Season 4, episode 13: “Face Off”

07 Aug

Breaking Bad, 4-13: “Face Off”


Drums beat rapidly, as Walt slides under Gus’s car and removes the bomb. The next time we see him, he’s exiting a hospital elevator, and the bomb (that he’s carrying in a shoulder bag) is sticking to the elevator door because of its magnet.

Finding Jesse, Walt asks, “What’d you say to Gus? Because he’s onto us.”

“I didn’t say jack. What do you mean he’s onto us?”

“He’s walking to his car and then suddenly he isn’t. What? Does he have some kind of sixth sense?”


“What did you say to him?”

“Could I ask my own question now, at this point? Did you just bring a bomb into a hospital?”

“What? Was I supposed to leave it on his car? Okay – name me one place where we can surprise Gus, because his house, the laundry, and the chicken farm are all wired with cameras. One place. Think! Jesse, think! Where is it? Where? Because if you can’t tell me, we are dead…Jesse?”

Jesse, looking worried, is breathing heavily. “I don’t know.”

“Excuse me – Jesse Pinkman?” Two Albuquerque police detectives introduce themselves and ask Jesse to “go somewhere to talk.”

“About what?” Walt asks.

“Excuse me, sir – I didn’t catch your name.”

Walt looks down, and Jesse stands up. “About what?”

“Brock Cantillo…a statement you made to his mother.”

Scene 1: a police interrogation room

“So am I under arrest?”

“No. We’re just talking.”

“So, if I get tired of talking, I can leave.”

“We’d prefer if you didn’t…Jesse, why did you tell Brock’s mom that the boy had been poisoned?”

Jesse lowers his head and sighs. “Look, I think this has been – what do you call it? – overblown, because all I basically said was maybe Brock got poisoned…You know, cover all the bases and whatnot.”

“I’m sure the doctors appreciated you helpin’ ’em out like that. Especially with how specific you were and all.”

“Ricin,” the second cop says. “Wow.”

First cop: “Yeah, ricin. You don’t see that every day, so when doctors hear that, they take it very seriously. As do we. As does the FBI…Why ricin? How’d you come up with that?”

“I don’t know, unless I saw it on ‘House’ or somethin’.”


“Yeah, you know – like ‘House’ or the Discovery Channel – sometimes your brain just makes these connections…Look, I gotta get back.”

“Well, we’re still talking.”

“So, I’m not under arrest, but I can’t leave. Then I guess I should call my lawyer.”

Scene 2: Saul’s office, the Whites’, APD, a vacant lot

Saul’s secretary is shredding documents when the phone starts to ring, and there’s knocking on the door. She ignores both, and then hears the sound of the door breaking. She gets a spray can of Mace out, and asks Walt, who’s crawling through the opening he’s made in the bottom of the door, what he thinks he’d doing.

“I need Saul – I need him right now!”
“So, you break into the place.”

“Is he here?”

“Why would he be here?”

“I need a number!”

“Are you in danger? Why do you think he’s not here? You’re in danger after doing something idiotic? And what gives you the right to break down my door?”

“I just need a number – that’s all.”

“You are such a pain in my ass, you know that? You’re the reason I gotta go on unemployment for God knows how long! I was looking forward to getting out of here in half an hour, but, no – now I gotta wait around for the plate glass guy to come and fix this door! And who’ll pay for this?”

Walt takes money out of his wallet. “$1,700 – that’ll more than cover the cost of the door. I apologize profusely. Now, please, a phone number!”

“A door like this is gonna cost way more than $1,700.”

“What? For a plate of glass?”

“Oh, yeah – bet it does. Bet you it ends up costing $20,000.”

“Are you insane? Who the hell is gonna charge $20,000 for a plate glass door?”

“Now I’m thinkin’ 25…”

Walt advances on her, but she’s not cowed, so he says, “I’ll be back!”

