A few lessons from this week’s Breaking Bad:
1. The enemy of my enemy is my strung-out-yet-possibly-onto-something friend.
2. Skyler might want to start looking at window treatments and paint swatches, so thoroughly has she taken up residence on the dark side.
3. Any time Old Yeller is invoked, you’d best hope that you’re not the pooch in question.
Without further ado, let’s review the major developments in “Rabid Dog.”
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IT’S A GAS, GAS, GAS | Directly following the events of the last episode, Walt pulls up to his house, sees Jesse’s car abandoned out front and knows the situation is not good. He vaults over the back wall and slips in through the sliding glass door (not locked, Walt?), gun drawn. But Jesse’s not there any longer, and though the entire place is steeped in unleaded, nothing is burned.
A short while later, a clean-up crew and locksmith arrive to repair the damage young Mr. Pinkman inflicted upon the structure. Huell’s there, too; Walt asks him to swing by the high school and do some Jesse recon on his way back to Saul’s. “I can’t believe he would go after my son, but…” After the behemoth of a bodyguard leaves, Walt calls Jesse. “I wanna fix this,” he says in a voicemail, adding that Jesse should “Sleep it off and then call me. Be safe.” Walt is then dismayed to learn that the fuel has soaked through to the living room’s sub-flooring: There’s no way the crew will be able to get rid of the gas stink without ripping up carpeting, padding, etc.
After some more frantic machinations involving stripping down to his undies and spilling gas from the canister over his car and clothes, Walt is ready to spin a whopper of a lie to Skyler and Jr. when they return home. Blaming the gas smell on a “total pump malfunction” at the filling station, Walt performs his story in a way you only would if you had rehearsed it. (Of particular oddness: when he notes that the gas was all over his “groin.” What?) Flynn asks his dad “Can you please just tell the truth?” Ooh… is the kid finally on to his old man? Nope (boo); he just assumes that a re-cancerified Walt passed out at the pump, resulting in some spilled gas. Walt reassures the boy that he’s fine, but suggests that they get away from the fumes for a while. Uncle Hank and Aunt Marie’s? Flynn suggests. A hotel it is! Walt decides. (P.S. Given Skyler’s face in this scene, she would not have bought her husband’s story even if it were on the Macy’s clearance rack and she were awash in Star Rewards coupons.)
COLD AS ICE | That evening, Walt meets with Saul – who’s bearing the marks of Jesse’s assault on his face — and Kuby in the hotel parking lot. Jesse is MIA. Walt suggests checking out “Beaver and what’s-his-name” (heh), but Kuby says he’s already caught up with Badger and Skinny Pete, and he even bugged one of their houses. “For three hours straight, all he talked about was something called Babylon 5,” the henchman notes. (Ha!) Walt notes that Jesse “is upset” about the truth about Brock’s illness and that he wants to “explain why that had to happen.”
Saul, unconvinced that Pinkman will be open to “a nuanced discussion of the virtues of child-poisoning” (heh again) suggests that they might be entering “an Old Yeller-type situation” – with Jesse in the doghouse. At this, Walt Hulks Heisenbergs out, dropping his voice about six octaves as he advises the lawyer, “Do not float that idea again. Find him.”
Upstairs, Walt pretends his extended absence is due to problems procuring ice, but Skyler knows both that he was chatting with Saul and that the “pump malfunction” was bull. She demands the truth. Sighing, Walt starts with, “Jesse Pinkman – he came over to our house for dinner, do you remember?” (As if we could forget “Hell yeah I’m stoked for this lasagna!”) He relates Jesse’s break-in to her, noting that the younger man must’ve changed his mind – evidenced by the fact that their home is not a pile of smoking ashes. He reassures her that Jesse is only a threat to himself. “So he has never hurt anybody?” she queries, and she knows he’s lying when he says, “No.” So Skyler flat-out tells her husband to make their Pinkman problem go away permanently – and Walt is horrified by hearing the idea for the second time in an hour. “Jesse isn’t just some rabid dog. This is a person,” he argues. “A person who is a threat to us,” Skyler replies, dead-eyed as she adds, “We’ve come this far. For us, what’s one more?”
AN UNLIKELY ALLIANCE | We’ve barely had time to absorb Skyler’s stone-cold declaration when something even more insane happens. It begins with a rewind to Jesse’s break-in: After he gets high and bathes the White house in gasoline, Jesse whips out a lighter and prepares to create a torch out of a rolled-up magazine… but then Hank busts in! Jesse is strung out and crying, shouting, “He can’t keep getting away with this!” So the DEA boss lowers his gun, saying, “You want to burn him down? Let’s do it together.” (Yeah, bitch!)
Jesse and Hank drive away from the house just as Walt pulls up. (Phew – and is anyone else oddly touched by the way Hank leans over to fasten the seatbelt over a near-catatonic Jesse?) As Marie learns when she returns home from a hilariously vague therapy session, Jesse is going to be a guest at Chez Schrader for a while. Putting Pinkman into the system, Hank explains, means Walt would inevitably get word that his former partner had turned – and we all remember what happened to the last group of guys who were in a position to threaten Heisenberg’s future. But Hank wants his wife to skedaddle for a while. “Is this bad for Walt?” Marie wants to know. “Yes, very,” Hank says. “Good,” she nods. “I’m staying. I’ll heat up lasagna.” (Ha!)
WIRED AND WARY | The next morning, Jesse wakes up to find Hank and Gomez in the living room, ready to videotape his statement. Pinkman is dubious, saying he has no concrete proof of anything Walt has done. So isn’t it convenient that Walt has phoned his protégé and arranged to meet in a public plaza, just to talk? Jesse is pretty sure it’s a trap, but Hank says he’s got to go – and wear a wire while doing so. In a moment alone, Gomez tells Hank he thinks Jesse’s right… and Schrader basically says that if he can procure evidence to nail his brother-in-law, it doesn’t really matter if Jesse dies in the process. Way harsh, Hank – but you’re desperate and Walt is, as Jesse notes, “the devil,” so I’ll allow it.
So Jesse gets miked up and approaches Walt from behind in the plaza, but then notices a menacing looking bald guy standing off to one side. Mistakenly thinking the baldie is a Heisenberg-hired gun, Jesse doubles back without being seen and calls Walt from a pay phone a few feet away. “Nice try, a—hole,” he growls. “Next time, I’m gonna get you where you really live.” Hank is furious when Jesse hops back into his vehicle, but the younger man seems more sure of himself than before when he says, “There’s another way, a better way.”
You might want to fast-track that plan, Jesse, because Walt gets off the phone with you and immediately calls Todd. “I think I might have another job for your uncle,” he begins, and we go to credits.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Were you as undone by Flynn desperately embracing Walt as I was? Do you think Walt’s changed his mind about offing Jesse – or was the call to Todd concerning someone else? And do you think Walt will be alive or dead as we fade to black on the series’ final episode? Vote in the poll below (we’ll revisit the results each week), then sound off in the comments!