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Breaking Bad: Problem Dog

Jesse: "I'll kill him. First chance I get."

So let's see. Walt throws a tantrum, destroys a brand new car out of pique, and creates poison to kill Gus. Jesse melts down in group because of guilt over killing Gale. You think there's some contrast there?

This one was mostly about Jesse. He easily succumbed to Walt's hints and badgering, and agreed to kill Gus. Jesse even quite cleverly came up with the perfect place to hide the poison. And then Jesse lost it in group. He couldn't confess that he'd killed an unarmed human being, so he said he'd killed a "problem" dog. "You do stuff and nothing happens. What does it mean? What's the point?" Why shouldn't these addicts feel guilty and make restitution? (Actually, it's my understanding that these sorts of programs usually do encourage attendees to apologize to people they've hurt.) Although Jesse might not realize it, he wants to be punished for killing Gale, and no one is doing it.

Instead, Jesse is being rewarded for good service. He is responding to positive reinforcement from Mike to the point of literally cleaning up his act, fixing up his house, no longer using drugs. Mike said that what he and Gus saw in Jesse was loyalty. Mike trusted Jesse with a gun, and even told him he was going to teach him to shoot. Jesse was actually alone with the poison, Gus's vegetable tray, and the coffee that Gus later drank, but Jesse couldn't do it. He couldn't bring himself to kill more dogs.

In the meantime, after realizing that he couldn't hire a hit man to take out Gus, Walt took Junior's red car, did donuts in a deserted parking lot, crashed the car and blew it up. Is Walt reliving his teenage years, but this time as new, evil Walt with no restrictions? It's like Walt has realized that having someone killed just isn't that big a deal, and he was high on his own evil. He's thrown away his conscience, and he doesn't consider the existence of Jesse's conscience at all. Hey, Jesse can kill Gus. After all, he did just fine killing Gale.

Which brings us around to Hank, who is practically a new man. Hank carried out an undercover operation (with Junior, no less), and came out of Los Pollos Hermanos with Gus's fingerprints on a soda cup. And then Hank walked into his old office and sat down with his old pal Gomez and his old boss, and laid it out in a direct line — from Gale to the serial number for the air cleaner, to a super meth lab in Albuquerque, to Madrigal Electromotive, to Los Pollos Hermanos, and to Gus Fring's fingerprints in Gale's apartment.

Hank figured it all out. He's awesome. So what is the DEA going to do now?


-- Jesse was painting his walls white. He wore a white shirt with the lines of a face and hair in black, but with no human features. Totally appropriate for what Jesse's character is going through.

-- Walt was wearing black and red lab wear when he asked Jesse how it was going on the killing Gus front, and yellow lab wear while making the poison, which I assume is ricin.

-- In the dirty water department, we now have money secreted in between cans of soda at the car wash.

-- The opener at first seemed like a real shoot out in the inner city, but turned out to be Jesse playing a violent video game called "Rage." Was that a real game?

And pieces:

-- Hank hasn't just changed physically. He's much less with the bluster, and a lot more thoughtful. I like it.

-- We got a vent-cam this time. The photography in this show is striking.

-- Walt walking away and a car blowing up happened before, in season one.

-- Skyler didn't want to casually kiss Walt in front of Marie.

-- Gus offered Junior a part time job at Los Pollos Hermanos. Walt would have a cow.

-- The negotiations at The Meeting were over quickly. The cartel isn't interested in a one-time payment. They want Gus to give in. And Gus has no intention of giving in. War's a'coming.


Walt: "Someone who can ameliorate the situation."
Saul: "Let's ditch the thesaurus, all right? You're talking about a hit man."
It's funny that Saul got all of his hit man contacts from Mike. Saul isn't quite the mover and shaker he makes himself out to be.

Marie: "I was thinking huge party, balloons, bouncy house for the kids, you know, make a splash! Get on TV! Let the people know they won't have to face the eyebrows of doom when they come in."

Walt: "Skyler, this is a simple division of labor. I bring in the money, you launder the money. This is what you wanted."

Walt: "Mike will have his suspicions, but that's all they'll be. Please. One homicidal maniac at a time."

Things are heating up, pun intended. Three and a half burning cars out of four,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I rewatched the "problem dog" speech at the NA meeting the other day (such a fantastic sequence), and ever since I've been thinking a lot about the key differences between Walt and Jesse. The show has spent so much time this season showing how absolutely devastated Jesse is by what he did to Gale. He's utterly haunted and desperately needs there to be consequences for his actions. But everyone just acts like it is no big deal. Even worse, Walt asked him to do it again.

    And the thing is, I don't really remember Walt going through this after his first kill. He killed Krazy 8, and instead of crushing him, it empowered him. And even Jane's death doesn't seem to bother him that much. She posed a threat, so he eliminated that threat. Even after the universe dropped a plane on his house to tell him what a sh** he is, he stopped himself from burning the money and stood in that gym and acted like the crash was no big deal. Hey, it could have been worse, right? Walt is a detestable human being, and I think I well and truly hated him at this point in the season. For what he's done to Hank and Marie. For what he's done to Skylar, Junior, and Holly. And most especially for what he's done to Jesse. That young man still has a heart and some innate decency. He has the potential to be a good human being if he can get out of this life, but I'm desperately afraid Walt will destroy him.

    But, Hank? So awesome! The final scene where he lays out all he's learned for the DEA was wonderful. It's nice to have at least one person on the show we can genuinely root for without having to feel too much guilt. Even though Hank's done terrible things, he's repented and paid a terrible price, and it has been wonderful to see him coming back into his own.

  2. I agree with Jess. Walt is losing most of the morals and values he had back in season 1. I don't think there'll be much left by the start of season 5, and we'll all be rooting for Hank to catch him and Jesse to survive and live free from Gus and the rest of the drug world.

    Billie, the white tee Jesse was wearing was a Steve Aoki shirt. He's a famous DJ. He actually came perform at my school's homecoming this year.

    The video game that Jesse was playing is in fact real. Rage is an "on-rails" first person shooter developed by John Carmack's iD software, the company that revolutionized gaming with Wolfenstein 3D, the first successful FPS back in the early 90s. Without it we wouldn't have Call of Duty and so many other franchises.


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