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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???


Episode 12 - Rabid Dog

4 September 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Walt returns to find gasoline spread across his house but no Jesse. He tells Skyler and Walter Jr that it was his fault and they spend the night in a hotel. Skyler demands the truth and then asks Walt to kill Jesse. We learn that Hank followed Jesse to the house and persuaded him to come live with him. Jesse confesses to his criminal career on camera and Walt calls asking to meet Jesse. Hank puts a wire on him but Jesse gets spooked.

The Good: What I liked most about this was the way each character was consumed with their own equilibrium. The most notable moment in the episode was when Hank shrugged to Gomez and admitted that he didn’t care if Walt killed Jesse. Why would he? Jesse is a scumbag criminal like Walt and in part responsible for the miserable year Hank has had. All he cares about now is bringing Walt down and he doesn’t see the damaged, vulnerable Jesse that we do. It was an un-heroic thing for Hank to say but it was entirely in keeping with his character and his perspective. Why should he care about Jesse’s wellbeing? Hank’s equilibrium is all about taking Heisenberg down so that he can sleep at night knowing he righted a wrong. 

Game of Thrones has made much of the idea that it’s the good in men and not the evil that leads to their downfall. And so it seems to be for Walt. Hank can see that Walt has repeatedly protected Jesse because he cares about him. It was amazing to see Walt morally affronted by Skyler’s assumption that he would kill Jesse. All those other people were just that – “other.” They were in the way of Walt’s desires and his family. Jesse is family. Right now it would make the most sense to do as Skyler assumes and murder him. But Walt really is willing to meet, manipulate and cajole his wayward son once more. It’s only when Jesse threatens him directly that he finally resorts to calling Todd.

With Hank seeming momentarily like an asshole and Walt like a respecter of family it only made sense that Skyler would advocate murder. Her equilibrium has always been about protecting her family. Jesse is not a member of her family and so she can’t understand why Walt would make an exception for him. Again I found myself understanding Skyler’s position. She wants this to all be over. She wants Walt to die with no enemies left so that she can finally put this nightmare behind her. She would rather have Walt murder all sorts of “others” that she can’t see so that she can keep her family safely cocooned.

Even Marie is contemplating murder to find her balance. She has identified Walt as the cancer in the body of her family and clearly thinks that if he were to die everything would be fixed. She’s willing to have criminals and illegal investigations going on in her home if it will lead to the restoration of normal life. For Walter Jr the only balance we can perceive rests on his father’s health.

Finally we have Jesse whose balance is now the same as Hank’s but presumably includes keeping his own life. He is willing to cooperate but remains very much afraid of Walt. We wait to see which piece of the puzzle he thinks he can use to stitch up his former partner.

I didn’t pick the idea of equilibrium to be cute or to try and tie this review together. I genuinely felt that that was the point of the episode. This remains a story based on the logical, selfish actions of individuals rather than a battle between good and evil. There’s little doubt who the most evil character is but here we saw few admirable moments from anyone. They are all trying to restore their private universe to something like its old state and struggling.

Has there ever been a more Breaking Bad scene than the opening sequence? A man walks through an empty house and finds an empty car? Nothing happens and yet it is tense, mysterious and gripping. Walt staring at the hotel pool was a nice idea, yet another moment where a character was spending time searching for answers. I was pleased that both Walter Jr and Skyler could see through Walt’s preposterous “malfunctioning pump” story.

The Bad: Nothing.

The Unknown: It doesn’t sound like “Dave” has done a great job of listening to Marie if he can’t figure out that she’s talking about Walt. The showdown was of course tense and once more we end on a cliff hanger as Jesse claims to have some scheme to expose Walt while the latter puts out a hit on the former.

Best Moment: This was the final end of Walt and Jesse’s partnership right? There was something about Jesse sticking to his guns and telling Walt (from the pay phone) that he would get him that provoked a lot of emotion in me. Sadness for the end of their relationship. Fear and praise for Jesse. Fear for Walt. Concern for them both. My emotional reaction is far more conflicted than it has been for any other TV show.

The Bottom Line: This felt less organic than the previous few episodes. That was understandable given how it was put together with Walt’s perspective first and then Jesse’s following. Plus we skipped over a part of Jesse’s story where he confesses all to Hank because we know all those details. And yet I still thought this was excellent. I’m so invested in these characters that anyway this plays out I find myself tossed about on a sea of emotions and expectations.



