Season 2, Episode 11: “Mandala”

09 Jul

Breaking Bad, 2-11: “Mandala”


A kid rides a bike in a not-so-great Albuquerque neighborhood. He passes a homeless guy with a shopping cart, then Combo, dressed in white, selling meth. A dark car pulls up at the curb, and Combo goes over. The two thuggish guys say nothing.

Combo: “Whatchu need? Yo – you buyin’?” Finally, he shows them the gun at his hip, and calls them “punk bitches.”

We see the dark car park around the corner, watching Combo, who pulls out his phone as the kid rides around him. “Bounce, little man!” Combo says, leaving a message for Skinny Pete: “Yo – I’m getting’ eyeballed, hard. I got a bad feelin’, man. I need some back-up. Get your ass up here now!”

Kid: “Hey, what’s that thing in your ear?”

“Hey, what’d I say? Get outta here! What you waitin’ for? Go!”

The car, still there, honks, and the kid shoots Combo in the midsection. He turns and runs, the kid, a terrified expression on his face, still shooting. Combo falls in the middle of the street, blood coming out of his mouth. The kid rides off; the car leaves.

Scene 1: Dr. Delcavoli’s office, Walt’s classroom, Jesse’s

Dr. Delcavoli’s brought in a surgeon, who advises Walt and Skyler that a lumpectomy, costing $170,000 to $200,000 would improve Walt’s chances of survival. Walt agrees on the spot, and the surgery is scheduled for two weeks after Skyler’s due date, four weeks on.

Walt retrieves his second cell phone from the classroom ceiling, and calls Jesse, who picks up, and asks, “Where the hell were you? I called twenty times!”

“Working. What is it?”

“Combo’s dead. Shot.”

“Which one is he?”

“You did not – just say that to me.”

“Jesse, listen – ” Jesse hangs up.

Later, at Jesse’s, Skinny Pete and Jesse talk. Jesse’s wearing a dull black “T” with a faded white skull and a red cloud on the front. Seems like things never go well with these skull shirts…

Jesse: “What’s the word on the street?”

“No one’s droppin’ names. Combo rang before it went down – said a couple of dudes were mad-doggin’ him – tryin’ to run him up off the corner. That’s all I know…Why’d we have to go pushin’ into new turf, yo? I mean, what do you expect?”

Jesse lowers his head and shakes it sadly. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Is that all you got?”

“I’ll do right by Combo’s people…Make sure you bust up your cell and toss it – all right? We’ll figure it out.”

“I appreciate what you’re sayin’ and all, but with Combo gone, and Badger layin’ low out in Cali…I’m on probation, man. Fast track to Los Lunas.”

Jesse lowers his head again, then looks at Skinny Pete. “We’re on the verge of making some serious coin. You gonna jump ship now?”

“This game we been playin’? We don’t got the street cred to survive it. When everyone thought you killed Spooge, we were doin’ okay, but that ATM to the head thing – junkie bitch copped to it. Whole town knows it wasn’t you.”

“Everyone knows? Why didn’t you say something?”

“I don’t know, man – ’cause we like you and all.”

“Just sit tight. We’ll get by – we’ll make it…”

“I can’t, Jesse. I’m out.”

Scene 2: Saul’s office

Walt and Jesse sit at opposite ends of Saul’s T-shaped sofa. “We had a bit of a setback,” Walt tells Saul. He turns to Jesse. “I’m sorry, but that’s an accurate description. What else do you want me to call it?”

Jesse’s smoking a cigarette. “How ’bout your fault?”

“Don’t lay that on me – you’re in charge of distribution.”

“You say expand the territory – ”

Saul, from his pulled-up armchair: “Guys, hey! Who do I look like? Maury Povich? I’m not your marriage counselor. You’re professionals. Act like it. Now – setback – go!”

Walt: “One of our dealers was murdered. Some kind of turf dispute. We lost, and everyone quit on us. We have no distribution.”

“Is there any way any of this can be traced back to you? No? Well, there’s your silver lining. How’s the health situation?”

“Better…” To Jesse, regarding the cigarette smoke: “You mind? I may have more time than I thought.”

Saul: “Outstanding.” To Jesse: “Now, as to your dead guy: occupational hazard…What about product on hand?”

Jesse, dully: “Thirty-eight pounds.”

