Breaking Bad Review: Down the Rabid Hole

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Forget the lumps on Walter White's lungs. It's clear where the true malignancy lies on Breaking Bad:

All around this former chemistry teacher, whose decision long ago to break bad in order to do good (in his mind) came full, dangerous circle on "Rabid Dog," as those within his inner circle were infected by the same disease that has consumed their loved one for a year now.

No, not cancer. A stubborn, laser focus on what needs to be done. A belief that they are in the right and, when it comes to the man formerly known as Heisenberg, they will be the ones who knock him off his pedestal.

Walt by the Pool

Skyler and Saul are both pushing for Jesse to be Old Yellered. Marie is Googling ways in which she could poison her brother-in-law. Hank is willing to sacrifice Jesse to get to Walt. And Jesse?

He just wants to burn Walt's life down.

Every main character has been touched by Walt's darkness. Their motivations may differ (for Saul its self-protection; for Skyler, it's family; for Marie, it's vengeance; for Hank, it's justice; for Jesse, it's pretty much everything), but their means are the same: someone has to die.

There is no problem, no matter how difficult, or painful, or seemingly unsolvable, that violence won't make worse, intoned Marie's therapist. But call me crazy for thinking not everyone will heed this advice. It's not a question of when, it's a question of who and how. And the tension that continues to build every Sunday toward that first huge death is unlike anything I've witnessed on television before.

That said, this was clearly the worst episode of Breaking Bad Season 5. It was sloppy and it played a lot like filler in many places.

We spent a lot of time on Hank interrogating Jesse... just for him and Gomez to realize the tape was useless. We then watched the plaza meet nearly take place... only for Jesse to literally call it off. And we were really meant to believe that Jesse would believe Walt would hire an assassin to stand directly across from him?

Aside from making it clear just how far down the rabid hole everyone surrounding Walt has fallen, the hour didn't accomplish much. It simply moved pieces in to place, with Jesse and Hank uneasy partners and Walt seemingly calling Todd to plan a hit on his former protege.

The episode itself even seemed to realize this. It featured more humor than usual (Walt in his underwear again, Saul and his dojo classes, Badger and his love for Babylon 5), while playing with time a bit in order to raise the suspense of just why Jesse didn't light that gasoline on fire.

The opening three return episode scarcely paused for a breath, of course. An installment such as this was necessary for both the viewers and the characters. Everyone has to take stock of what's going on, of who is aligning with whom, of what the next best course of action actually is. And for Walt, this means truly confronting his feelings for Jesse.

Does he love him like a son? Has he always manipulated him for personal gain and protection? Did he immediately shoot down Saul's Old Yeller-like plan out of concern for Jesse... or due to an ego that once again assumes he can convince Jesse to believe whatever he needs him to believe? Walt himself may not know the answers to these questions.

So call it a filler episode, call it a needed vacation (on Labor Day weekend, involving a hotel, no less) from the utter craziness of the last three weeks, but don't call me next Sunday night. I'll be glued to AMC, wondering whose darkness will be extinguished for good.


Editor Rating: 3.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (71 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


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The either-or questions at the end fell flat for me; why can't it be both? He loves Jesse like an easily manipulated son. Jesse realizes this as well, thus the tears when hugged in the desert and his refusal to hug Walt back. And ironically, it's Hank who points out the depth of Walt's love to Jesse. So no one messes with Jesse except Walt!


So how will this end? I'ts a Faustian play. Walt will lose everything.
I'ts possible he could become the "Last Man Standing", and choose to take his own life. If his family is dead and gone, and he's lost the money, everything has been in vain. He has lost his soul and his beloved ones for nothing.
The rabid dog episode is great writing, because the episode demonstrates the fact, that everyone around Walt have been infected by his immoral and evil actions. Walt is the mad dog of the show.
At this point of the series all the important supporting characters are ready to kill or inflict death for their beliefs - except Walt Jr.
He might be the next one to learn who and what Walt is. Walt Jr. is the only one left who loves Walt unconditionally. As suggested by other viewers, Jesse could be the messenger.
This is such an amazing tv-series, the writing and the acting is fantastic.


Wow, kind of a horrible review. Not every ep can be about poisoning, bombs, and burning homes, you know. If you feel that such episodes are "filler", maybe you're better off watching shows such as the Walking Dead.


A filler episode seriously? This episode was good and needed to build up the tension for the next episodes.


When Jesse walked away after thinking Walt hired an assassin, when in reality he didn't, oddly reminded me of Romeo and Juliet in a COMPLETELY different way. I think Walt cares about Jesse deep down (he even called his son Jesse by mistake) I just think Heisenberg doesn't so Jesse is always manipulated by him. We got to see that Hank isn't the good guy at all, he just doesn't want to lose and doesn't care if someone dies for him to be "victorious". Overall, this wasn't a filler episode at all. It's just setting things in motion. (P.S I really like the idea of Walt Jr. OD'ing on Walt's blue meth. I agree it's too late for that though).


I have felt for several seasons that the ultimate price Walt will have to pay for Breaking Bad is Walter, Jr. For a long time, I thought Junior would somehow get hooked on his dad's blue meth and die as a result. It's obvious now that there's not enough time left in the series for that to develop. However, I still think it's going to come down to the father losing his son. That Junior is the last recurring character to learn his dad's hidden identity suggests to me that it will occur in a climactic and devastating manner. And Junior is the only true innocent among those in Walt's circle. His loss (however it may take place) is the most fitting price for Walt/Heisenberg to pay. And pay, he must.


Sorry, another great episode. And I'm thinking the phone call to Walt might have been some kind of code. Since when does Jesse call someone an asshole, bitch? We'll see. Jesse has something on his mind that Hank can't fathom. Neither can I, but there's more here than meets the eye.


Every time I think Walt is a genius, he comes up with these explanations for his actions which, by virtue of the fact that they're so elaborate and lengthy, prove them to be obvious lies. I can't help wondering how it is he's so oblivious to the reality that almost EVERYONE can see through them. He may be brain smart, but he's people-stupid I think. Even innocent Walt Jr. sees through them. I mean come on! Speaking of which, the cereal-swilling Junior is the only minor character yet unaffected by Walt's evil. You have to wonder what kind of darkness he'll adopt once he learns the truth. I imagine Vince Gilligan was thinking "okay this guy needs the Big Reveal - we can't keep making him stay ignorant like this".


I couldn't help but think how much respect Walt has lost. Skyler's demeanor in the hotel room showed nothing but contempt for Walt, well deserved of course, but still, a few episodes ago everyone feared him. Even Saul now keeps banging on that Old Yeller nail, seemingly not very concerned with the possible consequence of his suggestions. I think everyone around Walt is starting to realize, consciously or not, that Heisenberg is gone, retired, and the only one who truly knows this is Jesse. Jesse is Heisenberg's son. But now that Heisenberg is gone, Walt is trying to get Jesse away so that he can go back to his normal life. I really think Walt is good now, but his Heisenberg persona keeps having to come back to clean things up. Walt seems more alone than ever. He has no help, no one wants to work with him, he's on his own. Everything points to a final showdown between Jesse and Walt, however I hope not. It would be too obvious. Did anyone notice the Deadwood box set in the cabinet behind Jesse in Hank's house? I couldn't stop staring at it. loll

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