REWATCH: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 5 Recap: Dead Freight
Aug 06 2013 12:09 pm CET

On this episode of Breaking Bad, Madrigal's methylamine supply has been compromised, which means Lydia may have outlived her usefulness. She promises an ocean of the chemical, but Walt, Jesse and Mike will need to perform the Great Train Robbery to get the supply. No problem?

Previously on Breaking Bad: Skyler decided to finally take action against Walt by reenacting Ophelia's drowning in the backyard pool. Walt pulled her out of the water before it was too late, though the episode did help Skyler to convince Marie to take the kids to her place for the time being. Mike is under surveillance by the DEA. Lydia might be too, because she found a GPS tracker under a barrel of methylamine. Although Lydia may no longer be a reliable supplier, Walt wants production to continue and will get the chemicals he needs.

Middle of Nowhere, NM. Although the color of the scene is tinged, it isn't quite the Doomsday Sepia tone this location usually has (probably because all those characters that brought about that tone are dead). There's a person riding a motorbike across the landscape. The bike stops and we see it is a kid, maybe 11 or 12 years old, riding the bike. He has spotted a tarantula scooting along the ground. The kid picks up the ginormous arachnid and lets it crawl on his hands. This scene is making me as uncomfortable as the box-cutter scene. The boy pulls a mason jar out of his pocket and drops the spider inside. He puts the cap back on, puts the jar in his jacket pocket and gets back to riding. Credits.

Hank is arranging things on his new desk in his new office. Gomez knocks on the door and congratulates his former partner on the new digs. Also, Walt has dropped by to visit his brother-in-law. Walt congratulates Hank who in turn admires the new watch Walt is sporting. He fibs and calls it a birthday present to himself. Given the year he has had, Hank says Walt deserves to Treat Yo Self. Things get a little more serious when Hank asks how Skyler is doing. Walt reports she went to work today and they have lined up a counselor. Walt thanks Hank for taking care of the kids while they work out their issues and mentions he would like to stop by that evening to check on them. Walt starts to break down. "Skyler doesn't love me anymore," he says, trying to hold back tears. "I don't know what to do, Hank." Walt gives the flimsiest recap of the fight from last week's episode, says Skyler thinks Walt is a bad influence on the kids. Hank, being the type of guy who doesn't know how to handle people showing emotion, draws the blinds and goes into crisis mode. He assures Walt he has shown that he is not only a provider but an inspiration for beating cancer. Walt sniffles, causing Hank to offer to go get some coffee to allow Walt to collect himself. Hank hightails it out of the office. Once the door closes, Walt gets to work placing a tracer on Hank's ethernet cable and planting a listening device underneath a photo of Hank and Marie on the desk. Walt barely gets the cover back on the photo frame before Hank returns. "It's always darkest just before the dawn," Hank says as he hands a coffee cup to his brother-in-law.

Speaking of darkness, Lydia is thrown into a chair in a darkened warehouse before getting handcuffed to a table. She pleads for forgiveness and her life before Mike tells her to shut up. Walt and Jesse watch as Mike explains what is about to happen. He tosses a notepad onto the table and tells Lydia to look over the script. In thirty seconds, he's going to call Hank and she is going to go through the script. If she deviates one iota, he says he will shoot her in the head. Mike asks Lydia to repeat the instructions back to him. She says she needs to go through the script or he will shoot her. "Where?" he asks. "In the head," she answers. Mike adds, "it's a pistol, not a gun. I'm expecting precision here." Yes, this is a terrifying scene of potential violence, but Mike's nudnik nature is what I find so endearing. Mike makes the call and Lydia gets a hold of Hank, which can be overheard on the nearby laptop thanks to the bug in Hank's office. Lydia asks Hank about the GPS device she found on the barrel and if he has any guidance for what to do. We hear Hank call in Gomez to ask about it, but neither man has a clue what she is asking about. Hank tells Lydia he'll look into it and ends the call.

Lydia claims she's innocent, but the guys are talking about their next step. Jesse is asked if they found tracers on other barrels, but he says they only checked the one barrel. They decide Walt and Jesse should go to the store to get the other barrels and Mike will take care of Lydia. She keeps claiming she didn't place the tracer and Jesse says he believes her. "Everyone sounds like Meryl Streep with a gun to their head," Mike says dryly. Before the guys split ways, they overhear a phone call between Hank and the Houston DEA office. The guy in Houston says the tracer is theirs and they tagged all the barrels. It's hard to tell if Hank is more annoyed with the lack of elegance of placing the tracers outside the barrels or for the lack of communication between offices. Either way, Lydia is safe for another day in Jesse's eyes. Mike isn't as generous, telling his cohorts she did put a hit on him. Realizing her window of survival may be closing, Lydia offers to hook up the crew with "an ocean of methylamine."

