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

  • Josh Kaye

    They also had what looked to be a Deadwood complete set just hanging out on the book shelf as well. I’m asking the same question about the CD…it’s gotta have some sort of purpose…doesn’t it?

    • spencer

      He was doing lines of coke off it

      • TheRealHeisenberg

        It was meth..Not coke! I don’t think coke has made an appearance a single time in this series…

      • Nerdgasm

        Dead Wood could just be an Easter Egg pointing at current Actor’s past work. “Skyler” Was in Dead Wood. Vince does like doing that stuff. He’s had several references from his time on XFiles.

    • stranger34

      Pretty cool! I missed the appearance of the Deadwood box set. Deadwood is my favorite original TV drama of all time although I would argue Breaking Bad is better objectively since it has been consistently excellent for a longer period of time. Breaking Bad will also get to conclude properly on it’s own terms.

      Also worth noting there are 2 Deadwood re-casts. Not just Anna Gunn but Walt’s black market gun dealer.

  • GreatShow

    Jesse used the cd to snort meth off of. Great review. I love this show way too much lol.

  • Gunslinger87

    He was snorting some drug off the cd be it meth or coke. Most people use a mirror or other reflective surfaces to snort cocaine.
    Couldn’t help but notice one of the books on the shelf being called “The Rat”. Also nice to see Hank has a good collection of Stephen King. I guess Under The Dome is on his nightstand.

  • Matt Goldberg

    My favorite thing about this episode (and there was a lot to like) was the way they photographed Saul. He has never been shot in that lighting before, and it was unnerving to see the show’s jester turned so dark.

    • junierizzle

      Yeah, and when he went into the Old Yeller bit IT was like something out of a Scorsese movie.

  • Harry

    “What’s one more?” Loved that line!

  • TheOneJoe

    After the end of last weeks episode (Confessions) I went back and watched the flash forward in Blood Money, and I really didn’t see anything to indicate a fire. I have no reasonable theory on what happens to the house other than it very obviously is abandoned and who knows from there.

    I think Skylar “broke bad” when she actually knew the money she was laundering wasn’t from gambling winnings, and now that the cat is out of the bag she’s ok with becoming Mrs. Heisenberg.

    Having Walt find the CD that Jesse did meth or coke off of was just their way of showing that Walt knew Jesse was using again.

  • junierizzle

    I thought it was a solid episode, just because something crazy doesn’t happen IT doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I already know some people will criticize it.

    I love this show. I know some people speculated that Jesse would turn on Walt and work with Hank, but no one saw that coming.

  • Faiz

    “He can’t keep getting away with it!!!!”

    That bloody statement sent chills down my spine. Another message by Aaron Paul to the Emmys, seriously this is his episode. It appears he has another plan in place and how it will react to Walt’s decision to hire Todd and his mercenaries might result in the Cold Open.

    Hank being my favourite character made me feel awful about him in this episode. He lost a lot of points from you-all-know-what.

  • OhDawg

    “Nothing wrong with this episode, it just was a building block. It had lots of great moments, though…” – That’s how I felt. The opening, the time jump and the final scene were great scenes, seeing Walt pathetically and unsuccessfully try to lie himself out of the Jesse situation to Junior and Skyler was just painful and uncomfortable. And I loved that Hank read Gomie in on what’s going on, even if I, like many others, would have liked to see Gomie’s reaction as hank told him about his brother in law.

  • Martini

    Quite funny: Jesse drinking out of a DEA coffee cup…

  • pinkincide

    I don’t get Skyler’s motivations now at all. Even if she’s ethically weak enough for her own mini Heisenberg transformation, she should be far too practical to think it’ll ever work out. They’ve clashed Walt’s gangster fantasy against her real world practicality too often for her sign up for the fantasy now. I really hope she’s working an angle.

  • LEM

    It annoys me that the big break between Jesse and Walt is based on the poisoning of Brock and not the death of Jane. Brock was never in real danger because Walt only made it seem like he was but Jane was allowed to die because of Walt and Jesse must still feel responsible for her death. They should have used that instead or even in conjunction with the poisoning.
    I liked them showing Hank acting as if he’s helping Jesse but just sees him as an expendable junkie yet Walt is the one who actually cares for him and was doing what he could to avoid his death. Jesse referring to himself as the only one as good as Walt as far as cooking the meth seemed interesting and since Todd still sucks I do think it will come in to play and makes me think that big gun Walt bought will be used rescuing Jesse from Todd and his uncle. I really just want Jesse to make it out alive because it will be really depressing to see him die after all that’s been done to him.

