Breaking Bad – “Rabid Dog”: The Devil and Mr. Pinkman

Breaking Bad: Season 5

“Rabid Dog”

Aired: September 2, 2013

Writer: Sam Catlin

Director: Sam Catlin

“Mr. White? He’s the Devil. He is smarter than you. He is luckier than you. Whatever you think is supposed to happen, I’m telling you, the exact reverse opposite is going to happen.”

– Jesse Pinkman

Climbing out of the van in the climactic scene of this week’s episode, Jesse Pinkman is convinced he’s headed to his execution. He’s refused Walt’s offer to start a new life for himself somewhere far away, then followed that up with breaking into the guy’s house and dousing the carpet with gasoline. He’s seen how Mike, Gus, Tuco and everyone else who has been at odds with Walt’s objectives have either been taken out directly by Walt or by Walt’s good fortunes. In his mind, he’s just the final obstacle blocking Walt’s path to freedom.

The irony is that Walt is the only person who is concerned with saving Jesse’s life. Saul finds a new colorful metaphor to suggest taking Jesse out (this time, it’s by envoking Old Yeller). Skyler – taking the “in for a penny, in for a pound” approach – tries to talk Walt into taking one more life to protect them from danger. And Hank, the guy who saves Jesse from burning down the Whites’ house, openly tells Gomez that Jesse being killed could actually be a good thing for them, since it would give them something concrete to prosecute Walt for.

Walt let Jane die, poisoned Brock and talked Jesse into killing Gail all in order to keep things running smoothly. He is, at times, a ruthless bastard. But he cares about family and about his legacy. To him, Jesse represents both of those things. He strives to be a father figure to Jesse, often calling him “son” and doling out paternal advice to the troubled younger man. And Jesse is the only person left (besides possibly Saul) who knows the full extent of Walt’s criminal actions and can keep Heisenberg’s legacy alive. He’s the only one who has been there for all of that, witnessing the birth of a drug kingpin firsthand.

But Jesse doesn’t know that, of course. He honestly seems blindsided by Hank’s suggestion that Walt has a soft spot for him (laughing it off with “Yeah, Mr. White’s gay for me! Everybody knows that!”). And, coincidentally enough, it’s his Jesse’s undervaluing of Walt’s true feeling for him that saves Heisenberg to fight another day. One can only assume that on that park bench, Walt was ready to do whatever he could to talk his way out of this latest problem. He would most likely try to manipulate Jesse into seeing why he had to poison Brock and why they were both better off for it. Walt is clueless as to why Jesse stopped short of burning his house down. He can only assume it is because Jesse had a change of heart at the last moment. Walt would never suspect that Jesse was wearing a wire and that Hank was listening just a few feet away. It would have been his undoing. But instead, he is saved because Jesse sees an intimidating-looking bald man (and, on this show, bald usually is shorthand for “scary dude”) and he bails at the last minute. Jesse turns out to be prophetic in his warning that the “exact reverse opposite” of what was expected would occur, though its ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I wonder how convincing Walt would have been anyway. This was an episode that continually showed just how bad of a liar Walt can be when backed into a corner. His story about spilling gasoline on himself because of a faulty pump fools no one. (You know things aren’t going well for him when even Junior is calling him out on his lies.) His performance is so suspicious that Skyler follows him and catches him in a second lie when he tries to say he was out getting ice when he was really meeting with Saul. It wasn’t his finest day as a criminal mastermind.

We will have to wait and see what Jesse’s new plan to catch Walt red-handed is and how well it will work. The problem is that Jesse tipped his hand and, after much reluctance, Walt finally enlists the help of Todd’s uncle to send Jesse to Belize. Hank did get a small victory this week in enlisting the help of Jesse (and it certainly lifted Marie’s spirits), but for now all he has is Jesse’s word against Walt’s, which still is basically nothing. (I did love the symmetry in Hank getting a second taped confession this week that, unlike last week’s video, is actually true.) And he’s brought Gomez in, which puts a clock on his quest to bring down Walt; he’ll have to bring the rest of the DEA up to speed sooner rather than later.

This episode wasn’t as frantically-paced and wall-to-wall tense as the previous outings have been this season, but it still worked quite well. I loved the way they structured the two scenes at the Whites’ house – showing us Walt arrive first, then jumping back to show what happened to Jesse. I loved everything involving Marie, from her researching poisons to her being the most accommodating host ever to the two-bit drug user/dealer who could potentially bring Walt down. And the tension of that final scene, as Jesse slowly approached Walt sitting on that bench, was fantastic. Another great outing as we hit the home stretch.

And another thing …

  • Hank is able to intercept Jesse because he follows him from Saul’s office. The only reason Hank is the one following Jesse is because Gomez pulled the detail Hank had assigned to watch Saul’s office last week when Hank declined to explain why they were there. If Gomez hadn’t pulled them, they would have been the ones following Jesse to Walt’s house. I wonder what would have happened then.
  • I knew that Marie likes purple, but wow, she really likes purple.
  • Speaking of Marie, her untraceable poison of choice was saxitotoxin, which sounds reminiscent of the poison Harrison Ford’s character uses in What Lies Beneath. If only someone told her about ricin (and the vial of it hidden behind a certain electrical socket).
  • I can’t decide which of Saul’s delusions amused me more: that he shouldn’t have canceled his dojo membership or else he would have been able to handle Jesse or that, deep down, Jesse loves him.
  • Walt tighty whities once again make an appearance. I’m glad the writers are making the most out of these final eight episodes.
  • Is it just me or did Walt’s gun thaw awful fast. I’m not sure how far the house is from the car dealership, but that thing was a solid block of ice last week.

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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