Breaking Bad “Dead Freight” Review

Coming off of an emotionally scarring episode, Breaking Bad decided to lighten the mood with an old-fashioned caper episode. However, Breaking Bad refuses to keep the mood light for the entire duration of an episode. I had roughly the same reaction as Jesse to the successful heist (“Yeah, bitch!”), and the death of the boy on the dirtbike (Few people are better at expressing emotion than Aaron Paul). Once again, Gilligan and the gang did a great job of ratcheting up our spirits with the mounting tension of the episode only to completely crush our spirits in the very last moment.

That last sentence certainly isn’t a complaint. It’s where we are in the evolution of the show. However, the way the show had set up the hour, it seemed like we were going to have our first “fun” hour of television since “Yeah, bitch! MAGNETS!” The gang faces a seemingly impossible problem and manages to come up with an elaborate plan that enables them to solve the problem. However, unlike the premiere episode, the joy of overcoming the issue is short-lived when Landry from Friday Night Lights puts down the kid on the dirtbike. It’s an absolutely horrific scene that punches every viewer in the gut. That will teach us to enjoy ourselves on Vince Gilligan’s watch.

It will be interesting to see how this event affects the new partnership. Jesse and Walt have long operated in a vacuum where innocent bystanders rarely get hurt. Even last season when Walt poisoned Brock, it was seen as necessary to swing Jesse back on his side. Here, Jesse is obviously distraught over what happened. After all, they constructed this crazy train robbery so they didn’t have to kill anyone. Moments like these remind me of an episode of Boardwalk Empire when Jimmy tells Nucky that “You can’t be half a gangster.” For the entirety of the series, Walt and Jesse have tried to steer clear of the murder part of the crime game. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing drugs on this level, people are going to get hurt. Sometimes it’s the kingpin who wants to murder you and your whole family, and sometimes it’s an innocent kid who is out on his dirtbike looking for spiders. Jesse’s reaction at the end of the episode showed a man who is going to struggle with what he has done in this stretch of New Mexican desert. Mike and Walt will move on, but this tragedy will affect Jesse. It will be fascinating to see how.

Speaking of Jesse, he continues to be the man with the plan this season. The show has really hammered home Walt’s increasing hubris, but it seems to go along with Jesse’s intellectual ascendance. Under Gus, Jesse was starting to display a real knack for the crime game. Now that he is back in a smaller organization, his abilities have really shown through. I really enjoyed Walt looking at him like a proud father as Jesse explains the plan. Given that his children have been removed from him, Walt can put all of his paternal emotion towards Jesse. Granted, he manipulates Jesse painfully to achieve his aims, but the past few episodes have made it clear that there is genuine affection from Walt to Jesse. That being said, Breaking Bad continues to go out of his way to show us how capable Jesse is. It’s as if they are showing us that Jesse doesn’t need Walt. Hmmm….

Some quick thoughts:

*I love listening to Mike explain situations. Between talking to the Vamonos Pest guys a few weeks ago to laying it out for Lydia this week, Mike continues to roll.

*Why is Walter Jr. back to Flynn now? Is he so upset at the thought of no hot breakfasts around the White family table that he needed a name change to accurately convey his frustration? I much prefer Hank’s nickname for him: Emo McGee.

*It was good to see Lydia sort of have it together in this episode. She’s still jittery, but at least she displayed some of the competence that you would expect out of an employee of Gus Fring.

*I was happy to see Kuby (played by a happy-to-be-here Bill Burr) back in action again.

*The impending Hank/Walt showdown just jumped up a notch when Hank mentioned Heat. It’s clear Gilligan is going to throw all of his favorite movies at us this season.

*I was happy to get a break from the Walt/Skyler stuff this week. That being said, it was interesting that Skyler got Walt to agree to keep the kids away from them. It doesn’t strike me as something that Walter White would acquiesce to so quickly. Oh well, at least that scene closed with the joy of Walt telling Skyler that he was off to rob a train.

I love this show. What did everyone else think of this episode?