‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5, Episode 2: ‘Madrigal’ Recap

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Bryan Cranston Aaron Paul Jonathan Banks Breaking Bad Madrigal Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 2: Madrigal Recap

Given that its potency as a drama series is virtually second to none, it’s fantastic when Vince Gilligan and the writers of Breaking Bad remind everyone just how on top of their game they can be when it comes to seriously dark comedy. Back when he was a writer on The X-Files, Gilligan often wielded his pen in a similar fashion, producing episodes that managed to keep a dry wit about the otherwise shadowy and foreboding elements that made up the series.

‘Madrigal’ is no exception. The second episode opens up at Madrigal Electromotive GmbH – the gigantic corporation responsible for such fine eateries as Burger Stays, Haau Chuen Wok, Palmieri Pizza, Whiskerstays and (formerly) Los Pollos Hermanos – where the audience is treated to a stone-faced Herr Schuler (Norbert Weisser) examining the finer aspects of new dipping sauces (Franch being the clear standout) before running into the bathroom to evade the polizei sniffing around Madrigal’s conference room. Once there, Schuler goes down in television history for his ingenious use of a portable defibrillator as an on-the-fly suicide aid.

The sequence at Madrigal serves to not only enhance the breadth of the situation Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and his array of Los Pollos Hermanos locations were involved in, but also to illustrate just how in the dark Walter White (Bryan Cranston) remains. With a major company like Madrigal somehow involved in (or facilitating) Fring’s meth dealings, the amount of interest from the legal side of things increases exponentially. That means Walter’s quest to succeed Gus in the Southwestern meth arena is likely going to run headlong into some very intrigued DEA agents.

While Walt rests comfortably in the ignorance of just how much the authorities know – thanks largely to his computer-wiping stunt from the premiere – his next step is to secure his partnership with Jesse (Aaron Paul). That means assuaging Jesse’s guilt over the lost ricin cigarette by searching his house with a fine-toothed comb, and then letting him find a planted, salt-filled duplicate in his Roomba’s collection bin. (The original vile of ricin being hidden away in Walt’s house for later use, no doubt.)

As much as the pieces of Los Pollos Hermanos and the meth ring are still being sifted through by the authorities, Walt also picks through the remnants of Fring, grabbing those elements that will help transition the fallen empire into the one he plans to see rise again. And with Jesse backing him wholeheartedly (being played into an overwhelming guilt for nearly killing Walt last season), the next thing on Walt’s to-do list is to recruit the reluctant Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) to essentially do what he does best, but for the guy who killed his former employer.

Jonathan Banks Breaking Bad Madrigal Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 2: Madrigal Recap

Initially, Mike wants nothing to do with Walt’s plan, but the aforementioned knowledge recently gleaned by the authorities puts him in a precarious position, and sees the finances he secured for his granddaughter pretty much fade away. That places Mike at the mercy of someone he seems to detest. More importantly, though, it takes him through a situation similar to Walt’s, but with the advantage of a much quicker illumination. As Walt relaxes, thinking he’s won, so, too, does Mike – at least in the belief that the 11 men who could compromise the entire operation were compensated sufficiently enough to ensure their silence. His only mistakes are not knowing how much the DEA knows and believing his word to be adequate in calming the nerves of Lydia (Laura Fraser) when she insists on executing those weak links.

Lydia has it in her head that the world is crumbling down around her, and the only way out is through a sufficient amount of bloodshed. So she does what any nervous executive would do and lets the plan come to fruition, with the other guy hired to do the same job. After a suspicious call from Chow (James Ning), Mike heads over for what we assume will be a tête-à-tête about the hush money Chow was paid that’s now in the possession of the DEA. The thing about Mike is he’s already worked out that it’s a double-cross and makes his way inside through a clever use of a stuffed animal, elminating the guy who would be $30k richer for getting rid of the ol’ Ehrmantraut. That leads Mike back to Lydia, who – knowing she’s going to die – pleads with her killer not make her body disappear, preferring instead that her daughter find a corpse than believe she has been abandoned. Mike, not really excited about either possibility, offers Lydia a stay of execution, as long as she can still procure some methylamine for Walt’s upcoming shot at the title of meth king.

And with that, a unenthusiastic partnership is born.

One of the key things ‘Madrigal’ sets up is just how blindly Walt is heading into the next phase of his plan, and just how manipulative he’s willing to be to get there. While he’s intent on moving forward and getting his hands on the “gold in the streets,” Hank (Dean Norris) is just steps away from pulling the curtain back on Fring’s world to see the man he only thinks he knows so well. And if Hank were to ever realize his boss’ words (“The whole time he was someone else completely, right in front of me, right under my nose”) had more to do with Walt than he’d like to know, Heisenberg may be in for a rather rude awakening.


Breaking Bad will continue on Sunday with ‘Hazard Pay’ @10pm on AMC. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. I love the way Gilligan is positioning Jesse in all of this. We all know he is the only thing stopping this world from collectively coming down on Walter White. My opening, naturally as this show is completely unpredictable, on last week’s opening scene has already changed. I’m thinking now that Jesse has caught on by then and WW is on his own, but the great ego of our time is going down with a fight. There is simply no scenario I can envisage in which Walter lets go of it all and settles back into his old way of life, even if that option is open to him.

