On…Breaking Bad – Rabid Dog (S05E12)

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So this episode was noticeably slower than previous ones. But don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t a filler episode. No, this episode was the slow burn of a fuse before the explosives go off. It was an episode full of tragedy, as this is the episode that solidified the beginning of the end of Jesse and Walt’s amicable relationship. Whilst it didn’t quite reach the highs of the previous few episodes, there was a lot of deeper, character exposition here that deserves a bit of analysis and may foreshadow things to come.

Carpet Cleaning

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Let’s be honest now: the teaser was a bit obvious in its attempts to heighten the tension. We already know from flash forwards that Walter’s house isn’t burnt to the ground, so we know that Jesse couldn’t have gone through the gasoline. Of course, Walt doesn’t know that and as he tries to carefully tread through his soaked carpets, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. He just looked so comical, more Mr Bean than James Bond. That only serves to emphasise his powerlessness even more. In fact, I think a lot of things in this episode served to emphasise how Walt’s relationship with Jesse is the only thing keeping him grounded and human. But more on that later.

Malfunctioning Pump

What a terrible cover story. We as viewers are just too used to Walter’s cover story tone by now. I tend to think of it as his ‘Hal’ voice, when he reverts back to the bumbling father that we loved in Malcolm in the Middle. So wasn’t it a moment of brilliance when Walt Jnr. goes, “Stop with the lies, dad.” Walt looked so shaken. It was interesting to see how Walt’s lies were even affecting the most naïve and innocent of people on the show. In fact, I wonder if this is a sign that Jnr is going to get clued in pretty soon. Now that will be a morbidly exciting thing to see.

Out for Ice

Poor Saul. He sounded so beaten in this episode yet he still maintains his chipper turn of phrases. Again, he suggests to Walter the title of the show: that Jesse is a rabid dog that needs to be put down. I’m not really sure why Saul sides with Walt so much in these cases. Presumably he’s just more afraid of Walt than Jesse, plus Jesse did beat him up. But again, the suggestion that Walt kill Jesse was curious, because I just don’t see why Saul is on Walt’s side. Saul already knows that Walt has done some unforgiveable things, and that Walt has manipulated Saul into doing those things. I think fear is the only explanation. Fear of Walt, fear of Jesse exposing him. Yet, Saul’s a smart man and surely he must know that Jesse isn’t out to really hurt Saul; Jesse is only out for Walt. That’s why I find Saul’s suggestions rather unforgiveable. And sadly, I don’t think we’ll see Saul redeemed for it. For all Breaking Bad’s moral ambiguity, and Saul’s amazing humour, he’s clearly not an innocent. And I worry that means bad things are in store for our favourite lawyer.

Hotel

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Ooh, what a very fancy hotel. Of course, the shocking thing here was Walter acknowledging he has a daughter. Just kidding. The conversation between Walt and Skyler was so revealing. I’ve heard people criticise the show for not being favourable towards its female characters, or that the female characters are underdeveloped. I’m not so sure anymore. See how far Skyler has come? From initial revolt, to fear, to complicity, to now, outright suggesting that Walt kill Jesse? The darkness has taken her too.

Now I know a lot of people have been big on the Skyler hate because of that suggestion and because everyone loves Jesse. But from Skyler’s point of view, I have to defend her. Jesse is a liability, he is a risk to her family, and she thinks that Walter has killed much more than he really has. She has no reason to believe Walter when he says that they’re safe. He’s said it time and time again, and every time he reassured her that the family was safe, something happens which proves that isn’t the case. Remember when Walter said it was finished, that he was retired, that they were now safe? Their lives have only gotten worse since then. Skyler also only knows Jesse as a good for nothing druggie who once made a dinner party really awkward; she doesn’t know Jesse the way the audience knows him. So yeah, it was pretty despicable for Skyler to suggest that to Walt, but it’s perfectly in line with everything that’s happened to her. She’s a flawed character, just like everyone else on the show, and this episode really proved that everyone has their cracks.

