Episode Review: Breaking Bad, "Rabid Dog"

  • Publish Date: September 1, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Updated 9/2 at 9:32am

Breaking Bad, Episode 512: "Rabid Dog"
Original airdate: September 1, 2013 on AMC

Rate this episode:

Breaking Bad's final episodes:
509. Blood Money
510. Buried
511. Confessions
> 512. Rabid Dog
513. To'hajiilee airs September 8
514. Ozymandias airs September 15
515. Granite State airs September 22
516. Felina airs September 29

Spoiler warning: Quotes below may contain spoilers about this episode (though not future episodes).

Well, we're halfway through. Veteran Breaking Bad writer-producer Sam Catlin wrote and—in his debut behind the camera—directed this slower-paced fourth episode of the final run, which put the spotlight on the growing Jesse-Walt conflict even as the two leads never really shared a scene during the hour.

What did critics think of "Rabid Dog"? Below are quotes from reviews and recaps of this week's episode. If a publication provides a grade or score for the individual episode, it is included below (converted to our 0-100 scale).

Great Extremely positive reviews

100 "Breaking Bad started with the Walt and Jesse joining forces. I can't help but wish that it would end the same way. And I never thought I'd say it, but: Justice be damned. Call off the war. Nobody needs to win. It seems the only route to victory is scorched earth, deaths merited and collateral, and the irretrievable end of all the relationships that have steadily eroded over these five seasons, especially Walt and Jesse. I don't think I can take it."

— Donna Bowman / A.V. Club

"It was a gripping episode giving each character a moment to reflect on who they want to avenge, who they actually want to protect."

— Joanne Ostrow / Denver Post

"If it felt like a change of pace from the breathless crescendos of this mini-season so far, that's because it decidedly was. This is a very good thing, by the way. Breaking Bad has earned its reputation as a twitchy thrill ride, but its brilliance often comes from the juxtaposition of Heisenberg's high-stakes power moves with the low-key mundanity of Walter White's daily life. And now, even as events conspire to burn said life down, it's the little things that are still capable of knocking Walt down even as they crack us up."

— Andy Greenwald / Grantland

"So yeah, something did happen. A lot of things happened. Hank stashing Jesse at his house. Hank involving Gomey. Hank getting Jesse to put it all on videotape. Walt's call to Todd. Listen, it's all going to blow up spectacularly in due time. Just don't ever say 'nothing happened' on Breaking Bad, OK? This isn't a two-hour movie with anvils and short cuts. Great television has a story to tell. The end will come. Relax."

— Tim Goodman / The Hollywood Reporter

91 "To call this episode white-knuckle would be an understatement, and there aren't enough superlatives to throw at this episode except to say it's another knockout."

— Kevin Jagernauth / The Playlist

"The episode's audacious hit-the-rewind-button structure puts the juxtapository technique front and center, leaving a major question ostentatiously unanswered, then answering it with relish."

— Sean T. Collins / Rolling Stone

"At this juncture, it seems appropriate to commend the Breaking Bad team for doing such a remarkably strong job of winding this thing down right, not only by keeping the plot firing along toward a conclusion that we still can't fully predict but doing so with such careful, considered attention to detail."

— Jen Chaney/ Salon

"A masterfully orchestrated chess match."

— Chuck Bowen / Slant

90 "This is television at its most gripping."

— Martin Chilton / The Telegraph

"Jesse is a grown adult now, but in a way, Breaking Bad has been TV's most sustained and horrifying depiction of long-term abuse."

— James Poniewozik / Time

Positive Positive reviews

"Tonight is again a tense and engrossing hour of television just like the other three episodes so far along this back stretch. But the show gets caught between hurtling ahead and stomping on the brakes, tasked with catching up to the flash-forwards already teased and at the same time taking the right steps to justify drastic action."

— Kevin McFarland / Boing Boing

"Its weakest episode of this final run... This felt like one of the most calculating episodes of Breaking Bad in some time and while it was entertaining I think we saw the creator's hand working a little too hard."

— Zac Oldenburg / Cinema Blend

83 "Nothing wrong with this episode, it just was a building block. It had lots of great moments, though, particularly with the reveal that it was only because of Hank that the house was not set on fire."

— Allison Keene / Collider

"Walt's sentimentalism is intriguing, given that everyone else in this episode is treating poor Jesse as disposable a commodity."

