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Season 5, episode 2: “Madrigal”

07 Aug

Breaking Bad, 5-2: “Madrigal”

Opener

At a test kitchen in Germany, Madrigal Electromotive executive Peter Schuler mechanically taste-tests a line of dipping sauces as a white-coated team waits expectantly. His secretary interrupts to inform him the police have arrived. As Schuler makes his way through a busy, airport-like corridor, we notice workmen taking down the Madrigal subsidiary sign for Pollos Hermanos. Suddenly, Herr Schuler grabs an emergency defibrillator from the wall and locks himself in a fancy, modern bathroom with a red sink, a red toilet, and even red toilet paper. As the authorities shout and pound on the door, he places one of the AED contacts on his naked chest and another in his mouth. Pressing the button, he electrocutes himself, falling face first onto the floor.

Scene 1: Casa Blanca, Jesse’s

Jesse calls Walt, obsessing about the missing ricin cigarette. “Some innocent person, some kid might find it…”

Walt assures Jesse that, together, they’ll find it. Then we see him putting table salt in a tiny vial and inserting it in a cigarette inside a new blue pack of Jesse’s brand. About to flush the real vial of ricin, he changes his mind and hides it behind the face plate of the wall socket behind his bedroom nightstand.

Whitey’s “Stay on the Outside” (“you knew from the start you could never belong/you came from the outside, just stay on the outside”) plays as Walt and Jesse search Jesse’s house from top to bottom. Walt wears rubber gloves, Jesse dumps trash and ashtrays on the floor, and the Roomba roams the living room. Finally, they both collapse on the couch. “What the hell’s that?” Walt asks.

“A Roomba. I already checked it.”

“When?”

“A week ago.” Jesse stops the Roomba and shakes its bag out on the floor. Amid the dust and detritus is the fake ricin cigarette Walt brought with him.

“Careful,” Walt says, taking it from Jesse and flushing it down the toilet.

Walt sits on the couch, and Jesse, looking red-faced and distressed, sits cross-legged on the floor in front of him. He starts to cry. “I almost shot you!”

“Hey, now,” Walt soothes.

“No – I almost killed you – all because – ”

Walt still has a scar on his nose, but the bandage is gone. “Listen,” he says, “it was just a misunderstanding.”

“No, no, no!” Jesse’s still crying. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Mr. White! I – ”

“Hey – ” Walt rubs Jesse’s shoulders from behind.

“I don’t know how I could be so stupid!”

“Hey, stop that now – come on!” Walt looks almost guilty.

“I’m so sorry…”

“Shhh…It’s okay, it’s okay. Listen to me – what happened happened for the best – hear me? I wouldn’t change a thing. You and I working together – having each other’s back…It’s what saved our lives. I want you to think about that as we go forward.”

Jesse’s been rubbing his eyes. Now he turns his head to look at “Mr. White,” and asks, “Go forward where?”

Scene 2: Mike’s house

Mike, Walt, and Jesse sit around Mike’s kitchen table. “We’re here to talk partnership,” Walt says.

Mike says, “Partnership…” in the Breaking Bad way of asking a question without a rising inflection (question mark).

Walt: “Equal three ways – you, Jesse, and me.”

“Partners in what?”

“We’re going to start cooking again,” Jesse says. He’s wearing a black leather jacket. “You know, we figure why not?”

Walt: “There’s no denying the popularity of our product. There’s a market to be filled, and currently no one to fill it.”

Jesse: “Lotta money to be made.”

Walt: “Jesse and I have manufacture covered, but there’s still distribution, support, logistics, and that sort of thing. For instance, we’ll need a steady supply of precursor. With your connections you would be a great help. Granted, it’s a lot of work, a lot of rebuild, and no doubt our profits will be smaller, at least at first – but each of us will receive a larger cut – owners, not employees.”

Mike: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Walt: “Mike, I know you don’t care for me. We’ve had our issues, you and I. But I would suggest that you leave emotion out of this decision.”

