Breaking Bad, 4-10: “Salud”
We see a dry field with mountains in the background, and Jesse, Mike, and Gus standing near a dark car. Gus is carrying a small wooden box. A small red and white plane lands, and they go toward it, Jesse seeming reluctant. Mike lowers the plane’s steps, and Jesse is the last to board after a final look around.
On the plane, they’re all wearing head sets, and we hear Gus’s voice saying, “You can do this.”
Scene 1: Walt’s apartment, the Whites’, Saul’s office
The phone rings at Walt’s place, and we hear his voicemail greeting, then Skyler’s voice: “This is my third try. Walt, if you’re there, please pick up. Okay, we’ll go ahead without you.”
Junior comes down the Whites’ hallway, dressed in black with an orange jacket. “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen,” Skyler says, hugging him. She asks her son if he wants breakfast or lunch, considering the hour, and, loyal to the breakfast code, he asks for pancakes. Skyler asks if he’ll get the paper, then goes outside, where her birthday surprise, a blue, balloon-decorated PT Cruiser is waiting in the drive. “It’s from me and your dad,” she says. “Pretty slick, huh?”
“Yeah…Thanks, Mom. It’s great.”
Looking kind of sad when Junior doesn’t want to take the car “for a spin” right away, Skyler holds the blue-ribboned keys and smiles. “Well, let’s get those pancakes goin’.”
Saul meets with Ted and tells him his “great aunt Birgit” has left him $620, 551.23.
Scene 2: somewhere in Mexico
Gus, Mike, and Jesse, all blindfolded, are being taken somewhere in a black Hummer. The three enter a warehouse at gunpoint. Inside, they take off their blindfolds, and Gus asks, “When does Don Eladio arrive?”
The young man with whom he negotiated in Albuquerque, who was also the sniper at the chicken ranch, says, “Let’s see how the cook goes first.”
Don Eladio’s head chemist asks, snottily, “Who’s the chemist? Is this a joke?”
Identified as the chemist, Jesse walks around, inspecting shelves of glassware and barrels of precursor. “Where’s the phenylacetic acid?” he wants to know.
Gus translates, as the head chemist says, “We synthesize it ourselves. All the ingredients are here.” Jesse whispers to Gus that he doesn’t know how to do that, that he just goes to “the barrel with the ‘P’ on it,” and Gus tells the chemist, “Mr. Pinkman was under the impression that the acid would be synthesized upon his arrival.”
The chemist objects that “any sophomore chemistry student can make it. What kind of an amateur have you brought us?”
Realizing he’ll have to make a bold move, Jesse says loudly, “Tell this asshole if he wants to learn how to make my product, he’s gotta do it my way. The right way.”
The chemist moves closer to Jesse, saying, “I speak English.”
“So you understand what asshole means. Now go get me my phenylacetic acid, asshole!” When told this will take several hours, he adds, “That gives us time to talk about the state of this lab. Don’t you guys have any standards? I mean, this place is disgusting!” Gus has the hint of a smile on his face. “We’re gonna scour every vat, every keg, every cook surface. We’ve gotta clean up every possible source of contamination, and only then we cook. Comprende?”
“Who do you think you are?” the head chemist demands.
“I’m the guy your boss brought here to show you how it’s done, and if this is how you run your lab, no wonder. You’re lucky he hasn’t fired your ass. If you don’t want that to happen, I suggest you stop whining like a little bitch, and do what I say.” Jesse, a big bruise clearly visible on his left cheek and jaw, doesn’t look away while the chemist glares at him. Now Mike also has a slight smile on his face, and we hear the cry (in Spanish) “Clean up!”
Scene 3: Walt’s place
Junior’s presses the buzzer at Walt’s entrance gate. Walt, still in bed, a spot of blood on the sheet covering his face, groans. His phone rings, and we hear Junior ask, “Dad, are you there? Are you okay? You missed my party – something’s gotta be really wrong!”
The next thing we know, Walt’s opening the garage door in his underwear. Then he’s inside in a chair, while Junior, leaning on his crutches, asks, “What happened to you?”
“I got into a fight.”
“What do you mean, a fight?” When Walt doesn’t answer, he persists, “Are you gonna talk to me here?” Finally, he pulls out his phone and starts dialing.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m calling Mom.”
“Don’t do that. Look, I appreciate your concern. I’m fine.” Junior sits down. “Don’t call your mother.”
