Season 4, episode 8: “Hermanos”

06 Aug

Breaking Bad, 4-8: “Hermanos”


We see a replay of Walt talking to Gus in the hospital amidst a crowd of people, many of them cops, saying, “This attack on my brother-in-law…I fear for my family,” etc. Immediately following this conversation, as before, there’s a rush upstairs, because Leonel, the surviving cousin, has flatlined. This time we get a different view of Mike walking away, and see him throwing the fatal syringe in a trash bin. We then see Leonel’s uncle, Hector Salamanca, in his wheelchair at a nursing home, watching the news of his nephew’s death on TV.

Now we see something else that happened at that time: Gus visiting Hector and telling him, “Your nephews were impatient. They continued to press me for permission to kill Walter White. When I wouldn’t give it, they settled instead for DEA agent Schrader. But a phone call was placed to Agent Schrader moments before the attack, thus giving him the upper hand. Marco, shot in the face, died instantly. Leonel lingered for several hours. The warning call to the DEA agent – Juan Bolsa may have some insight into who placed it. Yesterday, the federales raided his hacienda, and, in the confusion, Juan was shot dead. An accident perhaps, a mistake made by his own men. We may never know. Anyway, I thought you should hear it from me.”

Hector’s face contorts with anger more and more toward the end of this speech, in which Gus seems to take pleasure. Gus then pats Hector’s knee three times, and says, “This is what comes of blood for blood. Sangre por sangre.”

A blurry shot of swimming pool water with blood in it concludes the opener, foreshadowing the flashback later in this episode that explains Gus’s hostility toward Hector.

Scene 1: the hospital

Walt and a younger man, both in hospital gowns, wait for scans. The young man tells Walt his cancer story, and says he’s had trouble getting used to “giving up control.”

“That is such bullshit,” Walt says. “Never give up control. Live life on your own terms.” Every life comes with a death sentence. Every few months I get my regular scan, and someday it will be bad news, but till then who’s in charge? Me. That’s how I live my life.”

Scene 2: the DEA

Gus has been called in to answer questions posed by Merkert, Hank, Gomez, and Hank’s detective friend, Tim, who says he’s sitting in on a DEA investigation of a “drug-related homicide.” Informed that his fingerprints were found at the crime scene, Gale Boetticher’s apartment, Gus admits that he knew the victim, to whom he gave “a chemical scholarship at UNM, named after Maximino Arceniega, a dear friend who died too young.” He says Gale graduated in 1999, and he hadn’t seen him for years until he came to the Pollos restaurant to invite me to dinner. “I went to his home. He wanted money – tried to interest me in an ‘investment opportunity.’ I read about his death in the paper, and thought it was a random crime…He was a talented chemist, but he took shortcuts…A gentle person…I thought a lot of him.”

Hank, skeptical, asks where Gus was at the time of Gale’s murder. Meekly consulting his appointment book, Gus says “at a fundraiser.”

“One other thing,” Hank says. “Is Gustavo Fring your real name?”

“Is it my real name?”

“I know you’re a Chilean national, but there are no records of you ever living there.”


“Records show that you entered Mexico in 1968, and that a couple of years later an U.S. entry visa was issued, but that’s all.”

“General Pinochet’s government was notorious for its human rights abuses. It also kept unreliable records. I’m sure if you keep digging, you’ll find me.”

Merkert says he’s satisfied, and the interview’s over. Waiting for the elevator, Gus ticks the fingers and thumb of his right hand together in a slightly nervous way, and his face seems strained.

Back in the meeting room, Merkert admits to some “bias,” but says he finds what Gus said “credible.”

“I agree,” Hank says, “it’s a good story. Still, why are we hearing it now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, like you said, this man is a big law enforcement booster. One day he reads the paper and sees that someone he just had dinner with, someone he ‘thought a lot of,’ has been murdered. He reads this and doesn’t make a phone call? Doesn’t call you or one of his other cop friends to share his connection with the case or ask about the investigation?”

“We can’t base a criminal investigation on a person not making phone calls.”

Tim says they should “follow up, but my overall impression is: I believed him.”

Scene 3: Andrea and Brock’s new home, Casa Blanca

Saul visits Andrea and Brock to give Andrea her money for the week and see her new home, which she says costs “$1200 a month…So, you’ll thank Jesse again for both of us? How’s he doin’?”

“He’s good – he’s busy.”

Jesse’s in the passenger seat of Saul’s car when the lawyer gets back in. “How is it?” he asks.

“Space…lots of light, a little garden out back – it’s nice.”

“And Brock? How’s he doin’?”

Saul asks why Jesse doesn’t go see for himself, and Jesse thinks a minute, then says, “Catch ya later,” and gets out of the car.

