SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Rabid Dog" episode of "Breaking Bad" contains storyline and character spoilers.
When we left a bewildered, vengeance-bent Jesse at the end of "Confessions," he was dousing Casa White with gas and was ready to set that bi... — well, you know what Jesse would say — ablaze.
But when this week's episode "Rabid Dog" begins, Walter has stealthily slipped through the patio door of his house, gun drawn and ready to confront Jesse, only to find the White house reeking of gasoline but not on fire.
Outside, Saul's car (the one Jesse stole and drove to Walt's house) is empty. So what happened to Jesse, and why is Walt's house gas-soaked but still standing?
Nearly halfway through "Rabid Dog," via flashback, we see Jesse with his lighter open, ready to torch Walt's house when Hank comes in the front door, gun drawn, yelling at Jesse to stop. A crying, screaming Jesse tells him that Walt poisoned a little boy, and Hank assures him he's aware of what a monster Walt is, but burning down the house is not the answer. "He can't keep getting away with it!" Jesse screams.
"You really wanna burn him down?" Hank asks. "Let's do it together."
Watch the pivotal scene between Hank and Jesse from tonight's "Breaking Bad" right here:
Hank ushers Jesse out of the house and buckles him into his car, and off they go (just before Walt pulls onto his block, explaining why Jesse is MIA once Walt gets into his home). Jesse guesses Hank's taking him to the DEA office, which he points out is a bad idea; Walt will find out about it and get to him. Hank's solution: take Jesse to his house, give him a couple of sleeping pills to counteract how high Jesse is, and videotape his fascinating tales of Walter White's drug-cooking, murderous reign once Jesse has calmed down.
Good plan, if, as Jesse points out, they were dealing with a less wily criminal. Jesse tells Hank and Gomie, who Hank has brought into the Walt situation, "You two guys are just guys… Mr. White, he's the devil. He is smarter than you. He is luckier than you. Whatever you think is supposed to happen, the exact reverse opposite of that is gonna happen."
When Walt leaves Jesse a message asking him to meet him in public, at Civic Plaza, so Walt can explain the Brock poisoning, Hank sees it as his chance to send Jesse off and nab Walt. Jesse is skeptical of the plan. Gomie is skeptical of the plan, too, telling Hank he may be sending Jesse to his death. Hank makes it clear he doesn't care if Jesse dies, as long as he gets Walt... who is about to tangle with another person who would be fine with Jesse's death.
Walt's house is soaked with gasoline and its stench… how to explain that to the fam? He makes up some kooky story about a faulty gas station pump and getting sprayed with it, which neither Walt Junior nor Skyler buy, but when Walt suggests they go to a hotel for a few days while the house is cleaned, everyone's in.
And thus begins the worst staycation ever.
The hotel's swanky enough — particularly that very cool headboard/art installation in the Whites' room — but Skyler follows Walt when he thinks he's having a secret meeting with Saul and Kuby in the hotel parking garage. She calls him on it, and when he explains he was meeting with them about finding Jesse, and what Jesse almost did, Skyler (understandably) wigs.
"I told you someone was going to come to our door and try to hurt us!" she says, clearly not as impressed with Walt's "I am the danger" line as the rest of us were.
"What's your course of action here?" she continues, telling Walt he needs to "deal with this."
She can't be saying what it sounds like she's saying, Walt responds, in the surest bit of evidence yet that he does truly care about Jesse. "Jesse isn't just some rabid dog," he tells her. "He's a person."
Reminding him of all they've both already done, especially with that video they made for Hank and Marie, Skyler replies, "We've come this far… what's one more?"
Jesse is now fully aware that he can trust no one. Hank appeals to his desire to stop Walt, but when Jesse realizes that even now Hank underestimates his brother-in-law, Jesse gets clearer and clearer about how he is going to survive, and how he can possibly stop Walt.
