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Season 4, episode 7: “Problem Dog”

06 Aug

Breaking Bad, 4-7: “Problem Dog”

Opener

We see shots of Jesse’s graffitied walls, then see him, standing, shooting villains in RAGE, a TV video game. The end screen says, “Mission failed,” and gives a choice of “restart” or “quit.” As Jesse pulls off one more shot, the camera pulls back, and we see that, despite the still grimy, defaced walls, his house is much neater.

Scene 1: a parking lot, Saul’s office

Instead of returning Junior’s new car for an $800 restocking fee, Walt takes it to an empty parking lot, does wheelies with it, then rolls up the registration and bill of sale, sticks the paper in the gas tank, and sets it on fire. He’s calling a cab when the car explodes and turns into a fireball.

Walt’s lucky no cop came to the scene, but he ends up in Saul’s office dealing with the consequences of his ridiculous and arrogant act anyway. Since the car was his own property, the charge has been lowered to a misdemeanor. Total in legal fees: $52,000. Walt, who’s been lying like a lord on Saul’s couch, gets up and puts a bag of money in the lawyer’s safe. He just couldn’t bear to surrender the macho toy, symbol of his newfound power, any other way.

Walt asks Saul about getting a hit man to kill Gus, but all the guys the lawyer knows know Mike, and Mike knows them.

Scene 2: Jesse’s house, the car wash

Walt visits Jesse, who’s on a stepladder, painting his trashed walls off-white with a roller. Jesse says he saw Gus “at a diner with Mike. They sent me outside, and the two of them talked. He said he sees things in people. He sees something in me.”

Walt is scornful. “Does he think you’re that naïve? He can’t possibly think you’d forget what he did to Tomás. He can’t possibly think you’re that weak-willed.”

“Drop the sales pitch,” Jesse says. “I’ll do it.”

“You’ll do what?”

“I’ll kill him, first chance I get.” He starts rolling paint on the wall again.

At the car wash, Marie tells Skyler that Hank’s doing better, both mood- and PT-wise. Walt comes in with crates of soda on a dolly, revealing, after Marie leaves, stacks of money ($274,000) packed inside the outer layers of cans. Walt tells Skyler he makes that much every two weeks – $7,125,000 a year.

“That’s too much,” Skyler says. “No car wash in the world does that kind of business.”

“Set some aside. Save it for a rainy day…Skyler, I didn’t ask you to do this…This is what you wanted.”

“I never wanted any of this.”

“I’ve gotta go. If you want out, just say that you want out.” Silence. “Okay, then.”

Scene 3: the lab, Jesse’s house, Los Pollos

Walt makes ricin in the break area of the lab, where the camera can’t see him, then brings it to Jesse’s house in a little vial. “There’s not much of it,” Jesse says. “We had more for Tuco.”

“It’s enough.”

“I don’t know when I’m gonna see Gus again. I mean, if ever.”

“Keep it with you. When you have the opportunity, be ready.”

“What if they search me?”

“Will they do that?”

Jesse doesn’t answer, just takes some tobacco out of one of his cigarettes, inserts the vial, and puts the tobacco back. “My lucky cigarette.”

“Just make sure you don’t smoke it.”

Junior drives Hank to the Los Pollos restaurant. Gus comes out, greets them, and tells Hank, “A DEA hero should never have to pay for a meal at Los Pollos.” He asks if he can get them anything more, and Hank asks for a refill of his diet Coke. Back in the car, he puts the cup, which has Gus’s prints on it, in an evidence bag.

Scene 4: Gus’s office at the chicken ranch

As Jesse sits in Mike’s car with a plastic platter of carrots and celery sticks on his lap, Mike tells him, “The order of the day is eyes open, mouth shut. Big doin’s today.”

He’s placed guards all around the farm.

Inside the spacious meeting room, Gus has Jesse put the vegetable platter on the table, wrap on. They ask if he can make coffee, and he does, obviously thinking about putting the ricin in it. Mike gives Jesse a gun to put in his pocket, saying, “I don’t want to see that in your hand unless you see me with mine. Understand? Emergency only.”

After all this preparation, only one car arrives, bearing one representative – a young man, who says he “can represent the cartel’s interests.” The negotiations are all in Spanish. Gus, says, “Please sit,” then offers the cartel a one-time payment of $50 million to “conclude our business.”

“You know what the cartel wants,” the young man says. “Yes or no?”

“That’s a hard way to begin a negotiation.”

“This is not a negotiation.”

Outside, Jesse lights a cigarette, then puts it out – Gus is coming out, and the young man leaves.

Back in Mike’s car, Mike says to Jesse, “I think you’ve got something of mine. Put it in the glove box…Figure I’d better teach you how to shoot. Could be things are going to get hairy.”

