Breaking Bad recap: Rabid Dog
It had to happen. Among the 58 episodes of Breaking Bad that have aired so far, there had to be a clunker. Sure, there have been a few “filler” hours in the series’ run, but none that felt completely out of place like tonight’s “Rabid Dog.”
Beginning with Jesse’s ricin revelation last week, what follows in this episode seems to come straight out of long-running procedural that just needs the story to move along, disregarding any thought to careful plot lines.
The most exciting exposition comes at the end. Walt sits alone in his car and calls Todd to tell him he might have another job for Todd’s Uncle. We assume he means Jesse — who had just blown off an attempt at reconciliation, perhaps foolishly, with Mr. White, and basically declared war on Heisenberg. How Jesse came to this decision, though, was lazy and unfitting of an episode of Bad.
Jesse, who was wearing a wire for Hank, went to meet Walt — at Walt’s request — in a very public square. On the way to the meeting, Jesse saw a big, bald, scary looking dude watching Mr. White. Believing the bald guy to be Walt’s assassin, Jesse walks away from the square to a public telephone, and dials Mrs. White. “Nice try, asshole,” Jesse says. “I’m not doing what you want anymore, okay, asshole? This is just a heads up to let you know I’m coming for you. See I decided that burning down your house was nothing, next time I’m going to get you where you really live.” Jesse gets back into Hank’s car, telling the very upset DEA agent that “I’m thinking there’s another way, to get him, there’s another way. A better way.”
Walt is confused, walks away and passes by the bald guy, who was just there waiting for his daughter. Yep. Jesse mistook a random guy there to pick up his kid for a henchman of Walt’s. Honestly, it would have been better if it had been left ambiguous. (However, at least we do know that Walt didn’t have any intention of killing his protege — despite Saul and Skyler’s instructions — until now.)
“Rabid Dog” started with a promising scene. Walt pulls up to his house, sees Saul’s car crash-parked on his lawn. He fumbles around with his gun, walking through his currently not-burned-down-but-soaked-in-gasoline house, nervously pointing his firearm ahead of him, like he’s play-acting a scene in a cop movie. He doesn’t find Jesse after sweeping through the rooms. He goes outside, with the sound of Saul’s car door ringing ominously like Hector Salamanca. Walt finds a CD on the dashboard, covered in a white substance that is probably not white chocolate. Has Jesse fallen off the wagon?
While Huell and Kuby look for Jesse and watch over the White family, Walt leaves a message for Jesse on his phone. He thanks him for changing his mind, and asks to talk. He ends his message with “Be safe.” He does still care about his former partner.
Walt has a crew cleaning the carpet. They tell him the gasoline has soaked through, and it will be impossible to rid the house of the smell in the few hours before Skyler gets home — Walt’s ultimate timeline. Walt tries a plan B. He takes his clothes off in his backyard — and we’re treated to another shot of those glorious tighty-whities — and soaks his shirt and pants in gasoline. In the next scene, Skyler comes home, and we get what might be the worst Walter White lie ever. Yes, it’s even worse than the fugue state claim he used as cover for his kidnapping at the hands of Tuco.
NEXT: Pump malfunctions and more euphemisms
Walt explains to Junior and Skyler that there was a pump malfunction at the gas station, which covered him in gasoline. In his hurried attempts to get himself cleaned, he left his clothes on the floor in the living room, Walt says — his nose growing visibly while he weaves his tale.
Walt Jr. just wants his dad to tell the truth. The cancer caused him to faint, didn’t it? Walt clings to his terrible lie — it was a pump malfunction, he insists. Walt says that they can’t stay here. Junior suggests they ask to stay with Hank and Marie. “Hey, what about a hotel?” Walt counters.
Cut to Walt sitting in dark car with Kuby and Saul. Saul wants Walter to kill Jesse. “We were wondering if this isn’t an Old Yeller type situation,” Saul says. “Old Yeller?” Walt asks. “Yeah, Old Yeller was the best, most loyal dog there ever was. Everybody loved that mutt. But one day he showed up rabid and little Timmy, for Old Yeller’s sake, had to, well, you saw the movie. “You’re full of colorful metaphors, aren’t you Saul? Belize. Just brimming with advice. Do not float that idea again. Find him,” Walt admonishes. Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, Walt believes Jesse is family. And like Hank before, Walt won’t kill his family — at least not yet. (SEMI-UNECESSARY UPDATE: I forgot to note that Saul is mixing up his dog owners. Timmy owned Lassie; Travis owned Old Yeller.)
In the extremely fancy hotel room, Skyler pours herself a glass of vodka. She is not amused. She let Walt get away with his lie back home, for Junior’s sake. She knows they are in danger, that someone would be knocking at their door one day. Walt asks her if she remember Jesse Pinkman, and tells her that he was the one who broke in and poured the gasoline everywhere. Walt says that Jesse changed his mind.
