Breaking Bad Recap: Off the Rails [UPDATED With Video of Climactic Scene]

Breaking Bad went pretty literal with this week’s episode, in which an actual freight train rolled over one of the meth masters – and that was one of the least harmful events that took place during the hour. Without further ado, don your porkpie hats, and let’s review the major events of “Dead Freight.”

THE TRAIN JOB | Walt visits the DEA, where a fancied-up Hank in a suit is settling into his new office. The former chem teacher works himself up and starts crying, ostensibly because Skyler doesn’t love him anymore, but really because he knows Hank will be so uncomfortable at the show of emotion that he’ll hightail it outta there at first opportunity. And when he does, Walt quickly sticks surveillance gear on his computer tower and a bug in a framed picture of the Schraders. I’m simultaneously disgusted by his fakery, impressed by his telenovela-worthy ability to muster up quality tears and amused by his dead-on prediction of how his brother-in-law would react. The bugs come in handy later, when Walt, Jesse and Mike have Lydia handcuffed to a table at a Texas industrial plant. The place kind of looks like where Syd used to meet Vaughn when he was her handler. Sigh. I miss pre-Lauren Reed Alias. Anyway, Mike gives Lydia a script and has her call Hank – with them listening to both sides via the bug’s transmission to Jesse’s laptop — so they can discern who GPS-tagged the methylamine barrel at the Madrigal warehouse. Lydia’s call is clearly the first time Hank’s heard anything of the sort, and Mike wants to finish off Lady Banjo Eyes right there for lying to them. Jesse objects; he thinks she’s telling the truth when she says she’s not involved. “Everybody sounds like Meryl Streep with a gun to their head,” Mike says. Walt agrees, and just as it’s looking like Lyd’s kid might be an orphan real soon, the bug catches Hank learning that the Houston DEA was behind the inexpert surveillance… and that they’d planted a tracker on each of Madrigal’s barrels. Soon, Lydia’s promising the trio “an ocean” of the methylamine that’s suddenly in even shorter supply by setting them up with a train car full of it – and the ballsy little broad wants to be paid for her efforts. “We can talk percentages later,” she quickly says off of Walt’s look. Ha! One problem: Her heist idea kinda requires killing the freight train’s two-person crew. While Mike and Walt once more argue about what to do, Jesse once more comes up with a far better idea – it’s not “Magnets!”, but it’s close.

ALONG CAME A SPIDER | With help from the Vamonos Pest crew, the guys set it up so that the car holding the methylamine will stop exactly where they’ve buried a few tanks in the desert; they’ll siphon some of the chemical into one container and then replace it with water from the other so no one’s the wiser. The liquid’s slight dilution, Walt explains in Mr. Wizard mode, will be blamed on the Chinese supplier. Todd’s eating it up. “You guys thought of everything,” he says with a little awe, which I’m sure plays into something pivotal that happens later. The scenes where the heist actually goes down are what’s amazing and awful about this show: You’re rooting for the bad guys, because you want them to succeed mainly so the incredibly tense moment where everything is riding on a complex series of highly variable events will just FOR THE LOVE OF GOD pass. Of course, one of those variables gets out of whack when a Good Samaritan shows up in the middle of the New Mexico desert and volunteers his pickup to push a “broken down” dump truck out of the stopped train’s way. Mike’s yelling at Walt to pull out, Walt’s telling Jesse and Todd to keep going, and the whole thing ends with Jesse flattening himself out under the train and Todd leaping from the car as it picks up speed. But they’ve got their precursor, which is cause for one of Jesse’s celebratory “Yeah, bitch!” whoops. And they didn’t even have to kill anyone! Isn’t that aweso— oh wait, there’s a little boy on a motorbike watching them. It’s the same kid we saw in the cold open, and he waves to the guys. Todd waves back… and then pulls out a gun and shoots the kid. So… although it was a good theory, Todd’s probably not an undercover cop, right? Jesse is beside himself; Walt says nothing. Side note: When I watched that kid jar up the big hairy spider in the opening sequence, I was half sure that he was collecting a highly poisonous species at the behest of some terrible person, and that the spider’s venom would become Lily of the Valley 2.0 later in the series. Happy, Breaking Bad? I am officially suspicious of every single moment of this show.