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  • (Sorry, posted on the wrong episode before.)

    Use the wire on Jesse for taking down Walt?

    The reason Hank could not go after Walt was that once everything blew up in public he could himself be incriminated. Of the two storylines, which one would a judge/jury/public find more believable?

    A) A DEA agent never knew about the meth operation taking place right under his nose with his brother-in-law running things.
    B) The guy was himself involved. His health bills being paid by the drug money would be the most damning evidence to support this.

    Walt's masterstroke was making Hank realize the mess he would find himself in with scenario (B).

    Now let's say Walt confessed to his crimes during his conversation with Jesse while the wire is on. How would that make things any better for Hank? Sure, he would have Walt's confession. But he already has that (in Walt's DVD). Jesse testifying that Hank's innocent wouldn't really help, as Walt could just say that Hank wasn't involved with Jesse directly. Again, it's his health bills that have "killed" his innocence, and they remain just as incriminating in case the wire works.

    Up until that point I was really enjoying the plot development but this question is bothering me like anything. Can someone please provide an alternate interpretation of Hank's motivations?

    Posted by Kamran, 15/04/2014 4:10am (6 years ago)

  • Me again. I have a few thoughts about next week and I wasn't sure where I should post them so I figured I would just put them here.

    Do you think it's possible that Jesse's plan to "hit Walt where he really lives" could be to approach Skyler and tell him that Walt poisoned an eight year old boy? Jesse has heard time and time again that Walt's motivation for everything he does to be to provide for his family, so maybe he aims to rip them apart.

    He may believe like Hank did when he approached Skyler that she will immediately turn on Walt, but the question that raises is does she? That would be an even bigger push into her breaking nearly as bad as her husband to continue to attempt to cover for Walt with that knowledge. I always wonder if the next episode being called "To'hajiilee" is because whatever Todd's uncle is going to do for him is going to cost him quite a lot of money, and he has to scramble to dig the money back up. I can't wait to see what idea Vince Gilligan and the crew comes up with that is far superior to anything I could ever think of in every way.

    Posted by Riley, 06/09/2013 7:59pm (6 years ago)

  • I accept the need to pump the breaks a bit after the ferociously paced start to the "season", but this felt like Walt's efforts at teaching Walt Jr. to drive the Aztek. Not to beat a dead horse but the plaza scene lacked any and all subtlety. Why not feed off of Jesse's renewed use of drugs and its associated paranoia? The bald guy played out like a Wile E. Coyote anvil to the head. Jesse's ratting was a complete betrayal to the spirit of Hector Salamancha. Gome's involvement comes out of left field (pardon american expression) and negates the impact of Walt's tape. I know it's politically incorrect to critique Skyler, but I hadn't yet adjusted to why she would so emphatically back her husband after last season's behavior only to have her ratchet things up to full break bad levels this week. Where WW lives has to be his reputation as family has clearly taken a back seat.

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by dbates, 06/09/2013 3:29pm (6 years ago)

  • @Dan - thanks so much for the kind words and it's nice to hear how you found the podcasts. Don't worry about the huge amount of feedback. I always turn off enough people to keep the numbers manageable :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 04/09/2013 8:04pm (6 years ago)

  • Prediction for the end:

    Todd can't cut it, so the uncles kidnap the women and children to force Walt to cook and force Hank to back off. This develops for a while. Eventually they get an opportunity to fight back against the uncles. In the ensuing craziness, there comes a situation where Hank is vulnerable and Walt can kill him, or let him die. But Walt instead saves him, sacrificing himself in an attempt at expiation for Jane's death. But just in time Hank saves Walt, they form an uneasy alliance, and end up pinning everything Heisenberg did from the beginning on the uncles, who take the fall. At the end, knowing all their careers are over, they agree to split the money and retire.

    They head out to the desert, dig it up, and discover that it has all been destroyed by silverfish. The End.

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 04/09/2013 8:00pm (6 years ago)

  • One more thought I had was that I would have liked to see the scene where Hank initially goes to Gomez for help. They seemed to have been setting it up for a while, and I am curious as to whether Gomez believed his story right away or was more skeptical and worried that his partner was losing it. Perhaps Hank didn't tell him the details of the situation at all, and instead just asked him to come over so he could see for himself. Either way, it would've been nice to know, but I get that they can only have a certain number in each episode.