“I am. You are trouble. I’m sorry the kid here doesn’t see it, but I sure as hell do. You are a time bomb, tick, tick, ticking, and I have intention of being around for the boom.”

After a long pause, Walt says, “Well, sleep on it. Maybe you’ll reconsider. In the meantime, we’re pressing on.” He gets up and offers Mike his hand, and Mike finally stands and shakes it.

Scene 3: the DEA

There’s a big meeting at the DEA to discuss Peter Schuler’s suicide. “An innocent man does not kill himself,” says the head of Madrigal, pledging his company’s full cooperation. Later, Hank and Gomez meet with Merkert, who’s being replaced. “Outstanding police work, Hank,” Merkert says. “If only I’d listened to you.”

Hank: “It’s not right to be puttin’ this on you.”

“Somebody’s gotta go under the bus.”

Gomez says, “The APD found some of Fring’s financial information – that might lead to something.”

“I had him to my house for dinner,” Merkert muses. “And he’s somebody else completely…Right in front of my nose.” Hmmm, Hank, who else do we know like that?

Scene 4: Mike’s diner

Mike’s sitting in a booth when a new character, Lydia, comes in – a slight woman in a dark coat and sunglasses. She sits in the booth next to Mike’s, back to back with him, and orders bergamot tea and soy milk. When the waitress says they don’t have either, she asks for “English Breakfast.”

“We have Lipton. That’s pretty much all we have.”

“Hot water and lemon then. I assume you don’t have stevia. Never mind, I brought my own.”

Mike, listening, rolls his eyes, and says, after the waitress leaves, “You comin’ to me, or am I comin’ to you?” No answer. “I guess I’m comin’ to you.” He sits down opposite Lydia, and says, “Take a breath, will you? This place is safe – no one’s gonna see you here.”

Fran, the waitress, comes back. She knows Mike, whom Lydia has just called “Dwayne.” Mike says, “How about we lose the sunglasses? There you go. Breathe in, breathe out. Drink your whatever.”

“Who killed Gus?”

“Haven’t I told you not to worry about that? Now what do you want from me?”

Lydia gives Mike a list of eleven men on Gus’s payroll that can be “traced back to Madrigal. They’ll be picked up, and at least one of them will talk – about you and me.”

“You want me to kill every man on that list?”

“That’s a leap; I didn’t say that, but if you think it’d be wise…”

“You’re scared, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re very upset, which I’m going to factor into my response here. These are my guys, and they are solid. Understand?”

“What about Chao? And Dennis?”

“Yeah, they picked Dennis up last night. My guys are solid. I vetted them with great care, and Fring made sure they were well compensated in the event of a situation such as this. They’re paid to stand the heat and keep their mouths shut, no matter what. And they will. Now, I don’t know what kind of movies you’ve been watching, but here in the real world we don’t kill eleven people as some kind of prophylactic measure. Look at me, and say you understand.”

“I understand. I get it.”

“So, we’re off that very silly idea.” She nods. “Good.” Mike gets up and puts money on the table. “Drink your hot water.”

Scene 5: Casa Blanca, the DEA

Morning at Casa Blanca: Walt’s holding a pink-clad Holly, Junior’s eating Raisin Bran Crunch, and Skyler’s still in bed. Walt wakes her and insists she get up and take a shower.

Meanwhile, Mike, entering the DEA building, encounters Chao and his lawyer in the hallway. “Hey, Chao – how you holdin’ up?”

Chao, wearing a loud American flag tie, says, “Okay,” but he’s obviously nervous.

Then Mike’s being questioned by Hank and Gomez. Hank asks if he’s pronouncing “Ehrmentraut” correctly, and Mike says, “Close enough.” Gomez asks Mike to repeat for the camera that he’s waiving the right to have a lawyer present. They discuss Mike’s job as head of security for Pollos Hermanos and Mike’s private investigator license and license to carry a concealed firearm.

“You strike me as a former cop,” Hank says. “Am I right?” Mike nods. “Where at?”

