What An Idiot / Breaking Bad
Walter White is a genius, Hank Schrader is a brilliant investigator and the drug dealers they go up against are highly competent in their own right, but man
do they make a lot of stupid decisions. Here are just a few.
- A mysterious drug dealer named Heisenberg begins selling the purest meth ever cooked. You are Hank Schrader. You are the DEA agent in charge of catching the guy. Your brother-in-law is Walter White. He happens to be a brilliant chemist who works as a high school teacher despite being a genius and suffers from terminal lung cancer (and is very likely dying). On top of that, after spending well over a decade showing zero interest in Hank's line of work, he suddenly became very interested in how lucrative meth could be, and even asked to see an actual lab right after said diagnosis. Meanwhile, some chemistry equipment from aforementioned school is stolen and being used to cook meth.
You'd Then Expect: Hank to connect the dots and realize Walt is probably the only person to fit Heisenberg's profile perfectly, or at least is involved in his gang in some way.
Instead: Hank never suspects a thing... until Walt's own what an idiot moment. However, Hank also generally writes Walt off as book-smart but dumb at everything else, considering him to be a mild-mannered underachiever who "wouldn't know a criminal if he was close enough to check you for a hernia," meaning his biases are obviously going to factor into the investigation. These biases might attribute to why Hank doesn't think Walt is Heisenberg until Season 5B.
- In "Peekaboo", Walter wants Jesse to recover $1,000 of meth from a pair of addicts who stole it from one of Jesse's distributors, preferably without violence.
You'd Expect: He'd tell Jesse this explicitly, or come up with a plan for getting it back.
Instead: He tells Jesse to take care of business and to bring a gun.
- About halfway through "Peekaboo", Jesse finds the addicts, pulls a gun on them and coerces them into handing over what they stole.
You'd Then Expect: He'd keep them at a safe distance using the gun, or just shoot them on the spot so they couldn't identify him to the police
Instead: He plays peekaboo with their son after they fall asleep.
- In "Better Call Saul", Badger realizes he's probably getting set up as part of a drug sting when he notices what look like surveillance vehicles parked nearby, and the customer he's selling to is a little confident in himself.
You'd Expect: He'd walk away and go back later for the drugs.
Instead: Badger being Badger, the undercover cop manages to get him to fall for the old "undercover cops can't deny that they are cops when asked directly" urban legend. So Badger goes through with the deal, and is promptly arrested.
- In "Sunset", Walt finds out that Hank knows about the RV and that he is surveilling Jesse's house. After consulting Saul he rushes to the yard where the RV is stored and orders its destruction. So far so good, but Badger is at the yard at the moment and asks Walt about Jesse.
You'd Expect: That Walt would realize that Badger, being Jesse's buddy, would tell him about Walt's plan. Thus, you'd expect that Walt'd tell Badger that Hank is staking out Jesse's house and would follow Jesse straight to the RV.
Instead: Walt ignores Badger's question. As a result, Badger does tell Jesse about Walt's plan, and a furious Jesse drives off to the junkyard to confront Walt, which of course, leads Hank right to the RV.
- In "One Minute," the Cousins ambush Hank in a parking lot. Hank disables Leonel, and then there's a brief exchange of gunfire between him and Marco, which ends with Marco shooting Hank twice in the chest, wounding him. Marco then steps up to Hank, pistol drawn:
You'd Expect: Marco just put a bullet between Hank's eyes, since Hank is now incapacitated and clearly not in a position to fight back.
Instead: Marco decides, "No, too easy," and walks back to his car to grab his axe. In the time it takes him to return with axe in hand, Hank manages to load the spare "Black Death" bullet that Marco dropped while reloading into Leonel's gun, and is able to shoot Marco in the head right when Marco prepares to swing the axe. To be fair to Marco, it's possible that he didn't notice that he'd dropped the "Black Death" bullet, but it still fits this....
- In the Season 3 finale, Walt has Jesse kill Gale.
You'd Expect: He'd destroy any evidence that he knew Gale.
Instead: He keeps a book from Gale, with a note from the guy, in his bedroom where anyone could find it. Come season 5A, guess what happens.
- In early season 4, Hank is at a dinner party with the Whites when he announces that "Heisenberg" has been found dead and was actually Gale Boetticher.
You'd Expect: Walt would congratulate his brother-in-law for nailing a dangerous criminal, or at least keep quiet.
Instead: He derides Gale as an amateur who couldn't possibly have been smart enough to be Heisenberg. Now, to be fair, Walt was inebriated, and Walt deriding Gale isn't out-of-character for him, as Walt's pride won't let anyone else get credit for what he sees as his, but still, saying it to Hank's face was enough to prompt Hank to reopen his investigation. Though later on, it's implied that, subconsciously, Walt is trying to get Hank to catch him out of the belief that he would be safe from Gus in prison and could drag Gus down with him.