Jesse and Mike take a cigarette break outside while Walt and Lydia talk terms. Before she negotiates, Lydia wants Walt to swear on his kids' lives that she won't be killed. Contestants on Big Brother swear on their kids lives, Lydia – that promise is as binding as a pinky swear. This is what drives me nuts about Lydia: she has been enmeshed in this operation long enough to be in the upper echelon where she can order hits on other higher-ups, yet she seems to be completely oblivious (or willfully ignorant) of how grisly the drug trade can be. It's season five: we don't need an audience surrogate, particularly one this inept. Walt tells Lydia she has no leverage, which is true, and that trust has to work both ways. Jesse and Mike return, and Lydia tells the trio about the 24,000 gallons that will be available soon.

A shipment of methylamine will arrive in Long Beach from China. This will get transported to Houston by train, so all the guys have to do is rob the train. Mike doesn't know where to begin describing the insanity of the idea. Lydia pulls out a map and points out a three-mile stretch in New Mexico where the train will pass through a technology dead-zone: no cell service or wi-fi. Also, the train crew is only the engineer and conductor, limiting human obstacles. Lydia will get the train manifest the evening before the train would pass through, so she could pinpoint which car has the liquid. Mike says they will have to off the crew. Lydia and Jesse disagree, but Mike draws upon his years of experience saying, "there are two kinds of heists: those who get away with it and those who leave witnesses."

Hank plays with Holly in his favorite chair at home. Marie comes by with a bottle, but Holly isn't interested. Speaking of a lack of interest, Hank asks how "Emo McGee" is doing. HOW HAS NO ONE CALLED WALT JR THAT NAME YET?!?! Walt exits his room and is in super-sullen mode. Marie calls Walt Jr Flynn (when did that start again?) and asks how he's doing. He grumbles and goes back to his room. Meanwhile, Walt and Mike are discussing strategies in Jesse's living room. The discussion veers from "how to rob a train" to "are we doing this just so your guys get paid off?" and not much progress is made. The motif is similar to the magnets discussion in the premiere, but this time it doesn't take Jesse 17 tries to get his idea heard: "what if we can rip off that train and no one ever knows it got robbed?"

Heisenberg stands in the middle of the desert on railroad tracks. "Maybe, just maybe," he muses. The guys walk down the track about a half mile when they reach a viaduct. Jesse calls it the perfect spot, so we jump ahead to phase two. A backhoe digs up some earth near the viaduct and two large tankards get lowered into the hole. Todd – the kid who disabled the nanny-cam at the first fumigation/cook (who I accidentally called "Don") – drives up a tanker truck filled with water. As Jesse fills one of the underground tankards with water, he explains his grand scheme: the team will stop the train and siphon out a portion of the methylamine from the car. Since the train car will be weighed in Houston and compared to its weight in Long Beach, they will replace the stolen portion of the chemical with water. Since methylamine is aqueous, the receiver of the shipment will blame the watering down on the Chinese, thereby covering the crew's tracks. That sounds incredibly difficult to pull off, but a masterpiece if it can be accomplished.

Walt returns home from the worksite to find Skyler pleading with Walt Jr to come out of his room. Walt tries reasoning with his son, who is demanding to know why he is getting kicked out of his house because his parents aren't getting along. Walt pulls out the old man standby: because I said so. Walt Jr is unimpressed, but the argument is over for now. Walt tells Skyler it will pass. Skyler isn't interested in forming an alliance right now, calling herself a hostage instead of Walt's wife. She says she will continue to launder money and keep Walt's secrets, but the kids stay at Hank and Marie's as long as she does so. Also, while she has Walt's attention, Skyler say she isn't impressed with Walt's story about receiving a watch from some guy who almost killed him. That sort of violence is exactly what she is trying to keep away from the children. The one-sided conversation ends with Skyler noticing Walt's dirty pants. "Out burying bodies?" she sneers. "Robbing a train," Walt corrects her.

Lydia receives the manifest. It's go time.

Mike serves as lookout as we hear a train whistle in the distance. A dump truck pulls up and parks on the road across the track. The driver (the same guy who pretended to be an EPA inspector when Skyler was buying the car wash) pops the hood of the truck and gives Mike the high-sign. The train comes down the track and the driver manages to get the engineer's attention before there's a crash. The train crew tries to help the driver with his truck so they can get on their way. Meanwhile, Mike, Jesse and Todd get to work. Time is of the essence as the crew attaches hoses. Everything is going remarkably well until a pickup truck approaches. The good Samaritan offers to push the dump truck out of the way. The driver stammers, but the train crew says the dump truck needs to move NOW. Mike radios a warning to Walt telling him to abort, but you know how Walt is all about waiting until the last minute. Todd, who is on top of the train, barely gets the last bolt fastened to the cap before he has to jump off the moving train. Jesse gets the hose from underneath detached, but he is still under the train when it starts to move under the track. He lays down as flat as possible as the last few cars pass over him. Why does Jesse need drugs when he gets these massive doses of adrenaline?

The train departs and Jesse joins Todd and Walt unscathed. "YEAH, BITCH!" Jesse says, obviously. There are a few moments of hooting and hollering but both stop suddenly. Remember that kid from the prologue? He's on his bike under the viaduct watching. He waves, politely. Before Walt and Jesse can process this new complication. Todd pulls out a gun. Jesse processes this development instantly. "NO!" Todd shoots the kid. The mason jar rolls on the ground, the spider still inside.

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