By this point of Breaking Bad, we all know how Walt handles the issue of pride: not well.
It's his downfall, from turning down an offer to pay for his treatment years ago to pretty much every problem he's encountered since. On "Problem Dog," he reacted like a child at being told by Skyler to return the Challenger, wheeling it around like a five-year old dead set on proving he's a big boy.
Now contrast Walt's reaction to having his manhood questioned to that of Hank. He's been shot, incapacitated, bed-ridden, forced to ask for help when using the bathroom. He's watched his former partner climb the professional ladder, achieve the kind of success Hank was too scared to go after a couple seasons ago.
Has he reacted with fury and bitterness? A sarcastic quip here and there? Of course. But he's also bared down when it mattered, extended a hand to his friend and put together the puzzle pieces of a global drug operation.For good reason, Breaking Bad is often praised for its tense use of silence and for its unique cinematography (on this episode alone, I counted a microwave cam, a table cam, a floor cam, a soda fountain cam and a coffee machine can). But the series has delivered a couple of engrossing scenes of pure dialogue over the last couple episodes, each a total contrast from the other.
Last week, we had the classic expression of rage from Walt, as he bellowed "I am the guy who knocks" at a frightened Skyler. This time around, it was Hank just sitting at a table with his former colleagues, explaining the entire meth ring to them and to the viewers. With close to half a season remaining, and 16 episodes to come after that, something major is clearly about to go down.
All the pieces are in place for a shake-up. Hank is on to Gus, Gus is backed into a corner by the Cartel, Walt wants Jesse to kill Gus. This isn't exactly a manageable status quo.
As for Jesse and the concept of pride, that's nothing but a foreign entity. He has none. He's a broken man. Contrary to his incredibly-delivered speech in that support group, Jesse does accept who he has become. He just accepts that to be a worthless murderer. He might appreciate the evolving position he has with Mike and the team, but he's also aware this is a position within a group of drug dealers and killers.
And any hope Jesse might have for redemption? For believing that things can change? Walt, as usual, did his best to knock that down with a speech about all that's happened over the last few years. But what does Walt care? Absolutely everything is about him, right?
That's in his mind, of course. On "Problem Dog," a lot was about Gus Fring. He's a wanted man now, by the DEA, by the cartel, by Jesse and Walt if the former is up to the job. Can Gus ameliorate his situation? I doubt it. But it will be fascinating to watch him try.