But how interesting was it to see Walt be the bastion of morality this episode? “Jesse isn’t just some rabid dog…he’s a person!” You could almost see him saying in his head that Jesse is his son. Honestly I don’t think Walter was faking this kind of sincere moral position. He does genuinely care for Jesse and he is genuinely outraged that everyone else can’t see Jesse the way he does. Sure, Jesse’s a liability, but he’s always been that way and Walter has still defended him to the very end. The people saying that Walt will stop at nothing to protect himself are just plain wrong. There are plenty of times where Walter did a risky thing to save Jesse, times where he chose Jesse over the safer option and times where Walter genuinely went out of his way to help Jesse. And no, these weren’t moments back in the early seasons, these occasions happened all the time right up to the present episodes. No, I definitely don’t think Walter has hit the tipping point when it comes to Jesse yet.

The Pool

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Oh dear, Walt Jnr. is really getting a lot of screen time isn’t he? To be honest, I’m not a massive fan of his character, and I really feel like the previous seasons have not been kind to him. It makes these few scenes with him in this last season feel very shallow. But I have faith in the show writers and producers that all these rather empty and boring scenes serve some greater purpose. My money’s on something terrible befalling Walt Jnr. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he gets killed, but I definitely think he has to find out about his father sooner or later.

The Shraders

Seeing Hank in the house stop Jesse from torching the place was pretty intense. And then his suggestion that they take down Walt together, I thought, “Finally! Jesse can be with someone who is actively trying to help him!” That didn’t last long.

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Cut to Marie and her therapist. I say kudos to the writers for including more of Marie. Like Walt Jnr. she’s also been dreadfully underdeveloped, but in this episode, I felt like we finally got a satisfactory insight into her as a person. Her conversation with her therapist was interesting, her homicidal thoughts and her vague notions of exacting revenge…I’ll be honest, I didn’t think she’d take the betrayal so hard. Again, she was wearing black this episode instead of her signature purple (which we were reminded of with her very purple suitcases) and I really do think that signifies how much of a darker person she’s become since this all went down.

Partners

Hey wait a second, is that Gomie in the living room? When did that develop? I guess Hank must have filled him in. I’m a bit disappointed that nothing of that was shown, and that Gomie was suddenly included which ended Hank’s lone wolf streak. I’m not sure what the significance of that is. Why is Gomez helping out Hank in such an underhanded way? It looks like they haven’t informed the rest of the DEA, and in that case, I don’t see why Gomez would be helping Hank to do this undercover and covertly. Is it just the trust he has in Hank as a partner? Because to be honest, those two haven’t seemed very friendly for a while.

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Anyway, they record Jesse’s story. Boy have they worked hard to make Aaron Paul look like complete devastation. “He was my teacher.” Such a simple yet powerful line. Yes, Walter White was his teacher in so many ways. Jesse knows how much he’s matured as a person since Walter took him on. From low-life weed dealer Captain Cook who mixed chilli powder into his meth mix to arguably the 2nd best meth cook in the whole world, Jesse has come a long way. That tape really would be fascinating to watch. A whole new way of seeing the series, through Jesse’s eyes, would be absolutely amazing.

Then they discuss the wire tap plan of meeting Walt in the plaza. It’s here that Hank points out how much Walter cares for Jesse. Although he doesn’t really believe it, I think it’s meant as a reminder to the audience. We know how much Walter cares, and it’s just heartbreaking that Jesse doesn’t. He’s so scared for his life, and that must be a horrible position to be in.

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Then, there was the horrific reveal that Hank doesn’t care about Jesse’s life; his only concern is with taking down Walt. Sigh. I mean, Skyler I can defend. But Hank is supposed to be doing all this stuff within the remit of the law, he’s supposed to be lawful good to Walt’s chaotic evil. But the fact that he doesn’t care that Jesse, his key witness, might die? That’s rough, that’s really a poor reflection on his character. Of course it makes sense. It makes perfect sense, he doesn’t know Jesse like we do, he thinks of him as a druggie murderer who deserves what’s coming to him. But I feel like Hank is getting a bit too blinded by his rage at Walter, a bit too reckless about it all. That’s going to come back to bite him in the ass, I’m sure.