    • Lauren

      The chances of the Jane incident coming up are next to none BECAUSE Jesse has always blamed himself for her death. There were no witnesses, the only way he would ever find out about it is if Walt tells him…

      • LEM

        Yeah but the fact that he blames himself would add to the revelation of Walt being responsible and I would buy that as a better catalyst for Jesse helping Hank.

    • Harry Palm

      The kid still could’ve died.

      • LEM

        I don’t think so because didn’t Walt pick the poison because it mimics the effect of ricin but wasn’t lethal.

    • Nick

      I agree, Janes death was clearly worse but as it is now.. Walt may have to get Jesse out of hiding, he may want to tell him about Jane just to rile him up and expose him. I don’t think he called Todd to kill Jesse btw, I think Jesse makes it but its not a happy ending for anyone

    • kemo

      Not me. Jane and Jesse were going to OD and die. She had a choice and chose to use again. they could’ve flushed and got out of town. She made a poor decision that lead to her death.They would never have cleaned up after they got the money. Walt knew it and he was saving Jesse. She was in over head after she relapsed and needed Rehab. Junkies and lots of money lead to death.

  • Polarboy

    “Yeah, Mr. White is gay for me, everyone knows it” f**k did I laugh at this line, the juxtaposition with the seriousness of the situation was priceless. Also a lot of people were starting to think that Hank was perhaps one of the very few, if not only, noble characters of the main cast but this episode pretty much put paid to that. It would seem no one apart from Walt Jr is going to come out of this unblemished, but then given that he is so out of the loop it’s hard to count him as a main character.

  • Lauren

    With almost everyone out to kill Jesse I can’t help but think Marie is going to latch on to him. From the 1 scene they had together I think she sympathizes.

    Jesse even knows proper manners from growing up with his shitty fusspot parents! He could really use somebody to bat for him.

  • Nick

    I think this episode is so much more than a building block. They found a way to have Jesse team up with Hank, which last week would have pissed everyone off but now it just makes complete sense. We see hanks true colors, and for the first time this whole series, these two are actually willing to kill each other.

    I think this is a horrible sign for Walt’s family. All of them. Looks like Todd will be kidnapping Jesse, and the only reason Walt would be going back to rescue him, in my opinion is that he is the only family Walt has left. I’m wondering if, or when Saul ends up turning on Walt. He can’t stick with him for much longer, and he has suggested two hits that would have made life much simpler.

    • Nerdgasm

      Number I really don’t want to be a dick but your first paragraph what you did was explain exactly what a “Building Block Episode is” Nothing jaw dropping or story stopping happned this week. It was all to get characters set up in a position to let the hammer drop and really blow the pants off the audience. Which is what this episode was and you proved it with your explanation. Secondly I think Saul will turn on White but not in a “Lets put him in jail” kind of way but a “You are going to ruin this for all of us” and Saul will try and kill White but end up having that happen to him through White’s hands.

      • Julio

        Unless the planned spin-off with Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, I doubt Saul will end up dead.

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  • Tritium3H

    Hi Allison,
    I don’t think Walt’s house (in the flash-forward scene) showed evidence of a fire. I think it just was vandalized and in complete disrepair. I will have to check out that episode again…but I am pretty sure there were no signs of fire damage to the house. Great review, as always. Cheers.

    • seanmanband

      Yeah, the house was not burned down in the future flash forward, just abandoned…Between last weeks episode and this weeks I was wondering what was going to stop Jesse from lighting the match. I thought it was going to be Walter jr walking out of his room to find Jesse standing there about to burn his house down, that would have been a pretty crazy way for Walt Jr to find out about his dad; from his ‘other son’. But either way, great episode and cant wait to see what Jesse’s “better idea” is

  • theseeker7

    umm, I really don’t think the house EVER gets set on fire. In the flash forward, it hadn’t been burnt down, it was just derelict and abandoned.