Hank and Gomie send him, all mic-ed up, into the Plaza, and Jesse immediately spots a suspicious-looking guy standing not far from Walt. Is this the guy who Walt has brought in to kill him? Jesse assumes so, and instead of approaching Walt and getting him to spill on a recording, Jesse heads straight for a pay phone and calls Walt, who's sitting nearby.
"Nice try, a--hole. I'm not doing what you want anymore," Jesse tells the man he still calls Mr. White (albeit with choice modifiers preceding his name). "This is just a heads-up that I'm coming for you. I decided that burning down your house is nothing… next time, I'm gonna get you where you really live."
Hank is ticked that Jesse blew up his plan, but a determined and focused Jesse assures him, "There's another way. To get him… there's another way. A better way."
Walt, meanwhile, sufficiently spooked by his one-time protégé, places a call to another lesser protégé for help. "Todd, I think I may have another job for your uncle."
Get a sneak peek at next week's "Breaking Bad" right here:
"Breaking Bad" Bits:
* Walt's getting sloppy. His indecision about which garbage pail to dump the gas can in, his last-minute decision to douse his car with gasoline, the fact that he trusted a quick glance around his neighborhood to prove no one was watching him from their windows… this is not the Walt that thinks five moves ahead. And true, he was presented with a situation that forced him to act on the fly, but still… Walt's getting sloppy, just as Jesse seems to be getting sharper and more patient. "Rabid Dog" was the first episode that made me believe it's possible the series could end with Jesse still alive.
* Minor spoiler alert: Fans of Huell, aka actor/comedian Lavell Crawford, should tune into FXX's Season 9 premiere of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" this Wednesday, September 4. Crawford has a fun guest role in a great storyline involving Kaitlin Olson's Sweet Dee.
* Walt Junior. That hug. As delicious as it is to watch these final eight unfold, it's not fun to think about how devastated that kid's gonna be when/if he learns the truth about his dad.
* Best line of the night: Kuby, explaining to Walt that he bugged Badger's mom's house to get scoop on Jesse's whereabouts, but "for three hours straight, all he talked about was something called 'Babylon 5.'" Badger does love him some sci-fi.
* Hank and Marie have the "Deadwood" DVD box set on their shelves. It makes sense that Hank would like that series. Ditto that Ronald Reagan bio on the shelf.
* Marie's having murder fantasies about Walt. Huh. Is there any chance Vince Gilligan and company show that gun and don't use it in the final four episodes?
* And of course Marie's luggage is purple.
Let's hear your thoughts on:
* How many more times will we see Walt in his tighty-whities before the series ends? This episode's view, with the gun stuck in his underpants waistband, had to be the best ever, no?
* Did Walt concoct the gas-spill lie to fool Skyler because he didn't want her to be afraid that the family was in danger of Jesse's wrath, or because he knew that if she found out what Jesse did, she would insist that Walt send him on a one-way trip to Belize? I think he was genuinely surprised that she went there.
* Speaking of the Belize euphemism, how terrifically meta was it that Walt gave a shout-out to that instant-classic catchphrase from "Buried"? "You're brimming with colorful metaphors, aren't you, Saul? Belize, Old Yeller…" In any other series, that might have been annoying, but "Breaking Bad" has earned the right to be a little self-referential.
* Did Hank just lose some sympathy points when he told Gomie he was perfectly happy to throw Jesse to the wolves if it meant nabbing Walt? Hank's facing serious consequences, potentially, after Walt and Skyler's blackmail film, but what do you think motivates Hank more at this point: stopping Walt to stop Walt's threat to Hank, or stopping Walt because, like Walt, Hank also has an ego that just can't accept he's been outsmarted, outmaneuvered? And by his milquetoast, science-geek brother-in-law, of all people.
* The guy in the Plaza, the one Jesse assumed was there with Walt, wasn't. If Jesse hadn't seen that guy… could Walt have diffused his dire situation with Jesse yet again? Especially with Hank's assertion that Walt really does — or did — care about Jesse, could Jesse once again have been placated by Walt's words?
"Breaking Bad" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.