Monday, July 30, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Madrigal" (Season 5, Episode 2)


Previously on Breaking Bad, Jesse lost the ricin cig and was juuust about to shoot Walt as he suspected him for poisoning little Brock, Hank, when not buying minerals on eBay, found that a big company called Madrigal was buying super big electrical doohickeys for Los Pollos Hermanos, the Magnet Caper unveiled some interesting bank account numbers behind the photo of said hermanos, Walt made Saul nearly crap himself with his "we're not done" speech, Mike implored Jesse to high tail it out of ABQ, and Skyler is not exactly comfortable around her suddenly scary hubby.  Gus? Still dead.

What's this?  We see dollops of different colored dipping sauces while a German gentlemen describes them to another, suited man, who indifferently dips Tater Tots into each concoction and chomps away.  It's a test kitchen, and we see eight white coated lab folks anxiously watching Suit Man dispassionately wolf down about 40 tots.  No responses, not even for "Franch" or "Cajun Kick-ass"?  Damn.  A woman comes in and whispers to Suit Man, whom we now know is called Mr. Schuler, that "they" are back, and this time there are three of them.  Schuler will be there shortly, he says.  As he walks down the busy hallway we see he is clearly a big wig at Madrigal, the company Hank mentioned in the previouslies.  Among the fast food joints under it's purview are such gems as Whiskerstay's, Haau Chuen Wok, and Burger Matic.  The next logo, which is being removed form the Wall of Fame is none other than, you guessed it, Los Hermanos Pollos.  Schuler pauses to watch the sign come down, then slowly lumbers up the stairs to meet "them".  Approaching his office, he sees "them" waiting there, with the man in charge paying particularly close attention to the photo on the wall showing Schuler and his old golfing buddy, one Gustavo Fring.  Sensing that he's toast, Schuler grabs a handy portable defibrillator from the wall and heads to the bathroom, where he proceeds to lock the door, remove his jacket, loosen his tie, remove his shirt while the woman from before knocks and tells him that these men are pretty insistent on talking to him.  The coppers begin knocking as well, while Schuler takes the AED, sits on the red toilet, applies the sticky things to his chest, wets the wire and - CLEAR - zaps himself into oblivion.  Credits.....

We fade in to Jesse's voice on the phone, talking about the missing ricin cigarette, going over why he just can;t seem to figure out what happened to it.  While hearing this, we see Walt pouring salt on the table, putting some into a small tube, and basically making a fake one.  On the phone conversation, Walt is reassuring Jesse that the original probably got swept up in the laundry fire, but Jesse isn't on board.  Walt suggests that it might be in Jesse's house, but Jesse is adamant he checked the house thoroughly.  He's concerned that it's out there and perhaps some innocent person, like a kid, is going to stumble upon it and get hurt.  Walt, like a father, says he'll come over and they'll get to the bottom of this thing, as we watch him flush the original cigarette down the toilet, and store his new fake in a super secret location behind a wall outlet.

Cut to a montage of Walt and Jesse basically tearing apart the house looking for it. to no avail.  They crash down on the futon, exhausted, when the Roomba comes sliding into the room.  Jesse insists he's already checked it "like a week ago", but opens it up anyway, and BINGO, there it is!  "What luck" Walt says, as he takes it carefully from Jesse and quickly flushes it away forever. He's relieved, but Jesse starts to breakdown at the realization of the bullet he just dodged, sobbing that he nearly shot Walt over this whole thing.  This is the first scene on Aaron Paul's Emmy reel, folks, and he absolutely nails it.

Walt very fatherly rubs Jesse's shoulders and tells him to buck up - the working together, having each other's backs, well, Walt wouldn't have it any other way.  He tells Jesse to remember that as they "go forward".  Jesse gives a slow WTF turn of the head - "go forward where?"

