Well, Walt certainly had his chance, didn’t he? Yes, he could have done away with Jesse during that little desert get-together in last week’s episode. Out in the middle of nowhere. ... No witnesses. ... It could have been a clean kill.
Instead, they hugged it out (sort of) and Walt sent Jesse on his merry way to Alaska. Only that didn’t work out so well, and now Walt has a major problem on his hands: Can he get to Jesse before Jesse gets to him?
It’s deliciously ironic that Walt’s soft spot for his former student and partner could ultimately prove to be his undoing. Here’s a guy who so methodically and so ruthlessly knocked off everyone who proved to be a nuisance during his ascension to Heisenberg heights. And yet, when Saul suggests an “Old Yeller” option in tonight’s episode -- titled “Rabid Dog” -- Walt doesn’t won’t go there.
“Do NOT float that idea again,” he hisses, genuinely appalled that the slimy lawyer would want to put Jesse down the way little Timmy ... well, you know the movie.
No, Walt still thinks he can patch things up with Jesse. He still believes he can “work” him the way he repeatedly works his own son. So, even after Jesse had all intentions to char-broil his home, Walt tries desperately -- and futilely -- to get the kid to sit down for a talk.
Could it be that the cancer recurrence is dulling Walt’s reflexes?
Walt’s sentimentalism is intriguing, given that everyone else in this episode is treating poor Jesse as disposable a commodity. You’ve got Saul wondering if it’s time to put him down like a foamy-mouthed mutt. Later, Hank makes it known that he doesn’t care if Jesse gets killed during the planned meeting with Walt in Pacific Plaza -- just as long as they “get it all on tape.”
Even Skyler -- or “Skysenberg” -- could care less about what happens to Jesse.
“We’ve come this far,” she tells Walt icily. “What’s one more?”
I suppose this soft (or blind?) spot Walt has -- this little glimmer of humanity -- is part of the reason so many fans are still in his corner. In last week’s recap, I expressed some mild surprise over the fact that actors Julie Bowen and Samuel L. Jackson -- both previous guests on the post-show “Talking Bad” -- were still rooting for Walt to get away with it.
Several readers chimed in, saying that they, too, want Walt to prevail in the end. One even said she hopes Walt winds up “in Tahiti drinking a rum & coke.” (nice imagery).
I get it. We’ve followed Walt this far across the tightrope and don’t want him to stumble now. We’ve put in our time. We’re invested.
But all of this also has me thinking back to the days of “The Sopranos” and how creator David Chase, at times, expressed frustration with fans who showered their love on mob boss Tony no matter how heinous his actions were. Tony was a monster, after all, and everyone knows you’re not supposed to root for a monster.
In tonight’s episode it was as if creator Vince Gilligan and writer/director Sam Catlin want to remind us just how monstrous Walt has been. They do so via Jesse, who, at one point, refers to him as “the devil.”
Jesse is easily the most sympathetic key character remaining in this twisted, sick saga. He’s the so-called moral compass. And now the writers are daring you to root for Walt against him. Of course, you had no problem cheering when Walt blew Gus Fring’s face to bits, but can you now really support Walt’s decision to phone Todd with “another job” for his scuzzball uncle -- a move clearly intended to rub out Jesse?
When Hank burst into Walt’s house just in time to prevent Jesse from torching it, we clearly saw the extent of Jesse’s anguish, frustration and rage. Turning his eyes upward, he cries out, “He can’t keep getting away with it!”
No, you wouldn’t think that he could. But maybe you’re hoping he does.
Some random thoughts:
Best (and funniest) Saul line of the night (While looking in the mirror at his facial scrapes after his run-in with Jesse): “I should have never let my dojo membership run out.”
Clearly, Walt’s acting abilities can fool some people, but not Skyler. While Junior buys his whole crazy gasoline-on-my-clothes scenario, she doesn’t. She sees right through her husband now.
Speaking of Skyler, her demeanor continues to unnerve us. Just when we thought her support of Walt might be wavering a bit (last week), her cold-blooded suggestion to eliminate Jesse has us again believing she’s still playing for the team.
Marie is starting to scare us. First she suggests to Walt’s face that he should just kill himself. Now, she’s in her therapist’s office wondering what it would be like to kill him. It’s highly unlikely, but wouldn’t that be a move out of left field if it was Marie who ultimately took Heisenberg down?
When Jesse isn’t referring to Walt as the devil, he’s still calling him Mr. White. A sign of generational respect. It’s ingrained in him.
Interesting how the episode manufactured more tension for the Walt-Jesse meeting in the plaza through a visual tease: The ominous bald man in black, who, as it turned out, was only there to greet his daughter.
The sequence of Jesse nervously crossing the plaza somewhat reminded me of the final diner scene in “The Sopranos.” Shots of the people who populated the place. Could any of them be here to take him out? The claustrophobia. The anxiety.