Systems and Symbols

Joining Matters Aright

Breaking Bad Report:Season Five episode 5

The 3 skinheads (Walt, Jesse, and Mike) plan a heist to steal a major chemical needed to make meth.  The heist itself required robbing a train. They were reluctant to do so because they didn’t want to kill innocent people (the train conductors) . So they thought of a way of stealing the chemicals without killing the train conductors.  The heist was a great scene because it showed White guys working together to overcome difficult odds.  They had the three skinheads (Walt, Mike and Jesse) and two helpers from the extermination front business (both White guys) on the heist.

Of course, like all “great plans” it almost didn’t work due to unforeseen circumstances.  The train stopped because they staged a truck break down on the track.  The train conductors tried to help the stranded motorist but couldn’t move the truck.  An Indian or Mexican guy just happened to drive by with a huge pickup truck and helped push the truck off the track.  Just as the train started moving, they were able to accomplish the mission and steal the desired amount.

The guys were jumping around, cheering, and celebrating when the next unforeseen circumstance came upon them.  A kid driving a dirt bike rode up. At that point Jesse and Walt were frozen with indecision when one of the helpers from the extermination front business pulled out a gun and shot the kid dead. That’s how the episode ended.

Despite their best intentions, the guys ended up having to kill an innocent kid to accomplish their mission. The helper that shot him (I forgot his name)  acted in a cool, calculated manner.  A similar scenario occurred in the first Gulf War when a kid walked up on a Special Forces team on an observation mission in Iraq.  The Special Forces team chose not to kill the child that spotted them and this resulted in a firefight with Iraqis which they almost didn’t make it out of.  In the prior season Walt and Jesse were outraged that Gus had killed a child but now the guys have done the same.  I believe that this helper (blond guy, can’t remember his name) who shot the kid will be important later on?

Walt agreed with Skyler (Walt’s wife) to keep the kids at Skyler’s sister’s house (and Walt’s DEA bother-in-law’s).  They did this under the pretext that they were having marital troubles.  Walt agreed in order placate his wife who worries obsessively for the children’s safety (probably for good reason).   Skyler told him that if he agreed, that she would launder his money and be a good partner. This scene was more evidence that Walt’s ego has become more important than his family.  The whole point of selling meth was for his family but now he can’t be around his kids so he can sell his meth.

Walt then made a huge mistake and told Skyler that they were robbing a train.  This scene was before the heist scene.  Before this scene, while planning the heist, Walt told one of the helpers (the guy who shot the kid) that he could never tell anyone about the train heist.  But then Walt told Skyler out of vanity.  I’m wondering if this might not come back to haunt Walt later on?

The major lessons in episode 5.  First, all great plans fall apart. It’s not how great the plan is but how skilled the operators are at quick thinking and keeping their nerve.  Second, don’t celebrate anything until the mission is 100% complete. Third, don’t run your mouth out of vanity. Never work with people who have to run their mouths to feel like tough guys.

This season is really turning out to be awesome. I tip my hat to Vince Gilligan (the show’s creator). The show is GOLD.

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