Sunday, August 19, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Dead Freight" (Season 5, Episode 5)




Previously on Breaking Bad, Skyler took a dip in the pool, then got Marie to suggest to Walt that the kids stay with her, Hank made a fancy bulletin board with yarn connecting the links in Gus' empire, and put surveillance on Mike, Bug Guy Todd was very helpful in finding and disabling a nanny cam on the first cook, Lydia noticed something was amiss with the barrel of precursor she was about to give to Jesse, but Mike was adamant that she was responsible for planting it. Walt, when pressed for his opinion on the matter, coldly proclaimed that nothing stops this train.

A windy desert scene is interrupted by a noisy dirt bike roaring through the brush and over the rocks.  As the driver slows down and stops, we see he's a kid of about twelve.  He dismounts the bike and walks over to a creepy, large tarantula, which he picks up with zero fear or hesitation.  After letting it crawl on his arm briefly,  he pulls out a jar, gently deposits the spider inside, screws on the lid, and puts it in his jacket pocket.  He puts his helmet back on and we hear a train whistle off in the distance.  Spider Boy looks that way, and heads toward the source of the whistle.  Titles....

Hank is getting settled into his nice new spacious office when Gomie announces a visitor.  It's Walt, who asks Gomie to excuse them.  Gomie comments, as he shakes Walt's hand upon exiting, that somebody has to catch the bad guys.  Don't let go of the hand Gomie, you just caught one!  Hank, true to form, takes notice of Walt's shiny new Rolex and asks if it was a gift.  Walt replies that he bought it for himself, and why is he lying here?  Between this and the new cars, Hank is noticing stuff and will undoubtedly start connecting the dots pretty soon, right?  They make small talk about Skyler, and when Hank asks about her getting some professional help Walt lets on that she's seeing a doctor named Peter......well, he is drawing a blank on the last name.  Smooth, Walt, but let's get to the real reason for your visit, shall we?  He starts by once again thanking Hank and Marie for helping with the kids, but after a pause and some prodding, lets it out that his wife no longer loves him.  Beginning to break down, he relates that she thinks he's a bad influence and a bad father.  Seeing Walt starting to lose it, Hank, who isn't really good with all this touchy/feely stuff, gets up and tries to reassure Walt while he draws the blinds on the office so as to avoid a potential scene.  Needing an out, he offers to get some coffee, and Walt finally agrees.  Knowing Walt like we do, we're still not sure if he's full of it here, and our suspicions are confirmed as soon as Hank leaves.  Walt wipes his eyes and gets down to business, attaching something to the Ethernet cable on Hank's computer, and placing what appears to be a bug right inside the picture of Hank and Marie.  He's not yet finished when Hank returns, but Walt's back is to the door and as he completes the reassembly of the frame he makes it appear that he was wistfully staring at the happy couple, hoping his life could one day be so blissful.  Phew, that was a close one.

Here's Lydia, and she looks panicked.  Again, but with pretty good reason this time, as she's just had her blindfold removed.  She's in a darkened warehouse with Mike, Walt and Jesse, and it's interrogation time.  She chatters about her daughter and where is she and what's going on as Mike handcuffs her to the table and tells her to shut up.  He really doesn't like her, folks, but he does hip her to what's going to happen.  Since Walt and Jesse are big ol' softies and don't want to let Mike whack her just yet, she's getting one last chance.  She will be placing a call to Hank, for which Mike has helpfully provided a script.  Oh, and by the way, if she tries in any way to tip Hank off that there is even the slightest hint of trouble, Mike will pull out his pistol, and shoot her in the head.  He makes her say what will happen, and she repeats it back to him.  Hey Jesse, over there with the laptop, are we ready?  He gives the affirmative, and it's go time.  Mike dials the phone, gives her one last pep talk, and places the phone in front of her.  She speaks with Hank (as we are shown the picture in which Walt has planted the bug, just in case we forgot) and lets him know about the device she found on the barrel of methalymine.  Was that important?  She doesn't want to get in the way of a sting operation or something.  Hank, who appears to be on the up and up, tells her that he will look into it, and to keep this quiet.  Hank summons Gomie and we can see that this convo is being picked up on Jesse's laptop - he asks if Gomie knows anything about this, and he says he doesn't.  This only strengthens Mike's belief that Lydia planted it, but she vehemently denies it.  The boys then plot their next move, which involves trying to get as much of the stuff out of the warehouse before the DEA can get there and confiscate it all.  What about Lydia, asks Jesse.  This time, he's outvoted, and Mike says he will "deal with her".  As she starts to lose her shit yet again, the laptop picks up Hank's next call, which is to the Houston FBI.  Everyone stops to listen as the Houston guys cop to the operation - and they tagged every barrel.  Hank basically calls him an idiot and hangs up.  Lydia is vindicated!  Mike's still a little bitter towards her, despite the fact that Jesse and even Walt acknowledge that she basically saved their asses.  He spits out that she put a hit out on him, and I suppose that's a little harder to forgive.  Walt and Jesse are stunned, while Lydia uses this opportunity to change the subject - they still need methalymine, and she knows how to get more. Walt questions how this is possible when her entire supply of barrels has been tagged and compromised.  Barrels, schmarrels - She's talking about an ocean of the stuff.

