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BREAKING BAD, “Madrigal” Episode Recap

The best dramas are able to hinge huge events — usually life altering ones — on single decisions made by its characters. Breaking Bad was able to display this perfectly in its season 2 storyline, where a series of decisions by Walt ultimately led to the plane crash tragedy.

At this point in season 5, Walt has a huge head, believing he’s the king because he took out the king. And we know that Walt’s attempted ascension in the ABQ meth market eventually leads to the desperate act of buying a car with a machine gun in the trunk, but perhaps none of this would occur had Mike not decided against killing Lydia.

Sure, Walt’s a certified psychopath right now, and he might have found a way to get the methylamine without Mike’s hookup through Lydia, but with Mike onboard and Madrigal Electromotive’s dirty hands all over the operation, Heisenberg and associates is sure to rise in the ranks quickly, and as we all know, the higher they climb, the harder they fall.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The events in tonight’s episode, “Madrigal,” begin with said company’s CEO Herr Schuler under investigation from the feds concerning his involvement with Gus Fring. We aren’t sure the extent of this relationship yet, but considering Schuler took the easy way out in the bathroom by electrocuting himself to death with a defibrillator, we know that Madrigal is a big time player.

We learn a little bit more when Lydia, a nervous Madrigal executive, has a sit-down with Mike at a diner, and in so many words asks Mike to kill the associates closest to the Fring operation to eliminate all trace of the meth ring — only Mike won’t budge, knowing that since he hand-picked these guys, they are rock solid and will not squeal.

As we’ve come to learn, Mike is no dummy. He’s cool and calm and always sees all the angles, so it’s no surprise that he figures out that Lydia is going to go through with her plan with or without him and that he too is a target. So once he (ever so professionally and badass-idly) takes out the guy who’s hunting him, he comes after Lydia to put an end to this bounty once and for all. She knew it was coming, and she doesn’t even beg for her life, only for her body to not disappear. She’d rather leave her daughter to find a bullet-ridden body than to think that her mother abandoned her. The usually stone-faced Mike buckles under this request. A grandfather of a girl about the same age, Mike has his one soft-spot exposed by Lydia, as he can’t bring himself to pull the trigger and be responsible for a child losing her mother.

Mike can’t just let her go, so instead he keeps her around as collateral of sorts, using her high-end shady hookups to get the Heisenberg operation the methylamine it needs to cook. Even though Mike gave a hard and fast “no” to Walt concerning the proposed three-way split of the company with him and Jesse (“Owners, not employees”), he now has no choice but to join forces.

These first two episodes have built the story up a little more slowly than the beginnings of past seasons, but the fact that we have a general idea of how this is going to end makes the build all the more fascinating. The secret is out. As Mike points out, Walt is nothing but a time-bomb at this point. Tick tick ticking. We know the boom is coming. It’s only a matter of time before we see how much damage is done.

Other Thoughts

– Walt still has plenty of cleaning up to do. He hides the ricin cigarette behind an electrical socket (maybe for future use?) and then plants a fake one (filled with salt) in Jesse’s house so that he can have false closure that his cigarette didn’t harm Brock. Jesse feels relief at first, but then breaks down. He can’t believe he put a gun to Mr. White’s head over all of this. What an amazing display put on by Aaron Paul, and an equally evil act by Walt, who adds fuel to the fire with his fake sympathy and shoulder rub down.

– By the way, every time Jesse calls Walt “Mr. White” I want to die a little bit. Get out of there, Jesse! This will not end well!

– Even before Schuler met his rather hilarious end, it seems like his life was rather boring now that the whole meth thing didn’t work out, spending his days testing new dipping sauces for nuggets. “…that last one is essentially just ketchup.”

– Pesky Hank will not go quietly. He calls in Mike for an interrogation — and mostly Mike just owns them like he owns everyone — but we do learn that Mike was a former cop in Philadelphia before making a “rather dramatic” exit and that Fring had an offshore account in Mike’s granddaughter’s name with more than $2 million in it.

– Hank’s boss is still dealing with the shock of finding out the truth about Fring. They had done friendly business together, he had Gus over to his house for cookouts with his entire family there. How could he not see what was right under his nose? Could this possibly plant the idea in Hank’s mind to start looking more closely at Walt?

– Walt and Jesse need a new place to cook, but no RVs this time. Though Jesse has nostalgia for the old gal: “The Crystal Ship’s been good to us.”

– How about Mike getting his kill on? “Are you ready?” How can you not love this guy?

– Walt is blind with ambition at this point. He doesn’t care about anything but his own triumphs. “There’s gold in the streets.”

– Walt trying to comfort Skyler on what happened to Ted: “It gets easier.” Be more creepy, Walt.

– Congrats to the show on whole lot of Emmy nominations. You can check out my thoughts on the noms, along with some predictions and snubs, here.

Find Nick DeLorenzo directly on Twitter @nick_delorenzo and remember to follow @ScreenInvasion!

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Nicholas DeLorenzo

Nicholas DeLorenzo

television writer/social assassin