“What is this? You’re giving me a gun, and now I’m like part of the team or whatever? He said he sees something in me. Like what?”

“If I had to put it in a word, I’d guess loyalty.”

“Loyalty?”

“Only maybe you got it for the wrong guy.”

Scene 5: an NA meeting

The group leader/therapist sees Jesse outside the meeting place. “Jesse? Hey – ”

“Hey.”

“Long time no see. How you doing?”

“Hey, you know – uh – good.”

“Good. Okay, we’re going to get started. Comin’ in?”

The leader starts the meeting by saying that “self-judgment just causes us to repeat the cycle…Jesse, what’s goin’ on with you these days?”

“I, uh, went back to the crystal.”

“You sober now?”

“Yeah. Four days. Big whoop, huh?”

“Hey, four days is four days. You’re here…Anything you want to talk about?”

“Couple weeks back, I, uh, killed a dog.”

“You hit it with your car?” someone asks.

Jesse shakes his head. “No, I put him down. I watched him go – I was lookin’ him straight in the eye.” He looks sad. “He didn’t know what was happening. He didn’t know why. He was just scared, and then he was gone.”

A woman says, “He was suffering. It was a kindness.”

“He wasn’t sick. He was just, like, a problem dog.”

Woman: “What’d he do? Bite someone?”

“No, this dog never bit anybody.”

An old biker guy says, “You pick up the rock, anything can happen. You go right to the dark side.”

“No rock made me do it.”

“Then what was the problem?” the woman asks. “Why’d you have to kill him?”

“Watch the crosstalk, please,” the leader cautions. “Maybe it’s not the details that matter, right? How do you feel about what you did, Jesse?”

“I don’t know.”

“Who cares how you feel?” the woman asks. “What kind of a person kills a dog for no reason?”

Leader: “Colleen – ”

Colleen: “You put an ad in the paper or something.”

Leader: “Colleen! We’re not here to sit in judgment.”

“Why not?” Jesse asks. “Maybe she’s right. Maybe I shoulda put it in the paper. Maybe I shoulda done something different. The thing is, if you just do stuff, and nothing happens, what’s it all mean? What’s the point? All right – this whole thing is about self-acceptance…”

Leader: “Kicking the hell out of yourself doesn’t give meaning to anything.”

Jesse: “So, I should stop judging and accept myself, no matter what I do? Hooray for me, because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? No matter how many dogs I kill, I just do an inventory and accept? I mean, you back your truck over your own kid, and you, like, accept? What a load of crap!”

Leader: “Hey, Jesse, I know you’re in pain – ”

Jesse: “Know what? Why I’m here in the first place? Is to sell you meth!” Jesse has tears in his eyes. “You’re nothing to me but customers!” To the leader: “I made you my bitch. How about that? You accept?”

Leader: “No.”

Jesse: “About time.” He gets up and leaves.

Scene 6: the lab, the DEA

Walt and Jesse are in the lab, cleaning, and Walt asks Jesse to bring his light over. “See any residue there?” He whispers, “It’s been a week. What’s going on?”

“I haven’t seen him.”

Gomez greets Hank and Marie at the door to the DEA building, and Hank jokes that he’s finally found his calling as a doorman. Marie kisses Hank, and wishes him luck.

Hank walks across the floor to the elevator, using a special cane. Upstairs, Merkert says, “You’ve made incredible progress,” and Gomez tells Hank he’s been promoted to GS-14. Hank congratulates him. “Steve said you might have something for us,” Merkert says.

Hank mentions his APD detective friend, Tim Roberts, and starts describing the homicide of Gale Boetticher, “a chemical genius, a nerd’s nerd, A-#1 meth cook, specialty product: blue.”

Gomez: “Heisenberg?”

“No, what I think we got here is Heisenberg’s former cook, and maybe a line on Heisenberg himself.” Hank shows Merkert and Gomez the photo of the Los Pollos menu from Gale’s apartment. It has a number written on it. “That’s the part number for a high volume HEPA air filter, a $300,000 item that would be perfect for the biggest meth lab north of the border. It’s made by an outfit called Madrigal Electromotive. Six months ago, one of these systems was sent to Albuquerque and signed for by Gale Boetticher. There’s no record that anybody actually paid for the thing…Madrigal Electromotive, based in Hanover, Germany, is a highly diversified company that just happens to own Pollos Hermanos, Gus Fring’s fast food franchise”

“No offense,” Merkert says, “but I think you’re really reaching.”

“I know – it’s off-the-map nuts, tinfoil hat time – except for this.” Hank shows two photos of matching fingerprints, one from the cup Gus handed him. “What are Gustavo Fring’s fingerprints doing in Gale Boetticher’s apartment?”

What indeed? Quite the cliffhanger…

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