“Philadelphia.”

“Philly! City of Brotherly Love…Turns out we know some folks there, and they told us your tenure as a police officer ended somewhat dramatically. You want to talk about that?”

“Not particularly.”

“I’m more interested in why Gus Fring hired you to do security. Doing background checks on pimple-faced fry cooks seems like overkill. What else did you do for Fring? He must have needed help runnin’ that drug empire, no?”

“Drug empire…First I’m hearing about that. I don’t know anything about that.”

“Hey, man,” Gomez interjects. “We have a guy that’ll put you in that underground lab. He’ll testify to it. So, from here on out, this can go hard or easy. What’s it gonna be?”

Mike puts his hands palm-down on the table, and waits. Finally, he asks, “Forget your handcuffs? Am I under arrest here, or am I not?” When there’s no response, he pulls his hands back. “You want to state that for the camera?”

“You are not under arrest,” Hank says. “Currently.”

“Agents, do you have any more questions for me? Because you got me very stirred up with all these false accusations. If I’m not under arrest, I prefer to leave.” Hank makes a “there’s the door” gesture, and Mike gets up.

Then Hank says, “I don’t suppose we could talk about the two million dollars in your granddaughter’s name?” He smiles. “Yeah. It seems that Fring had all these secret offshore accounts that he would deposit money into. Like an even dozen of them, and they’re all in the names of certain people on his payroll. There was the manager of the laundry, a couple guys from the Pollos distribution center, the owner of a chemical warehouse, and a bunch of others – guys that must have been gettin’ paid off the books. Anyway, one of the names was ‘Kaylee Ehrmentraut,’ ten years old and cute as a button. Two million and change we found on deposit for her – way more than anybody else…He’s unimpressed, Gomie.”

“Maybe he’s picturing all that money going ‘bye ‘bye.”

“Yeah,” Hank says. “The government’s gonna take it all, unless – Mike?”

“Mr. Ehrmentraut.”

“Here’s the thing, Mike. Lucky for you you didn’t touch that money. Cannot say the same for the other men on the list.”

Gomez: “One of your guys is gonna roll, and then we’ll definitely remember the handcuffs.”

Hank: “Before that day comes, you can do yourself a solid – tell us what you know, who’s still out there – and, if we like your story, good things could happen.”

Gomez: “Kaylee might be able to keep some of that money.”

Hank: “Maybe. So, what do you say?”

Mike: “I don’t know anything about any money. I don’t know anything about what you’re talkin’ about.” He leaves.

Scene 6: Saul’s office

“We need a new place to cook,” Walt says. “No more RVs.”

“I don’t know,” Jesse responds. “The Crystal Ship did pretty good for us.”

“The Crystal Ship?”

“That’s what I called it.”

“Well, I admit it was good for a starter lab, but it was too dark, too small. Not to mention that it could have broken down at any moment. Saul, find us somewhere safe against prying eyes. If Gus can manage it, so can we.”

The camera moves back, and we see that Saul has a bright blue rug on the floor of his office, reminiscent of the bright blue floor of Walt’s classroom and the bright red floor of the super lab. “Precursor,” Saul says, “where are we with that?”

“We’re good on everything except methylamine,” Jesse says. “It’s really dry out there. What if we switch back to a pseudo cook?”

Walt: “Absolutely out of the question. Jesse, there’s methylamine out there – I know it.”

At this point, Saul suggests that they “sail off into the sunset,” like someone who wins the lottery not buying another ticket. He’s wearing his purple shirt with a white patterned tie, and still sporting the blue plane crash ribbon on his lapel.

“What lottery did I win exactly?” Walt asks.

“Hey, you’re alive! As far as I’m concerned, that’s the sweepstakes.”

