‘Breaking Bad’ Review: ‘Rabid Dog’
Characters make an unlikely alliance in this week’s episode of “Breaking Bad.”
After the insane final moments of last week’s episode, the heart-pounding cold open of “Rabid Dog” (literally, my heart was pounding) began with Walt pulling up in his neighborhood and stopping down the block from his house. Sitting in his car, he checks out the house, where Saul’s car (stolen by Jesse) is still parked in the driveway. His gun drawn, Walt cautiously hops over the fence and sneaks in through the back door. He notices the gasoline that Jesse dumped onto the floor. He slowly continues down the hall, checking all the other rooms. He then enters the bedroom (the camera pulling down the hall in a great shot), before he comes back out. Jesse is gone. He then goes outside to check the car in the driveway, but only finds a CD off of which Jesse seems to have done a line. Jesse is back on drugs.
When the show properly begins, Huell is picking up Saul’s car, as a carpet cleaner and a locksmith is inside the house, cleaning up Jesse’s mess (so someone else kicks the door in later. Looks like Jesse’s not the only one who wants to kick that door down). With Kuby guarding the car wash, Walt tells Huell to swing by Walt Jr.’s school before the manhunt for Jesse begins. Walt calls Jesse and leaves a voicemail begging him to call him. Walt then goes inside as he tries to ensure that the house is back to normal before the family gets home, but the cleaners are having trouble getting rid of the smell of gasoline.
With little time and no other options, Walt has to come up with another one of his wild explanations. He soaks his clothes and his car seat in gasoline, and when Skyler gets home that night, he begins another performance of the “I’m just clumsy old Walt” show. As he describes a faux gas pump malfunction incident, Skyler looks suspicious, but it was actually Walt Jr. who calls BS on his father’s tale, attributing it to Walt fainting. Walt manages to swing the conversation around in favor of the family staying at a hotel, which manages to distract the family for the time being.
Walt meets Kuby and a beaten-up Saul later that night in the parking lot of the hotel. They’ve searched everywhere, but they can’t find Jesse. Walt asks about Jesse’s buddies, Beaver and “what’s his name” aka Badger and Skinny Pete (wait, he still doesn’t know their names?), who have apparently graduated from talking about “Star Trek” to “Babylon 5,” based off of the wires Kuby has installed in their places. Even they seem to be in the dark on Jesse’s whereabouts. Saul then asks Walt what his plan is for Jesse, likening him to “Old Yeller,” hence the episode’s title (which is always fun for me, to see where the title derives from). Walt makes it very clear that he has no plans to harm Jesse, which came as a huge relief to me. I’m sure I’m not the only one that doesn’t want that to happen.
When he gets back to their room, Skyler lets Walt know that she’s not buying his story either and she demands that he tells her the truth. Surprisingly, he actually does, leaving out the whole poisoning a child thing, of course. He tries to convince her that Jesse is not a threat, but as expected, Skyler shifts into full-on panic mode. What is not expected is that Skyler seems to be of a similar mind to Saul. She says, “We’ve come this far. For us. What’s one more?” I thought this scene displayed from powerful acting from Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn. I loved how you could hear the hurt in his voice and his eyes just beginning to well up as he made her say what she was asking him to do. I think at this point, it’s pretty clear that Jesse is the one person outside of his family that Walt still genuinely cares for, and he will try to find any way possible of not killing him.
While this episode didn’t start off from the exact moment where the last one left off, we finally get to see what happened with Jesse as the second act begins–and I was cool with that, because it provided suspense up until see him again. We jump back to earlier in the day as Jesse breaks into the White house, fully intentded to burn it down, but it wasn’t a change of heart that stopped him from doing so. It was good ol’ Hank Schrader, who followed him from Saul’s office. Hank enters with a gun on Jesse and tells him not to do it. Jesse then tells Hank that Walt poisoned Brock and that he shouldn’t get away with it, and just like an old school Marvel Team-Up, the two decide to join forces to take down the big bad Heisenberg. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the teaming of Jesse and Hank. It’s an intriguing pairing, but I fear where it may lead.
Hank gets Jesse in his car (he even buckles his seat belt for him, which I thought was sweet, considering their history), and they manage to get out of there just seconds before Walt pulls up. In the car, Jesse and Hank discuss where this plan will take them. Hank soon realizes that taking him to the DEA would not be the best course of action.
Elsewhere, Marie is in the middle of a therapy session. Her doctor knows that someone close has betrayed her, but he doesn’t know whom. He tries to get to get her to tell him more details, but she refuses. Marie does reveal that she has been looking up untraceable poisons on the Internet, and even has “a strong contender” for which one she might use. He tries to convince her that violence isn’t an answer (he should have a talk with just about everybody else in this show), and she says that she wouldn’t really hurt anyone, but “it just feels good to think about it.” I have a morbid fascination with seeing how dark each character can get as this show goes on, and now even the somewhat ditzy Marie is getting pulled towards the dark side.
When she returns home, she is met with her bags packed and Hank urging her to get away for a few days. He tells her that there’s been a development with his case. She presses him and he tells her that Jesse, who is passed out in the guest room, is staying there. He explains that their house is the safest place for him. The only thing she wants to know is if this is bad for Walt. When Hank says yes, she gives him her complete consent. I enjoyed the smug look on her face as she walks away, saying, “Phone’s ringing.” She couldn’t be happier that things aren’t looking too good for her brother-in-law. Hank rushes into the other room, and retrieves Jesse’s ringing phone. He listens to the voicemail that Walt left for him.
