Wow. That could be my review of tonight’s Breaking Bad and I would be perfectly content with it; we just got one of the best episodes of the show yet.
The episode as a whole was split up over a mere 8 or 9 scenes and almost all of them worked wonderfully. The cold open is an abstract and, ultimately, tragic set up for the episode’s final moments that was beautifully put together. The scene in Hank’s office introduces a very serious line that Walt might now have crossed by bugging his brother-in-law’s computer and office, but I am, for some idiotic reason, still holding out hope that Walt might remove it the next time he gets a chance.
Seeing Hank in Dad mode with Holly was a great scene that made us feel comfortable that he could take on the paternal role for his niece if things go to hell with Walt; and Hank survives the fallout. But, there is that scene with Skyler that didn’t quite work for me as the leap to Skyler being Walt’s “hostage” seems to be a line too far for her to be assuming. Gilligan and team have been pushing Skyler’s arc hard this season, almost to a rush, and I think this is the first time I can’t stay on board with them. Skyler isn’t a hostage, she is compliant, she just wants the kids out of the picture. The moment where Walt talk’s Flynn out of his room was very affective though, and it really helped salvage easily the weakest part of this magnificent episode.
Let’s get to the centerpiece now, and the brilliant train heist Gilligan and team put together here. We find out that the local PD put those GPS trackers on all the barrels of methylamine at Madrigal and with their supply now bust Lydia is able to supply an, “ocean of the stuff!" The rub is they have to rob it from a train and, worse yet, kill the crew members as well if they don’t want to get caught.
What I am sure will be known as, “The Great Breaking Bad Train Robbery”, or something along those lines, was just that; a wonderfully realized set piece that was intense, clever, and as gripping as anything put on television.
The plan is hatched by Jesse who figures out how they can steal the methylamine without anyone even noticing it’s gone. Swapping the methylamine they take with water will keep the weight and only dilute the train’s stash of methylamine enough that it will seem like only an abnormality to those receiving it; smart stuff and the crew couldn’t be more full of themselves. The job involves Walt, Jesse, and Todd (Vamonos Pest) to do the methylamine switch while Mike runs surveillance and Kuby (the guy who forced Ted to sign a check to the IRS) runs distraction. Kuby stalls a truck on the road which in turn gets the train to stop and the plan goes in motion. Todd pumps the water, Jesse pumps the methylamine, and Walter manages the intake. The scene was incredibly intense, wonderfully photographed, and was one of the best things ever put on the small screen. I mean, they had a giant train robbery scene, what other show can say that and do it this well; the answer is none.
The real shocker/gut punch comes in the final moments of the episode when our celebration (yes, Walt finds us somehow rooting for him again) is turned into horror when we discover the kid from the cold open has been watching the whole time and Todd shoots him dead on the spot. Now, not to brag, I saw this coming the moment Jesse tells Todd something to the affect, “no one can know about this but us,” but that doesn’t mean it was any less affecting to this viewer. I was laughing with glee with Jesse and would have shouted, “Yeah, bitch,” right along with him if I could have; enter gut-punch. I can’t wait to see where the fallout of this takes us next week as this is arguably the best cliffhanger for the show since Half-Measures.
A great hour of Breaking Bad and an amazing hour of television that could go toe to toe with anything else thrown up on the screen this year. This episode I think tops the Mike-centric episode, Madrigal, from a couple weeks ago as the best of the season so far and I can only imagine the fireworks of the final three episodes of the year. One things for sure, Walter got all the methylamine he was looking for.
-The most abstract cold open yet from Breaking Bad?
-Hank is moving on up.
-Walt enter the lion's den.
-Playing up the connection to Steve, another guy who couldn't see it coming.
-Walt is evil; playing Hank now.
-Walt knows Hank can't take this sort of Male sensitivity, wait, don't, F-YOU, Walt.
-Straight to the little girl again, eh Lydia.
-"Remember how you like to do that?"
-"Where will I shoot you?"
-Mike is just getting scarier, as is this trio.
-Walt gets major points back if he retrieves the bug.
-"Everyone sounds like Meryl Streep with a gun to their head."
-Lydia, you lucky son of a bitch.
-"What, like the mafia?" Ha.
-Lydia is being honest so far.
-Breaking Bad: Train Heist!
-"We can discuss percentages later."
-Junior's Flynn again.
-Love the lighting for this shot of Jesse.
-I love Jesse the Idea Man.
-Shit, they are going to have to kill that kid in the cold open.
-Landry (Todd) is going to kill that little kid. (Called it.)
-Holy Shit! "Yeah, Bitch!"
-And they kill all of their excitement, Bravo!"
-Did I just gave a bravo to a child's death, Bravo storytelling, terrible luck for that kid.