Walt: “You did say, ‘Make hay while the sun shines.'”

Saul: “Why the long faces here? You’re sittin’ on a gold mine!”

Walt: “A gold mine we can’t sell. We need a proper infrastructure. We need foot soldiers. And we need dealers on the street level that are rock solid. We need muscle. We need enforcers. God…the entire process has been so – it’s always been one step forward and two steps back. We need your help.”

“So, let’s start with some tough love. You two suck at peddling meth. So, give up on trying to do it yourselves. I’m amazed you got this far.”

Walt: “We’re not going to deal with another high-level distributor. We’ve been down that road.”

“What? Some tattooed speed freak? No. What you two need is an honest-to-God businessman – somebody who treats your product like the high-margin commodity it is. Somebody who ships out of town, deals only in bulk – someone who’s been doin’ this for 20 years and never been caught.”

Walt leans forward. “You know someone like that?”

“Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy, who knows another guy. Let me make some calls – see if I can get a meeting.”

“What’s his name?”

Saul, back at his desk: “I have no idea. He’s very low profile – he’s careful like that. From what I do hear about him, he sounds a little like you.”

Scene 3: Jesse’s

Jesse and Jane are watching TV, and Jane reaches for Jesse’s hand. He turns to her and says, “Maybe you should leave…There’s some stuff about me you don’t know.”

“Like you’re a drug dealer? I kinda got that. You paying in cash and using an alias…”

Jesse, head in hands: “One of my guys – a guy who worked for me – got murdered. I was involved. I put him on that corner. I’m gonna smoke some crystal. I just think you should go…I mean, you’re in a program and all, and – ”

“You could come with me to a meeting.”


“We could just get outta here. It [doing drugs] won’t help.”

“Yeah, it will, and I don’t need you telling me that it won’t. I just – ” Jane looks like a little girl here, loving Jesse, and trying to help. Jesse gets up and walks toward the bedroom, then turns. “I really need you to go.” He goes into the bedroom and shuts the door.

Her hand on the front door, Jane leans her head against it. Finally, she walks back to the bedroom door, pauses a moment, and goes in, having decided that her need to be with Jesse is greater than her need to remain sober.

Scene 4: a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant

We get our first sight of drug kingpin Gus Fring, in a yellow shirt and glasses – humbly, quietly, and efficiently working. Walt’s in the restaurant, too, looking around with narrowed eyes and grim, thin lips, scrutinizing every man in the place.

Jesse comes in, wearing red, black, and white, and looking strung out and jittery. He sits down opposite Walt in the window booth. “You’re late,” Walt says.

“Oh, yeah – we’re in the big time now…So, let me get this straight. He’s allowed to know our names and what we look like, but not the other way around.”

“Why don’t you get yourself some food?”

“So, we can just sit here suckin’ up Happy Meals, lookin’ like a couple of chumps?”

Gus comes over. “Gentlemen…Is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Fine. Thanks,” Walt says. Gus leaves.

Jesse: “I don’t get you, man. A week ago you were talkin’ like you were all ready to hang it up.”

“We’ve got forty pounds we need to sell.”

“Yeah? What about after? Then you’re gonna pick some new magic number? ‘I got bills, I got bills; I gotta make more…'”

“Like you say, Jesse, things have changed.”

“Oh, I know. We got a guy killed.” There are tears in his eyes. “This is bullshit. I’m outta here!”

“Hey!” Walt calls after him, but Jesse is gone, and Gus has observed the entire interaction.

Scene 5: Skyler’s doctor’s office, Jesse’s, Beneke, Walt’s classroom

Skyler’s female obstetrician shows her the latest ultrasound. Walt comes in late, blaming traffic. “Oh, my God – look at her,” he says, looking at the picture. Skyler, saying her last labor was “pretty tough,” schedules a C-section a week or more hence.

Outside, Walt marvels, “So, we have a birthday…” Skyler’s going back to Beneke for Ted’s birthday surprise party, which doesn’t please him, but the two kiss good-bye.

At Jesse’s, the place is trashed – beer bottles all over, and Jane still in bed. Jesse rubs her naked shoulder, and kisses it. “Let’s get outta here,” he says. “Go do something. You know that museum in Santa Fe you talked about? Let’s take a drive.”

