by: Michael Shields
New characters, a deeper look at an old one, and manipulation taken to new heights in this weeks Breaking Bad recap.
“Right under my nose”
We first heard about Madrigal ((The title of this episode, a word meaning a. a secular vocal musical composition written for 4 to 6 unaccompanied voices and b. a medieval short lyrical poem)) Electromotive last season in the Episode entitled ‘Problem Dog’ when Hank recounts the findings of his investigation of Gus to Gomez and Merkert (who scoffed at his findings at the time). Madrigal Electromotive is the German parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos ((That appears to be changing as the LPH logo was seen being removed at Madrigal’s HQ)) and last night’s episode brought the corporation into the fold and under the spotlight ((We even got to visit their test lab to hear about the unveiling of some brand new sauces – one of which was “Franch dressing” – part french dressing, part ranch)).
The last time Breaking Bad added to its arsenal of misfits was the beginning of Season 4, when Saul needed some back (Huell) ((In the episode ‘Box Cutter’)) and also needed someone to help trick Bogdan (Kuby) ((In the episode ‘Open House’)) so Walt and Skyler could affordably obtain the car wash ((Kuby is played by Bill Burr who you may recognize as the commentator from the racial draft on the Chappelle Show)). We were due. Overdue. It was time for some fresh blood, ((Game of Thrones has already introduced 14 new characters for the upcoming season, and I have heard rumors that the true total is 23 new additions. That is major. While these shows are two very different animals it was due time for Breaking Bad to expand the cast some)) and this episode was ripe with it. We first got to meet Mr. Schuler from Madrigal, who is being pegged as a fall guy for the Germans involvement in the meth game – a man we may hear more about but his clever use of an automated external defibrillator will keep him from being a large part of the story moving forward. We got briefly introduced to the other Germans who run Madrigal when they met with the DEA, a sweet yet serious bunch of “Krauts” ((Hank’s words of course – can’t wait to hear what else he has in store on this front)). And, most importantly, we met Lydia, an associate of Gus’s who is a paranoid nervous hot mess at this point – willing to do whatever it takes to rid the Earth of any evidence composed of flesh and blood that could take her down, “prophylactic measures” ((Lydia can be seen at the table with the Germans when they met with the DEA – she works for Madrigal)).
Once again, for the second week running Mike emerges as the episode’s MVP. I asked in last week’s recap for more information on Mike and his motivation and my request was met with haste as Hank and Mike ((Hank v. Mike is just the beginning of worlds colliding this season no doubt – Hank v. Walt is an elusive match-up I am dying for, the Mayweather v. Pacquiao of Breaking Bad)) go head to head in round 1 of what will undoubtedly be a thrilling and heated rivalry. I could have watched them go back and forth all episode. We learned that Mike was a cop in Philly and that things did not end well. We then learned that Gus was sloppier than I could have predicted and the account that held the money owed to Mike was in Mike’s granddaughters name, money they both will never be seeing. The refs called round 1 of this confrontation a draw but I give the edge to Hank on this one, he has done his research ((He may possibly be bragging about his handling of Mike on his blog, a must read)).
Walt’s manipulation of Jesse has risen to new heights. It’s somewhat difficult to watch. He plays him like a deck of cards, and does it without even a hint of reserve or apparent guilt. In this week’s episode Walt, with a clever placement of the missing ricin cigarette ((now salt)), breaks Jesse down into a weeping puddle of regret. It’s unbearable to hear him apologize for almost shooting Walt, for almost doing what he should have. Walt molds Jesse like clay, but it doesn’t end there. The second Mike called Walt with the news that he has reconsidered I almost let out a shriek of ‘We’re back baby!’, catching myself rooting emphatically for the bad guys; rooting again for them to find a place to cook a horrible and addictive drug in mass and distribute it throughout the entire Southwest. Walt has not only manipulated Jesse with tact – he got us all.
You don’t take Mike out that easy, you just don’t ((I am reminded of a quote from The Wire’s Omar Little here; “When you come at the king, you best not miss.”)). Lydia, motivated by fear, almost got what she deserved but it turns out Mike needs her. I thought that Lydia earned some respect from Mike by the way in which she was negotiating the terms of her death, but that wasn’t it. Mike wasn’t there to kill her, but to scare her and get what it is that she can provide (she is the hook for Methylamine) ((I am not naive enough to believe that Mike succumbed to her begging as he has faced many a begging soul in the line of his fire before, or that he just thought to ask for Methylamine on the spot.)). Mike has been pushed against the wall by Hank as the money he has compiled for his granddaughter, his true motivation for all he does, is in the hands of the police. Mike is in. Jesse is in. The game is afoot.
I have 3 words and 3 words only for Walt’s treatment of Skyler, the way in which he is coaching her through her depression ((A depression brought on by the fact she realizes in full that turning to the dark side can have terrible real life implications.)). Those 3 words are….CREEPY AS F*CK!
What is next up on the to-do list is clearly – where to cook??? The Crystal Ship has been sunk…..so where to?