Is the Thrill of Breaking Bad Over?

Last week’s episode ended with Walt (Bryan Cranston) proclaiming that nothing would stop his train. But Walt didn’t have time to decide how seriously he meant those words before Todd grabbed his own gun and fired.

We’ve learned to pay attention to Vince Gilligan’s opening scenes.

“Dead Freight” begins with an unknown little boy playing with and eventually capturing a tarantula spider in a glass jar. I assumed it was a scene that wouldn’t come back into the plot for at least a few more episodes. Like the tired Walt at a diner on his birthday that opened season five (a scene we now know comes a year from this point in the season). Or the outlined bodies and police tape on Walt’s driveway and the ratted, pink teddy bear from season one.

And then, just as I was sucked back into celebrating another of Walt’s victories as the team extracts the final gallon of methylamine from the train just in the knick of time, the unthinkable happens. That same little boy emerges – in the wrong place at the wrong time – and without hesitation, or time for anyone to stop him, Todd (Jesse Plemons) reacts and kills an innocent boy.

Is the killing of a child the last layer of bad to be broken?

So far, the only characters in the show who have remained innocent are children. Jesse’s (Aaron Paul) relationship with Brock. Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) love of his granddaughter, Kaylee. Skylar (Anna Gunn) is desperate to protect Walter Jr., and Holly. Even Lydia’s daughter becomes the reason Mike didn’t kill her. And while Walt has proven he’s willing to go to any length to ‘protect his family’ and continue making meth, even he has yet to actually kill a child.

Breaking Bad has become a battleground of words. Words that foreshadow. Words that come back to haunt and to kill. Words that shatter our assumptions about right and wrong, good and evil. This is what makes the show (and creator, Vince Gilligan) so brilliant. In this episode alone, we hear —

Hank (to Walt): “It’s always darkest just before the dawn.”

Walt (to Lydia): “Trust has to work both ways.”

Mike (to Walt and Jesse): “I’ve done this long enough to know there are two kinds of heists. Those that get away with it and those that leave witnesses.”

Jesse (to Mike and Walt): “What if we ripped off the train and no one ever knows?”

Walt (to Todd): “No one can know about this other than the three of us. You understand?”

Todd (to Walt and Jesse): “You guys thought of everything.”

Skylar (to Walt): “I’m not your wife. I’m your hostage.”

We’ve gotten used to drugs, deception, and the seemingly inevitable death of those who choose to get involved in these activities. But in this episode, Breaking Bad has broken new ground.

Is the thrill of breaking bad finally finished? For Jesse? For Walt? For you?

Keep up with the rest of Season Five:

Episode One – “Is Redemption Possible For Walter White?”

Episode Two – “Madrigal, Money, and Metanoia”

Episode Three – “Breaking Bad Made Whole?”

Episode Four – “An Object Lesson and Breaking Bad’s Next Move” 


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