Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 2: Madrigal
I’d like to rename this episode Prophylactic Measures in honour of Mike. He has a certain eloquence to him, no?
Scene opens in a lab, where a Christopher Walken-esque old dude is trying out an array of sauces, while a team in white lab coats anxiously await his opinion. The head scientist is going through the flavours (the entire conversation is in German): versions of honey mustard, French dressing/Ranch fusion (Franch!) and smoky mesquite BBQ are presented. Not a word from the taste tester.
An assistant enters and tells the taster, Mr. Schuler, that people are waiting in his office. Then he really goes to town on the nuggets (or maybe they are tater tots?) without saying a word about the dip.
It’s Madrigal Electromotive –parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos - and the sign for LPH is being pulled down as he walks to his office. They seem to be some kind of food manufacturing lab/distributor.
Cops are waiting in Mr. Schuler’s office and inspect a photo of him and Gus. Mr. Schuler pulls a kit off the wall, locks himself in the bathroom and electrocutes himself. Damn, he really didn’t want to talk to the cops.
Jesse is still fixated on the ricin cigarette, and frantic that someone is going to find it and smoke it by accident. Walt is trying to convince him that it fell in his superlab locker and was burned in the fire. Walt creates a patsy poison cigarette (and saves the ricin in his house) and heads to Jesse’s to help him look for it. After a fruitless search, Jesse’s trusty Roomba zooms by, and Walt has him check it (again); of course it’s in there, planted by Walt. Jesse is an emotional wreck. Devastated, bawling, inconsolable; I was hoping it’s because he realized Walt planted it. But he’s crying because he feels guilty about blaming Walt! Walt plays the forgiving mentor and says to never forget they are a team (subtext: you owe me). And with that, Walt wants to start cooking again.
Jesse and Walt approach Mike about a partnership deal: distribution, support, logistics – Walt is back to square one. Owners, not employees, is how Walt positions it. “Thanks, but no thanks,” is Mike’s response. Mike makes it clear that he thinks Walt is going to self-destruct and he doesn’t want to be around for it—and hopes Jesse isn’t either. It’s a bald-guys standoff.
Hank is physically revitalized, but holding his cards close to his chest. At the DEA office, a very serious man from Madrigal tells the team that Mr. Schuler acted as a lone wolf. Clearly not. Gus obviously worked closely with Madrigal; they could have supplied all the equipment and chemicals he needed and distributed through their network of fast food affiliates.
Hank’s boss is getting forced into retirement because of his close relationship with Gus. Hank admits to looking at the laptop before it was wiped by the magnet but says it was encrypted. When Hank’s boss is describing how Gus was at his home, and right under his nose, Hank looks pained. Is it because he knows that the enemy is right under his nose as well?
Mike is in a coffee shop, and a woman in dark glasses tries to order the most complicated cup of tea ever. Mike recognizes the voice and heads over, tells her to take a breath and relax. Her first question: “Who killed Gus?” He says not to worry.
Lydia has a list of 11 men who worked for Gus and can lead back to her and Mike. She’s only had about 2 minutes of screen time but I dislike her already. People trying to be inconspicuous do not go out dressed as Carmen Sandiego or babble to the waitress about stevia. (Stevia sucks, by the way.)
Mike tells her it’s a very silly idea to kill all these men (a prophylactic measure, as he put it) and that Gus had a contingency plan to make sure everyone is taken care of. Mike vetted the 11 and feels confident they won’t flip. (Confession: I was a bit confused about who exactly Lydia is and the AMC site confirmed that she’s a Madrigal executive.)
Walt is at home, being the creepy mayor of Creepytown. Walt’s “relaxed” is sociopathic - I’d hate to see him at a spa. Skyler is in bed and looks really depressed. Walt tells her to take a shower to “feel better.”
Hank and Gomez interview Mike, as he was head of Los Pollos Hermanos corporate security team. Mike knows the drill and says he was a cop in Philadelphia. It’s hinted that Mike’s run in Philadelphia ended very dramatically, but specifics aren’t revealed. Mike doesn’t try to overstate his innocence. Hank drops Mike’s granddaughter’s name; the Cayman Island accounts (written on the photograph from last week) lead back to the 11 on the list.
By destroying the laptop Walt & Co. gave Hank 11 people that could talk. The video was encrypted. Was it even watchable? I find it hard to believe that Gus would be so careless as to leave that much evidence on his laptop. But he had Cayman Island accounts written on a photo, which was ridiculously careless, so maybe I overestimated Gustavo. He was so brilliant and cunning, I don’t want to see this season turn into “follow the trail of Gus’s mistakes.”
Jesse and Walt meet a nervous Saul at his office. Is he wearing a wire? Saul tells them that cooking in town is very difficult; Walt says if Gus could do it, so can he. Walt really doesn’t value experience – Gus had 20+ years of it, plus the backing of the cartel and Madrigal. Saul advises them to retire, and Walt says he’s in the hole and pulls out the one of his greediest lines ever: “There is gold in the streets, just waiting for someone to come and scoop it up.”
Why is Jesse cooking? He doesn’t need the money. In fact, he could probably give Walt half of his savings and still be fine for a few years. He has enough to build a life (plus he owns his house). But he’s cooking out of loyalty to Walt, always for Walt. And Walt wouldn’t be satisfied with a measly $300K and return to a normal job. Walt spent too many years as an underachiever, and now he feels entitled to money that hasn’t even been made yet.
Meanwhile, Mike is playing the greediest board game of them all, Hungry Hungry Hippos, with his granddaughter. (Hungry Hungry Hippos is greedier than Monopoly. Monopoly is about the American Dream, Hungry Hungry Hippos is about filling your gullet to the detriment of others.)
Chow phones Mike and after the call, it’s revealed he’s done so at gunpoint. Sh-t, ambush time. Let’s hope Mike’s Spidey sense is tingling
It is, and Mike sneaks up the gunman, who has killed Chow. It’s revealed that the gunman is one of the names on the list and he was approached by Lydia to kill everyone for $10K a piece; Mike was worth $30K. The gunman said he did it because all of the money is gone. It’s starting to feel a little too Kill Bill for my liking, everyone racing to off one another. But Mike’s solid team has deserted him, which will drive him to Walt and Jesse.
Cut to a beautiful house where a little girl is brushing a doll’s hair with her nanny. Lydia comes home and is quickly grabbed by Mike out of sight of her daughter. They have a tense conversation about Mike killing her, her body being found, how he is going to make her disappear. She begs him not to shoot her in the face and to not leave her daughter with questions. For some reason, Mike relents and asks her if she can get the chemical Walt needs to cook and she says maybe. He phones Walt and says he’s reconsidered. Now the partnership is a trio.
After the call, Walt goes into the bedroom, and Skyler is in bed, very quiet and ghostly. Walt tells her that her feelings will pass – she’s on the verge of crying but doesn’t have the energy. Walt tries to reassure her, and trails kisses up and down her body in the most heave-inducing way. Skyler doesn’t say a word, but looks like she wants to disappear.
Attached - Aaron Paul signing autographs on Friday.