But Jane loads up the meth pipe, apparently a more hardcore drug user than Jesse once she’s fallen off the wagon.

At Beneke, Skyler does a Marilyn Monroe imitation, sexily singing “Happy Birthday” to Ted at his party. He kisses her, and says, “Fantastic!”

Walt uses his second cell phone to call Saul from his classroom. “He wasn’t there,” he says.

“Oh, he was there all right.”

“What do you mean? I sat there for two hours – nobody came.”

“All I know is, my contact said he was there. Are you sure you were at the right restaurant?”

“Yes. I’m positive. Where was he?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he sat out in the parking lot, took one look at you, and decided he didn’t like the cut of your jib. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now, because my contact says it’s a no go.”

“What? How can he make that decision without ever meeting me?”

“He’s very cautious who he does business with.”

“Call him back.”

“Hey – first of all, I never called him. I called a guy who called a guy who called a guy. Second of all, it’s over. Understand? With this particular individual all you get is one shot…Look, I’ll see if I can scrape somethin’ else up. But don’t get your hopes up. No one else handles that kind of bulk.”

Scene 6: Pollos Hermanos

Walt gets some food, and sits in the same place as before, looking out the window. There are no men in the restaurant except the manager and one employee. Walt eats, and time passes. Finally, Walt gets up and goes to the counter. “Can I help you, sir?” Gus asks.

“A Diet Coke, please, and five minutes of your time.”

Gus brings the soda to Walt’s table. “What can I do for you?”

“Have a seat. Please…I would like to know why you wouldn’t meet with me yesterday.”

“I’m sorry – I’m not following.”

“I sat here yesterday waiting to meet somebody. I believe that person was you.”

“I think you’re confusing me with someone else.”

“I don’t think so.”

Gus turns and looks at the counter. “Sir, if you have a complaint, I suggest you submit it to our e-mail system. I’ll be happy to refer you to our website.”

“I was told that the man I would be meeting with is very careful – a cautious man. I believe we’re alike in that way. If you are who I think you are, you should give me another chance.”

“I don’t think we’re alike at all, Mr. White. You are not a cautious man at all. Your partner was late, and he was high.”

“Yes. Yes, he was.”

“He’s high often, isn’t he? You have poor judgment. I can’t work with someone with poor judgment.”

“Are you familiar with my product?”

“I’ve been told it’s excellent.”

“It is impeccable. It is the purest, most chemically sound product on the market anywhere.”

“That is not the only factor.”

“You could charge twice the current rate for what I provide, and your customers would pay it – hands down. Who I choose to do business with on my end is not your problem. You won’t see him. You won’t interact with him. Forget he exists.”

“I have to ask, why? Why him?”

“Because he does what I say. Because I can trust him.”

“How much product do you have on hand?”

“Thirty-eight pounds, ready to go at a moment’s notice.” Gus gets up, and Walt asks, “Will I hear from you?”

“I have your number…You can never trust a drug addict.”

Scene 7: Beneke

Going over accounts with Ted, Skyler tells him, “There are seven accounts in which revenue’s being underreported. And I only just started to look into it.”

Ted says something about rolling overages into the next order. “The money’s coming in eventually.”

Skyler responds that she’s gotten old bills of sale out of storage, and “most of the time, there’s no backup for the reported revenues at all. In a few cases I found xeroxed copies with the dates changed. Ted…”

He gets up. “All right – you got me.”

Skyler: “We’re talking nearly a million dollars of undocumented revenue. What are you thinking?”

Ted talks about business being terrible, and trying to save the company and people’s jobs.

“Ted – people go to prison for this.”

“My dad started this company from nothing. The people who work here are like family. I can’t let that all fall apart because of a couple of bad years…Sky – don’t report this…Please.”

“I’m not gonna turn you in, Ted. But I can’t be a part of it.”

Scene 8: Jesse’s

Jesse, smoking a cigarette, is looking unhappy. The phone rings, and he lets the answering machine pick up a message from Skinny Pete: “We missed you at the funeral today. The whole crew was represented. Even Badger came all the way from Fresno. Combo’s people – everyone was all choked up…Anyway, guess you had somethin’ bigger goin’ down.”