THE SKYLER PROBLEM | Walter Jr. and Holly are still at their aunt and uncle’s place, which is good, because Holly’s delicious cuteness is the only thing keeping me from gouging my eye out over that purple zebra-stripe chair and shag rug. An understandably unhappy Junior is upset about the situation and attempts to move back home, but his parents present a united front and make him leave again. Once he’s gone, Skyler asserts that she will not, in fact, change her mind about her husband. “I’m not your wife, I’m your hostage,” she says plainly. (Psst, Sky: That didn’t work out so well for Krazy-8 – and that was back when Walt was nice. Grab some broken pottery the first chance you get.) But if ol’ Heisenberg will let the kids stay at the Schraders’ indefinitely, “I will be whatever kind of partner you want me to be,” she promises. As he agrees, she notices the dirt on his jeans. “Out burying bodies?” she quips. “Robbing a train,” he shoots back. Heh. And as we close, a brief note about how literally dark this beautifully shot episode was: At so many moments, the characters’ morally murky ways were represented by only smidgens of light in the scene. It looked great, but if things continue apace, Walt and crew are going to have to wear glow sticks around their neck so we can pick them out.

Now it’s your turn. Hit the comments with your thoughts about Lydia, your theories about Todd and your bets on who will win the eventual Walt-Mike showdown. (You know it’s coming…)

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. bob says:

    Landry Clarke has now killed two people

  2. jovanka says:

    When the kid found the spider in the cold open, I actually expected him to also find Skyler’s dead body.

  3. anthony says:

    My adrenaline was at full peak during the end..sheesh this season looks like doom to me

  4. Dave says:

    I thought the kid in the beginning would find Lydia’s body. After all Mike said he was going to kill her last episode. I forgot about the kid until he showed up in the end and is shot ( killed?). Walt and Jesse continue to spiral downward. It seems nothing will be able to redeem them. ;(.

  5. Josh says:

    The only thing breaking bad can do now is start killing main characters. There aren’t much worse things then shooting a child. If this was episode 5, then how in the world is the mini season finale going to end?! Todd is definitely not a cop. I thought he was a bit of comic relief waving at the kid. Wow

    • rachelleet says:

      Yeah I def thought he was a cop….damn…I really did not see that coming.

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      I thought he was a cop too. Was way off on that one. All that trouble to not kill the Engineers and then they off a kid. I knew something bad was going to happen when you heard the train in the background when the kid found the spider, but I thought it was going to be him witnessing it all without them knowing. So much for that. Crazy!

  6. jenneandrews says:

    hi there– i’m new to the obsession with this show but i have a bad case of it. i’m a blogger and a closet bad-ass. i was quite unnerved by the ending but that could be because i’ve trapped and killed nine mice in two days and i feel a little godfather-ish. Ish. seriously…what a great show. xj

  7. Joe says:

    I realized that kid would see them when I heard the train whistle at the end if the cold open – that combined with the heist (shown in the preview last week) made me sure the kid was in the vicinity. Didn’t see him getting shot though. Landry is freaking me out here.

  8. Clay says:

    Wow. Every episode this season, I think to myself, “Breaking Bad can’t possibly keep topping itself week after week.” At the end of every episode, I stand corrected.

  9. Olive says:

    I have a feeling that Lydia and Walt are going to work together to end Mike. They’re both not happy about Mike’s guys being paid off. Lydia wants them dead and Walt doesn’t want to pay them.

  10. Lia says:

    my jaw is still on the floor

  11. i screamed “LANDRY!” at the end

  12. AL says:

    Landry? I thought his name was Lance! I was hoping they’d give Jesse Plemons a story arc the first glimpse I got of him on the show. But I never imagined this!

  13. TigerNightmare says:

    I was afraid someone was going to get something dismembered. Jesse being under the train really added to the freakoutedness.

  14. TheBeach says:

    I am consistently impressed with the cinematography on this show. The desert scenes’ brightness and expansiveness contrasted with the dark of Walt’s house and the warehouse are brilliant. I feel like I’m watching a movie instead of a TV show.

  15. Anthony says:

    I too thought he was a cop.

    And someone above mentioned how they thought Skyler’s dead body would be discovered by the kid. I thought maybe that was how the opening would tie into the episode myself. When Walt went to see Hank and said how Skyler went back to work, I immediately thought “Oh s@@t, he got rid of her and that kid is going to find the body.” But the ending was nonetheless shocking and really heartbreaking.

