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Breaking Bad “Rabid Dog” Review (5×12)

2 Sep

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“Deep down, he really loves me.”

This is a facetious line said in passing by Saul Goodman, but it is extremely interesting in the context of the other characters. For example, does Walt really care about Jesse? Deep down, do the experiences they’ve shared transcend the suffocating nature of Walt’s current situation? There’s no question that Walt has looked at Jesse as a son, but does he still? That’s something to be debated upon, but I’d argue that it isn’t until he picks up that phone, and the end credits roll, that he truly turns on Jesse. He’s been heading down a path in which his paternal feelings have become feelings of necessity, as his whole family’s been turning on him.

As for Jesse, all throughout this process, his mind is telling him that Walt doesn’t care at all. Walt’s burrowed deep into his brain, filling him with fear and paranoia. He doesn’t look at Heisenberg as a father figure, but he looks up at him; he believes that Walt’s the devil, capable of anything and everything. This is exactly what’s gnawing at his mind as he walks through that plaza, in a scene reminiscent of “Half Measures”: the same angle, the same expression on his face, and the same feeling of “This is the longest walk ever.” Everyone around him is appearing and disappearing, reflecting those “godlike” qualities he’s so afraid of. Then, he’s able to fixate his attention on one person, causing him to completely change his mind and threaten Walt over the phone. Sure, that creepy guy standing there in the plaza is a plot contrivance designed to increase tension, but it works because it gives Jesse a new direction to take.

Let’s back up a bit, though. The set up for that final sequence is extremely interesting; it’s full of conversation, but those conversations shake up the character dynamics. First, we see Walt trying to explain to Skyler and Walt Jr. why exactly gasoline is all over the floor. Then, we see Walt and Flynn bonding by the pool, and later, we see Walt continuing to avoid telling Skyler the truth. Heisenberg’s always been a cold, calculating man, capable of creating an elaborate plan months in advance. However, when he’s confronted by Flynn and Skyler in this episode, he’s shocked. He’s flustered. He’s confused as to why his lies aren’t being lapped up. He’s starting to crack. It’s chilling, though, that in the same episode that Skyler puts off confronting Walt because of the presence of Walt Jr., the father and the son get closer than ever before.

Then, we have Hank. He’s become embroiled in his quest, and he’s entirely willing to bring Jesse down if that means nabbing Heisenberg (ironic, isn’t it, how only Walt seems to care about Jesse in this episode?). His way of responding to Walt’s “confession” is to acquire a confession of his own. However, Jesse’s the voice of reason here. He has no legitimate proof of Walt’s criminal activities, and his full and honest confession has less of an effect than Walt’s “manipulating the truth” confession. We see two different men in these videos; Jesse’s slouched and mumbling, but Walt’s staring straight into the camera, exuding power and confidence.

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So, that brings us back to Jesse’s final decision. We don’t know what it will be. Perhaps he’ll claim to be Heisenberg, or perhaps he’ll move to Alaska and build a snow fort. One thing is for sure, though: Walter White cannot be a part of him any longer.

Grade: B+

Other thoughts:

-The episode is “Rabid Dog”, drawing comparisons to Season 4’s “Problem Dog.” It was an episode in which Jesse had to explain why he killed Gale, and this episode serves as a complete shift from that, as Jesse’s now the one being treated like a dog. Who is the dog? Jesse could be, but it can just as easily be Hank.

-“Okay, but, say, you know, just for the sake of argument, the kid’s not in the mood for a nuanced discussion of the virtues of child poisoning…”    Oh, Saul. You’re amazing.

-The shot of Jesse out cold in Hank’s bed is a powerful image. He’s lost, beaten down, and emotionally drained.

-Of course, he wakes up to a picture of Walt as Santa. His reaction to that is golden.

-When Jesse’s phone went off, I thought that we were going to get a montage of Marie making lasagna. Maybe next week.

-Marie goes to therapy, and we see more purple stuff.

-The directing of the show always impresses me, and Breaking Bad directors in particular are brilliant at “hallway shots.” The framing, the pull backs, and the zooms are pitch perfect, and I’d like to point out the scene after Jesse wakes up. He’s at one end of the hallway, and Marie’s at the other end. It’s a wonderful shot.

-The B+ doesn’t mean the episode is bad, but I think it does move a bit slow. However, that’s what piece-setting episodes do, and while the episode is less compelling than the last three, it sets up for what should be an explosive episode 5.

Credit to AMC and Breaking Bad for all pictures. I own nothing.

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