— Chuck Barney / Contra Costa Times

"Overall, something of a holding episode this week. The "twist" that the scary bald dude in black in the plaza wasn't one of Walt's stooges waiting for Jesse with a ticket to Belize didn't quite have the impact that we've come to expect."

— Richard Vine / The Guardian

"There was a relentlessness to [the last three episodes]... that made it hard for both the viewer and the characters to breathe. 'Rabid Dog' is the season's first hour where we and they can really pause for air. ... It's not a disappointing episode, but it's a necessary one, both for storytelling purposes — with Hank and Jesse finally working together, the chess board needs to be rearranged — and simply to keep the audience from having a heart attack before Labor Day."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

"This week's episode of 'Breaking Bad' may not have had the spectacular pyrotechnics of last week's extraordinary outing, but any good story is like a piece of music: There have to be peaks and valleys, verses and choruses, lyrical passages and exciting stretches. Yet for all 'Rabid Dog's' quietude, it contained an intensely chilling moment that is hard to forget."

— Maureen Ryan / Huffington Post

89 "This episode was not Breaking Bad at its finest; but as we've always said here, the toughest part isn't making explosive TV, it's making the parts between the explosions just as interesting. This episode was very interesting and set us up for a great final four episodes."

— Seth Amitin / IGN

"One of the flaws of this fifth season — both halves — so far is that in just eight episodes, Gilligan and company occasionally have to compress their characters emotional arcs into far smaller numbers of episodes than typical. ... I buy Skyler going Lady Macbeth; I don't understand the fulcrum point that made her flip between the Skyler who was (the one who distrusted and hated her husband) and the one who is (who now attempts to protect the life they've built). Maybe that got lost in the weeks skipped over in 'Gliding Over All,' and Anna Gunn's performance is predictably so excellent that it's easy to gloss over this structural curiosity. But it's still there, and I wish the show gave us a better glimpse into its most important female character's head to explain why she's doing this."

— Todd VanDerWerff / Los Angeles Times

"After several episodes of memorable climaxes to start its final season, Breaking Bad got us all hot-and-bothered but sneakily gave us a methodical episode of piece positioning and motivation making rather than the insanity of Season 5b's first three hours of gratifying releases."

— Tim Surette / TV.com

"While not the most mind-blowing episode I've ever seen, 'Rabid Dog' did a great job at moving the story along and gave us a very clear indication of how Jesse and Walt's story will end."

— Luke Gelineau / TV Equals

72 "This was clearly the worst episode of Breaking Bad Season 5. It was sloppy and it played a lot like filler in many places."

— Matt Richenthal / TV Fanatic

"What's fascinating, though — in this episode as well as the previous three — is Walt's waffling. We're seeing Walter White in most of these scenes, not Heisenberg. Heisenberg wouldn't spare Hank or Jesse, or perhaps even think about it, unless there were good strategic reason. But Walt wants to."

— Matt Zoller Seitz / Vulture

"'Rabid Dog' didn't deliver the non-stop tension and big swerves of the previous three episodes, so it may go down as a lesser episode in the post-game analysis. It was a necessary one, however, positioning its characters for the final run and showing a possibly tightening noose around Walt's neck."

— Rick Porter / Zap2it

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews

"Tonight's episode was somewhat surprisingly slow for a show that only has a few episodes left. ... It's curious that the biggest actual plot movement in the episode, Hank revealing Walt's secret to Gomez and videotaping Jesse recapping the entire series for them, is almost completely glossed over."

— Brian Stitt / Star-Ledger

Poor Negative reviews


What do you think?

What did you think of last night's episode of Breaking Bad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (2)

  • GRubi  

    @Mike You think these guys gave it a bad review? Check out the one from Entertainment Weekly. She really trashes it. Its fun to read the comments of the review though. Let's just say they don't take too kindly to her article...

  • MikeNIke  

    I feel like the critics who considered this episode as a "filler" or as being too slow have been a bit too spoiled from the show itself. Not every episode needs to have "explosions" to be great. This episode is doing what Breaking Bad does great, setting up the pieces and clarifying each character's ambitions (e.g. only Walt still cares for Jesse, yet Jesse sees Walt as pure evil, ignoring all considerations that speak otherwise, like a rabid dog who has found its target) to make for an even more rewarding continuation/end. This isn't season 2 of Homeland, jeeze.

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