Monday, August 29, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 7 Problem Dog

As all the forces swirl around in "Problem Dog," there is one thing that becomes clear: Wal is fucked. Every which direction is another obstacle, created largely by himself. Walt is the Challenger, skidding around in the parking lot, leaving huge circles which lead to the exploded mess. There's no question which car performed the act, and now the question is whether Walt will receive the same fiery end.

His closest ally, Jesse, appears to have switched sides, or has decided to stay neutral, which doesn't bode well. Initially, Jesse goes along with Walt's plan to poison Gus with ricin (despite the failure way back when Tuco had them hostage), and he has several chances to kill Gus, either through poison or by shooting him. However, Mike again tugs on Jesse's pride, handing him a gun in case something happens at the summit. If Jesse felt good when he got away from the fake goons a few episodes back, then he surely felt good after seeing how important and dangerous the meeting was and having a role.

But Jesse seems reluctant to take a firm stance, as he battles his own demons first. His visit to the support group ends badly, in an admission that he joined to sell meth, but he first talks about killing Gale--in a story about putting down a dog. He can really come up with no reason why the dog should have been put down other than that it was a problem dog, and he snaps after the dog woman keeps chastising him. Jesse has come back from the edge since his drug phase, but he's still struggling and looking for more, whatever that may be.  Aaron Paul delivers for the n-th in a stunning scene.

Even the money laundering, a scheme in the plans since the third season, is not going well. Once Skyler learns how much money Walt earns, she tells him it's too much to report. Walt's response? Deal with it. Again, Walt misses the big picture, that the money has to be dealt with properly, in exchange from some short term reprisal. With everything else going on, Walt chooses to ostracize his wife and possibly draw suspicion to the money.

The one stable factor in the past few seasons has been Gus's empire and even that seems to be under imminent threat. The big meeting--with a full vegetable platter, chairs laid out, and a handful of gunmen--ends unceremoniously. There are no key cartel figures, only a messenger. And his message--yes or no? They don't care what Gus is offering. I believe what they want is Walt, the master cooker who fuels Gus's operation. If I remember correctly, the Cousins were originally coming to New Mexico to bring Walt and Jesse to Mexico, but took a detour to deal with Tuco's killer. For now, Gus is willing to put his men on the line for Walt, but if it proves too costly, there is no doubt what Gus will do. Again, bad news for Walt.

Dean Norris was awesome in the final scene, rattling out the connections from Gale to a manufacturer to Los Pollos Hermanos and finally to Gus. And then he busts out the last, damning piece of evidence, fingerprints. I've never been a fan of Hank (and I'd go as far as saying I dislike him when he talks himself up), but it felt good to see him back on track. Go Hank!

In the previous seasons, it always seemed like Walt could get out of a situation. In comparison, he didn't have too much to deal with back then. There was the family and there was the drugs, also a less complicated operation back then. Now, as the family and the drugs come together, the two worlds colliding, Walt's world becomes infinitely harder to manage. How can he even get out?

Score: 9.4/10

  • It looks like Jesse was playing Rage HD for iOS (which is a rail shooter unlike the PC and console versions), though the motion control could be an indication that it was indeed the full version. Good bit of advertisement juxtaposed with Gale's shooting.
  • If Walt's plan to kill Gus had panned out, the cartel probably would have swooped in immediately. Walt dodged the bullet on this one.
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