At one point in his career, Bryan Cranston probably thought that the family sitcom Malcolm in the Middle would be his biggest claim to fame, not realizing that Walter White was just over the horizon. Though Cranston only portrayed the cancer-surviving drug-maker for five seasons, from 2008-2013, Heisenberg seems like he's been a TV threat for far longer. And through all the mayhem and chaos that Walt caused in Breaking Bad, there's one particular gut-punch of a scene that stands out as Cranston's favorite: the shocking ending to the episode "Dead Freight" In his words:
All these things had to go right --- and everything went right! It was fantastic! I remember the characters celebrating euphorically in pulling off the train heist of the century. And a moment later, an innocent life is snuffed out when that kid on the motorcycle just shows up. He's just there. And as Jesse and Walt are trying to figure out, 'Oh shit, what do we do?' Jesse Plemons' character just raises a gun and shoots him. And it was like, 'Oh my God!' It was such a beautifully constructed narrative: Okay, you want to experience the highs with Walter White? You want to be on that train ride with Jesse Pinkman? Here's that rejoicing for you, the audience. And now here's the repercussions from the business that they're in. Here's what happens when you forget that there's morality connected and consequences to every action. It was just so amazing.
Indeed. After happily following along with Walt's highly questionable impulses and ideas, viewers ventured down one of Breaking Bad's__darkest avenues of its entire run with "Dead Freight." The episode didn't initially seem like it would break anyone's psyche's, with the high-stakes methylamine train heist serving as the big centerpiece. But in that final minute, just when it looked like everything would "be okay," so to speak, a young boy rolls up out of nowhere, and Jesse Plemons' Todd takes little time before murdering the kid, seeing him as only a liability. It was a hard line for Walt and Jesse to cross (while Todd seemed fine), taking away whatever remaining flakes of innocence they had left.
And so it makes a peculiar amount of sense that Bryan Cranston would consider this to be his favorite Breaking Bad scene. Cranston has always been extremely fond of the moment when Walt silently witnesses Jane's death without interfering, but told EW that the painfulness of filming it made it difficult to call it a "fave." But the "Dead Freight" scene hit the full gamut of emotions, starting with anxious celebrations, detouring into panicked cluelessness, and ending in abject horror. With barely any time for audiences to plant a stake in any of them. Did the boy realize what was happening? Did he only want to show off his spider? We'll never know, because Todd doesn't like dangling threads.
For all the dark headspaces that Bryan Cranston had to get into as Walter White, few were quite as ugly and avoidable as the one he entered by the end of "Dead Freight," and the actor apparently enjoyed putting viewers directly in that same mindset. There is a price to pay, after all, for embracing a character like that for years on end.
Head to the next page to see what current Better Call Saul star Jonathan Banks' favorite scene from Breaking Bad was.
As the determined and dependable Mike Ehrmantraut, Jonathan Banks couldn't be much more weathered and life-worn. With so many badass moments at play, Banks could have picked a brutal doozy as his favorite moment, but he settled on a much more calm and emotional scene. Banks is most fond of when Mike and Jesse say goodbye in Season 5, with Jesse foolishly believing he's getting out of the meth game, and Mike unaware that his lifeline is going to soon be cut short. In Banks' words:
It was so emotional, and it's just a small scene. I tell Jesse to be careful and I leave. I've always said I don't think he could save Jesse. But he thought there was a chance that maybe he could get out of the life. Not unlike Mike, I can't describe the level of empathy or protection maybe that he felt toward Jesse as he's walking away.
Knowing what we know about Mike now after three seasons of Better Call Saul, it paints a different picture of the older man's views involving Jesse. Something bordering on parental but never quite getting there, for good reason. Sadly, the two characters will presumably never meet again in this universe. But at least we've got more Mike to look forward to in Season 4.
Better Call Saul returns to AMC with Season 4 on Monday, August 6, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are on the way, head to our summer premiere schedule.