If I had to show an alien an episode of Breaking Bad for some reason, like if an alien came to Earth and really needed to see the most epitomic episode of Vince Gilligan’s badass morality play, I would show the alien “Dead Freight.”
Sure, “Dead Freight,” isn’t the best episode of Breaking Bad ever, and yeah, its a massive escalation from the early world of Walter White, but that escalation is part of what makes it so Breaking Baddy. There are some excellent Breaking Bad episodes — “Fly” comes to mind — that are totally new and different, but “Dead Freight” is pure and perfect Breaking Baddery as unadulterated as Walt-made blue meth. An alien from any galaxy would be delighted to watch this excellent 44 minutes of Earthling TV.
We have: a cryptic cold open that has major implications on the rest of the show. A young boy is just zooming around in the desert and finds an awesome tarantula when he hears a train in the distance. We don’t know who he is, or why he was important enough for us to look at. The boy makes a tragic reappearance at the end of the episode. Fuckin’ Todd! I’m sure that when the alien saw that final moment moment of the episode its jaw would drop to the floor, revealing razor-sharp teeth and a bright green cylindrical tongue.
Then Heisenberg uses Walter White to get a task accomplished, pretending to be all whiny about Skyler’s frigidity in order to bug Hank’s office. It works. Hank plays sympathetic towards the man who is a total worthless loser in his eyes, and his sympathy and ignorance breach his office’s security. Walter playing the “innocent loser” is a vital part of Breaking Bad. The hypothetical alien would be like “Wow that guy is a stone-cold hardass genius!” and I’d be like “Yeah man, now will you chill with the anal probing?”
We even have one scene that’s like a quadruple Breaking Bad element whammy; Walt, Jesse, and Mike play off each other perfectly while threatening murder and participating in genius level conniving. A plan that seems ridiculous and over the top is pitched, and a moral question is introduced: can we kill two random dudes just to make some extra money?
That question is answered with even more Breaking Bad awesomeness, when Jesse comes up with a plan to do what needs to get done without killing anybody. Walt LOVES the plan, and it really shows when he is proudly explaining it to Todd. “Gee whiz, Walt really is like a father figure to Jesse, isn’t he,” the alien would ask, and then he’d let me play with his awesome ray gun thingy.
And finally we have an awesome and outrageous action set piece, with perfectly built tension that keeps us rooting for the bad guys. The final scene in “Dead Freight” is incredibly exciting like previous high-tension set pieces, and ends in one of the great holy fucking shit moments in television history. The alien would be on the edge of his seat the whole time, gripping to my futon with the suction-cup things on his butt, and as I said above, the last moment would shock him more than he was shocked upon realizing there was life on that puny planet Earth all his friends make fun of.
“Dead Freight” encompasses all that is awesome about Breaking Bad, and the rest of the season is sure to be just as awesome. But really my point here is that if aliens ever come to Earth they should just come chill with me and watch Breaking Bad. I better Tweet this at NASA later.