Breaking Good – 512 – “Rabid Dog” – A.Ron’s “Instant Take” Review

Can Breaking Bad do an entire 8 episode final season with the pedal to the metal and end each one on a massive cliffhanger?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, they keep their cliffhanger streak alive with a shadow phone call to Team Panzer Grey, but this episode, while taught, well acted, and fascinating in it’s own right, is not quite the jaw dropper the others have been.  It has been the sort of piece moving episode that we’ve learned to be patient through during previous seasons, because they are so often the calm before the storm.  I doubt we’ll see the usual 2-3 episode stretch of piece moving continue, though.

Everyone broke bad tonight, and many reverted to classic form.  We know Walt’s been rotten to the core for quite a while, but Jesse turning against him has sent him straight back to Season One Walt Amateur Hour when it comes to lying and manipulation.  Many thought that perhaps Skyler would find a way to work herself out of the moral grey zone she’s been trapped in, but instead, she decided to get out her paintbrush and paint her soul black, by suggesting a full measure be taken on Mr. Pinkman.  Sure, she doesn’t know Jesse like we know Jesse, but she appears to be in full blown Skysenberg (credit to fellow fan Saif  A.R. over on Facebook) mode now.

And Hank?  Hank is back to being the bullheaded idiot who dismisses Jesse as some mere junkie, when it seems to me that he should be building up his connection to his new “partner”.  Hank wonders who Walt really is?  Well, Jesse knows, and that knowledge is valuable.  And you know, Hank is continuing to build his extra-legal case against his brother-in-law, nothing could possibly go wrong there.  Except again, just like last episode, replay the events of tonight through Agent Gomez’s eyes, with the thought that maybe, just maybe, Hank could be the Big Bad here.  Is it any more likely than Walt?

Shit, even Marie is doing internet research on untraceable poisons, because it feels good to think about it. And she’s expressing vague concern for the safety of children.  Is this enough for her therapist to invoke his mandatory disclosure exception to his client-counselor privilege?  I don’t know, but consider what Gomey would think if he found out Marie is continuing to scheme of ways to get Walt’s children and researching how to poison him?

Jesse is the only one trying to do the right thing, and it’s great to see his natural intelligence continuing to shine through his rough, ignorant exterior.  And yes, the big moment of tonight’s episode basically came down to a misunderstanding, which I am not sure how much I like.  But imagining the possibilities of a cat and mouse game against student and master (loved Aaron Paul’s reading of “he was my teacher” during his confession tonight) is certainly exciting.  What could Jesse mean by hitting Walt where he really lives?  The car wash?  Their old desert stomping grounds?  The car wash doesn’t make real sense, and Jesse doesn’t know about the money being buried, so we’re largely in the dark about what he’s planning.

The more we know, the less we understand, as it’s getting harder and harder for me to see the path that would lead us to some of the more popular theories.  Here’s a new one for me; The Uncles of Anarchy say they kill Jesse, but in reality kidnap him to force him to cook.  After all, he reminds us he’s the only one besides Mr. White who is nearly as good, and Todd ain’t going to cut it.  67% purity isn’t near the 96.2% Jesse made in Mexico under duress, after all.  And tonight makes a very convincing case that, yes, Walt might be an abusive surrogate father figure to Jesse, but he very much has a fatherly concern for his well-being and relationship.

I don’t have a whole lot of other thoughts tonight.  Walt and Walt Jr. continue to be heart breaking, a word that I’ve almost worn out in describing their relationship.  The fact that Jr. has NO IDEA makes it so much worse.  We got some more off-screen comedy out of Badger snooping, as we find out we missed 3 hours of comedy gold that would be his discussion of Babylon 5.  Not much else to lighten the dramatic load.  Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, even Betsy Brandt are just absolutely killing this season.  Can’t wait to see the Villigan’s next play now that he has arranged his pieces.  Will we get another respite from the insanity, or will the final four episodes read check, check, check, mate?