Breaking Bad - “Dead Freight”
"…there are two kinds of heists - those where the guys get away with it, and those that leave witnesses."
Thank god my coworker is out today. There’s no one around to see me sit here and stare at the screen, wondering how to start this.
I guess let’s just dive into it - Mike’s quote. Last week I talked about the family and friends in Walt’s life as a kind of moral cancer. While Walt waltzed around convinced that the evil was rid of his life, he was unaware that something that could bring about his destruction was brewing right in his own little world. This week I wanna look at them as witnesses. Witnesses to the man Walt has become and the evils he’s no longer bothering to hide.
"Out burying bodies?" "Robbing a train."
He’s deceitful, clearly. But only in the moments where he needs to be. He’s only tactful in the moments he needs to be. He’s only ruthless in the moments he needs to be. Ultimately, he’s a selfish coward. And he’s running the loosest ship I’ve ever seen in a piece of crime fiction. He’s leaving witnesses all over the place - Skyler, Junior, Hank, Todd, Mike, Jesse - they’ve all been witness to his odd behavior, his rash decisions, his calculation, his cruelty.
Compare him again to Gus who ran a modest household, who was actively involved in his business front, who was the very picture of restraint. In that entire empire there are, what, 10 people including Mike who can say a damn thing about how it was run? And not a one of them could probably say two things stringed together about Gus as a man. Walt can’t stop giving it away. He may have seen enough Scorsese movies to know about wiping the prints, but he’s completely blind to how little he’s fooling anyone as a person. He understands the logistics about “building an empire” but the human element is completely lost on him. He’s attempting to run a business wearing the hat of a man he can never be, that he can’t even convince others he really is.
Let’s start taking bets on how he’s going to react to Todd. Or we can, but my guess is no one’s money’s gonna be on admonishment. And “pride on the dedication of his new pupil” is gonna have 1-1 odds. Hey, go for it, Walt. Because this is Jesse’s turning point. From the ATM onward hurting children has been the one thing he will not stand (god, Vince Gilligan, stop pretending you didn’t have this all planned out!).
So now we’ve got witnesses. Mike to your business helplessness (can Jesse come up with one more ass-saving idea?), Hank to your reckless spending, Skyler to your manipulation, Lydia for Christ’s sake, doesn’t even matter to what, that’s a nightmare alone. And Jesse to every move you’ve made save for a few for years. To how you’ve changed. Now to how you’ve decayed.
And is Walt the kind of man who can pull a gun out of his belt and take care of that? Can he put on a hazard suit, grab up a box cutter, and do the work himself? Everything he’s gotten his connived away, put into the hands of others, stolen.
Unfortunately, Walt, there are only two kinds of heists.
Things I Wish You’d Been There For:
- Myles, Maria, and I yelling like crazy people as Walt insisted on getting his 1,000 gallons despite Jesse nearly getting run over by a train. If that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is.
- The expressions on our faces at the end. Haven’t seen an ending to an episode of TV get that reaction out of me since Walt hit that, er, deer. “Run.” Incidentally “Half Measures” got an A, AV Club. If I see another A- Monday morning… I mean are you saving them for the back 8? Because you can give A+’s you know. Like if you’re concerned about the series finale, I would allow yourself to just go ahead and write “our rating system exploded”. This episode was an A.