- Ted Beneke has been cooking his accounting firm's books with Skyler's help since Season 2, and the IRS begins to investigate him in late season 4 for embezzlement.
You'd Expect: He and Skyler would meet together and work to get their stories straight, and maybe even hire a couple of good attorneys.
Instead: He doesn't tell Skyler about the indictment until the day before his meeting with the IRS. And, to be fair, Skyler does seem kinda annoyed that Ted didn't notify her earlier about the audit, but it's still poor planning on Ted's behalf....
- Skyler narrowly helps Ted avoid criminal charges by making it seem like the missing money is the result of ignorance, but he still owes the back taxes. Then he receives from Saul Goodman an inheritance check for the exact amount he owes from a relative he didn't know he had. Money that...
You'd Now Expect: ...he use to pay the IRS because that was obviously the intent of whoever sent it.
Instead: ...he uses to buy a Mercedes, figuring he'll eventually get a better offer. This forces Saul to send Huell and Kuby to force him to sign the check.
- Mike (by his standards, at least) in early Season 5: all right, tying up someone to a radiator by one hand with temporary handcuffs is perfectly reasonable.
You'd Expect: That as Mike is doing it to someone he just called out for being a loose cannon and who is a genius at escaping, either use a second set of handcuffs, or clear the immediate area of objects that could be used to break these handcuffs.
Instead: He leaves Walt unattended long enough for Walt to undo his restraints.
- In "Blood Money," Hank has figured out that Walt was Heisenberg and puts a tracking device on Walt's car.
You'd Expect: That Hank would remember how he showed a tracking device to Walt when he asked him to put on Gus's car in season 4, and put on a tracker in a location that Walt won't think to look.
Instead: Hank uses the exact same kind of tracking device that he had Walt put on Gus's car, which ensures that Walt knows exactly where to find it.
Even Worse: It gets even more idiotic if you remember how in "Dead Freight," Hank chewed out another agent for planting tracking devices on the methylamine barrels at the Madrigal warehouse that weren't hidden well enough. To Hank's credit, though, it was several days before Walt found out about the tracker, meaning he can't remove it at own leisure like Gus did (Gus knew he was being bugged before the fact; by the time Walt found out about his tracker, he'd already visited Saul and Jesse); still, it was a bit of oversight on Hank's behalf where he was putting the tracker.
- In the fourth to last episode, Hank finally has Walt right where he wants him: blinded by rage, irrational, and leading Hank right toward a mountain of irrefutable evidence of Walt's wrongdoing.
You'd Expect: Hank to immediately call for backup and bring the full force of the DEA down on Walt, complete with choppers and squadrons of agents and cops in SWAT gear, or at the very least, phone his findings in to other men at his office so that if the worst should happen, his investigation won't die with him and someone else takes Walt down.
Instead: He shows up with Gomez and a couple of guns and tells no one where they're going or why. Enter a bunch of heavily-armed neo-Nazis, and well, we all know it ends for them.
- Speaking of that, in the antepenultimate episode, Jack Welker has killed Hank and Gomez, captured Jesse, and stolen every barrel but one of Walt's millions of dollars.
You'd Expect: Having stolen his money and killed his brother-in-law, Jack just kill Walt, a man he knows must despise him.
Instead: He lets Walt go, and we all know how that turns out.
Additionally: It's a strange decision since Jack clearly has no loyalties to anyone but himself and his fellow Neo-Nazi crew, so it's all the stranger when he leaves alive a witness who now has a million reasons to want him dead. It's partially handwaved in that Jack says that Todd respects Walt and would be angry with Jack if he were killed. Some fans even argue that Jack left Walt alive to keep the heat on Walt (since killing him would just lead the police to look for Jack's crew), but still, it's enough to qualify for this page.
- In the series finale, Walt confronts Jack and his white supremacist gang. Jack quickly decides to kill Walt, who then accuses him of having gone into partnership with Jesse.
You'd Expect: Jack to just laugh at Walt, tell him that he's holding Jesse prisoner and then shoot him dead. Whether or not Walt knows the truth of the situation isn't going to matter a whole lot when he's dead, and everyone else there knows exactly what's going on.
Instead: Jack acts all offended, and then has the chained-up Jesse dragged into the room just to let Walt know how wrong he is. Walt then actives a home-made automatic turret in his car's trunk, which kills the entire gang (and mortally wounds Walt), leaving Jesse as the only survivor.
- In the first episode, Jimmy hires two skaters to jump in front of Betsy Kettleman's car as part of his scheme to get back into her good graces. He gives them information about the car and the route that Betsy takes. He even tells the skaters important information to memorize, like the license plate and the specific shade of brown on the car:
You'd Expect: That the skaters would maybe write this down and maybe even take a picture of the car.
