'Breaking Bad' recap: Ep 5 Dead Freight
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
I think the best word to describe this episode written and directed by George Mastras would be, “simply spectacular.” The western motif and influence took center stage during the fifth episode of the season. The very teaser itself was almost like the iconic cowboy riding through the desert, but instead turned out to be a kid in a motorcycle picking up a tarantula (while it might look completely unrelated to the overall plot, trust me it’s not).
I don’t think I need to repeat this, but “Breaking Bad” has become perfect in exercising tension to great lengths. One of the earliest scenes involving Lydia (Laura Fraser, who has been terrific as a guest star this season) and her interrogation, was tense and scary at one point, especially because you really believe that what Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) want to do could happen and it’s really well done. Just that scene itself was beautifully shot and it looked like something out of an old 1970s thriller, it had a gritty green color palette. Matras creates a really great sense of location for the warehouse, the geography on those scenes is really well done. One feels truly trapped in there like her and there is no escape.
Speaking of western motifs and influences, the idea to rob a train was a brilliant nod to the genre, they were very clearly performing “The Great Train Robbery.” Walt and co. were the outlaws stealing from the train; they even mentioned Jesse James during a scene. Of course the idea of a train robbery seems improbable to Mike and he thinks it will never work which leads to a wonderful scene where both him and Walter are arguing over how it can work, and again it’s just one of those scenes that “Breaking Bad” does so well with cinematography, where everything is draped in shadows. After that argument there is a great moment when suddenly Mastras does a zoom in shot to Jesse (Aaron Paul) who is sitting in the couch, and reveal his plan: to “rip off the train and no one will know that it got robbed.”
The next shot itself presented the amazing western motif to its fullest with Walt standing on the train tracks with his Heisenberg hat and what appeared to be a beautifully shot sunset in the background, just great visual storytelling during this episode. It also showcased Walt’s genius again and Jesse explaining his plan in full detail, confirms that he has not only learned a lot and is no longer that high school student who didn’t pass chemistry class, but for better or worse he has learned something about the science of it all. There is definitely a mentor-student relationship that “Breaking Bad” presented throughout the series in a subtle way and it serves for moments like this, where Jesse demonstrates that he has learned something about the process, but also about himself.
When Walt returns to his house, to his domestic situation, it becomes absolutely heartbreaking to watch that life completely crumble over the series. The scene between Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Walt was brutal to watch. I mean, their relationship has taken on this antagonistic and very bleak take between them. There is a moment when Skyler accuses Walt of “burying bodies” and his response was appropriately Heisenbergean in nature. At this point he doesn’t care, he has taken that pride of being the kingpin to the extreme. I have a feeling that his battle with Skyler is not over, especially with the developments of what he has planned for her.
The actual train robbery scene was spectacularly done. Mastras commanded it with such tension and authority that it instantly will become one of the most memorable scenes of the show. Dave Porter’s score was also just pulsating with tension all the way through, and again great acting by everyone (including Paul, Cranston and Banks) during this episode. While I won’t say anything about the last shot of the episode, it was at first unclear of what you are watching, then it shifts to a great dark humor moment, then to a horrible haunting moment and Paul’s performance during this scene was fantastic.
I’ve said it before and I think Vince Gilligan and company have really showed it, but “Breaking Bad” is firing on all cylinders and it’s not stopping. Also the actual freight train metaphor that Walt used brilliantly last episode was phenomenally well implemented into this episode and it’s basically the feel of the overall series, they are truly not stopping in terms of quality.
Oscar Garza may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.