Walt drives as fast as he can to a parking spot near his house. He calls his next-door neighbor, an older woman, tells her the family’s out of town, and gets her to check and see if the stove is on. (In other words, he’s using her to see if it’s safe for him to go in the house.) She uses her spare key, and goes inside. After she calls back and gives Walt the “all clear,” he sees two men coming out of a gate on the side of the house and going down the street.

Walt climbs over the wall, as fast drums beat, descends to the crawl space, and gets some money. Now the two men are back with guns. One opens the door to the utility closet as Walt climbs out a vent, runs to the closest wall, and climbs over, falling on the other side.

Jesse’s arguing with the two APD detectives when Saul comes in and shoos them out. “Christ! You two,” Saul says, looking for bugs. “You’re a lot safer in here – they just tried to get your partner in his own home. Jesus!”

“Is he okay?”

“He’s okay, like a fruit fly’s okay. We’re all on the clock here – thanks for that, by the way. You got anything for me? I mean, tell me I didn’t poke my head out for nothin’.”

“Yeah, I been thinkin.'”


The next thing we see is Saul and Walt in a vacant lot, Saul telling Walt about Hector Salamanca and his nursing home, Casa Tranquila. “Our boy says Gus is torturing the old guy for once murdering someone close to him.”

Tio murdered someone close to Gus…”

“That’s all I got.”

“They’re enemies, not friends…”

Scene 3: Casa Tranquila, the DEA

A bingo game’s in progress in the rec room, as Tio watches TV. Walt comes in, and says, “I know you despise me…I know how badly you want to see me dead, but I’m willing to bet that I know a man you hate even more. I’m offering you an opportunity for revenge.” Hector’s face twitches.

Later, alone in his room, Tio hits his bell. A nurse comes in and asks him what he needs. Using his letter board and the bell, she finds out he wants to talk to the DEA.

At the DEA, Hank asks Gomez to look at a schematic showing extra wiring at the laundry. After he suggests “another look-see,” Gomez tells him that Hector wants to see him. But all Hector does is have his nurse spell out “Suck my…” and “Fuck you.” Hank’s resigned. “Well, at least he didn’t shit himself. I guess that’s progress.”

Tyrus, watching, sees Hector leaving the building.

Back in Hector’s room at Casa Tranquila, we see a framed photo of him taken years ago with his young nephews and grandson: Marco, Leonel, and Joaquin, all of whom Gus has had killed. Walt comes in, and asks, “Any second thoughts?” No ding. “Then let’s get to work.”

A little while later, Tyrus comes in and checks for bugs. He picks up Don Eladio’s eye necklace for a moment and looks at it. Hector’s face is moving, but differently. Tyrus looks in the bathroom and out the window. An old lady in the next room, who can see Walt hiding behind the window embrasure, is waving and saying, “Hi!” to him.

The APD detectives release Jesse and tell him “the tox screen came back – no ricin poisoning.” Jesse races outside and tries to flag down a cab. He calls Walt and leaves a message – “Call me when you can. I’m headed back over.” Immediately afterward, he’s kidnapped off the street by Gus’s men seconds before a large groups of uniformed cops walks by.

Gus answers the phone in his Pollos office, and hears, “We just picked up Pinkman. No witnesses.”

“What about Hector?”

“I’ve checked inside and out. No wires, no camera – it’s just him, alone in his room.”

“All right. I’m on my way.”

“Maybe it’s better if I do this myself.”

“I do this.” Gus is planning to kill Hector. We see him arriving at the nursing home, drums beating quickly, Walt watching, unseen. As Gus walks toward the nursing home entrance, looking obsessed, the music becomes almost majestic, tipping us off that a major climax is coming. It’s back to just drums as Gus enters Hector’s room. Tyrus turns Hector’s chair to face Gus, as the latter asks, “What kind of man talks to the DEA? No man. No man at all.” Tyrus is preparing a syringe. “A crippled little rata. What a reputation to leave behind…” Hector isn’t looking at Gus.