Walt’s already seemed distressed and teary, but here he gets really emotional. “Because I was gambling. I’d never hear the end of it if your mom found out, so please, can we just keep it between us?”
“I don’t understand. How’d you get into a fight? With who?”
Walt, who has a big cut over his right eye, starts to cry, and we realize he’s under the influence of sleep or pain medication. Junior looks really sad, as Walt blubbers, “I made a big mistake. It’s my own fault.”
Junior, tears in his eyes, says, “Dad, it’s okay. Come on.” He gets his dad up and walks him into the bedroom. Saying, “It’s okay,” again, he tucks Walt into bed.
“Hey,” Walt says groggily, “how was your birthday?”
“Good. Get some rest.”
“A new car? Did you drive it here?”
“Yeah.” Junior starts to leave the room.
Walt, slurring: “That’s good. Do you like it?”
“Sure. I do. It drives great.”
“That’s good, Jesse.” Junior seems to wonder about this slip on Walt’s part, as does Robin Pierson of TheTVCritic.org, who felt it was unnecessary to point out that Walt’s earlier apology had really been to Jesse, his other son.
Passing the kitchen area, Junior sees Walt’s glasses and a bloody tissue on the counter.
Scene 4: the Mexican lab, the car wash, Walt’s place
Lots of men wearing respirators are watching the cook from a balcony, and it’s being videotaped. Jesse pours a chemical into a vat. Time lapse photography shows night, then day, and we see him pounding the crystal with a mallet. The head chemist takes a sample, grinds it in a mortar, adds liquid, stirs, and fills a syringe, which he inserts into a machine. The digital numbers rise as Jesse watches anxiously. When they stop at 96.2, he says, “Unh!” triumphantly, and we hear Gus’s voice, saying, “Well done.”
The negotiator/sniper puts his hand on Jesse’s shoulder and says, “The first of many.”
“Yeah,” Jesse responds, then, “What’s that mean?”
“You’re staying. You belong to the cartel now.” Jesse looks at Gus and Mike; their faces are impassive.
Meanwhile, Saul, at the car wash, reports on Ted to Skyler. “I disbursed the funds at your request. He actually bought it.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“At 3:54 PM yesterday he leased a Mercedes for $1,350 a month. Altogether, that’s $6,300 that’s not going to the IRS, loathe as I am to say I told you so.”
“Where is he now?”
Walt wakes up, and we see a prescription bottle on the nightstand, along with his glasses. When he comes out into the living room in a robe, Junior’s asleep on the couch. Walt sits down in a nearby chair and tenderly touches his son on the forehead. “Hey, how you doin’?”
“Good. How are you?”
“I’m fine, but your mother is going to be worried sick.”
“It’s cool. I called her last night and told her I was spending the night at Lewis’s. How are you?”
“I’m fine. I – well, I took these painkillers that I had left over from my surgery, and I made the brilliant decision to wash them down with a couple of beers. Not my most sterling moment, I admit. But I’m fine. I wish I could take back last night. It’s your birthday! This shouldn’t be on your mind.”
“No, it’s not okay. I’m your father, and I don’t want last night to be how you think of me.”
Junior sits up, facing Walt. “I don’t understand.”
Walt reminds Junior that his father died of Huntingdon’s disease when he was six. He says his mom and others told him stories about his dad’s “personality, how he treated people,” etc., but the memory he was left with was of his dad weak and ill in a hospital bed, perhaps not even knowing who Walt was. “I don’t want you to think of me the way I was last night [weak]. I don’t want that to be the memory you have of me when I’m gone.”
“Remembering you that way wouldn’t be so bad. The bad way to remember you would be the way you’ve been this whole last year. At least last night you were real, you know?”
Outside, Walt shuts Junior’s car door, and Junior says, “‘Bye!” Walt watches him go, then Tyrus pulls in, rolls down his window, and says, “Somewhere you should be?”
Scene 5: Beneke
“Hey, nice surprise!” Ted says, as Skyler enters his office. He tells her he’s getting the business going again, thanks to an “unexpected cash infusion.” When she asks about the car parked outside, he says he “can’t be drivin’ a piece of crap to customer meetings.” He admits that he hasn’t paid the IRS yet, and says he’s thinking of hiring a lawyer to “get him a better deal.”
“There won’t be a better deal,” Skyler says. “Pay what you owe.”
“Skyler, this is my money. Why are we having this conversation? You’re no longer part of my life – a decision you made.”
“Ted, this affects both of us.”
