as close to the heart as we might have liked.  Much of the hour is dedicated to things seemingly going right for Walter Jesse and Mike once more, so it likely won’t be until next week that we fully feel the effects of the young boy’s death.  The train heist is ‘Breaking Bad’ at its most thrilling to be sure, but perhaps Gilligan had us setting the bar a little high.

Did you get your fix of ‘Breaking Bad’ bad-assery?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Breaking Bad’ episode recap of “Buyout” on AMC!

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