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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.12: Rabid Dog
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Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 12 Rabid Dog

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 12 – “Rabid Dog”
Directed and written by Sam Catlin
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, and Bob Odenkirk
Air Date: September 1, 2013

Quiet hours of Breaking Bad are eventful, but not in ways that are maybe as overt as more action-packed hours of the show. Having officially reached the halfway point in these last eight episodes, the series needed to take a break and regroup as the end game is continued to be pieced together as the threads between the show’s future and present begin to weave together like latticework.

SPOILERS for Episode 5.12 of Breaking Bad.

How do you solve a problem like Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)? As much as I had hoped it would have involved singing nuns, Jesse’s fate after running in to the White residence to Talking Heads it, is left hanging throughout a large portion of the episode. It’s not the most innovative form of storytelling, but it helps slow the pace down of things as Walt (Bryan Cranston) and the audience wonder just where Jesse has ended up.

It’s not surprising, then that Hank (Dean Norris) would show up in the nick of time to “recruit” Jesse in his fight against Walt. Yet, Hank is using Jesse in a way that rivals Walt’s own control issues; Hank throttles Jesse to meet up with Walt. His logic to Gomie is simple: If Jesse dies during his meeting with Walt, at least the DEA will have it all on tape.

The only time Jesse’s had any sort of freedom (at least on his terms) was with Mike. It’s Jesse’s one father-figure relationship that actually came from a place of genuine care and adoration. I say this because “Rabid Dog” actually puts Walt in a position of being the only person that truly cares about Jesse throughout the episode. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) compares Jesse to Old Yeller. Skyler (Anna Gunn) goes all Lady Macbeth on the notion of Jesse’s continued existence. And Hank reminds us that Jesse did in fact murder someone. In an hour that deals directly with the Pinkman problem, it’s an interesting shift to see Walt become the voice of reason (at least for much of the episode) in Jesse’s favor. Maybe the entire reason Walt has returned in the future IS to really save Jesse?

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But as the shadows literally and figuratively creep in around Walter White, we’re given one final gasp of air before we’re plunged back into the water.

Four down. Four to go.

Quick Thoughts

– Again, it’s a quiet episode this week. And it will probably be our last quiet episode of Breaking Bad ever, as now that Walt has signed the Nazis, all hell is bound to finally break loose.

– Jesse drinks from the DEA’s cup: both literally and metaphorically. A nice touch.

– Attention AMC: if you can make Sterling’s Gold a real thing, I would buy the hell out of a pop-cultureisms book from Saul Goodman. Just saying.

– I kinda glossed over it above, but Aaron Paul gives another Emmy-winning performance here. The pain he shows when talking to Hank inside the house CRUSHED me.

– Speaking of crushing scenes: For personal reasons, I’m a little predisposed to being emotionally effected by any sort of emotional father/son relationship scene. So, naturally, the scenes between Walt and Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) pretty much wrecked me.

– Of course Marie (Betsy Brandt) has purple luggage. OF COURSE.

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