At the Whites’, we see Skyler putting money inside clothing in vacuum bags, which she then hangs in her closet, causing the rod to fall down. We then see black garbage bags in the same shapes under the house in the crawl space.

At a family dinner, later, Junior asks how Walt’s scan went. He says he’s still in remission, and there are smiles all around. Walt asks how Hank’s doing. He says “pretty good,” and Marie adds, “The other day he had a big powwow with all the DEA muckety-mucks.”

“What was that about?”

“It was a dead end.”

Marie says, “He won’t tell me either. It’s all hush-hush.”

Hank then asks Walt if he’ll take him to a gem and mineral show the next day.

Scene 4: a favor for Hank

Walt talks about a mineral collection he used to have on the way to the show, and Hank says, “Hey, Walt – no rock show, okay? I just said that so Marie wouldn’t freak. Take a right here.”

“Where are we going? Pollos? You hungry?”

“We’re not here for the chicken…You ready for your mind to be blown?”

“Sure,” Walt says, looking anxious.

“Gustavo Fring – remember him? I suspect the man’s a drug dealer.”


“Yeah – methamphetamine. One of the biggest movers in the Southwest. Remember when I was showing you that stuff about Gale Boetticher, and you said he probably wasn’t the one? Well, that made me keep at it, and I found Fring’s fingerprints at the murder scene. We brought him in and questioned him, and he kicked our asses. He had reasons for everything. He’s not a suspect, but something deep down says he’s my guy. Just gotta prove it.”

“Hank, why are you telling me this?”

“I want you to do me a favor. That’s Fring’s car – a 10-year-old Volvo station wagon – brilliant. Stick this on it. It’s a GPS tracker, $2.89 from Skymall. It’s not live view, but…”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

“Extra legal.” Mike parks two spaces away, as Hank continues: “All you have to do is go over to the car, bend down like you have to tie your shoe, and stick this in the wheel well.”

“Hank, I think this is a mistake.”

“It’s really important! Do you want me to beg you?”

Walt gets out of the car, goes over to Gus’s wagon, and bends down, but doesn’t put the device on. He goes inside the restaurant, where Gus smiles, and asks, “May I help you?”

“I didn’t do it!” Walt says, nervously, showing Gus the bug in his hand.

“Do it! May I help you with your order?”

Walt comes out with a drink, puts the bug on, and gets back in the car.

“Hey, where’s my soda?” Hank asks. “Just kidding – let’s go.”

Scene 5: the lab, Jesse’s

In the lab Walt tries to explain to the camera what just happened. “We’ve had our differences, but I never…My brother-in-law has nothing…pure conjecture…But if something were to happen to Hank, that would attract attention to you and to me as well. We have a mutual interest in resolving this without violence. I will make sure that he discovers nothing.”

Later, Walt rings Jesse’s doorbell, then barges in. “Hey,” Jesse says, “don’t wait to be, like, invited – ” He listens to his partner berating him about not having killed Gus yet, then throws his cigarette pack Walt’s way, and says, “Do it yourself.”

“The timetable has advanced,” Walt continues. “Gus needs to be killed tonight, if possible. My brother-in-law is onto him!”


“I’m thinking – ”

“This is like math,” interrupts Jesse. “You add a positive douche bag to a negative douche bag, and you’ve got zero douche bags.”

“I’ve got some math for you – Hank catching Gus equals Hank catching us! Hank is relentless – he won’t quit.”

“He’s got nothing.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because he’s still above ground. Do you think a guy like Gus would let your boy anywhere near him? He’ll break out the box cutter on his sorry gimp ass!”

“So, you haven’t even seen him since that time at the diner?” Jesse shakes his head. “Okay – all right. Request a sit-down with Gus to discuss what you should say if Hank brings you in for questioning. Say you need to be properly coached. Insist on it. He’ll meet with you if he thinks you’re a liability.”

“No, he’ll waste me if he thinks I’m a liability…Whatever, man, I’m takin’ a piss.”

Jesse’s phone gives a text message jingle while he’s out of the room, and Walt looks at it: “Meeting is off. Something came up. Boss is busy.”

“I think you got a phone call,” Walt says when Jesse returns. “Anything important?” he asks, as Jesse reads the message. Jesse gives him a ‘mind your own business’ look.

Scene 6: Gus’s Pollos office, Hector’s nursing home, a Mexican flashback

Gus watches the multiple-image camera feed from the lab on his office laptop, as Mike says, “Neither the DEA nor APD considers you a person of interest. Schrader’s looking into you totally on his lonesome. His only resources are his credit card and Walt for a chauffeur.”

“There’s no warrant for the tracking device?”

“No – the guy’s gone totally maverick. He’s Miss Daisy with binoculars. We watch our backs, make sure we don’t throw him any bones, he’ll never make a case.”

