ABSOLUTELY DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN SEASON 5 EPISODE 12: RABID DOG
Breaking Bad Season 5, episode 12 “Rabid Dog”
Walter White is an abuser. We see Jesse sit down at the start of this episode, in Hank’s family home, and begin his statement to the DEA camera explaining that Walter White had been his teacher. His TEACHER. Jesse is portrayed at this point as still a child, with Hank seen putting his seat-belt on for him as he put him in his car, after stopping him from burning the White family house down, echoing the start of Walt and Jesse’s dysfunctional father/son dynamic. We see man-boy Jesse, at the end of his tether, admitting to himself, and to the DEA that this man who had been in a position of power in his life, had used that power to control him. The fact that Jesse even uses the name he would have known him by at high school, Mr White, in times of stress is also telling. Aaron Paul brilliantly depicts the exhaustion and frustration that Jesse is clearly feeling, and we see a man at his very lowest ebb.
“You two guys are just guys, OK? Mr White- he’s the devil”
However, by the end of the episode the realisation that Walt had been his teacher seemingly hit Jesse in another way, as a light switch has been turned on somewhere. Jesse had been used to being called dumb, but was often actually the source of many of the ideas that kept Heisenberg’s empire going (Yeah bitch! Magnets!), but never really gave himself credit for those ideas. Jesse had been kept under the control of an effective abuser, and as with all abusers Walt had ensured that he had felt worthless and powerless. With Hank’s assertion that the pair of them can “Burn him down” Jesse seemingly has an epiphany, that he does have power. He is not the kid in Walt’s class any more. The power may have shifted.
Walter White is a child murderer. Let’s not forget that the reason Jesse finally snapped was that he found out that it was Walt who poisoned Brock. Now Brock didn’t die, but who is to say that was luck rather than judgement. Walt certainly didn’t seem overly concerned about the death of Drew Sharp at the hands of Todd, to the point where he was whistling a happy tune moments after assuring Jesse he also felt crippling guilt.
Walter White is a prolific liar. Skylar is no longer fooled by anything Walt says, as is evidenced by her complete rejection of his overly-detailed gasoline story. However, Skylar is also not in possession of the full facts. Were Skylar to know the real reason Jesse had tried to burn their house down would she have been so quick to assert that the “rabid dog” needed putting to sleep? Walt skims over why Jesse might want to destroy the White family home, knowing full well that harm of children would be one thing that would finally push Skylar away from him forever. Is this what Jesse means by hurting him where he really lives? If Skylar knew the full extent of Heisenberg’s wrong doing, and all the lines he has crossed would she still feel a sense of loyalty, albeit from a victim’s perspective (being a fellow victim of Walt’s abuse)? Currently she is Momma Bear, back against the wall, lashing out at anyone trying to hurt her family. If she realises once more that Walt “is the danger”, will she move her target? We have seen Walt entirely alone at the start of season 5- is this how Jesse finally hits him where it hurts?
Todd is a child murderer. We have seen that. Walt is now aiming to use the other person he knows will harm children with impunity to harm his surrogate son, or so we assume. Walt is tricky at the best of times, and may well be thinking one step ahead of the audience. How will Lydia take to Walt using the cogs in what is now her machine?
Hank and Marie won’t stop until Walt is punished, but how far are they willing to go? Marie, now dressed in femme-fatale black, has been researching untraceable poisons online, something that always looks great on internet search histories. If the DEA do investigate Hank, that is surely going to come back to bite them. Hank also knowingly sent Jesse into a situation where he could be killed, which he justified as offing a “psycho junkie murderer”. The couple are increasingly stepping outside the law, so the question is, how far are they willing to go?
There were a couple of lighter moments in the episode though- Marie handing Jesse the DEA coffee mug, Saul’s continuing macabre euphemisms, Walt finding that no amount of money can get the smell of gasoline out of a carpet, and even the bell tolling at the end of the episode hinting that we may be heading into a full-scale Wild West showdown between Butch and Sundance.
Jesse’s cries of “He can’t keep getting away with it” echo what the audience have been feeling. Walt needs to be punished in some way- be it from dying from his cancer, punishment from the DEA or death at the hands of one of his many enemies.
The final four episodes may be clues to what lies ahead:
“To‘hajiilee” (a Native American reservation)
“Ozymandias” (A poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which was used as the teaser for the final season)
“Granite State” (The nickname for New Hampshire)
“Felina” (It’s an anagram of finale, but also distinctly female)
Regardless of what happens over the next four episodes, we have been treated to some incredible character development and some SUPERB acting. Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse are two of the best performances you are likely to see, with both completely occupying their respective worlds. So I shall stop speculating (for this week) and enjoy the ride.