The Plaza

So Jesse getting spooked by the big bald guy in a leather jacket felt a bit contrived, in my opinion. But then again, I’m not sure if the wire tap would have worked on Walt. Would he have spilled all to Jesse at that point? Would it have been enough? Throughout this episode, we got the impression that Walter sincerely cares for Jesse. I think he would have come up with more platitudes, more excuses, more justifications for the whole poisoning incident. And you know, I wonder how much of that would have been incriminating. Walter’s a careful guy. He knows Hank is onto him, he knows Jesse is volatile right now. To be honest, I don’t think, even if Jesse had gone through with it, this would have been a smoking gun for Hank.

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Anyway, Aaron Paul once again was absolutely brilliant in this scene. Through gritted teeth, his declaration that he was going to hurt Walter where he really lived was so intense. There’s been lots of speculation as to what exactly that means, but I took it to mean Walter’s family. Jesse recognised that the house was just a house. I think he realised that when he picked up the photo of Skyler and Walt dressed up like Santa Claus. I think he remembered in that moment about Walter’s kids. And that’s where I think Jesse is going to attack. Not physically, but emotionally. Perhaps some kind of grand revelation, so big that everyone hears about it: everyone, including the people at the school, the Schwartz’s (remember them over at Grey Matter) and yes, even the neighbour.

I mean, it makes sense. All these scenes with Walt Jnr. reinforce how much he believes in his father as a hero or ‘Mr Rogers with cancer’. I think Jesse is about to ruin that for him. Will Hank go along with it? I definitely think so. At this stage, he cares much more about getting Walter than the safety of his niece and nephew. But then, I wonder if this will drive a pole between Hank and Marie, as Marie so obviously cares about the White kids.

Walter’s Final Call

“He does the reverse opposite of what you expect” is what Jesse said about Walt. A brilliant line for not only lending a bit of 4th wall breaking but also acting as a hint towards Walter’s future activities. Of course the call at the end of the show was supposed to imply that Walter is getting Todd’s crew to kill Jesse. But I really don’t think that’s going to happen. That would be too easy. It doesn’t fit Walter’s character to hire someone else to kill Jesse. This whole episode was about how much Walter, despite everyone else’s protests to the contrary, is in fact the only person to really, genuinely care about Jesse’s wellbeing. I doubt that will change just because Jesse made a threatening phone call. I mean, the guy poured gasoline all over Walter’s house; even if he had gone through and burnt the house down, I think Walter would still have wanted to talk to him.

You see, if it does come down to Walter killed Jesse, he’s going to do it himself. Jesse has to die by Walter’s hand. I’ve always maintained that’s the unforgiveable thing that he’s supposed to do this season. Therefore this call to Todd and Co. is just a red herring. It’s setting up for something bigger, something unpredictable, something hugely clever. I’ll be disappointed otherwise.

Overall Thoughts and Bonus Things

*This episode did feel distinctly different from the others; the events that happened all felt a bit too overworked and contrived. Hank leaving with Jesse literally seconds before Walter gets home? Saul’s guys being unable to find Jesse at all (I mean come on, they know Hank has a vested interest in Jesse, he’s already underhandedly tried to get Jesse to talk once)? Jesse seeing a coincidentally scary bald man in the plaza? Obviously on any other show, this episode would have been amazing. But compared to the last few episodes, it just wasn’t on par and I found myself less excited by this one than others. Then again, I feel like I might change my mind by the end of the season because a lot of stuff that happened felt like it was building up towards something crazy.

*Beaver? Damnit Walt that is unforgiveable.

*Jesse Pinkman once again gets the best lines of the episode with, “Mr White’s gay for me”. The fanfics and tumblrs must be exploding…

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2 thoughts on “On…Breaking Bad – Rabid Dog (S05E12)

  1. It’s getting interesting alright. Yep, I noticed that about Walt arriving just as Jesse and Hank leave. It was a little coincidental. I loved the flashback though, when Hank turns up at the house. Wasn’t crazy about the coincidental bald man either, and the misunderstanding, but Jesse was pretty high, stressed and paranoid, so it’s possible. Unlikely that Jesse get killed this early in the last 8, but I think it’s possible Walt will put the hit on him, and Jesse could slip through the noose. Not sure their relationship is finished yet though. I think Jesse will also realise that Hank doesn’t care if he lives or dies either. Also, I think Walt will prove to be a slippery snake to catch too. Walt Jr surely has to find out sooner or later. And Skyler went all Lady McBeth in this episode. The wheels are turning…

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