    As for this week’s opening scene, it’s obvious the person at the start was a silent partner. I don’t think anyone else at Madrigal knew what was really going on with the partnership. I also think Mike can see the end game and is positioning himself and Walter for when it drops. As he says, “Tick, tick, tick…”.

    It is jaw dropping. For years it’s been The Sopranos for me as the number one TV show. But this is a satisfying conclusion away from being the ultimate. Not for the first time, after this episode ended I found myself drawing breath and sitting in silence for a few minutes to take it all in. Mr Gilligan, allow me to shake your hand.

  2. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but didn’t Mike just employ a “half measure” in letting Lydia off the hook? Go to Youtube and watch the “half measures” speech Mike gives to Walt when they’re talking about what to do with Jesse. In the speech, Mike shares the story of a wife-beater he should have killed when he had the chance. He lets the guy off, and the next time he and his partner respond to the couples’ house, the woman has been beaten to death. Mike regrets having taken “half measures” instead of full ones, and tells Walt he’ll never make that mistake again. Except in last night’s episode, he just did.

    I can’t believe this is an oversight or coincidence, given the brilliant writing of Vince Gilligan’s team and the manner in which they continue to link circumstances from different seasons. I look for Mike’s “half measure” to be his demise.

    • His hesitation tied into a need for Lydia though, which is something that the wife-beater didn’t have.

    • Absolutely. Mike hates half-measures but he always takes them: saving Jesse, letting Jesse convince him into sparing Walt, letting Lydia go, etc. His main character flaw is that he’s softer than he wants to be.

  3. Clueless Walt……he selfishly sets off a nuclear bomb to take out one guy but failed to think about all the “fall out” that would result. The **** storm is now rippling through all those Gustavo had ties to and will most likely end up biting him in the behind.

    I wonder if anyone has done an official tally on how many people Walt has had a hand in killing, either directly or indirectly. I think we are getting close to 200.

    I am very suspicious of Mike’s decision to join Walt’s little endeavor. He pretty much told Walt to F-off but why would he change his mind? Not to mention keeping someone alive who just barely put a hit out on he and his associates. I smell an ulterior motive but am unsure what he is thinking or planning.

    • My opinion is Mike has been backed into a corner with the DEA taking everythig, his boss dead, and his services are basically not needed in this world (at his age, to get to the level of trust and responsibilty he had with Gus). So it seems he has nothing (nor does his G-daughter) and that is his only driving force at this point.

      Walt is his last “hope” at recouping what he lost, and I am sure he knows this does not end well for himself.

      • The only problem with that idea is Mike has the DEA breathing down his neck and having 2 of his buddies just recently offed (one of which was interrogated repeatedly) will only put him under the microscope even more. Would you honestly go into business with an admitted loose cannon while being watched so closely? Seems like sheer lunacy unless there is some other larger plan going on.

  4. amazing show .. thats all i can say , so whats the deal with skylar i missed alot of the past 2 season as my wife does not like the show

  5. I really Walt & Jesse will end up cooking at the Car Wash.
    It’s a place that needs chemicals and Walt has a reason to be there every day. And I think at some point Hank or Marie will see Jesse and then the poop hits the fan.
    Also, Walt has once again manipulated Jesse in a truly terrible way. The way Jesse broke down after finding the cigarette was heart breaking to watch. Another Emmy for Aaron Paul…

    • Edit: I really think Waly & Jesse…

    • Edit: I really think Walt & Jesse…

    • yeah but to be fair jesse has screwed over walt a time or 2 in the earlier seasons .. and i do feel that walt cares for jesse as a son ..

  6. Love the show. Solid Mike episode (love mike) so this will seem nitpicky… but is it that hard to find actors who are native german speakers in LA… or actual german actors? Probably won’t bother most viewers but even the slightest bit of american accent when someone is either speaking a foreign language or faking an accent, is like nails on a chalkboard. The guy in the opening scene talking about “franch” was the worst… /end rant.

  7. I think Hank may have already seen Walt on the video. He said he took a peek before it was destroyed, but that it was encrypted. I wonder what he saw actually. Hank’s face when his boss was talking about Fring said a lot.

    I think there may be a Wire in place as well.

  8. NOTHING ON THIS SHOW IS POINTLESS!!!!! If Walt Jr. didn’t eat breakfast we are either going to find out that he has complications with his illness or he’s smoking crystal meth!!!!!! I have always had a theory that the only thing that could really truly get under Walt’s skin as we can see he doesn’t fear death is Walt Jr. Y’all watch….. his son has been too much of a silent character is a show where so much crazy s*** is happening around him. Something is UP!!!!!!!

  9. I have only one small thing to say whether or not someone else has already said it. I predict that Skylar will rat out Walt to keep the rest of her family safe, or at least do something to get as far away from him as possible. If you listen to what Walt says to her at the end of the episode you can understand where this prediction comes from.

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