‘Rabid Dog’, the name of the latest ‘Breaking Bad’ episode, is an allusion to ‘Old Yeller’. In this case, Jesse Pinkman is the rabid dog, and it appears that the two may share a similar fate, as communication and understanding have completely broken down between characters on the show.
Walt comes home to find a car parked haphazardly in his driveway. His house has been doused with gasoline, but Jesse is nowhere to be found . Later, Walt instructs Huell to check on Walt, Jr. at his school. He thinks that Jesse might be unhinged enough to do Junior harm. Walt has his carpets cleaned in a failed attempt to hide the smell of gasoline from his family. He leaves a voicemail message for Jesse telling him that he wants to fix things.
Yet again, Walt strips to his briefs (enough, already!) poolside. He soaks his clothes in gasoline to try to convince Skyler and Junior that he experienced a gas pump “malfunction.” The lie is unconvincing, if elaborate. Even Junior doesn’t buy it, suspecting instead that Walt doesn’t want to admit he might have passed out in a cancer-related episode. Because of the fumes, Junior suggests that they stay over at Hank and Marie’s; Walt quickly overrules this and takes them all to luxury hotel instead.
In the hotel parking lot, a battered Saul meets Walt for an update. He and his goons are unable to find Jesse. Saul suggests that, “This is an Old Yeller type of situation.” He believes that Jesse must be put down. Walt refuses to entertain the notion and tersely commands Saul to find Jesse.
Skyler sees Walt talking to Saul and confronts him about it back in their room. After getting caught lying, Walt admits to what happened. He tells her that he wants to reason with Jesse. Like Saul, Skyler is skeptical and icily implies that Walt should get rid of Jesse instead.
As it turns out, Jesse was interrupted in his effort to burn Walt’s house down by a gun-wielding Hank, who convinced Jesse to join him in stopping Walt. Furious, Jesse says, “He can’t keep getting away with it.” This is music to Hank’s ears.
Back at Hank’s house, he has Marie’s bags packed and suggests that she stay away after letting her know that Jesse is staying there for a few days. Although a little on edge, Marie insists on staying because she can see that what Hank is doing is potentially damaging to Walt. While Jesse is passed out in another room, Hank plays back the voicemail Walt left him earlier.
In the morning, Jesse finally wakes up to find Hank setting up video equipment with the help of agent Gomez. At Hank’s prodding, Jesse opens up on camera and tells the whole sordid story, starting when he knew Walt as Mr. White from his high school chemistry class.
Hank listens to another voicemail message of Jesse’s, in which Walt asks Jesse to meet him to talk things over. Hank sees this as his best chance to get Walt. He tells Gomez that they’ll wire Jesse up for the meeting. Gomez suggests that this could get Jesse killed, but Hank callously and brutally dismisses the reservations. At least they’ll have it on tape, he reasons. Hank considers Jesse to be completely expendable.
Jesse agrees to the plan, even though he’s terrified. Wired up, he leaves Hank’s security van and makes his way toward a public bench where Walt is waiting for him. He sees a suspicious looking man standing nearby and is convinced that this is his assassin. To Hank’s dismay, Jesse goes to a pay phone and calls Walt, telling him, “Nice try, asshole.” He tells Walt that he’s coming for him now. Hank is furious; his plan has completely fallen apart. Jesse tells Hank there is a better way.
The episode ends with a resigned Walt calling Todd, telling him that he has another job for him and his uncle.
At the halfway mark of the show’s final run, tensions are higher now than ever. The lines of good and bad are blurring even more, as Hank starts to think that the only way he’ll win is by subverting the rules. Bad things are on the horizon.
I figured that Jesse would eventually join Hank in his efforts to bring Walt to justice. How this came about was unexpected, though. At least to me. Hank’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect, with Jesse being as angry and vulnerable as we’ve ever seen him.
Walt tells so many lies that even when he’s telling the truth, it sounds like an elaborate fiction. He’s apparently trying to stay loyal to Jesse, but his efforts are being thwarted at every turn. And Jesse’s unreceptive, to say the least.
What was the deal with Junior suggesting that Walt’s cancer played a role in his getting doused with gasoline? It was a strange suggestion that I found even less believable than Walt’s story.
More importantly, when did everyone get so comfortable with killing? Hank’s willingness to forfeit Jesse’s life by using him as bait undermines the respect and admiration we’ve built up for him all these years. And while I don’t exactly respect or admire Skyler, her jumping on the Kill Jesse Bandwagon is a bit much, as well.
Certain narrative leaps like these are distractingly silly and defy credulity. That’s how I see it, anyway. It’s a great season so far, but the writers are really asking a lot.