After commercials, Walt is now alone with Lydia, who is still handcuffed.  He prompts her to tell him this grand plan, and is visibly skeptical.  She wants to bargain that she won't be killed anyway after revealing this awesome plan, and Walt gives her his word, but it's not very serious.  She must watch a lot of Survivor, since she next asks that he swear on his kids that no harm will come to her.  I've never understood this bargaining tactic - if I lie, does that mean you will take my kids away?  Such an empty gesture, but hey, we're in a alliance and I won't write your name down on the parchment at Tribal Council, so there's that!  Walt refuses to agree to this bullshit bargain, and lets her know that she has absolutely zero leverage right now.  He presses her for detail on the Mike hit, and she lets him know the deal about how she was afraid that the guys in jail might blab, etc.  Satisfied, Walt gets back to this "ocean" - how much are we talking here? "How does 24,000 gallons sound?"

Well, she's uncuffed now and spreading out a map on the table.  It seems that a freight train carrying the stuff eventually makes its way right through New Mexico on its way to Texas. That's where you "do it".  Do what?  Rob the train, "like Jesse James" asks Jesse Pinkman.  Mike quickly points out that stopping a freight train, post 9/11, sets off all kinds of bells and whistles with Homeland Security, etc.  True, says Lydia, but these trains have to pass through a three mile "dead zone" where all communications are temporarily rendered useless, giving them a perfect opportunity to do the job.  Walt wonders how they could determine which car is the right car, but she's got an answer for that too since the manifest is uploaded to her nightly and she will be able to provide a six hour lead time for them to prepare.  Getting a bit too satisfied with herself, she mentions that this is very risky for her and that she expects to be paid.  Seriously.  Mike scoffs and she quickly retreats, saying "we can talk about percentages later".  He brings up another salient point - the train engineers will have to be killed, since they would be able to contact authorities as soon as they leave the dead zone, leaving the bandits with nowhere to run or to hide.  No witnesses can be left - there are two kinds of heist, Mike says.  Those that get away with it, and those who leave witnesses.

Hank is playing with baby Holly, and it's clear he's become pretty attached to the little munchkin.  He even jokes that he's not giving her back when (if) the time comes.  He asks about Junior, who is apparently reverted to his "Flynn" name - must be his Emo alter-ego.  He mopes out of his room and rejects any attempts from the Schraders to involve him with food and DVD's.

We're in Jesse's house, back to the planning for the next great caper, Mike suggests taking it easy and laying low by going back to the old routes for gathering the stuff, and using pseudo to cook with despite the fact that it will restrict output.  Walt's not hearing that, as that means less money.  The pissing contest between these two continues as Jesse sits on the couch between them, playing with a straw by holding his finger on the top end, then releasing it and watching the trapped liquid fall out the bottom.  It's another "magnets" moment as he shuts them both up by suggesting they could rip off the train without anyone even knowing it was robbed.  Score, Pinkman!

Walt's got the Heisenberg hat on again, so you know it's business time.  The three are out in the desert measuring off the distance from the train crossing to the trestle bridge.  It's "814" (feet, I presume), which is perfect.  A backhoe is now digging a pit just off the trestle, enough to deposit two huge empty tanks.  After they're buried, a water tanker truck, driven by Bug Guy Todd, is backed into place.  This water fills one of the tanks, and will be used to offset the weight lost when the chemicals are removed from the train.  He reminds Todd, in no uncertain terms, that doing this is a major, major crime, and that nobody can ever know about it.  Nobody.  Todd responds that he understands, and Walt asks "Are you sure?"  "Yeah, absolutely" he replies.  So we've established that there can be no witnesses then?  Good, let's move on.  The water will be pumped back into the tank as the methalymine is removed.  Todd asks, smartly, that won't people be upset when they discover that the chemicals are watered down?  Correct, says Walt, they will notice, but they will blame the source (China) for providing a bad batch.  Way to start a trade war, Mr. White.  Todd shakes his head in awe. "you guys have really thought of everything!"

