AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 4, Episode 7: “Problem Dog”
Directed & Written
by Peter Gould
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cornered ” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode “Hermanos” – click here
At home, Jesse (Aaron Paul) plays video games, shooting at the screen not unlike he shot Gale right in the face. All a way of pretending there’s no reality, a method of pushing everything to the recess of the mind. The more Jesse plays, the more reality and fiction come together. He sees himself shooting the zombie-like characters and then he sees himself shooting Gale in the same blink.
The car wash is in full effect with Skyler (Anna Gunn) making the place look legit. Walt (Bryan Cranston) has to make his son Jr (RJ Mitte) bring the sweet new car back, which doesn’t sit well with the kid. Hilarious how the more expensive something is, the harder it is to return. Seeing as how he’s got to pay nearly $1,000 anyway, Walt takes the car for a rip in a parking lot. Then, like an asshole, he beats the thing up, choosing to lit it on fire rather than bring it back. Like a big, unnecessary fuck you to his wife.
Over at the office, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) gets things settled with the “joyride.” Costs Heisenberg a lot more than it would have if he just took the damn thing back in the first place. He’s also got Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) to worry over. He starts “talking about a hitman,” which freaks the lawyer out. Mike (Jonathan Banks) is extremely well connected leaving them with fewer options. Saul suggests talking with Jesse about doing the hit.
Walt goes to speak with Jesse, asking about Gus. He wants to see if it’s possible to get his partner to do his dirty work. The whole thing’s got Walt confused, knowing there’s an endgame behind what their employer’s doing. But he’s always manipulating Pinkman, from the minute they got together it’s been happening, and he keeps prodding. Nevertheless, Jesse offers to “kill him.”
The sisters get talking at the car wash. Marie (Betsy Brandt) feels hopeful about Hank (Dean Norris) and his recovery. Skyler’s really getting into the car wash game. Things are going well for the business, which means they’re able to launder money at a steady rate. Good thing. Walt’s bringing home the bacon exponentially. His wife works out he makes over $7-million a year.
In the lab, the cooks go on like normal. Walt is forever watched by the eyes of the security cameras. Although he’s cooking ricin in the lab, just out of sight in the lunch area. Later, he brings the concentrated dose in pill form to his partner. They’re focusing on “one homicidal maniac at a time,” leaving Mike for a later date depending on how things go. Only depends on the next time Jesse sees Gus. Could be ages. He has to keep the ricin on him, stashing it in a cigarette from his pack.
On the lowdown, Hank has his nephew take him to Los Pollos Hermanos to get a closer look at the place, still curious as to why Gale Boetticher had those bags in his apartment when he was vegan. They actually get visited by Mr. Fring at the table. Gus pulls out all the ass kissing bullshit about the “DEA hero” and even offers the potential for employment to Walt Jr. When Gus gives Hank a refill, the DEA agent hangs onto the cup so he can run fingerprints on the guy. I wonder, will it come back with anything? Doubtful. The meth kingpin’s a careful, quiet man.
Mike and Jesse arrive at those trailers at the truck fleet. Gus is waiting. When everyone’s ready, a vehicle pulls up. The men inside are those who robbed the Los Polls Hermanos truck, led by Gaff (Maurice Compte). Mike takes Gaff in to talk with Gus, just the two. He and the man chat. Gaff refuses a “one–time payment” offered by the chicken man. He makes no bones about it: there’s no negotiating with the cartel. When things are finished, Mike and Jesse head off again, as the former tries driving more of that wedge between Pinkman and Walt.
In a meeting, Jesse talks about killing Gale, only he talks as if it were putting down a dog. He refuses to take the warmth of others, who believe the dog was sick instead of “a problem dog.” He wants to take responsibility for murdering a man, and he doesn’t want to hear any platitudes from the other junkies in the room. One woman stresses there are so many other options. Jesse knows she’s right. He’s tired of not being judged. He’s crying out to be judged, seeing as how, without judgement, there’s a lack of meaning. Deep philosophical argument from Pinkman here. An intensely emotional scene from Aaron Paul! Wow. The outer limits of nihilism, as Jesse admits to the others around him: “You‘re nothing to me but customers.”
At the office, Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) is waiting for Hank to turn up. He’s happy to see the man up on his feet. Hank has come in to talk about the Boetticher investigation with ASAC George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles). We keep seeing the routine Schrader uses to fight his condition, repeating the same lines to everybody about “clean living and vitamin pills.”
He tells Merkert and Steve about what he might’ve discovered in regards to the ole blue meth. He hopes it’ll be a direct line to the actual Heisenberg. He brings up the Los Pollos Hermanos connection— the menu with a parts number on it relating to an “air filtration system.” This could lead them right to the massive meth lab underneath the laundromat. Hank’s already checked into the big parent company, Madrigal Electromotive, which shipped one of those systems to a location where Gal signed for it. Everything’s coming full circle. Except nobody else fully sees it. Not yet. Until Hank brings up one more piece of evidence. Gus didn’t come up with any bad on his record— his fingerprints were the ones found in Gale’s apartment. Whoa. Full circle, indeed.
One of my favourite episodes of this season, especially the bits with Hank. Such quality writing all the time. “Hermanos” is next time.