“No, it doesn’t. You need to drop this.”
“No, you need to pay your bill by the end of this month, which you promised the IRS in writing that you would do. It’s that simple.”
“Okay. Duly noted.”
“Does that mean ‘yes’?”
“It means in the most respectful way possible – there’s the door. I’m done talking about this.”
Skyler gets up and picks up her purse, then turns back. “From where exactly do you think you got that $600,000, Ted? Great aunt Birgit?”
“That was you?”
Scene 6: Don Eladio’s place in Mexico
We see a reflection of Gus in the pool. He’s wearing black with a light gray jacket, and swallowing some capsules. A short distance away, Jesse asks Mike, “What is this shit? I don’t get a vote? I’m supposed to just stay down here forever?”
Mike says, “I promise you this. Either we’re all going home, or none of us are. Now settle down.”
Don Eladio and his men come out of the house, and Gus faces the don at a distance of about eight feet. “Ven,” Don Eladio says, and Gus comes forward into a stiff embrace. “Gustavo! I’m so happy you finally came to your senses.” As before, almost all of the dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Gus says, “May I present the cook?” Jesse comes forward. “This is your new employer. Address him as Don Eladio.” Jesse shakes the don’s hand.
“Hola, joven (hello, young man),” Don Eladio says. To Gus: “He doesn’t speak a word of Spanish, does he?”
“And he’s no chemist…”
The head chemist says, “I told you that.”
Don Eladio: “I don’t care if he’s a pig farmer – he cooks better meth than you do with all your fancy college degrees. And this one will have plenty of time to learn Spanish, right?”
Don Eladio smiles at Jesse, then sees the wooden box on the table. “What’s this? A gift?”
“A token of respect in honor of our renewed friendship.”
Don Eladio opens the box, which contains a beautiful, handcrafted bottle of a rare tequila called Zafiro Añejo. He has the waiters pour the tequila into special glasses, and toasts Jesse, “Welcome to Mexico! Now you say, ‘Muchas gracias, señor!'”
Gus says, “This one’s an addict. To work, he must be sober.”
“None for you!” Don Eladio says, taking the glass from Jesse’s hand. Gus toasts Don Eladio, who waits for his visitor to drink first. When he does, the don smiles, says, “Salud!” and drinks, too. “Enough business! Bring out the girls!” Music plays, and girls in skimpy bikinis attend the men. “Gustavo – I’m not angry. I had to spank you, but what choice did I have? Once every twenty years you forget your place…There’s no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand [a reference to Gus’s past in Chile, either as part of the Pinochet dictatorship or a Chilean crime family]. Business is business.”
Gus says, “If you’ll excuse me?”
“Where are you going?”
“To use your bathroom, if I may.”
Don Eladio sends a guard with Gus and tells him to “Hurry up!” He smokes his cigar and watches as his nemesis leaves the pool area.
Inside the house, the guard posts himself outside the bathroom door, as Gus turns on the water in the sink, and carefully removes his jacket, folds it, and lays it on the counter. Kneeling on a towel in front of the toilet, Gus sticks his finger down his throat and vomits. We realize now that the capsules he swallowed must have been charcoal to slow his body’s absorption of the poison in the tequila.
Outside, Don Eladio drops his cigar, and his men start falling down dead. The don falls on the table, as Mike garrotes the negotiator/sniper. By the time Gus emerges from the house, it’s pandemonium. Don Eladio, on his knees, looks up and says, “You!” then falls in the pool.
Mike, his gun on someone, says to Jesse, “Make yourself useful! Find a gun!” Jesse grabs a handgun as Mike tears the necklace from Don Eladio’s neck. Gus looks sick, but manages to shout, “Don Eladio is dead! All his capos are dead! You have no one left to fight for! Fill your pockets and leave in peace, or fight me and die!”
“I hope that works,” Mike says. He and Jesse help Gus leave, as the girls jump in their cars. “Keys!” Mike shouts when they, too, reach the parking area. Jesse finds a car with keys in it, and Mike asks Gus, “Hey, you still with us?” as he loads him into the back seat.
A gunman comes out and shoots Mike, but Jesse kills him after 30 seconds of exchanged fire, standing as strong as he did when playing his violent video game. This time, however, the “mission” succeeds. Panting, he runs to Mike, who has a trickle of blood running from his mouth. “Get us outta here, kid,” Mike says. Jesse puts him in the passenger seat and takes off, a cloud of dust behind him.