Breaking Bad recap: Madrigal

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July 26, 2012 by Susan Miller

Such a sad last meal.

Such a sad last meal.

Hey there loyal readers.  We made it through 2 episodes!  That’s amazing consistency.  In case you missed it, here’s what happened on episode 2, Madrigal:

A Madrigal man committed suicide after trying “Franch”.  Walt hid Chekhov’s ricin in his bedroom and psychologically terrorized Jesse, Skylar and Saul.  Walt’s magnet plan from last week created  huge new problems for Mike which led to two people dying and an unfortunate partnership with a snooty tea drinker named Lydia.  Oh, and kids continued to be everyone’s Achilles’ heel.  Let’s discuss.

1. Where will they cook?

Steven: The car wash.  I feel like they’ve been setting this up ever since episode one where you see Walt working with various chemicals in his second job.  They really ramped it up when they introduced Gus and his laundromat.  By the time Skylar purchases the car wash to launder money, I was screaming, “They’ve got their own lab!” in my mind.

Susan: The car wash seems like the most thuddingly obvious place.  So I really really hope it won’t be the car wash.  But if it’s not the car wash… where would they possibly go?  Back to Jesse’s?  Walt’s apartment?  Saul’s office?  I’m hoping to be surprised and delighted.

2. Will Mike last the season?

Steven: I think Mike or Jesse will be the only character to make it out alive by the end.  I see one of the two of them boarding a bus out of Albuquerque with nothing but a duffel bag full of money and never looking back.

Susan: I always worry when they have a supporting character carry an episode.  Any time you start to get back story on the supporting cast, you know they’re not long for this world.  Plus Mike coughed all through last season, and so far this season we’ve taken time out to notice that his bullet wound is still bleeding, he’s old enough to have a fake hip and he drinks Ensure with his beer.  Mike’s not a healthy guy, and now that his financial health is in jeopardy, things are going to get a lot worse for everyone involved.  Fearless prediction – Mike doesn’t end up dead at the end of this season.  He ends up in jail.  And it’s Lydia’s fault.

3. What does Hank know?  

Steven: What doesn’t Hank know?  Here you have a gifted detective, able to see through people from afar, able to put connections together that even his department can’t.  Enter Walt and Skylar.  Skylar has a ridiculous story to make sense of Walt’s new cash flow.  Walt not only never talks about his gambling, hasn’t had any warning signs up until now, and he keeps dropping hints for Hank to pick up.  One character has a bad lie, while the other wants to get caught.  If Jesse represents “addiction” and “half-measured recovery,” and Skylar represents “the devastation of addiction on the family,” then Hank is “denial” all the way.  When ASAC Merkert tells his story about grilling out with Gus, I think we see Hank have a moment of clarity, where his understanding cuts through the cloud he put up around this brother-in-law of his.

What does Walt represent, you ask?  An idiot.

Susan: That scene with his boss is oh-so-tricky.  I think Hank has been on to Walt for quite some time.  Why else would he keep feeding Walt top secret info about his investigation?  I think what we’re seeing in that scene is not Hank figuring it out, but Hank wondering if everyone else has figured it out too.  I think Hank is trying to find a way to catch Walt on his own, so that he can either turn him in and act shocked, or convince him to get out and never come back.  Hank knows that he’s all tied up in it and his reputation will be ruined and that he’ll be an accomplice after the fact since his PT is funded by the drug money.  He sees his boss thrown under the bus because of his friendship with Gus and knows that his career will absolutely be over if Walt ever gets caught.  So what’s the best scenario for Hank?  Can anyone escape the Walter White poison?

4. What other illegal operations is Madrigal Electromotive running?

Steven: For some reason I feel like one of the other restaurants is a money laundering front for the Mob, maybe in Jersey or Miami.  If there were more than 14 episodes left, I’d predict that we’d get to see the affect this Peter Schuler’s illegal fast food operations have had on the towns these other chains are in.  Maybe a plane crash situation like in season 2 where we saw the devastating repercussions of Walt’s actions…  However, with just this much time left, I think they’ll just be side notes, but I think there will still be plenty of other illegal activity.

Susan: It sure seems like a massive front for other drugs, doesn’t it?  Why else do we get a look at all the other signs in the building?  Does each business correspond with a different drug market?  Will we ever find out more about it?  What’s more interesting to me is how Gus got involved with a German company in the first place.  I don’t know if the series really has enough time to go down that road, but it’ll be interesting to find out just how big Gus’ empire was.  It also makes it impossible to guess at this point which piece will end up bringing them all down.

5. Who is Lydia exactly?

Steven: Executive in charge of illegal fast food operations.  I feel like she’s going to turn out to be Schuler’s assistant.  And now that Mike is taking charge of this specific meth-ring, I think she’ll become his assistant. As much as the writers may want us to believe that the power play is between Mike and Walt, I think the real money is at Lydia’s level, and I think the real struggle will be between her and Mike.

Susan: I feel like she’s close to Gus in some way.  We got a good look at Mike and Chao’s houses in this episode and Lydia appears to have done much much better for herself than those two.  It’s also interesting that her daughter is learning Spanish.  I think she’s either related to Gus, or perhaps Gus’ bestie who was killed in Mexico by Don Eladio.  It’s interesting to me that Gus would choose to do business with her, because she seems very volatile and unprofessional.  She’s also not on the secret payroll from the offshore accounts, so she’s not one of Mike’s people.  Maybe she has cartel connections?  Wouldn’t it be great if we get through the whole series without Walt knowing that she exists?  I can’t believe how much Walt doesn’t know.  He doesn’t even know about the great cartel showdown last season!  He just thinks everything is peachy.  He doesn’t know that his magnet plan completely backfired.  He doesn’t know why Mike reconsidered. He doesn’t know that his precious precursor is coming from an extremely dangerous place.  He doesn’t even know how many people are going to be on his new payroll!

6. Why hasn’t Skylar left yet?

Steven: It’s either greed or cowardice, and I’m leaning towards the prior.  If she loved Walt — which we know she doesn’t — that might be enough reason to keep her baby girl in such a dangerous situation.  She ran away once, she a moment of rationale thinking, and then she reversed it immediately.  Why?  Does she really think Walt or someone is going to track her and her baby down?  Does she not want to leave Walt Jr.?  She could have always asked Saul to vanish her and the kids.  I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard to leave your life, friends and extended family, but I think there is more to Skylar’s motivation than loving her family.  It takes a certain personality to cook someone’s books in order to keep a business alive, a certain personality to force someone into selling their car wash in order to keep a meth business running, and I believe Skylar has such a personality.  The kind of woman who loves her family enough to stay, would’ve never gotten so far in that she’d have to make that decision.  Greed, or at the very least Pride, is running the show here.

Susan: I think she’s plotting.  She’s like Walt in that respect.  She’s not going to run away and let someone win.  She just needs some time to figure out a plan.  Children are constantly used as bargaining chips on this show, so I’m guessing it will come down to that.  She’s just coming up with the perfect strategy.  And maybe an overly worked script.

New thought this week: what is Breaking Bad saying about the theme of brotherhood, if anything?  Gus’ franchise is Los Pollos Hermanos.  The final battle will be Walt vs. his brother-in-law Hank.  Mike was a cop in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia) and left on a bad note.  A problem with his brother, perhaps?  Jesse never felt loved by his parents because of his perfect younger brother.  Something there?  Or just Vince exorcising some demons?

Best line: “Ketchup… that one is essentially just ketchup.”

Thoughts?  Questions?  Quibbles?

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