Breaking Bad: S5E12 “Rabid Dog”

8 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Anticipation: 7/10
Cinematography: 9/10

Conversation-heavy episode | Thoughtful, slow camera work | Aaron Paul's acting

Not much happened, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing | Skyler's character is loosing depth

“Breaking Bad” has had some pretty squirmy moments, but generally, I respond with perched anticipation. Nothing shown really evokes strong moral disgust in me, and that’s saying a lot for a show that exists on the verge between moral right and wrong. Though, there is one thing – make it two words: “pump malfunction.”

Walt’s “golly-gee” elaborate lies make me feel like I shouldn’t be on his side, especially when preserved innocence takes a turn toward pity.

Innocence on “Breaking Bad” takes the shape of one character – Walter Jr., but five seasons in the dark only makes things increasingly uncomfortable when he’s on-screen. He’s smart though, albeit naïve, and knows the basics of lying, which are usually identified by a phony tone. He finally broke the awkward tension when he voiced all of Team Walt’s* feelings.

“Can you just please tell the truth?”

“Rabid Dog,” was all about truth and realizations. Jesse finally tells the truth (on tape) to Hank and his former partner, Steve Gomez. Walt tries to tell Jesse the truth about Brock, but TV gets in the way (more on that later).

From these truths, realizations form that even with a full-blown confession tape of their own, Hank and Gomez can’t pin down any real evidence against Walt.

I have to voice my opinion on Hank. When Episode 8 premiered after its mid-season hiatus, by the end of the episode, Hank was seen as a “hero.” The term makes sense when compared to the established “anti-hero” archetype given to Walt. The two are polar opposites, however things always get murky when an anti-hero is also a show’s protagonist. It’s a testament to the show’s exceptional writing and Bryan Cranston’s “role of a lifetime,” as he’s said in interview after interview, that viewers automatically side with Walt. From the beginning of the series, he was a criminal. He became a murderer when he killed Domingo Gallardo Molina, aka Krazy-8, in Season One, and there’s also that whole thing about cooking meth. Walt became a criminal, but he became one under pressing circumstances. I’d argue that it wasn’t until poisoning Brock that Walt was truly in the wrong with viewers, and yet, we still root for him.

Hank’s situation could be compared to Skyler’s in the sense that any character that challenges Walt, and by default threatens the duration of the series for fans, is seen as an enemy. Hank represents justice, but at least personally, when put against Walt, I still side with the anti-hero. I guess it’s because I truly believe that Walt cares, and despite his status as a criminal, it’s not normal for him to behave that way. Without making excuses, Walt’s committed most of his most heinous crimes under the weight of desperation. It’s Heisenberg – the Mr. Hyde to his Dr. Jekyll – that makes it easier for Walt to go through with murder, poisoning, or any other unthinkable wrongdoing in order to protect his best interests, which I still believe is his family.

Jesse has become an extension of his family, becoming the son Walt’s never really had. Walter Jr., the biological son, looks up to his dad, but since he’s never known the gritty side of his father (i.e. the inherent need to feel superior) and has always seen him as timid and wholesome, Walt can’t really connect with him through all of his personas. Jesse, on the other hand, is bad. He starts off bad and gets tired of it so much that he’ll do anything to be good. Walt applied “tough love” and manipulation to Jesse, and while Jesse’s extreme loyalty came as a bittersweet result of Walt’s handling, Walt ended up caring for him very much. He’s an ass when he poisoned Brock and let Jane die, but he knew Brock wasn’t going to die, and he knew if Jane lived, Jesse would end up dead. They’re not justifications to his behavior by any means, but rather an uneasy way of wanting to secure that aura of fondness and reason by the one person who truly gets him, which is why the scene at the plaza was so heartbreaking.

TV writers, even on “Breaking Bad,” love to play with the idea of circumstance. Things are on the track to going right, when some extraneous element comes in and blurs the reality of the situation. Walt was really alone and unarmed at the plaza, but some random henchman-looking dad just happens to be standing too close to Walt and happens to be looking at his daughter, or whatever, too far into Jesse’s direction. Jesse calls Walt from a payphone declaring a full on war, and Walt, incredulously, tries to clear up the situation. Jesse hangs up, and Walt feels heavy with Heisenberg looming above him. He calls Todd and says he has a job for Todd’s hitman-uncle.

In an episode about truth, there was a lot of miscommunication between Walt and his two sons. This episode is the halfway mark, or ¾ mark if you’re counting all of Season Five, to the end of “Breaking Bad.” We know Heisenberg’s true identity gets out to the public, and Walt Jr. will find out who his dad really is. Jesse doesn’t seem as likely to commit suicide anymore, and Walt will probably go on a huge rampage against Hank. Walter needs Heisenberg’s help to resurface, but circumstances keep allowing Heisenberg to smother Walter White until there is no trace left of him. Does Heisenberg return, or is the man who walks into the house of the season premiere an indication of the third wave of Walter White?

 

*Team Walt will be known as the portion of fans who root for “Breaking Bad”’s anti-hero. Team Hank can go to Belize.

Afterthoughts:

  • Hank will never let Jesse go unscathed. He can’t offer him protection, and moreover, he doesn’t want to. That phony kindness in offering coffee and temporary shelter to Jesse was nothing more than business. Marie says, “Is this bad for Walt?” like a child, and when Hank responds affirmatively, she says “Good. I’m staying. I’ll heat up lasagna.”
  • Hank also doesn’t care whether Jesse dies or not in the Plaza meet-up. For him, it’s a win-win situation, proving that Hank is possibly one of the most selfish characters on the show – probably more selfish than Walt, since Walt decided it was ludicrous to kill Jesse and Hank, two people who could do him the most harm.
  • I really appreciated the slow camera movement in the episode’s opening. Walt creeps through his house; once again playing up the dad-figure he’s associated to Jesse by, yelling “Jesse! You show yourself right now!” He checks each of the rooms in the hallway, but the camera doesn’t follow him inside. The slow-buildup adds to the anticipation as we’re waiting to see who, or what, Walt finds inside. And when it’s nothing, it only made the scene stronger. Walt walks into a photograph of a potential crime scene, where everything is at a standstill and we can only observe from a distance.
  • Also, feel free to start an open conversation in the comment section if you agree/disagree with points made in the article. are you Team Hank or Walt? What do you think of Saul’s “colorful metaphors”? Jesus Christ, Marie.

Tweet me @claudiacmarina all things “Breaking Bad,” which airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on AMC. 

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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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