Breaking Bad – Season 4, Episode 7: Problem Dog

25 Sep

(A few weeks ago, I started these Breaking Bad recaps, and then fell a bit behind.  Not one to give up without a fight, they’re still coming, just a tiny bit late.  I’m going to dump a few of them today, so read them if you wish, and if you don’t watch Breaking Bad, turn off your computer and start it today)

My brother, when talking about this episode, made the great point that, if you hadn’t watched a single episode before, you might well think that the show was about Gus rather than about Walt and Jesse.  Gus seems to be in the position of the most peril.  He’s got the cartel breathing down his neck, threatening his drug operation.  He’s got the cops, though he doesn’t know it yet, possibly figuring out who he is.  He also has a troublesome chemist who keeps making problems for him who also has a newly-clean partner only a couple of weeks away from a serious meth addiction.

I’ve said before that if you could describe Breaking Bad in one word, it would be tension.  Tension is manifest in this episode on at least three separate major occasions in ways short and long.  First, there’s a smaller moment as Walt, realizing he can’t return the car which he breaks, lights it on fire and waits for it to blow up.  If this was another show, the car would blow up almost immediately as Walt jumps out of the way at just the last moment.  But here, we’re put in the tense and uncomfortable position of waiting for the car to blow, knowing it has to eventually, but not how long it could take.  Second, Walt provides Jesse with poison to slip into Gus’s drink when he has a chance.  Now, every time we see Gus and Jesse together we’ll have to be on the edge of our seats to see where the poison is.  Will Jesse do it?  Can he pull it off?  Will Gus or Mike catch him?  In this episode the scene comes when Jesse is asked to make coffee for Gus when Gus is meeting with the cartel.  Jesse ultimately does not use the poison.  Third, Jesse himself is being battled over between Walt and Gus and Mike.  Each time Jesse meets with either Walt or Gus or Mike, every word they say might swing Jesse in their direction.  Having Jesse by itself might seem unimportant, but it also might give either party the upper hand in their  passive aggressive battle.  Without Jesse, Walt is isolated with no one else he can trust.  Without Jesse, Walt loses his chance to kill Gus.

When Walt brings his earnings to Skyler, Skyler is simply floored by how much money it is and instantly tells Walt that there’s no way they can launder this much.  Walt makes the fair point that the laundering is supposed to be Skyler’s business to figure out (though how the amount they’d be laundering never came up I’m not sure). Like Walt was when he started, and still is, in the drug business, Skyler out of her league here as a criminal.  Though she seemed so confident and on-point with her plan, this amount of money has flabbergasted her.  She has no conception of what Walt does and how much he makes.

Jesse takes a new approach to his emo-self-pity-depression spiral post-murder of Gale.  He goes to his old Meth addiction group and confesses his killing of Gale, only replacing Gale with a dog, and then strikes out at the group, telling him he had only starting going to sell them meth.  I’ve got a feeling this murder is going to haunt Jesse for a long time, maybe even two more seasons.

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