“I’m alive, and I’m broke. Counting the money I owe Jesse, I’m forty grand in the hole. Does that seem like an acceptable stopping point to you? There is gold in the streets just waiting for someone to scoop it up! But me – I should just quit. Jesse, too, I suppose…Wow…”

Scene 7: Mike’s house, Chao’s house

Mike’s playing Hungry Hungry Hippo with Kaylee when his phone rings. “I give up, baby – you’re too good!”

Chao tells Mike that the DEA wants to see him again and that he needs “his money. We gotta talk! Can you come to my house?”

At Chao’s house, a young man has a gun on Chao. Mike pulls up and looks around. The guy watches him coming up the walk through the peephole. He puts his gun in the peephole, and finally looks again because of funny banging noises. Mike’s hung a stuffed toy pig above the hole. “Chris,” Mike says now, coming up behind him with his gun out. “I’d like you to drop your gun where you stand and turn around very slowly. Come on over and sit next to Chao.”

The young man sits in a chair across from Mike. “How much was she gonna pay?” Mike asks.

We hear a fly buzzing, as Chris answers: “Ten thousand a name.”

“How far’d you get down the list?”

As Chris says, “Just Chao,” we see Chao for the first time – sitting up, dead, on the couch. “I figured I’d start with you. For you, she was gonna pay thirty. I’m really sorry about this, Mike, but I needed the money. They took it all, man.”

“I know. Are you ready?” Mike shoots four times, then looks sad.

Scene 8: Lydia’s house in Houston, Casa Blanca

Lydia’s little daughter’s Mexican nanny is with her when Lydia gets home from work. Mike’s waiting around the corner in a darkened hallway, holding a gun with a silencer. Lydia greets the child and the nanny, then turns the corner into the hallway, where Mike grabs her. “Dolores, I’m gonna take a bath,” Lydia says. “You can go home.”

The little girl moves toward her mother’s voice, but not close enough to see her. “Mommy – you gonna come say goodnight to me?”

“After I take a bath.”

“Okay – love you.” The nanny takes the girl to the other side of the house to put her to bed.

“Don’t hurt my daughter,” Lydia begs Mike.

“I won’t have to, unless you scream. You know why I’m here?”

Lydia half-nods. “What are you waiting for?”

“The nanny to leave. If you have anything to say to me, now’s the time.” Silence. “Two good men died because of you.”

“Don’t shoot me in the face, please! I don’t want my daughter to see me like that!”

“Your daughter won’t see you.”

“She never sleeps through the night.”

“Nobody’s gonna find you.”

“What? No, no! She has to find me!”

“Why do you want your five-year-old daughter stumbling across your body?”

“I can’t just disappear! She has to know I wouldn’t leave her!”

“Keep your voice down.”

“I’ll scream, and I’ll keep screaming! My daughter’s not thinking I abandoned her!” Ironic, since a few episodes on, this is what happens to Mike and his granddaughter. Cruelty to children – the way their elders’ actions affect them, and the way criminality ends up victimizing them – is a major theme of this show.

“Shut up!” Mike says now. “Calm down.”

“I don’t care! You have to promise me!” We hear the nanny leaving the house. “Promise me I don’t disappear!”

There’s a long pause. Mike still has the gun against Lydia’s head. Finally, he asks, “Can you still get your hands on methylamine?”

“Maybe. Why?”

Mike makes a call from his car, and we see Walt in the White kitchen. “Yes?”

“You still planning to move forward?”

“Yes, we do.”

“I’ve reconsidered. I’m in.” Mike needs to make money to give to his “legacy” guys to keep them quiet.

“Good.” Walt clicks off, as ominous, banging music starts playing.

Skyler’s still awake when Walt comes into the bedroom. “You missed a good meal,” he tells her. Skyler looks scared, as we hear Walt taking off his shoes, etc. “You know, it gets easier,” he says. “What you’re feeling now about Ted and everything, it’ll pass.”

In bed, Walt leans over Skyler, touches her shoulder, and kisses her neck. “What we do, we do for good reasons, and we’ve got nothing to worry about.” Skyler’s still frozen in place, as Walt kisses her again. “There’s no better reason than family.”

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