Instead: They target a stationwagon that's a similar model and similar in color to the Kettlemans' car, which happens to be driven by Tuco's grandmother. Though in their defense, Jimmy trained and encouraged them to do this based on memory alone and even admitted that Tuco's grandmother's vehicle appearing was a stroke of bad luck.
- From the above, the car hits one brother and they start their act. But suddenly the car takes off.
You'd Expect: The brothers to just call the police, since even though they were scamming the driver, the driver has committed hit-and-run. There are also lots of witnesses who saw the hit so can provide a license plate. Or alternately, that they wait for Jimmy to show up.
Instead: They follow the stationwagon to another house and end up in Tuco's captivity.
- Add to that, when the stationwagon arrives at the house, the driver, an elderly Hispanic woman, climbs out:
You'd Expect: That the brothers would immediately realize that there's no way this non-English speaking granny could be "Betsy Kettleman" and just go on their way.
Instead: They follow her into the house and continue to try to get money from her, with one of them calling her a "bizznatch". For this, Tuco beats them up and comes close to using brutal methods of murder/torture on them and Jimmy has to talk Tuco into breaking only one leg on each brother.
- In "Amarillo," Jimmy comes up with the idea that Davis & Main could build a targeted TV commercial directed at a specific Sandpiper Crossing facility. It's a brilliant idea, and when he pitches it to Cliff, Cliff seems open to the idea. So Jimmy goes to work, hires his camera crew from the billboard stunt, films an ad and even does a dry-run for Kim.
You'd Expect: That Jimmy would take his completed ad to Cliff first, so that the bosses can see exactly what's about to be put on the air with the Davis & Main brand name.
Instead: Jimmy doesn't go by the bosses first and airs the ad.
The Result: Kim gets demoted to doc review at HHM because she didn't give them a heads-up about the ad. Jimmy gets put under closer scrutiny at Davis & Main.
Also: Davis & Main scraps Jimmy's ad and replaces it with one that uses the successful "white text on blue swirly nebulous background with monotone narrator" formula that Jimmy was not impressed by.
- At the end of the second season, Chuck records Jimmy confessing his tampering with paperwork in order to cause HHM to lose the Mesa Verde account. In the third season episode "Witness," Jimmy finds out about the tape through Kim, who after some research finds that the chances of it ever being accepted as evidence in any court case are close to non-existent. However, Jimmy is still clearly very concerned about the tape, and what Chuck intends to do with it.
You'd Expect: Jimmy to just sit tight and wait and see what happens. About the only thing Chuck could use it for is blackmail, and even if he tried that Jimmy could probably turn his own scheme back on him.
Alternatively: Hire Mike — who Jimmy had met for an unrelated matter just the day beforehand — to break into Chuck's home and either damage the tape or swap it for a blank one, since they have a quid pro quo agreement.
Instead: After finishing work for the day, he goes around to Chuck's home, smashes in the front door, assaults Chuck, finds and destroys the tape, and makes further threats of violence against his brother. All of this ends up being witnessed by a private investigator whom Chuck had hired for just such an occurrence, along with Howard, who had just arrived to tell Chuck how his plan likely wouldn't work. Even Chuck himself had lampshaded just moments beforehand how unlikely it was that Jimmy would try breaking into his house in broad daylight.
- In light of the above, Jimmy is arrested, then gets put before the New Mexico State Bar who seek disbarment. Prior to the Bar hearing, Chuck and Howard tour the room where the hearing will be held. Howard asks Robert Alley, the Bar's attorney, to leave the room so he can have a moment to talk strategy with Chuck. Howard suggests that as he and the private investigator were there for Jimmy's break-in, it's unnecessary for Chuck to testify against Jimmy.
You'd Expect: That Chuck would realize Howard is making some good points and agree to let Howard and the private investigator carry all the weight, that their testimony alone will be enough to guarantee Jimmy's disbarment. Not only that, it would also protect HHM, because as Howard points out, the fact that Jimmy accessed documents that should have been locked up securely might very well come to light and cause the firm to lose clientele.
Instead: Out of sheer pride, Chuck dismisses Howard's concerns, saying that meting out justice against Jimmy is more important than protecting HHM. It turns out then that this is what Jimmy and Kim had anticipated, as it allows them to put their antics (bringing in Rebecca to unsettle Chuck, and hiring Huell to plant a charged cell phone battery in Chuck's pocket) into play, causing Chuck to break down on the stand when Jimmy cross-examines him and exposes his "illness" as fake.
End Result: Jimmy gets a one year suspension of his law license, not the disbarment that Chuck had hoped for.