Back to later that night, Walt is sitting by the hotel pool, when Walt Jr. comes in. He is worried about his father, who tries to assure him that everything is okay. This touching scene was probably my favorite Walt Jr. scene thus far, but I hope it’s soon surpassed when he finally learns of his father’s other life. I want to see what this young actor is capable of handling. When his son is gone, Walt makes another call to Jesse.
The next morning, Jesse wakes up in the guest room. It’s very strange seeing Jesse in Hank’s house. He comes out and spots Marie down the hallway. I loved this moment, because I always like to see Jesse interacting with the members of Walt’s family (I long for him to meet Walt Jr., the son of the man who has been a father figure for him). Jesse joins Hank and his old partner Gomez in the living room, where Hank is setting up a camera. Marie brings them all coffee (Jesse’s in a DEA mug, which was a nice touch), before taking off, leaving them to get down to business.
Jesse points out that he can tell them everything, but without any evidence, it’s just his word against Walt’s. Hank doesn’t want to hear it, and he tells him to sit down and start talking. It cuts away just after Jesse says that he met Mr. White when he was his high school chemistry teacher. I know it would be too time consuming for him to just tell us what we already know, but I would love to see that entire tape and hear the whole story in Jesse’s words. I hope we get to see more of it in later episodes or it would even be cool as a DVD special feature. [Update: According to creator Vince Gilligan on the "Breaking Bad" Insider Podcast, this video, as well as Walt's confession from last week's episode, will both be included as bonus features on the Blu-Ray and DVD when it comes out. Well played, Gilligan. Always one step ahead of me.]
After listening to Jesse’s side of the story, Hank and Gomez step out onto the patio, where Gomez sides with Jesse about their need for physical evidence. Hank agrees and shows him where they can start: with the latest voicemail Walt left on Jesse’s phone. Back inside, Hank plays the voicemail for Jesse. Walt has invited Jesse to meet him in a public place so that they can speak. Hank and Gomez urge Jesse to go, and to wear a wire. Jesse tries to convince them that it is a bad idea, but they keep insisting. Hank tries to point out that, based on all of the evidence in Jesse’s testimonial, Walt might actually care for him. Jesse insists that “Mr. White is the devil,” but they tell him that this is their only option. When Jesse excuses himself to go to the bathroom, Hank and Gomez discuss the possibility of Jesse being right about the dangers of meeting with Walt. Hank thinks that losing Jesse would be worth it if they could catch Walt doing it. Way to pick your allies there, Jesse.
Later, Jesse is in the van with Hank, who is setting up the wire. Gomez is elsewhere, watching from afar in another van, with a camera pointed at Walt. Jesse nervously gets out and makes his way towards Walt, but as he approaches him from behind, he spots a suspicious-looking man lurking nearby who seems to be staring right at him. Thinking that the man could be a hired gun, Jesse retreats. He goes to a nearby payphone, where he calls Walt to tell him that he isn’t falling for anything. He tells him that he has decided burning down his house wasn’t enough. He has bigger plans for him. Jesse hangs up on him and takes off. As it turns out, when Walt is walking away, we see that the suspicious man was just waiting for his daughter.
Jesse hops back in the van with a fuming Hank, who asks why he didn’t stick to the plan. Jesse confidently tells him that he has a better way to get at Walt. I fear for what Jesse has in store for Walt, but after all of the messed up stuff that he knows about Walt doing (and some that he doesn’t), it’s hard to say that Walt doesn’t have it coming. I only hope his plan doesn’t end up backfiring or getting anyone else killed. It probably will though, knowing this show.
In the final moments of the episode, Walt gets into his car, where he makes a disturbing phone call. On the other end is the child-murderer Todd, who he tells that he has a job for his uncle. Walt might not have planned on killing Jesse in the plaza, but it doesn’t look like that is the case any longer. To quote Walt in the teaser for next week’s episode, I have a bad feeling about this.
There was a lot of great stuff in this episode, and some things that make me really nervous for the well being of all parties involved. I love that the characters in “Breaking Bad” are constantly evolving. It’s interesting to see them change over time, even in as little time as the span of an episode, where in this case, it seems Walt has come to Skyler and Saul’s way of thinking, that Jesse has to be put down. Skyler, Marie and Walt Jr. all made big jumps in this episode as well. Skyler and Marie have made a turn for the darker, while it seems Walt Jr. might be beginning to suspect there is something his parents are not telling him.
Writer Sam Catlin made his directorial debut with this episode, and I have to say, he did a great job. I never would’ve guessed that it was his first. There were quite a few well-shot sequences, such as the cold open (with the shot of the bedroom door knob as Walt opens it and then the camera pulling away as he goes in and comes back out), Jesse’s attempt to burn down the White house, the father-son poolside chat, and even the final scenes with Jesse going to meet up with Walt.
When all is said and done, this was another excellent episode to add to the show’s untarnished reputation. With every episode, we get closer and closer to what I’m assuming will be an explosive conclusion, but as this season goes on, I’m happy to still find myself being shocked each week. Even after almost 60 episodes, I can never figure out where the writers are going with this show, and that is definitely a good thing. It is what keeps me tuning in each week to find out. Can it be next Sunday already?