Spoilers ahead for Episode 11 of FBI Season 5, called “Breakdown.”
FBI returned to CBS with an episode that shifted the focus over to Jubal, not too long after shining a spotlight on Isobel. Unlike that case, however, the crisis of the week combined with a problem in his personal life meant a combination of exactly the wrong factors for Jubal to fall off the wagon in “Breakdown.” For the first time in years, Jubal was not only drinking, but drinking on the job, with only Maggie to call him out. Actor Jeremy Sisto spoke with CinemaBlend about what happened and what was originally going to be different.
At the beginning of “Breakdown,” Jubal’s biggest problem was that his morning bagel was almost toasted instead of served chewy, but that quickly changed. A bioweapon that was released on a train had left two MTA workers dead and another in the hospital with their future not looking bright, plus his son Tyler found a lump that raised the possibility that his cancer had returned. Jubal had to race to the office and wonder about his son while his ex-wife took him to the doctor.
Jubal is usually able to compartmentalize his personal life, which has been necessary for reasons ranging from the death of a loved one to his son’s involvement in a case. That just wasn’t the case this time, and viewers learned before the end of the episode that he was drinking alcohol in his coffee (followed by breath mints) throughout the day. When I asked Jeremy Sisto whether Jubal falling off the wagon was cumulative due to everything he’s been through over the past few years or a perfect storm of things going wrong in this episode, the star shared:
As Jeremy Sisto previously noted, Jubal’s relationship with his son and his son’s health “were pretty solid” before he began drinking again. Even though he only had the news that his son’s cancer might have returned, that was enough for him to start spiraling… which he was pretty good at hiding it from his coworkers. The star continued:
If only Jubal had more time between the news about the chemical attack and his son finding a lump, would the episode have gone differently? Or if he had gotten those bits of bad news somewhere far away from bottles of alcohol, would he have coped without falling off the wagon? We can only speculate about how everything might have gone right if only something had been different, but Jeremy Sisto weighed in on why he thinks that this wasn’t a cumulative issue, saying:
Jubal definitely hasn’t had an easy ride over the last few seasons, and the death of Rina back in Season 4 seemed to push him about as close to the edge as he’d ever gotten before the events of “Breakdown.” The actor shared at the time that losing her could have been “really dangerous” for him in his recovery. (You can revisit the Rina episodes streaming with a Paramount+ subscription.) He stayed on the wagon at the time, and improved his relationship with his son. Tyler didn’t know that his dad was drinking by the time the final credits rolled on “Breakdown,” but Sam did.
And so did Maggie! While most of his coworkers noticed that he was more on edge and volatile than usual in his handling of the bioweapon case, nobody other than Maggie seemed to connect the dots about what could be the cause of his actions… along with cup after cup of coffee, followed by breath mint after breath mint. After one of his coffees spilled, Maggie noticed a smell of alcohol, and she didn’t just keep quiet about it.
Although she was as tactful as she could be while speaking to somebody with addiction issues who also happened to be above her in the chain of command, she was also direct in asking if he was drinking again. Jubal protested so much that his denials pretty much confirmed what she suspected, and she had doubts about whether he was sober enough to handle the scene when the clock was ticking before a chemical bomb went off. Jeremy Sisto opened up about what it meant to Jubal that Maggie was the one confronting him about it:
Maggie has had her own problems with compartmentalizing her personal feelings during cases in the past due to her sister’s struggles with addiction, so she had some experience with what Jubal was trying to hide from everybody. It tracks with why Isobel noticed that something was wrong enough to get the story about Tyler, but why Maggie was the one to connect the dots. According to Jeremy Sisto, Maggie wasn’t originally intended to be the person to have these moments with him, as he shared:
Although Jubal did confess to drinking again when he visited his ex-wife to get the test results on Tyler and seemed miserable enough about it that he didn’t want his son to see him like that, he didn’t end “Breakdown” drowning his sorrows in a bar. He attended an AA meeting, which hopefully is a sign that he’ll be back on the wagon sooner rather than later.
Find out how Jubal moves forward after giving in to his old demons in “Breakdown” with new episodes of FBI (opens in new tab) on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, ahead of FBI: International (which has been dealing with some big problems for Forrester and the Fly Team running out of time) at 9 p.m. and FBI: Most Wanted at 10 p.m. There are still more shows on the way in the new year, so be sure to take a look at our 2023 TV premiere schedule.