    I see that there are now 20+ comments for this, and while I understand that interest in breaking bad high, I believe it is more a reflection of people discovering what wonderful reviews you write. While I was searching for a game of thrones podcast to try, I stumbled upon "a pod of casts" and read an iTunes review that gave it one star and said something like "wonderful plot, superb acting, very good stuff. Final score: 3 out of 100. The creators should be very proud, as this is triple a score of 1." I thought that was pretty funny and had to see if you were as brutal as described. It took me a couple of episodes but i did get used to not getting angry at your scores, and now I enjoy your system more than the one I'm used to. I still enjoy sites like metacritic, but when I see stuff like homeland season 2 getting a 95 when I've mostly heard it was somewhat to very disappointing, it makes me feel like some established shows will get dozens of perfect scores just for existing. It makes me appreciate you using a 65 for good and leaving a lot more room to be able to measure just how good. I really enjoy your analysis and enthusiasm, and I appreciate the effort you give in reading and responding to the comments of your followers. I expect that it won't be long before you're getting so much feedback you won't possibly be able to read it all.

    Posted by Dan B, 04/09/2013 6:16pm (6 years ago)

  • Like you, Robin, I'm completely emotionally invested in all these characters, especially Jesse, by far my favorite. This can lead to conflicts, like being glad that Jesse has finally -- or so it seems -- broken with Walt, yet being sad that their relationship is over. If it is -- somehow I kind of doubt that. I'd like to see it evolve, which would have to include some remorse on Walt's part.

    My fantasy just before this episode, that Hank would save Jesse, preventing him from committing arson, came true, including the tension of Hank holding a gun on Jesse, but cajoling him almost lovingly at the same time. The height of this "arc," which came with Hank putting Jesse's seatbelt on for him, was dashed when Hank reverted to seeing Jesse as a "druggie nutcase" he cared nothing about. True to Hank's character, and even true in a way, but leading to Hank using Jesse as much as Walt ever did, even not caring if Walt kills him. I'd like to see more develop between Jesse and Hank. Maybe Hank will realize how much he needs "the kid" to get out of the box Walt's put him in. (Should be soon, too, before the DEA gets tired of Hank doing no work!)

    My impatience for Walt, Jr. to find out the truth about his dad (and mom) is mounting. If he ever does...Many people are predicting that he'll be killed, but I don't "feel" that -- unless someone or more than one person tries to kill Walt, and Junior gets in the way, trying to protect his dad. Here, too, there could be some coming together with Jesse. (I want "my" character to be at the heart of everything, because for me he is. He's the only one that feels everything, and can't turn away from moral and emotional contradictions.)

    Finally, yes, the bald guy in the square was totally unnecessary, and as someone else said extremely "clunky." I didn't feel Jesse was even really that affected by him -- he didn't need to be there for Jesse to feel that amount of fear of what Walt might do to him. This wouldn't be the first time Jesse's been inspired by a new thought in the midst of a tense experience, but at the moment I can't think of the one or more other times in the series.

    As you can see, I'm really seeing Jesse at the heart of everything, and will be really disappointed if he's killed or imprisoned. One of the BB podcasts I listen to had him walking off into the sunset as the new parent of baby Holly. I could go for that. The prediction that Jesse will be kidnapped by Todd et al and made to cook for them rings even truer for me. But, as we all know, what happens could easily be something none of us have envisioned.

    I think Jesse's new plan to take down Walt has to do with Walt's money. Maybe he saw the coordinates on the fridge at Walt's house? We know by the title of the next episode that all the characters will be drawn back to that original cook site for one or more showdowns. Can't wait...

    P.S. I agree with those who were disappointed that Jesse's cooperating with the cops, even though he has to for Walt to be taken down (no one person can do it). It is out of character for him and compromises his integrity, but I think he'll redeem that in the remaining episodes. He also needed another strong character to snap him out of his emotional funk enough for him to act at all rationally.

    P.P.S. Emmys for Aaron Paul and Dean Norris.