Jane comes in, locking the door behind her. She’s carrying a brick-shaped package, which turns out to be heroin and the works to shoot it. In the bedroom, Jane ties Jesse off. He’s wearing a black “T” with little yellow skulls on it. “What’s it feel like?” he asks.

“It’s a chill. You’ll forget about this. You’ll see.” She kisses him. “I’ll meet you there.” She looks into his eyes before injecting him with the drug, and he gives her a quick nod. He drops back on the bed as “Enchanted,” sung by the Platters, plays (lyrics below). Through trick photography, he appears to float above the bed, mouth open, eyes glazed, right hand on his heart.


Living is a dream when you make it seem enchanted.

Lovers take for granted – all the world’s aglow; they ought to know…

When you touch a star, then you really are enchanted

Find a seed and plant it. Love will make it grow.

Chorus: It’s really grand when you stand hand in hand with your lover

And thrill to the wonders of night.

Days, too, will amaze you, and soon you’ll discover

Your dreams run to dreams in continuous flight.

Love is ecstasy – it’s divine to be enchanted

When your dreams are slanted through a lover’s eyes.

Scene 9: Beneke, Walt’s classroom, Pollos Hermanos, Jesse’s

Ted’s still in the Beneke office when Skyler returns. She stops her car, thinks for a minute, and gets out, Ted watching.

Walt’s administering a test to a chemistry class when everyone hears a phone vibrating against something. “Phones off, please,” Walt says before realizing that it’s his ceiling cell. “Pipes, I guess. Eyes on your paper.”

After the class has left, he gets the phone and sees that the caller was “Pollos.” He goes to the restaurant and asks for the manager. A young woman says she’s the manager, and that Gus, whom Walt has just described, owns fourteen Pollos Hermanos restaurants “between here and Nevada.” She says she can’t give out his number.

As Walt starts to leave, he’s accosted by Victor, a young male employee of Gus’s. Victor tells Walt to bring the 38 pounds of meth to a truck stop at Exit 13 “on the 25” in one hour, in return for $1.2 million. “Are you in or out?” he asks.

“In,” responds Walt. “Absolutely. But I just need a little more time.”

“One hour. If you miss it, don’t ever show your face in here again.”

Outside the restaurant, Walt tries to call Jesse. “Pick up! I’m coming by…I need the product! I need the product now!” He peels off, driving dangerously.

Meanwhile, Skyler, looking at the Beneke screensaver on her work computer, feels labor begin.

Arriving at Jesse’s, Walt sees his car is there. He bangs on the door, shouting, then bangs on the window. His phone rings; it’s Skyler, but instead of answering, he runs to the back and shouts and pounds on that door. He kicks at it, grabs an outdoor statue and breaks open an upper panel. Inside, Jesse and Jane are out cold on the bed. Walt shakes Jesse, shouting, “Jesse, wake up! Where’s the product?”

“In the kitchen…under the sink,” Jesse mumbles, without opening his eyes.

Walt tears into the kitchen as his phone rings again. He pounds on the sink cabinet till its false top comes down, and the bags of meth tumble out. He throws the kitchen trash on the floor so he can use the plastic bag, frantically stuffing the meth bags inside. His phone rings again, and he reads Skyler’s text message, saying she’s in labor. “No, not now!” he protests, lifting the trash bag over his shoulder. He goes out the front, leaving Jesse’s back door open.

We don’t see the drug meet, just Walt pulling over afterward into the parking lot of an abandoned motel. He talks to Marie, listens, then says, “Oh, thank God! Is she beautiful? I’m staring at brake lights on the 40 – some accident up ahead…No, let her rest. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” He throws out the Aztek’s spare tire, presumably to make room to put all the money in the trunk.

Scene 10: Skyler’s hospital room, Casa Blanca

“Skyler, I’m so sorry.”

“Meet your daughter.” Walt takes the baby, and coos over her, taking minutes to realize (like us) that Ted’s in the room. Again, Walt’s supplanted by another male in his fatherly duties! Ted leaves after congratulating Walt and kissing Skyler, who thanks him for bringing her to the hospital in time.

“Are you okay?”

“Just wish you’d been here.” Hank, Marie, and Junior are downstairs.

“Anything I can do for you?” Skyler asks him to get her overnight bag.

In the driveway at home, Walt looks at all the money – amazed and worshipful. He puts it in the vent space.





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