BREAKING BAD Recap: “Rabid Dog”

     September 1, 2013


This second half of the final season of Breaking Bad isn’t about Walt building his empire anymore, or about him hiding it from anyone.  It’s the Götterdämmerung of these things.  The trailer for this year’s season had Bryan Cranston reading “Ozymandias,” a poem about delusions of grandeur.  Walt is still doggedly committed to his lies and his version of the world as it all begins to shake and crumble beneath him.  All that he does though, in his mind, is in service to his family, which Jesse is a part of.  After Walt hugged Walt, Jr to conclude a sweet moment, he immediately called his “other” son.  But Jesse has now broken from the fold, and Walt’s weak spot is about to instigate his demise.  Hit the jump for more.

breaking-bad-season-5-part-2-posterThere was a lot of speculation last week regarding Walt’s intentions for Jesse.  Was he going to kill him?  Walt retrieving the gun though was a defensive act, not an offensive one.  He tried to get Jesse to leave town both for Jesse’s sake and his own.  Jesse is a liability to himself and everyone else at this point.  His instability was a concern for Walt not only because of the “loose canon” effect, but also because he does truly care about Jesse.  However, obviously, if Walt has to protect himself against him, he will, though there was a palpable relief when he didn’t find Jesse in the house.  No standoff, no carnage.  Not “just one more,” as Skyler put it.

Hank spells it out later to Jesse that Walt’s affection for him is self-evident.  There are many, many things that Walt has done for Jesse, because Walt wants to keep close so he can “better” him.  Jesse is the one person that makes Walt not feel like a bad person, because he can act as a savior.  His family either doesn’t know or openly detests his actions, but they also don’t know him as fully as Jesse does (and even Jesse doesn’t know it all).  Jesse has been a lynchpin in Walt’s self-delusions about what he is doing — his lies and manipulations are for a “greater good,” and nowhere is that usually more readily apparent than with Jesse.

Now, of course, Walt has pushed him too far.  It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he’s really driven Jesse mad, something Saul brings up with his Old Yeller / rabid dog analogy.  Walt’s first response was to shut down that line of inquiry, though.  Jesse was not to be “put down.”  There was still a chance.  Walt is so tied up in his conviction that what he did was right (something Hank picks up on, too), that he felt he could still talk his way out of this.  But Walt’s talk is cheaper than most these days, when even Junior doesn’t believe his “pump malfunction” story.  Everyone has wised up.  There is no more obfuscation.

breaking-bad-rabid-dog-betsy-brandtBut Walt is more committed to the world he has built for himself than anything — you are with him, or against him.  Skyler also faced this choice too, and she chose to stay with Walt.  Jesse went the other way once he bailed on their meet.  He crossed a threshold.  Walt made a call, but not to Saul.  To Todd.  Does that suggest that this is not “the” call for the “job” to kill Jesse?

The promo for next week’s episode was as cryptic as Mad Men, but Jesse looks to be in the wind.  What is his plan to take Walt down, and is Hank still in on it?  Ultimately none of that matters as what a final showdown between Walt and Jesse will look like.  One cannot help but expect that, with as much as Jesse has meant to Walt and to the series, that whatever happens to him will be a watershed moment.  Jesse said the most important words of the series tonight: “He can’t keep getting away with this!”  Can he?


Episode Rating: B+


Musings and Miscellanea:

— Nothing wrong with this episode, it just was a building block.  It had lots of great moments, though, particularly with the reveal that it was only because of Hank that the house was not set on fire.  Which begs the question … so when does it get set on fire?

— Notice the kids on bikes going by at the beginning?  They’ll be inside the White’s house and yard soon enough!

— “I’m not sure he wants to hear a nuanced version of the benefits of child poisoning” – Saul

breaking-bad-rabid-dog-bryan-cranston– The scene between Walt and Junior by the pool was touching, but poor Junior just does not have the slightest clue.  It was also heartbreaking that as close as Junior wants to be to his father, Walt keeps him at arms length.  And then calls Jesse.

— I think I missed something: what was the significance of the CD in the car?

— Loved Marie looking up untraceable poisons online.  Too bad Walt is the family expert on that …

— So Marie is committed to wearing black now, right?  I like that she just shrugged and went with the whole Jesse thing as long as it was bad for Walt.

— Purple Count: 9+ — luggage, vase, wall paint, carpet, blanket, pillows, tablecloth, curtains, candle holders

— Some of the books Hank and Marie own: Dutch, Rainbow’s End: The Crash of 1929, The Body Language of Horses.

— I hope that Badger talking about Babylon Five for three hours is on the DVD extras for this season.

— Has Skyler broken bad?  “What’s one more?”  Or is she just tired and a little drunk?

— It was a relief that Gomez believed Jesse quickly and completely.  It’s important in case Walt’s video ever surfaces, but it would have been too tiring if he hadn’t.

— “Yeah, Mr. White is gay for me, everyone knows it” – Jesse

— “Jesse is not just some rabid dog.  He’s a person!” – Walt

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