The dog bites back: Breaking Bad 05×12 ‘Rabid Dog’ Review

How do you solve a problem like Pinkman?

Suppose it’s an Old Yeller situation” Saul Goodman 05×12 ‘Rabid Dog

There are many lines Walter White has crossed during his transformation into the monster known as Heisenberg. These days murder isn’t something he spends hours agonizing over, gone are the days when pros and cons lists are needed. If slaughtering a bunch of potential witnesses or killing rivals means he gets to live another day, gets to show everyone how powerful he is then so be it.

Yet in Rabid Dog Walter spends the entire episode desperately trying to convince everyone that killing Jesse Pinkman is not an option. He refuses to even consider it, even when both Saul and Skyler point out what a risk he is to them. It is the one line he will not cross.

Just why is Walter so determined to see his former partner, sometime son and regular punch bag live? To a certain extent he does love Jesse, through all that manipulation and abuse he cares for the young man (even if he is responsible for the majority of hell Jesse has been through). Hank seems convinced by this (and it turns out he is actually right Walter wasn’t planning on killing Jesse during their meeting – once again Hank’s chance of victory slips away) but Jesse is not. He is the dog that has been kicked around by its owner once too often and he is about to bite back big time.

I’m the bad guy” Jesse Pinkman 03×01 ‘No Más’

Whilst Walter does genuinely on some level care for Jesse there is always that side of Walter that refuses to admit he is the villain. By telling Saul et al that he won’t kill Jesse he is trying to convince himself that he isn’t capable of such an act. For Walter murdering Jesse would mean admitting he is the bad guy and whilst he relishes the reputation he has as Heisenberg he still won’t entirely acknowledge just how awful he has become.

Jesse is in many ways the final piece of Walter’s conscious and for now at least the only moral compass left on the show (outside of true innocents like the White children). Rabid Dog shows just how much every character is breaking bad this season because of the consequences of Walter’s horrific actions, because they have run out of options, because they are as desperate and beaten down by it all.

Hank is in full on revenge mode and his tendency to a world class asshole is shining through – I’m not going to excuse his behaviour especially his incredibly dismissive attitude towards Jesse but I can certainly understand why he is acting that way. Hank is backed into a corner and wants to beat Walter no matter what – it isn’t just because Walter is a bad man that needs to be stopped but because he thinks he is above the law and beyond the reach of Hank. Hank has to be the one to bring Walter down because his pride has been wounded.

Marie whose previous crimes have been kleptomania and excessive love of purple now daydreams about poisoning Walter. I loved the scene with her therapist Dave who is used to hearing about his patient complain about parking rules at work rather than pondering murder. Like her husband Marie dreams of revenge and its incredible to see just how much Walter’s actions has corrupted those around him.

Skyler flirts between hating everything they have done to embracing it because she sees no way out and maybe she doesn’t want to admit to herself that the chances of having a happy ending for her children is zero. She clings to that final hope that Walt, Jr and Holly won’t ever find out and will instead be financially secure and happy. Delusion is a common trait in the White family.

Nice try asshole” Jesse Pinkman 05×12 ‘Rabid Dog

Whilst everyone else breaks bad Jesse finally breaks free of his fears and crippling depression (and least for now). After the gasoline rage breakdown of last week’s episode and the drug fuelled mess Hank finds him in during Rabid Dog Jesse finds himself once again being used and manipulated only this time by Hank. Jesse is far from convinced that his confession will actually do anything to burn Walter to the ground and is not happy about having to meet Walter even in a public place.

So when it came to the meeting I was nervous, I thought Breaking Bad could kill Jesse off because final season time means no one is safe. The meeting though played out perfectly. Jesse may have been wrong – Walter wasn’t there to kill him but the result was so damn satisfying. The sensible approach would have been to have gathered the evidence via the wire tap  yet I could not help but smile at watching Jesse full of life and conviction as he played both Walter and Hank. It was amazing  watching him form a plan that will hurt Walter where he lives and seeing him walking away confident – something we haven’t seen for a while. Sadly more than ever this play by Jesse means I can’t see him surviving the season but if he is going to die I’m glad he is doing it on his own terms and taking control of the situation for once.

Everything is being set up for a glorious showdown because Jesse’s act whilst fantastic for him personally means that Walter has finally crossed the line he refused to all episode, all season. He can no longer pretend to protect Jesse, he has to kill the young man he sees as a son. Interestingly though and in typical Walter fashion it looks like he is bringing in Todd and Uncle Jack to do the dirty deed.

Still Walter likes to believe he is the good guy, some delusions never die.

Further Observations

+ I’ve read complaints about this episode which claim it was slower paced and not a lot happened but I spent the first 20 odd minutes wondering where Jesse was and then the final 10 worrying about his immediate future. I personally found it intense but then I probably care about fictional characters way too much.

+ Walter’s lie to cover up the gasoline was comedy gold, Skyler and Walt, Jr both disbelieve the story for different reasons. It is always fun to see Walter bullshit his way through every day situations.

+ What could Jesse’s plan be? I love Zack Handlen’s theory that Jesse could pretend to be Heisenberg knowing how much Walter values his reputation

+ Again with Walter always wanting to be right even when he is so wrong, getting oh so righteous over Skyler spying on him!

+ Shout out to all the Walter/Jesse fans “Mr. White’s gay for me!

+ I really liked the scenes at the Schrader household especially Marie getting to meet Jesse and also how Steve is now in on it all – at least Hank has one ally.

+ Badger and Skinny Pete discussing sci-fi would be a better show than the often cringe worthy Talking Bad. I long for their views on Farscape.

+ Death Count: Seriously no one is dead, this makes me deliriously happy but the tension is becoming unbearable.

+ Todd Watch: Off screen this week but back in the Walter White Inner Circle of Doom. I hope Jesse kills him. I really do.

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