    Posted by Maggie S, 04/09/2013 1:02pm (6 years ago)

  • Jesse is the character I can identify with the most and despite the many times Walt was pretty awful to him, it always seemed clear to me that deep down Mr. White really cared for his loyal partner. Their bond was virtually the only thing that allowed me to hang onto a small amount of faith that Walt still had some humanity. Over the last couple of seasons though, Walt's cruel manipulations pushed Jesse farther and farther away until we arrive at this episode and the bond they once had has been destroyed. Jesse is so lost from being manipulated, from being used like someone's tool, and he needs someone to treat him like a human being. I desperately wanted Hank to finally be the one to be good to him, but given their history , logic wouldn't allow that. I also hoped that Skylar, having shared a tender moment with Jesse in the first half of this season where they exchanged a weary, knowing look, would be hesitant to want to inflict harm on him, but given her priority is the safety of her family, logic wouldn't allow that either. The scene when Hank callously admits he doesn't really care if Jesse lives or dies broke my heart, and makes it difficult for me to root for Hank going forward. After all the lies, all the manipulations, all the damage Mr. White has inflicted on Jesse, in this moment we know Walt does indeed care about him, and is the only person left who cares about him. And in that moment, for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, I found myself caring for Walt again. So fittingly, this is also the episode where what happens lead him to finally decide Jesse needs to go. I suspect that if Walt does go through with it and is successful, the crushing guilt that he has been shockingly immune to so far will be inescapable this time.
    I thought it was a well crafted and emotionally involving episode. The visuals and sound effects were great as always, but I was most impressed by the way the characters clearly illustrated what is motivating them and drove the plot forward with actions that were both unpredictable and completely logical. The logic on this show is at times brutally cold, though, and for me "Rabid Dog" was as cold as any in recent memory.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Dan B, 04/09/2013 4:08am (6 years ago)

  • Wacky suggestion: Junior stumbles across Walt's confession video, totally believes it, and, in his anguish, gets hands on a gun at the wrong time and shoots drug kingpin Uncle Hank for what he did to poor Walt. Probably right in front of everybody.

    Posted by Bruce caward, 03/09/2013 11:25pm (6 years ago)

  • This episode did not live up to the super-high standard of the recent run for me. It's not a great episode.
    Once we realise in the opening scene that the house is not ablaze, there is no tension. Why would Jesse stick around if he's not going to light the gasoline? There is tension from Walt's point of view, but not ours.
    From this point, it always seemed likely that Jesse was finally going to forge the long-predicted alliance with Hank. We raced so quickly to the confrontation between Hank and Walt, this story seems painfully slow to unfold in comparison.
    Walt's story of the faulty fuel pump was so preposterous it was clear Skyler would never buy a word of it. We have trodden this ground (Skyler not trusting Walt) so many times now. Walter Jr's "please can you just tell the truth" however was a great moment
    The story is set up to have the two false father figures to Jesse, eventually with both of them turning on him to get their way. I found it interesting how both Hank and Skyler view Jesse as expendable, but not Walt. This makes no sense from Walt's recent development. He has recently threatened Jesse twice - once in Jesse's house and once in the desert. It seemed like Season 2 Walt has reappeared.
    Walt seems outraged with Saul (then again, if less so, with Skyler) for even floating the idea of killing Jesse. It doesn't add up.
    Why didn't Saul's men track Hank to find Jesse? Saul knows that Hank is on to Jesse. They spend hours bugging Skinny Pete's place, but not Hank's?
    How did Walt's messages get to the Hello Kitty phone? Wasn't that Saul's phone? Did Jesse go to the bother of forwarding messages to the new phone while in his state of anguish?
    My main problem though is with Hank. He admits that Jesse is 'not in the system'. Does this mean any evidence is inadmissible? Don't you need a court order to covertly surveil (I don't know)? Is Steve putting his career at risk and if so, why?
    Worse, Hank's attitude that Jesse getting killed would be a good thing. Isn't part of his role in the DEA to protect the vulnerable from the scourge of the drug world? Doesn't Jesse fit this to a tee? Whatever Jesse's own misdemeanors, he is also a victim of Walt. Are we supposed to believe that Walt's cancer - the cancer of his actions - has spread to Hank to such an extent that we now lose sympathy with him too? It seems a stretch to me.
    Finally, Walt the criminal mastermind decides to speak to Jesse to explain Brock's poisoning. Hasn't he been 2 steps ahead of Jesse since season 3 or 4? It seems like a regression.
    Dean Norris was excellent again - very intense and believable. Bryan Cranston is so good at 'acting acting' - lying as Walt - as always

    Viewer score: 61 / 100

    Posted by Howard, 03/09/2013 9:57pm (6 years ago)

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