Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

Skyler Baits Her Haters—Except She Has a Point
Talking television.
Sept. 1 2013 10:00 PM

Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

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Skyler has a point. Her haters will come at her anyway.

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Photo by Ursula Coyote/AMC

Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls. In four weeks’ time, it tolls for all of us Breaking Bad viewers.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

But this episode, “Rabid Dog,” comes a little too early for a major confrontation. Instead of climactic encounters, it was a week of close calls: If Walt had drooled for one less second at a stop light, or if Jesse had paused for one more moment before extinguishing his improvised fire-lighter and leaving with Hank, Walt would have witnessed their departure and would know why Jesse changed his mind about torching the White house. And if that bald guy playing with his kid in the plaza had looked a little less like a drug king’s henchman, Hank might have some evidence banked away. But the Fates had other plans, so we’ll have to wait another week.

Walt’s ridiculous attempt to cover up the attempted arson was so pathetic that I almost thought that Walter Jr. was right about the cancer getting to him. And although Junior was wrong about why Walt was dissimilating, it was heartbreaking to see him plead with his dad to tell the truth. As we saw last week with the showdown with Jesse, Walt isn’t fooling people anymore. Everyone’s calling him out on his lies.

But back to Walt’s cover-up: Did he really think that the cleaners could remove the stench of gasoline (though I did enjoy his “will these rugs ne’er be clean” moment), or that no one in the family would notice that a kicked-in door had been repaired? Are there really no unemployed people, or freelancers, or retirees around during the day to see his peculiar perambulations around the neighborhood inserting and removing gasoline cans from neighbors’ trash, or pouring liquid onto that strange car haphazardly parked in the driveway? And that shaggy dog story about a total pump malfunction? As Walt himself said, “The whole thing … it’s just so stupid.”

When Anna Gunn’s op-ed about Skyler-hating ran in the Aug. 23 New York Times, I wondered about the timing. After years of misogynistic responses to Skyler, why was this the right moment for her to vent? Now that we’ve seen Skyler encouraging Walt to have Jesse killed, the run date seems pretty ideal—even a Skyler fan might have disliked her in that moment.

Except I can’t help noticing that Skyler has a point. As enraged as I am by Walt’s condescending ways—he’ll never admit to being wrong, he just hasn’t “explained the situation well enough”—it is totally illogical of him to think that a man who stormed into his house and doused it with an accelerant is a troubled if friendly mutt rather than a rabid dog. Of course Jesse is a threat to Walt—and a threat to the safety of the White family. Skyler is right when she tells Walt, “You can’t just talk to this person.”

The tragedy—for us Pinkman lovers, at least—is that Hank and, by the end of the episode, Walt are also ready to have Jesse put down.

I never should’ve let my dojo membership run out,

June

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