Breaking Bad: Madrigal, Season 5 Episode 2
Taking a closer look at Madrigal: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 2
“Two good men died because of you” declares Mike. One of those ‘good‘ men attempted to kill him for $30,000. Being able to see the silver lining or bigger picture could come in handy on a day when Mike looses 2 million dollars, negates a plan to murder 11 men, and goes into business with a man he describes as a ticking time bomb. The second episode of the season sets up the partnership of Mike with Walter and Jesse, while exploring the aftermath of Madrigal’s involvement with Gustavo Fring’s meth empire and the missing ricin cigarette.
• ‘Franch or Cajun Kick Ass?’ – Written by Vince Gilligan, the opening scene cleverly uses visual cues and inference to convey information absent dialogue laden exposition which otherwise could have detracted from the suspense and momentum of the narrative. A stoic and non-verbose Mr. Schuler, taste testing various dipping sauces, is presumed and later confirmed in the episode to be the Fast Food Division executive of a German based company. After he exits the lab, the company name displayed on the wall is revealed to be ‘Madrigal Elektromotoren’. As Mr. Schuler walks through the hall, he stops to watch the logo of Los Pollos Hermanos, one of Madrigal’s subsidiaries, being taken down. Shortly after, Mr. Schuler sees a police officer in his office, closely inspecting a framed portrait of himself with the infamous drug kingpin Gus Fring. Without hesitation, he takes a conveniently located defibrillator to the rest room and induces a cardiac arrest. The automated flush as he falls off the toilet was a nice touch for a wasted life gone down the drain. “An innocent man does not kill himself”, deduces the CEO of Madrigal. Almost all the vital information and clues that connect Madrigal to Gus Fring is visually presented in this scene which actively engages the viewer; allowing the audience to put together the pieces themselves instead of being burdened with exposition.
• ‘Roomba’ – Heinous. It’s the perfect word to describe how Walter tricks Jesse into believing the cigarette containing ricin was in his home all along. From Walter’s perspective, it’s a genius ploy to regain Jesse’s trust and to relieve Jesse’s anxiety of someone accidentally becoming poisoned by ricin. Jesse’s emotional breakdown, brilliantly portrayed by actor Aaron Paul, is gut wrenching having realized his accusation was unfounded and that he almost killed Walter. One question I have is why does Walter keeps the vial of ricin? The ricin is well hidden behind an electrical outlet but he should know better than to leave any evidence. Walt’s secret is not completely safe as Saul helped orchestrate the removal of the cigarette pack from Jesse’s possession. Saul’s inside knowledge is a major liability to Walt; if Jesse ever finds out he’s just a sacrificial pawn in Walt’s game of lies and manipulation all hell will break loose.
• ‘Mr. Ehrmantraut’ – One thing that occurred to me while watching this episode is what do we really know about Mike? In Breaking Bad, we know what we need to know; that Mike is a bad-ass, loyal, solid as a rock, and a loveable Grandad. At the diner, he’s pragmatic in dissuading Lydia from her plan to kill eleven men and unshakable when Hank presses him on his involvement with Gus’ drug empire. Unsurprisingly, we find out that Mike was a former cop whose tenure in Philly ended dramatically but a detailed back story is not relevant to his current dilemma (Mike: “I don’t want to talk about that.” Hank: “Yeah, me neither”.). The give and take power play during the questioning was a treat to watch, with Mike attempting to subtly undercut Hank’s authority until it is revealed that 2 million dollars was deposited by Gus to an offshore account in Mike’s grand-daughter’s name; money he will never see a drop of. Hank offers him a role as an informant in exchange for keeping some of the money … maybe, although Mike doesn’t strike me as someone who wants to be under the thumb of the DEA even if the deal was legit. At the climax of the episode, Mike is pointing a gun at Lydia and is intent on killing her. Lydia does not plead for her life, instead she frantically insists that her dead body be found by her daughter rather than letting her daughter think she was abandoned. How much of his decision to let Lydia live was due to empathy, having a grand daughter himself, or simply because Lydia could be useful in obtaining the precursor methylamine? Mike is not a cold-hearted hit man; his conscience does play a factor in his practical decision-making process. “Madrigal” did a solid job of fleshing out the characterization of Mike and laid the ground work for his motivation to join with Walter and Jesse which he was initially against. Moving forward, it will be interesting to watch the ever-shifting dynamic of a three-way partnership play out as each character has their own moral code – clearly established in this episode.
• ‘Best Quotes from the Episode‘
German Lab guy: “This one is a new concept and it intrigues us. Half-French dressing, half-Ranch. We refer to it simply as … ”Franch”.
Mike: “How ’bout we lose the sunglasses? I feel like I’m talking to Jackie Onassis here.”
Mike: “Now I don’t know what kinda movies you’ve been watching, but here in the real world we don’t kill eleven people as some kind of prophylactic measure”.
Hank: “Given your history … doing background checks on pimple-faced fry cooks seems like overkill.”