Breaking Bad: Everybody Answers to Somebody

Warning: Do not read if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad Season 5, Ep. 2 – “Madrigal”.

“You are a time bomb, tick tick ticking and I have no intention of being around for the boom.” – Mike

Some things never change. Back in simpler times, when Walt still had a soul and cooking in a camper was the smartest option, he and Jesse thought all their troubles would die with Tuco, but soon discovered the unstable dealer, while above them, was still a bottom rung player at best. And now Gus, while certainly a more integral part of the puzzle, appears much further down on the chain of command than Jesse or Walt assume. They apparently believe that with Gus dead there is an immediate opening as drug kingpins that they are more than happy to fill. I’m with Saul on this one (never thought I’d say that); it’s time to cut their losses and run.  But Walt’s favorite pastime is taking unnecessary risks and dragging Jesse along for the ride, so here we go.

Another fact the boys are going to discover soon is the further up the ladder you climb, the scarier and more powerful the people above you become. Gus was an intimidating figure, but the shot of Herr Schuler walking down the hallway, lined with fast food chains from around the world put into perspective just how small Walt’s corner of the market is. If the drug ring runs all the way to the top of Madrigal that’s a lot of business fronts to hide what can only be a massive drug ring. And all of Walt’s huffing and puffing and low talking will do nothing to intimidate these guys. No matter how superior his product, when you’re looking a production this size, he is immediately dispensable. 

But to be fair, Jesse and Walt have no idea of Madrigal’s existence or the fact it is currently being investigated by the DEA, an investigation that could lead them straight to Walt. The only person aware of that is Mike and, at least while he was thinking logically, it didn’t seem like something he wanted to share. He can clearly see the monster that Walt has become and has dealt with his fair share of lunatics to know he doesn’t want to go down that road again.  Mike looks so visibly exhausted just from his brief encounters with Walt that I can’t imagine extended exposure is going to be too good for him, but it looks like that’s what he’s signing up for. I’m still not entirely sure why.

To backtrack, Mike met up with Lydia, a Madrigal executive who is freaked out, to put it mildly.  She may be even more clueless than Walt when it comes to crime world dealings, with her attempt at disguise and her loud, nervous and unnecessary chatter to cover up their meeting.  She slips Mike a list of employees the police will be bringing in for questioning and awkwardly suggests that Mike kill them all. Mike politely, well, as politely as Mike can muster, explains that isn’t the way the world works. This isn’t the movies.  He stands by his men 100% and so far he seems to be correct. But Lydia isn’t satisfied and gets another employee to make her hits. I’m not sure what her role in this empire is, but if she has the funds to offer up $140,000 ($10,000 for each name and $30,000 for Mike) to keep her name clear, she is more than just a minor player. Mike easily avoided his assassination using a stuffed animal and still managed to look like a bad ass. He went to Lydia’s house with the intention of getting rid of her instead, but spending the day with his granddaughter softened his heart enough to let her live, on  the condition she provide methylamine to Jesse and Walt’s little start up. The decisions Mike is going to end up regretting just keep piling up.

I think Mike’s decision to join Walt and Jesse as partners had more to do with his interview with the DEA. They might be bluffing a bit (they clearly don’t know enough to actually arrest him), but the fact they know about his bank account in his granddaughters name is enough to spook him.  I still think it’s the wrong decision, but there’s always been a plethora of bad decisions being made on Breaking Bad, that’s kinda its thing. I wasn’t completely surprised to hear that Mike used to be a cop, on the east coast no less, and I am very intrigued to learn what drama accompanied his resignation.

It’s easy to forget because he’s so ridiculous in everything else, but Hank is a good detective and he’s been fairly on top of this case from the beginning. And when Hank’s former boss started waxing poetic about his barbeques with Gus and how he should have seen what was right under his nose, it looked to me like something clicked in Hank about what has been under his nose this whole time.

While the crosshairs begin to focus on Walt, he is doing nothing to redeem himself.  With the ricin cigarette back in hand, Walt carefully replicated the weapon with table salt, hiding away the ricin for later use. He then planted the fake cigarette in Jesse’s Roomba. Of all the horrible things Walt has done, this one is right up there at the top.  Watching Jesse break down because he felt so guilty for accusing Walt of poisoning Brock while Walt calmly comforted him made me sick. When he later tried to cuddle with a terrified Skylar he told her as long as what you do is justifiable, then it can’t be bad. That mindset is exactly what makes Walt so terrifying. Committing horrible acts and understanding they are wrong is one thing, but believing what you are doing is for a “greater good” is a whole other level of dangerous. 

– Devin Mainville

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2 comments

  1. Penny4n6

    I have two exceptions to your rundown, though I appreciate almost all of your assessment. I do not believe that Mike went to kill Lydia. I think he went to make her an offer she could not refuse. Mike is a seasoned killer and a greedy one. His decision to briefly keep Lydia alive is based on the money his men were promised “for their troubles” being confiscated by the DEA. There is no reason now for them to face prison and protect each other. Mike has to put them back to work and put some more money in their hush funds. Not to mention try to put an end to any more attempts on his life. And he needs methylemine to do that and she can get it. She will get hers soon.

    The other is that I get a feeling that you have sympathies for Skyler. To me, she is the most dangerous of the bunch. She was cooking books for her lover/boss, and without any serious thought or conferring with her husband stole the money Walt was going to use to “break good” to get him out of trouble. Now we are finding she does not have the stomach for games she was playing. She will more than likely confirm any thoughts Hank might have about Walt, therefore forcing Hank to break bad in an attempt to save his face as well as his family. He will afterall realize the times that Walt saved his life. Walt and Hank are thick as thieves…no pun intented. And if that scenario is not the case,she has on too many occasions just did what she pleased with no thought to family, and its probably just due to her ignorance of criminals and how they can operate. Her rash actions will be the end of Walt in a bizarre irony, since he broke bad for her.

  2. I like your thoughts on why Mike chose to join forces with Walt. He clearly is the smartest person on the show, when it comes to this criminal world, and I trust he’ll figure out the best way to deal with the situation.

    You’re right I do have sympathies towards Skyler. I have sympathy for any character that sees the evil in what is happening. Everyone on the show has done some questionable, if not downright terrible, things, but the ones who understand what they’re doing is wrong are the ones who get my sympathy. When Skyler found out about Walt’s life she handled it in a way she thought would most help her family, and yes she made mistakes and got in over her head, just like everyone else. The difference is that when she was faced with the reality of what this life was (murder and such) it made her sick. And now she finds herself stuck with someone who doesn’t feel sick about it all. Thats a terrifying position and whatever her actions are in the course of this season, I think she’ll be justified in them.

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