The TV Box: Breaking Bad, S5E12: Rabid Dog

When was the last time you actually saw a pay phone anywhere?

There are spoilers ahead for those of you who are not completely caught up with Breaking Bad.  If you like spoilers… more power to you… if you don’t… stop reading now.  

“Whatever you think’s supposed to happen, I’m telling you the exact reverse opposite of that is going to happen.”

Can you believe there are only four episodes left of Breaking Bad?  In four hours, we will know the fates of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman… and since the beginning, these two have been connected in one form or another… and now, the fates of both men lie in the other.

The opening scene of Rabid Dog, Walt coming home after discovering that Jesse now knows about his poisoning of Brock, and finding his car parked in his driveway, was a masterclass in tension.  From Walt’s terrified entrance, to the fear of opening each door, to the remarkable score… Breaking Bad continually manages to out-do itself.  But to then go into flashback in the middle of the episode as the focus shifts from Walt’s perspective to Jesse’s, and the bombshell of seeing Jesse standing in Walt’s living room with his lighter as Hank bursts in gun drawn… wow… simply, wow.

When Jesse is later filling Hank and Gomez in on the reality of what it means to deal with Mr. White… that he is smarter than they are, that he has more luck than they do, and that whatever you think is going to happen, it won’t… the opposite will happen… Jesse is schooling these guys on what it means to be in the throes of a Walter White mind fuck, and Jesse is now figuring out how to beat the master at his own game (we still don’t quite know how… but I have faith that Vince Gilligan will let us know soon enough).

Contemplative Walt

What’s most interesting in this episode, is that there seems to be only one person who gives a rat’s ass about Jesse Pinkman.  Hank may want Jesse in order to get his man, but he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies… Skyler has never cared for him, but is now suggesting Walt kill him, which is quite a reversal on her part… and good ol’ Saul Goodman, even he sees the logic in giving Jesse an Old Yeller ending.  But it’s Walt who is doing everything he can to protect Jesse, even though Jesse is the ultimate loose end in terms of connecting him to Heisenberg… until Walt eventually has no choice, and makes that call to Todd in order to get Uncle Jack back into the game.

Walt… the man who has done everything he could to manipulate, cajole, and twist a poor strung out meth fiend to his bidding… is also the man who Hank can recognize as being the only person to care for Jesse.  Heartbreaking.  And to hear everything that Walt has done for Jesse over the years in such a mundane and bland fashion, reading events off a list, almost made me forget all of the bad he’s done.  This is the man who let his friend’s girlfriend choke on her own vomit instead of rolling her over… this is the man who put a gun in another man’s hands in order to murder an innocent man… and this is the man who brought Jesse back into the cook business after he was already out… not to mention poisoning his girlfriends son… and yet, I found myself sympathizing with Walt again.  How in the fuck does that happen??

Great writing, great acting, and great character development… that’s how.

Old Yeller?

There are plenty of details to this episode that I’m simply going to pass… I’ve been a bit under the weather for the last week, so I’m a bit behind on just about everything… but Rabid Dog was an absolutely amazing episode.

I’m specifically struck with the similarities between Walt and Hank at this point.  Two men who are almost blinded with pride.  Hank, who the moment he discovered who Heisenberg was, has been making bad snap decision after bad snap decision… and in this episode, not listening to what Jesse is actually saying in favor of simply getting all the details he can in order to exploit any possible gap in Walt’s unbreakable shield he has created around himself, and all the while, knowingly setting up Jesse for a fall.

Walt, doing everything he can to keep Jesse alive, even though it makes perfect sense to eliminate him from the picture.  As Skyler puts it, what’s one more?  But Walt cares for Jesse in his own screwed up and twisted way, and his belief that he can save him is what may end up being his undoing.

Even Jesse… he could have simply left for Alaska, but no… he has to have his revenge on the man who has done him so very wrong… who also happens to be the only person who cares about him.  Confused yet?

This is what great story-telling looks like.  What begins as a simple proposition, cook up some drugs to make a bunch of money before you die, ends as one of the more convoluted and complicated Greek tragedies to ever be told.  Who the heroes are, and who the villains are, is no longer relevant… they are all villains, and in some ways, they are all heroes… even Saul… but in the end, no one will win.

So… now that Hank does in fact know everything… what do you think his next move will be?  Will Jesse be able to dodge Uncle Jack?  Will Walt Jr. ever learn the truth behind his parents being drug-lords?  And most frighteningly of all… what is it that Jesse has in mind for how to take down Walt?  My fear is that it will involve Holly in some way as payback for Brock… but like Jesse said, whatever you think will happen… it will be the opposite.

There’s a another way to get him, a better way,
Cornelius J. Blahg 

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