“What about Chile?”

“If I can’t find any trace on you before ’89, I seriously doubt Schrader can. Seems to me the bigger problem is the cartel. And we can handle them, if that’s all we’ve got on our plate. But dealing with both Schrader and the Mexicans at the same time…If he happens to be watching, and they make a move, it could be the perfect storm.”

Outside the restaurant, Gus takes the tracking device off his car and puts it on a trash can before leaving.

Gus smiles as he sits by Hector’s wheelchair in the nursing home rec room. “Hello, Hector.” Hector won’t look at him. “The cartel has given me its ultimatum, to which I’ve said ‘no.’ DEA agent Schrader, he’s a concern. He’s looking into my past.” We see pool water sparkling in the sunlight, as Gus adds, “Is today the day, Hector?”

Then we see a swimming pool patio in a different light – the colors are like those of photos from the ’60s or ’70s. A much younger Gus is being asked to “sit down; you’re making me nervous…Relax; it’s a good plan.” All the dialogue in this scene is in Spanish with English subtitles.

A much younger Hector comes out and pisses in the pool, as a guy asks, “Are you crazy? The boss is going to rip your balls off!”

“Are you gonna tell?” scoffs Hector. He turns to Gus and his partner. “And you? So, the Chicken Brothers. I like your restaurant.” He makes makes kissing noises to mock them, perhaps indicating that they’re a gay couple as well as business partners.

Don Eladio, the “boss,” comes out and sits at the table with Gus, his partner (Max), Hector, and Juan Bolsa, the guy who cautioned Hector. The don says Pollos chicken is the “tastiest in all Mexico.” Gus and Max explain that the recipe is from Chile, Max is the chef, and Gus takes care of “business operations.”

“Is there anything else on the menu?” the don asks. He says his men “come back high on methamphetamine.”

“I didn’t sell it to them,” Gus says. “I gave them a sample to give to you to introduce you to our product.”

Max adds, “We couldn’t think of any other way to get your attention. We want to work with you.”

Don Eladio: “I know all about methamphetamine. It’s poor man’s cocaine, used by the bikers and hillbillies of North America. There’s no money in it.”

Max identifies himself as a “biochemist” and says their product is “far superior to biker crank. It’s pure, like glass. The chirality of the molecule makes the effect much stronger.” An earlier, Chilean Walt…

“This product is the drug of the future,” Gus assures the don. “I’ll triple your profits, perhaps even quadruple them…Right now you’re acting as an intermediary, dealing in Colombian cocaine, since the coca plant won’t grow in Mexico. You assume most of the risk, while they take the lion’s share of the profits.”

Max: “This new crystal methamphetamine is stronger, more addictive than cocaine, but, more important, it’s completely artificial.”

“You control all the profits,” Gus adds.

“My men do like your product,” Don Eladio says. “Hector, what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you get glasses for our guests?”

Max says, “Gustavo paid for my education at the university in Santiago. There I got degrees in biochemistry and chemical engineering. For a minimum investment, we can build a factory and train your people to make our product.”

“But if you’re the cook, why do I need him?” Don Eladio asks Max, indicating Gus. “Why should I negotiate with someone who doesn’t respect me?” We see Hector, standing at the bar, holding back on the copas. “Someone who insults me by dealing under my nose without my permission? Who manipulates me into a meeting in front of my own men?”

Gus protests, “I didn’t sell anything! I apologize if you’re offended by my method of obtaining this meeting. I meant no insult.”

“That’s true,” Max adds. “I know him like a brother. He’s an honorable man. The most loyal man I have ever known. He rescued me from the Santiago slums, and made me the man I am today! Gustavo is a genius. He will make you millions. Just find it in your heart to forgive him this one small mistake. Please! He’s my partner – I need him! I swear to God!”

Suddenly, Hector’s by Max’s side, shooting him in the head, his blood spurting onto Gus. Gus goes after Hector, and is restrained and wrestled to the ground. He ends up lying on his stomach, his face less than a foot from Max’s. “Look at him,” Hector growls. “You did this to him.”

Gus struggles and sobs, as Don Eladio bends down and says, “Listen to me. The only reason you are alive and he is not is because I know who you are. But understand – you are not in Chile anymore.” I take from this that Gus may be something like the illegitimate son of Pinochet, or one of his generals (recall that Hector referred to him a “Generalissimo” in an earlier episode).

Hector: “My advice is to stick to chicken.”

Gus continues to cry, helplessly, as Max’s blood drips into the pool.

Back in the present at the nursing home, Gus says, “Look at me, Hector. Look at me.” The old man won’t, and his mouth struggles to form words. Gus sits back and smiles, then gets up and pats Hector’s shoulder. “Maybe next time.”


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