Nick Hanover: Because we were all so traumatized by the ending of "Dead Freight" we had to take a week off to recover, so we're combining our reviews. We also brought back Dylan Garsee for extra emotional support. But before we get to that traumatic scene I mentioned, let's discuss what built up to it, namely a crazy scheme that Jesse hatched and Walt helped execute, the robbery of "an ocean of methylamine."
The gang was tipped off to the methylamine by Lydia, who was about to get shot in the head with a "pistol, not a gun" by Mike. Paul, you and I have both pointed to Lydia– and by extension Mike's family leanings in general– as Mike's biggest weakness, so what did you think of her sort of redemption here?
Dylan Garsee: It's good to see Minnie Driver getting work again, I really miss her.
That is who plays Lydia, right?
Paul Brian McCoy: It was nicely done and mostly believable. I'm just curious as to where she is in the equation now. I assume that means she's out, but she's still a loose end.
Nick: At first I was irked that she was still in the picture, because I dislike the character so much and I'm starting to feel like Laura Fraser's acting is mutating into a series of tics and odd eye gestures (so Minnie Driver Jr.?). But I'm also beginning to suspect that her real value will come as a tool for Walt to utilize. The way he paid close attention to– but didn't react to– her mention of the list of names was extremely telling.
Dylan: As much as I liked this episode, and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the second heist episode of the season after the premiere?
Nick: It was, but the structure and execution was so different from the evidence room magnet extravaganza that that didn't stick out to me. In a way, they were juxtaposed, with the evidence room heist very nearly being an out and out debacle, with Walt's cockiness getting in the way whereas this train robbery was methodical and precise until it was over and everything went to hell. But even that could be perceived as an instance of too much precision.
Dylan: I saw them as being incredibly similar: Walt and Mike yell at each other while Jesse concocts a Wile E. Coyote-esque plan. The only difference between the two is the involvement of Landry/Lance/Todd.
Paul: Right. And Walt's cockiness almost caused trouble again with the train, waiting until the absolute last possible instant to shut down the pump and disengage.
It sure as hell made me a lot tenser than the Magnet Heist ever did.
Dylan: "Yo, Mr. White. I know how we can rob the train"
Paul: I think my favorite thing about the entire episode was the fact that it engaged me so thoroughly in the great train robbery that I completely forgot about the kid riding around on his dirt bike with a tarantula in his jacket.
Until they all stopped and there he was, waving at them.
Dylan: I thought the little boy on the bike was going to be a "pink teddy bear" foreshadow that wouldn't be brought up for a few episodes. Boy was I wrong.
Nick: The robbery itself was excellently choreographed, especially since it managed to juggle quite a few variables, from the dump truck blocking the tracks (yay for Bill Burr's return!) to Jesse being stuck underneath the train at the end, so it was easy to get distracted. When I rewatched the episode, though, it was interesting to see how telegraphed that intro was with the kid heading off on his dirt bike immediately after hearing a train horn in the distance.
Paul: Ah, rewatching. I wish I had the time to do that, too. I can't imagine all the little bits I'm missing just one time through.
Dylan: Not only do Nick and I watch each episode twice, we watch them in a movie theatre.
Because Austin is the greatest city that ever was or will be.
Paul: Surely it can't beat Charleston, West-By-God Virginia.
Oh wait. Yes it can.
So can a can of tuna with a city's name scratched on it.
Nick: It helps seeing it on a big screen too, since everything is magnified. For the train robbery in particular it was great since that whole heist was so cinematic anyway.
Dylan: When Jesse survived the train heist, the whole theatre applauded.
Paul: What did they do when Doughie Matt Damon pulled out his pistol and fired?
Dylan: Landry/Lance/Todd is just big boned!
Nick: It was pretty much everyone gasping at once.
That moment elevated this episode to an entirely new level, though. That was some Game of Thrones-type shit, almost akin to Ned's beheading in how out and out shocking it was.
Dylan: They've killed before, but no one innocent.
Nick: It also forced Todd into a position of being held closer to the organization.
Paul: That was a perfect moment to slingshot us into the final three episodes of the first half of the season. It was the game changer for everyone involved.