“What’s your course of action,” Skyler asks. “I’m going to talk to him, make him see sense,” Walt says. “So I’m clear, these are just euphemisms you’re using,” she counters. “What does that mean?” Walt says incredulously. “Walt, you need to deal with this,” she tells him. Like Saul, she wants her husband to kill Jesse. Something Walter is reluctant to do. “This is a big overreaction,” he says. “Jesse isn’t just some rabid dog, this is a person.” “A person that is a threat to us, I mean my God, where we are now with Hank and Marie and that awful tape we made, after everything we’ve done, you can’t just talk to this person,” Skyler says.
“What exactly are you saying,” Walt says, his eyes reddened with tears. “We’ve come this far for us, what’s one more?” she quietly cries.
Coming on the heels of Anna Gunn’s “I have a character issue” op-ed in the New York Times, Skyler’s actions here fan the flames of Skyler hate. Although Skyler has slowly been completing her transition into Lady Macbeth, her speech sets out to make her the bad guy, with her husband playing the part of the pacifist.
So why did Jesse back out of his plans to burn the White home down? We get another time jump. It’s back to the house, with Jesse pouring the gasoline. He takes his lighter and sets a magazine on fire. He’s about to drop it, when Hank appears out of nowhere, and offers him salvation. How did Hank show up at the exact right moment? Perhaps it was the dome. (But really, Hank has been following Jesse since Goodman’s — probably since he canceled his appointment last episode.)
NEXT: The war begins
A distraught Jesse screams that Walt can’t keep getting away with this. Hank assures him he won’t. “You really want to burn him down? Let’s do it together.” Jesse goes with Hank, who takes him home. (Incidentally, Hank and Jesse drive away right as Walt pulls up — what we saw at the beginning of the hour.)
Attempting to get Marie to leave for the weekend, Hank packs her suitcases. When she finds out why — Hank is harboring Pinkman because he can’t put him in the system or Walt will find out — she is surprisingly okay with it, as long as it is bad for Walt. The Lambert sisters are definitely cut from the same cloth. She offers to heat up some food, and notes that the phone’s ringing. It’s Jesse’s, and Hank listens to Walt’s message from before., leading Hank to hatch a plan.
Hank brings Gomez over, and they decide to tape Jesse’s confession. “It’s just my word against his word kind of stuff. I don’t really have proof or anything,” Jesse says. “You’re never going to catch him with a camcorder.” “We’re going to catch him, we’re just going to do this first,” Hank says. “Just tell us your story, okay? Start from the beginning.” “I first met Mr. White, Walter White, in junior year chemistry. He was my teacher,” Jesse spits out.
After Jesse finishes his story off-camera, Hank takes Gomez out onto the porch. Gomez believes Jesse, but reiterates what Pinkman says. There’s no physical evidence, what are they supposed to do? Hank wants to send Jesse to meet Walt at the plaza, with a wire. Jesse balks at the idea — Walt will just kill him. Hank plays on Jesse’s insecurities, telling Jesse Walt cares for him. Jesse is not moved. Hank says he and Gomez will be there to protect him. “You two guys are just guys. Mr. White, he’s the devil. He’s smarter than you, he’s luckier than you. Whatever is supposed to happen, the exact opposite is going to happen,” Jesse yells. Hank says they are going with his plan.
When Jesse leaves the room, Gomez wonders if Jesse is right? What if Walter just kills him? Hank doesn’t care. “Then, we will get it all on tape.” Poor Jesse. It looks like Walter is the only one who cares about him.
Of course Jesse is right to go after Walt — Walt certainly deserves no sympathy. But Jesse’s actions in this instance are certainly misguided, even though the last bit of hope for a truce between Jesse and Walt vanished in “Confessions.”
Other things of note:
Marie is wearing black again — she’s lost her lust for purple.
If Gale was the “problem dog” and Jesse is the “rabid dog,” what kind of dog is Walt?
The pool scene in the photo is from the hotel, when Walt comforts his son. But just when is Walt Jr. going to find out about his father? Besides Jane and how the show itself ends, it’s one of the last big reveals that has yet to come.
Speaking of Jane, it would be a tragedy if Jesse realizes Walt let her die in a similar way that he realized Walt poisoned Brock.
NECESSARY UPDATE: Along with how Jesse figured out that Walt poisoned Brock, both Hank’s magical appearance at the White house just as Jesse was about to burn it down and the mistaken identity of the bald dude felt forced and trite. Bad does a disservice to its actors — who went a long way to make this derivative episode watchable — and its audience when plot points just work themselves out so easily.
Did anyone originally think the bald dude looked a little like Mike? I thought Jesse — who is probably back on coke — was hallucinating. The second time the guy was shown, though, proved that wasn’t the case.
Finally, Jesse is going to go after Walt’s family, right? That’s where Walt “really lives.”
With only four episodes of Breaking Bad left, are you worried that this episode might throw the entire series off track? Hopefully it’s just a blip, and none of us rabid fans will have to be put down like Old Yeller when it ends.
Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.