Back at Casa White, Walt returns to find Skyler pleading for "Flynn" to come out of his room.  Who let that Emo bastard back into the house?  He's staying, and that's all he has to say.  Walt asks Skyler as he passes her in the hallway what is going on, and even when they are on the same side she still freaking hates him.  "You got what you wanted", she tells him, "congratulations".  Junior demands  to know what is going on, and why can't he come back home.  Walt gets firm and gets him to leave, finally.  Afterwards, he tries to share some of the misery with his wife, but she's having none of it.  Walt won't accept that from his wife, and is immediately corrected - "I'm not your wife, I'm your hostage".  I like this new ballsy Skyler.  She offers him a deal as she lights yet another cigarette - she'll keep laundering the money and keep all of Walt's secrets, but the kids stay at Hank and Marie's.  Remember how you just told her how there was a gun to your head? she reminds him.  Who's to say that won't happen again, and if it does, there is no way that she wants the kids to be anywhere near this place.  Walt has no response other than to shake his head, but he realizes he's got nothing here, and basically concedes the point.  He then informs her that she is seeing a (fictional) therapist named Peter YouFillInTheLastName.  Whatever.  As he walks away she notices the dirt on his jeans and quips "Out burying bodies?"  Zing!  Realizing he has no need to lie to her, he tells her the truth.  "Robbing a train", but neglects to punctuate it with a Pinkman-esque "BITCH!"

Caper Time!  Lydia burns the midnight oil in her office, gets the manifest data, and relays it to Mike.  Later that morning, we're good to go as the crew stands on the trestle awaiting the payload.  A dump truck rolls past Mike and comes to a stop at the railroad crossing.  Hey, it's Kuby, played by comedian Bill Burr.  He's one of Saul's guys so we know he's legit.  We see a  POV shot of the train as it rumbles towards our heroes, and Mike monitors it's progress through his binoculars.  He's stationed by the crossing, and has a walkie-talkie to communicate with Walt, Jesse and Todd back at the trestle.  The train passes over the trestle and one of the engineers notices Kuby standing in the road waving frantically from the crossing.  They hit the brakes hard and manage to stop about ten feet from the truck.  It's go time, as Jesse and Todd rig the generator and connect hoses to it.  Kuby thanks the two engineers, bemoans his bum luck with his truck, and figure that since these guys are engineers they must know a lot about engines, right?  Mike gives the go ahead and they run the other ends of the hoses the top and bottom of the train.  Todd gets the top opened and drops in the hose and Jesse gets the bottom taken care of.  Walt fires up the generator and the chemical flow begins.  Kuby tries to start the truck, but he makes sure that won't work by flicking some kind of switch (I'm not a car guy, shut up).  Mike asks for a status, Walt gives it and the water begins pumping into the train car.  We get shots of every aspect of the operation, and all is going according to plan, until Mike looks behind him and sees another truck pulling up to the crossing.  Seeing Kuby and the train guys trying in vain to push the dump truck, the Good Samaritan offers to push their truck with his. Despite Kuby's reluctance to mess up the guy's shiny new bumper, he eventually caves and lets the helpful man push it off the tracks.  Mike relays to Walt that the mission needs to stop, and right now.  Walt, ever the perfectionist, denies him as they're about 1400 gallons short.  Mike, who would totally punch Walt int he face right now if he could, implores him to get the guys off the train now, since said train will be moving in a matter of minutes.  Walt doesn't respond, and gives the hand signal to Todd to say "hang on, almost there", while the engineers are back inside and getting ready to move out.  They sound the whistle, which gets Jesse's attention.  He screams to Walt, who continues to monitor the meter on the chemical intake tank as it rips past 9400...9500....Walt tells him to hold it steady....then screams NOW as the meter hits 10000.  Jesse works frantically to close off the tank while Todd does the same on his end.  The wheels engage and begin rolling , leaving Jesse no choice but to lay down and let the train pass right over him.  Todd wraps up his end and manages to jump off the train safely before it picks up any speed. Everyone is safe, and the robbery wasn't detected.  Success!  The three share a relived laugh together, and Jesse lets out a celebratory "Yeah bitch!"  Walt turns off the generator, and the three guys notice another, quiter engine sound.  Walt and Jesse, who are facing the source of the sound, both stop and stare silently.  The camera switches to behind them and, as Todd swings around to see what is behind him, we see the source of the noise.  It's Spider Boy, from the opening, sitting there on his little dirt bike, clearly having just seen what went down.  He stares back and waves innocently at the crew.  After a slight pause, Todd waves back, then pulls a pistol from the back of his belt, which Jesse sees and screams "NO!" just before Todd shoots Spider Boy in the chest.  Dude, you said "No witnesses".

Observations:

  • Aaron Paul tweeted earlier on Sunday when this aired that shit was going to get crazy in this episode, and man was he right.
  • I love how the lighting is so vastly different between the White and Schreader homes.  Every shot inside the White's is like a cave, even in the middle of the day, while Hank and Marie's is the exact opposite.
  • Another Jesse James reference this week, which clearly means something.
  • The hatred toward the character of Skyler in several forums has been astounding, but she is kicking ass this season.  The preview for next week shows that she might be cracking, and on the verge of spilling to Marie, which would be absolutely fatal.
  • Saw an article speculating that Hank might already know about Walt being Heiseneberg.  Interesting theory, but I'm not sure I'm buying it just yet.
  • Previews for next week: Now they have to dispose of this body.  Somebody will inevitably come looking for this kid.  Mike says he wants out.  Walt says he's not in the money business, he's in the Empire business.  Holy shit.
  • What do you guys think?


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