Dylan: That speech he gave in the beginning of "Buyout" sounded almost exactly like the one Walt gave after Jesse killed Gale.
Nick: We'll dig into Todd more later, but first I'd like to dig into the domestic issues on Breaking Bad. The other shots that were fired in this episode were of the emotional variety, between Walt and Skyler, who are waging a cold war of sorts.
Dylan: Skyler is about to crack, I can feel it. She's either going to kill herself, someone else, or break the silence about what Walt really does.
Paul: I really don't know where they're going to go with Skyler. I guess anything is better than the zombified version we've had most of the season so far.
Nick: I'm wondering if we're going to see Walt Jr. learning too much soon, since each episode finds him getting in the way more and more. This episode had him returning to the house and refusing to leave, as well as showing his irritation with being stuck at his Aunt and Uncle's.
Dylan: I still firmly believe that at the end of la
st season, Vince Gilligan fully skinned Anna Gunn and is now wearing her skin and performing as Skyler, for it is the only way he can be on both sides of the camera.
Nick: You always have the creepiest theories, Dylan. But continuing the cold war talk, let's dig into the awkwardest dinner party there ever was: Jesse, Walt and Skylar enjoying some Albertson's deli specials.
Dylan: "THIS IS SOME REAL GOOD WATER YOU GOT HERE MR WHITE."
Paul: Someone should chart the emotional awkwardness from dinner party to dinner party in this show from the very beginning. I'm pretty sure there's some sort of secret message there.
Dylan: Breaking Bad isn't actually about the fall of man.
It's about unfortunate dinner situations.
Paul: Is Breaking Bad a pun on Breaking Bread?
Have we cracked this sucker wide open?!?
Dylan: WE HAVE IT HERE AT COMICS BULLETIN FIRST.
Nick: Well, let's not forget Walt Jr.'s breakfast fixation.
We can't forget the fact that Marie wants to eat Holly.
Nick: Moving away from this epic food metaphor, though, we got a total breakdown from Jesse leading into that dinner.
Paul: These two episodes are stellar examples of how the writing for this show is geared both for the weekly airings and for effectiveness when watching the season as a whole (for those who marathon it).
That silent opening as they disassemble the dirt bike (and imply that something similar is about to happen to the dead boy) is a powerful and affecting opening scene.
But watching it right on the heels of the gunshot that ended the previous episode is devastating.
Dylan: That was one of my favorite cold opens, dissolving the evidence. So chilling and disturbing.
Nick: Especially the way it was set against the kid's hand rising out of the dirt.
Dylan: Personally, there was a scene just a smidgen more disturbing later on.
Watching Walt's almost orgasmic reaction to melting the plastic hand tie truly shook me deep.
Nick: That hand tie scene was brutal. It was interesting how hands were everywhere this episode, from that to Jesse's fist in Todd's face to the folded hands at dinner.
Dylan: I think we have crossed a line of analyzing this show.
Paul: That scene really drove home just how determined to succeed Walt really is. How determined to win.
Dylan: Everybody wins.
Nick: He was literally willing to gnaw his own hand off.
Paul: I love the contrast between the Walt tied to the radiator and the Walt with the plan.
Nick: I think Todd is going to wind up killing Mike, though. I think that's where that is eventually heading.
Dylan: So, Todd kills Mike, Skylar kills herself, Marie eats Holly, Saul kills Lydia, Jesse kills Walt.
Nick: And only Walt Jr. is left, eating breakfast.
Paul: I want to see what Walt's plan is before making any real predictions.
Dylan: I'm afraid of making predictions, because I know I'll be wrong.
So, what are we going to rate these two episodes?
Nick: I'm going for both.
Paul: "Dead Freight" gets a solid from me. "Buyout" gets .
And I'm still nervous about the eventual time jump that's coming.
Dylan: "Dead Freight" , "Buyout" .
I think the time jump will be handled either amazingly well, or beyond stupid.
Most likely the former.
But time will tell.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic who has contributed to Spectrum Culture, No Tofu Magazine, Performer Magazine, Port City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon and you can follow him on twitter @Nick_Hanover
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot,Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creat
ion at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.