    I know we are gonna have bloodbath of main characters coming soon. There is just way too much at stake for important people not to be sacrificed in same way. I know Walt is supposed to be our “hero”. But right now, I am rooting for Jesse to be the last one standing and going toe to toe with Walt. We know his stance on child killing and Walt seemed to be nonchalant about the whole thing in next week’s preview. I can see the info about Lily of the Valley incident coming out and pushing Jesse over the edge when it comes to Walt. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Jesse is the one after Walt in the season premiere.

  16. Britta Unfiltered says:

    It was a great theory, but Landry is probably not an undercover cop. I now think he’s a just a younger version of Walt…someone who wants to be really bad and powerful and is trying to impress his new boss so that he can work his way up the ladder…maybe to take the place of the more sensitive Jesse. Landry/Jesse conflict coming up! And guess who’s side Walt is going to take on the issue
    So last week we had that reference to “nothing stops this train”, and then that watch ticking and countdown in the final scene to the gunshot sound. I remember at the time thinking about Walt’s line with the train, and how the watch ticking sounded like we were counting down to High Noon or a train departure. I didn’t see the preview for this week’s episode (cuz yes, I hate spoilers that much that I won’t even watch previews of Breaking Bad), so I didn’t know the train heist was coming. So now I think the watch was ticking down to this episode’s end with the kid getting shot. The whole episode felt very much like a Western. And it’s so awesome they made the metaphor of the train into something literal, I can’t even express it, btw. One final theory…Mike is working with the DEA. I know he doesn’t seem like a rat, but I also think he would do anything to protect his granddaughter and give her a future. I think Landry was a red herring for the audience. We were supposed to think he was an undercover cop so that we wouldn’t suspect Mike. Though one thing that kills that theory is I think Hank would be acting a lot differently if he even remotely suspected Walt of being a drug lord. So maybe that’s not right.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Forgot to mention, great review as always, Kimberly! I always look forward to reading your take on the show.

  17. SG says:

    Given how amazing Aaron Paul is at conveying Jesse’s anguish in response to traumatic events, the next episode may just be his next Emmy winning episode. Cannot wait to see the fallout from that stunning final scene!

  18. J. May says:

    When did Jesse become so competent? All of a sudden he’s become the big idea man, completely different from the drug addled, yeah bitch sidekick we’ve come to know. It’s good to see, but kind of unexpected.

  19. vr says:

    There’s something going on with the watch Jesse gave Walter for his birthday, like an embedded tracking device or bomb. Perhaps the plot going forward will mimic, as it has already, the plot of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” which Gilligan has said he admires; if he follows that path, Jesse “The Good,” will eventually win in some twisted-plot way, after selling Walt out to Hank, and forcing Walt to go on the lam. They’ll meet up in New Hampshire. the “Live Free or Die” state, and Jesse will escape to Canada. I guess the boy killed in the last episode will be buried in the pit and the tarantula will kill Mike maybe—anyway, Mike is going to have to go because Walter wants his own team going forward—and then Walter will have a new heavy in Todd. Lydia will play both Walt and Jesse. Walter, Jr. will figure out what’s going on and will end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and get killed. Skyler will commit suicide. Holly will end up with Hank and Marie.

  20. Poe says:

    Hank has seen Walt’s new watch. Since Emo McGee is staying with Hank and Marie, Hank has to have seen his new car. Walt clearly cannot afford either. Hank told Marie that Holly WILL be staying with them. Hank is not fooled by tears and knew what Walt was up to. Hank walked in on the bug planting and didnt question what Walt was doing. The timing of the phone conversation with the ABQ DEA was just too perfect. Hank is playing Walt…and Mike’s love for his grand-daughter provided the catalyst, information and confirmation of
    Hank’s long-standing suspicions by making the deal to secure some of that off-shore cash.

    This will be the greatest show-down in the history of television between Walt and everybody he ever loved..or loved him. Skylar already hates him. Mike always has. Junior is on the way. With Walt’s visible relief of Lance killing the kid, Jessie will soon realize this is not the same Mr White he grew to love yo. When he finds out Mr White intentionlly poisoned Brock, all hell will break loose and Walt’s empire, ego and life will collapse from all sides. The downward sprial is full effect!

    Unbelievable story telling, cinematography, production details, character development and simply incredible direction and acting. I didnt think anything would ever top The Sopranos on television. I stand corrected. Gilligan is a genious!

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