Breaking Bad‘s final season so far has been a non-stop flow of revelations, twists, tension and of course, cliffhangers. Can this week’s episode, titled Rabid Dog, continue the momentum?
Rabid Dog began minutes after that cliffhanger from last week, with Walt coming home to find his house empty, but soaked with gasoline. Jesse’s clearly changed his mind – but how and what would do that? And when Skyler and Walt Jr. arrive home to find a floor soaked with gasoline, Walt dipped into his book of terrible lies, claiming that er… he accidentally sprayed gasoline over himself, drove home and left his gasoline-soaked clothes on the floor for the rest of the day. It was pointed out on last week’s Talking Bad that Walt’s a terrible liar when it comes to Skyler, and this is no different, with Skyler seeing right through his patchy lies instantly (poor Walt Jr. keeps assuming everything’s to do with Walt’s cancer… oh dear).
Interestingly enough, despite Walt’s increasingly awful acts and manipulations, he’s got a taboo a mile wide against people he cares about – and when Saul (the master of murder-related metaphors), follows up the ‘send Hank to Belize’ suggestion with the idea of putting Jesse down like Old Yeller, the rabid dog, Walt practically bites his head off. Saul’s a cheerfully crooked bright light of Breaking Bad – and with all the angst and inter-family wars, he’s proving to be an essential element in keeping the show’s layer of black comedy among Hank’s quest to bring Walt down and Jesse’s downward spiral.
Speaking of Jesse’s downward spiral, another character who’s fallen an awfully long way since the pilot is Skyler, the once-dweller of the moral high ground reduced to asking Jesse to be killed. Skyler was once terrified of Walt’s murdering and meth-cooking ways, but after her entrance into the criminal world, she’s practically the female Heisenberg (or, to use the best pun ever created on the internet, Skysenberg) – ordering deaths, even in the name of family, was once Walt’s job, but now there’s a new Heisenberg in town – and she’ll do just as much to protect her family as Walt would (prediction: Skyler will cook meth with Ted Beneke by the end of the season).
But back to our favourite ex-meth cook junkie, Jesse. As it turns out, Jesse wasn’t stopped by Walt Jr. or Holly as some people had been predicting, but Hank, who offers to ally with Jesse to bring Walt down. Hank is well known to despise Jesse (the beat down in Season 3 for example), so his alliance with Jesse is just another example of the increasingly desperate Hank’s attempts to bring down Walt… by any means possible. Jesse’s brought into the Schrader household, and before long he’s plonked before a video camera and ready to record an account of his history with Walt. Interestingly enough, (and sadly off-screen) Hank has let his DEA pal Gomez in on the secret, and they’re ready to work with Jesse to bring Walter White crashing down to Earth.
Walt, who still actually cares about Jesse (and this is Walt, who cares about three people in the entire world), calls to arrange a meeting in Albuquerque’s most public square – and of course, Hank jumps at the idea and is soon insisting Jesse wears a wire, but the increasingly paranoid Jesse is a little nervous about the possibility of Walt trying to kill him (in a public square in broad daylight… Jesse logic for you). Hank reassures him, but confesses afterwards to Gomie that he doesn’t really care if Walt kills Jesse so long as they get it all on tape. Breaking Bad‘s never truly had bad guys, but Hank’s Heisenberg-esque (Hankenberg?) move is a brave idea from the writers that shows just how desperate Hank is to take down the great Heisenberg, no matter what cost to anyone else. Funnily enough, it almost puts Walt back into his early-season role of unlikely protagonist… is that where he’ll stay until show’s end?
It all seems set up for a textbook incrimination of Walt – Jesse captures Walt confessing to his crimes on tape and sends them to Hank who would then have rock solid evidence – but of course, the rabid dog himself, Jesse, puts a spanner in the works. Seeing a threatening looking bald guy standing near Walt and assuming him to be a hitman, Jesse peels off and heads to a payphone, where he calls Walt. In a chilling threat (Aaron Paul is on his A-game this episode with another fantastic, Emmy-calibre performance), Jesse tells Walt he’ll get him where he ‘really lives’. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Walt’s really talking about – Skyler and Walt Jr., beware. You have a very angry Jesse on the way.
And finally, Walt, who’s cared about Jesse for longer than anyone else, finally relinquishes his affection and calls Todd to arrange a hit on Jesse with his Nazi uncle. It’s another fantastic cliffhanger from Breaking Bad – with the lives of major characters at stake and only four episodes left, anyone could kick the bucket at any moment. And with the Nazis now again linked with Walt, the stage is set for my M60/Nazi gang theory to come true. Denny’s, the M60 and the ricin seem far away now, but they might be just around the corner…
Overall, Rabid Dog is a slightly weaker episode of Breaking Bad, lacking the true momentum Confessions offered in spades. But with a plethora of great character moments and a barnstorming cliffhanger, the stage is set for a truly unpredictable final half of the final season.
Tune in next Monday, where I’ll be reviewing episode thirteen, To’hajiilee. And no, I can’t make a pun about this one. Bugger.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Louis Rabinowitz (@SadCyberman) is a fan of quite a lot of things, but mainly Doctor Who, Breaking Bad, Marvel, James Bond and Grand Theft Auto. He also really likes puns and cliches, which is why he’s talking about himself in the third person.