Gus takes the syringe. “Is that how you want to be remembered? Last chance to look at me, Hector.” As Gus gets ready to inject the drug, Hector looks at him fiercely and dings his bell. Gus looks puzzled and confused, as the bell sparks the bomb under Hector’s chair. Then, too late, he realizes what’s happening and jumps up, shouting, “Hawh!”

The next thing we see is Hector’s door being blown out into the hallway. Gus walks out, straightening his tie; then, as we see the completely destroyed right side of his face and body, he falls.

Scene 4: a parking lot full of cars, the lab, a rooftop parking lot

Walt’s listening to the radio in his white rental car in a busy parking lot when breaking news reports an explosion at a nursing home in the North Valley. “As many as three people may have been killed.”

Jesse, working in the lab, starts to reach for a knife. A guy says, “You want to cook with a broken arm?” He names the next step, and tells Jesse to “do it!”

A buzzer sounds, and the guy hands Jesse a pair of handcuffs and forces him to cuff himself to a tank support. Shoving his gun in the back of his pants, the guy opens the door to the freight elevator. He sees a fellow thug, and says, “What? You got a problem with stairs?” Then Walt emerges, shooting. He kills the two guys with three shots, then drops his gun.

“Gus is dead,” he tells Jesse. “We’ve got work to do.”

We then see the pair in their red-orange cleaning suits, opening barrels of methylamine with an axe and pouring other liquids onto the floor to triumphant flamenco guitar music. An electrical cord with an explosive device taped to the floor.

Walt and Jesse shed their suits on the balcony and throw them down. Then they’re outside in the laundry, wiping their fingerprints off the entryway. Walt looks at his watch, and there’s an explosion. The lab bursts into flames. The laundry workers run, and Walt and Jesse, standing tall, walk away.

Next we see Walt’s little white car by itself in the rooftop parking lot across from the hospital. Jesse appears, and tells Walt, “He’s gonna pull through. It was kinda touch and go for a while, but he’s gonna make it.”

“Oh, thank God!”

“They’re still sayin’ it wasn’t the ricin.”

“I don’t understand. Then what was it?”

“A flower called lily of the valley. It’s got these little red berries that’re sweet, and sometimes kids eat ’em and end up poisoning themselves…So, Gus didn’t poison him after all. Still, he – uh – he had to go, right?”

“Damn right! Gus had to go.”

“I should get back. Andrea’s waiting.”

Walt extends his hand, in lieu of a hug, and they shake. Walt looks shaken, relieved, and thankful. He calls Skyler, who answers, “Walt? Walt?”

“How are you doing?”

“How am I doing? How are you doing?”

“I’m quite well. I’m good.”

“Jesus, Walt – the news here…Gus Fring is dead. He was blown up with some person from the Mexican cartel, and the DEA has no idea what to make of it. Do you know about this? Walt? I need – ”

“It’s over. We’re safe.”

“Was this you? What happened?”

“I won.” Click.

Walt gets in his car, as “Black” by Danger Mouse plays (lyrics below). He stops and looks at Gus’s Volvo wagon, still in the hospital parking garage. The camera focuses on a decal of two happy chickens, standing back to back, one wearing a serape. Pollos Hermanos? Or the unlikely victorious duo of Walt and Jesse?

The lyrics to “Black” include going to a church with “no intent to repent, just to cry…All that’s left is black…Some day they’ll punish my deeds, and they’ll find all the crimes…They can’t afford to ignore that I’m a disease…”

Scene 5: the Whites’ pool

We see the potted lily of the valley plant again, with its little white flowers – no berries (because they’ve been picked?). If Brock’s poisoning was completely random – a coincidence – this is a false lead, something I’ve never heard of happening on a TV show. But if Walt did poison Brock with the plant’s berries, how was it done? This is either sloppy writing or a dangling issue that will be resolved in the last eight episodes.


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