Cut to an adorable drawing on a fridge - "This is my PopPop, Love Kaylee" - so we know we're at Mike's house.  He grabs a beer and an Ensure chaser, kicks back in his recliner, checks his wound dressing, and starts watching The Caine Mutiny when there is a knock on his door.  It's Walt and Jesse, and they have a proposal: a three way partnership to get the band back together and start cooking again.  Mike's expertise regarding support and logistics is greatly needed  , and Walt's pitch details how they will now be "owners, not employees".  Sounds good, right?  Not to Mike.  Why?  Because, as he tells Walt, "You. Are a time bomb.  Tick, tick, tick.....and I have no intention of being around for the boom."  Chagrined, Walt says they'll press on and asks him to sleep on it.

DEA.  Hank ambles in sans cane, so he's making serious progress (good thing he had a kind bro-in-law with a gambling problem to pick up the tab), and connects with Gomie.  He relays that there are several Germans in the house who arrived via their own G-5, and the two exchange fanboy talk about private jets.  The lead German sits at the table, and of course he's wearing a black turtleneck, channeling Dieter from Sprockets.  He goes on about how Mr. Shuler led the restaurant division to great heights, and how sad he is that Herr Schuler offed himself after dabbling in meth distribution. He pledges Madrigal's full cooperation, thinking Schuler was a rogue.

Turns out the head DEA guy Merkert is being setup as the fall guy for letting Gus operate almost literally right under his nose, and he shares a stiff one with Hank and Gomie in his office.  We learn that the laptop was encrypted and might not have been salvageable anyway, so the Magnet Caper likely did more harm than good.  They also figure that while Tio killed Gus, he clearly had to be supplied with the bomb, and for that they have zero.  However, Gus' financials are being looked into, and they're hopeful....while Merkert reflects on how he had Gus out to his house, barbecued with him, interacted with his family...how basically this guy was right under his nose and he didn't even realize that Gus was an entirely different person.  As he says this we are fixed on Hank, who should be, but probably isn't just yet, thinking the exact same thing.

Mike is sitting in a diner reading the paper when a woman comes in all cloak-and-dagger like and sits in the next booth with her back to him.  She makes a huge hissy fit about her specific tea-based needs which ends with the waitress saying, "we've got Lipton bitch."  Mike, exasperated as usual, asks her how they want to do this, and ends up moving to her booth.  She's a nervous wreck despite Mike's insistence that it's a safe place (the waitress name checks him after the mystery woman badly calls him "Duane").   Turns out she is the lady we briefley saw in the Madrigal/DEA meeting, and her name is Lydia.  Her involvement is unclear, but it's obviously deep enough to have her deeply concerned.  She spits out that there are a shitload of guys out there who can spill the beans on each of them and cause all kinds of trouble, so why not be a good soldier, Mike, and take 'em out for me?  She doesn't come out and say so, but when Mike suggests that's what she's saying she doesn't pooh-pooh the idea. Mike vouches for "his guys", says they're solid and will not crack, and sets her straight like the bad ass he is.

Hey, it's Walter Jr., and he's eating breakfast.  Shocker.  Walt Sr. sees Skyler's breakfast sitting there uneaten on the table and heads to the bedroom to wake her.  He gently prods her to get out of bed, and when he touches her shoulder you can see a slight recoil.  She's terrified of him, still, though I would think she'd want to get to the Car Wash as a sort of refuge at this point.

Back at the DEA, Mike walks in to see Chow and his lawyer walking out.  You may remember Mr. Chow as the man who Mike shot in the hand a few episodes back.  They exchange pleasantries, basically ensuring that Chow gave them nada.  He's not exactly the picture of stoicism, this one, but Mike seems assured that Chow didn't crack.  This leads to another Emmy worthy scene as we finally get to see Hank and Mike together.  Hank and Gomie play kinda dumb at first, and Mike answers Hank's snarky questions with straight answers.  That out of the way, we learn that Mike was a cop in Philly back in the day and his tenure ended "dramatically".  That is a spin-off we need ot see once this show wraps, right?  Hank presses the point re: Gus, and Mike plays very dumb on the whole drug empire thing.  Gomie then bad cops how they have people who can place Mike at that underground lab, and testify to it.  Mike, no stranger to bullshit, calls that bluff by laying his hands out to be cuffed.  You gonna arrest him? Nope, he's free to go, but just as he gets to the door, Hank drops the bomb: Gus had a shitload of offshore accounts, one in the name of one Kaylee Ehrmantraut worth about two million bucks.  Mike is shaken but barely shows it, and the boys let it out that since Mike never touched the money, he can't be held accountable (and has plausible deniability).  Mike still plays it cool, says he has no idea what they're talking about, and leaves.  Whew.

Back at Saul's office, Walt holds court on finding a new location to start cooking again with Jesse while Saul takes notes.  They hit a snag since they can't get their hands on the precursor, methylamine, as Jesse says the well is pretty much dry on that front.  Walt insists they can get some, and implores Jess to have faith.  Saul, for his part, suggests these two simply count their blessings as they're not dead and get out of the business altogether.  Walt scoffs that he's forty grand in the hole now, so, shut up Saul.

Mike is back home engaged in a robust game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with the I'm-rich-but-don't-know-it-yet Kaylee, and gets interrupted by a phone call from Chow, who is panicked as he tells him that the DEA not only wants to talk again, but also took his money.  He urges Mike to come to his house, soon, to "talk", and Mike says he'll be there in two hours.  We see that Chow is being held at gunpoint by a mystery man s he makes the call, so it's basically a trap for Mike. Uh oh.

Don't worry, Mike's no dummy.  He approaches the house as wee see an assassin looking at him through the peephole.  Thumping noises are heard on the door, but no Mike.  We see the exterior where Mike has attached one of Kaylee's battery operated toys to the door, and Presto! Mike is in the house and tells the would be killer, Chris, to drop the piece and have a seat next to Chow.  Chow, by the way, has a big ol' hole in the back of his head and won't have to worry about the DEA any longer.  After a brief convo, we discover that Chris has been given a list - the same list of eleven that Lydia asked Mike to take care of -  and was working through it for ten grand per.  Chow was #1, Mike apparently #2, but he was worth thirty G's, and Chris begins to apologize just as Mike pumps three quick ones into his chest.  Mike sighs, resigned to the fact that he'll now have to deal with Nervous Lydia.

We are taken to Lydia's place, and it's a doozy.  The nanny is teaching a young girl, Lydia's daughter, how to count in Spanish.  Cute.  We see Mike waiting down the hall, and as Lydia approaches he grabs her and tells her to keep the nanny and kid at bay.  She knows why he's there, and he tells her it's the last chance to talk before he does the deed.  Rather than spill anything useful, she's resigned to her fate and  basically begins negotiating on how Mike will leave her dead body - she doesn't want the kid to find her bloddy corpse, but doesn't want to disappear either.  Dilemma.   Mike, touched by the whole daughter thing as it parallels his relationship with Kaylee, reluctantly offers Lydia an out - get some methylamine.  Receiving a somewhat positive answer, he calls Walt and tells him he's reconsidered and is now in.  The band is back together.  Walt wins yet again.

Skyler lies in bed, depressed still, as Walt saunters in, and slides in beside her with banter about how great dinner was, etc.  Sensing her feelings, he tells her it gets easier, which does nothing to soothe her.  He spoons her and begins kissing her shoulders as she winces and clearly wants no part of this, but can't push him away. He whispers about how we do things for good reasons, and there is no better reason that for family as she beings to silently cry to herself, and we end another episode with a creepy Walt/Skyler scene.

Observations:

  • It's ramping up now - the only remaining piece of the puzzle is a location for the cooking.
  • Anna Gunn had barely one line this episode, but showed some of her best acting work of the whole series.
  • Great to see so much focus on Mike this week.  How about an Emmy for Jonathan Banks while we're at it?
  • Still no sign of Marie (though she appears to confront Walt in the previews for next week)
  • Does Walt even have to teach anymore, since he currently seems so healthy?
  • Vince Gilligan said on the podcast that they shot more of that last scene where Walt attempts to have sex with Skyler - imagine her reaction to that - but she thinks quickly and takes care of him with her hands before he can do the deed.  the scene was cut for time.
  • What do you guys think?
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