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Recap / Breaking Bad S2 E2 "Grilled"

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Season 2, Episode 02:

Tuco has his "business associates" over for lunch.
Written by George Mastras
Directed by Charles Haid
Air date: March 15, 2009

"The DEA hit my place of business this morning. About a hundred cops looking for me. You two haven't been talking, right? Picked up my whole crew, top to bottom. Everybody except Gonzo. That's weird, right?"
Tuco Salamanca

Tuco, having abducted Walt and Jesse at gunpoint, takes them with him to the residence of his uncle, Hector Salamanca, near the Mexican border, where he tells them about his plan: namely, that he wants to bring Walt with him south of the border to forcibly employ him as his main meth cook. Walt is, of course, not thrilled about this, and neither is Jesse, as Tuco sees him as an expendable part of the plan.

At the DEA's offices, Hank briefs his colleagues on the status of Tuco's crumbling drug empire; the DEA has managed to effectively dismantle the organisation, and only needs to arrest one last suspect, Tuco himself. Despite assuring his team that they will find him, he privately remarks to Gomez that Tuco in all probability is already out of their reach across the border.

Hank then goes to meet with the rest of Walt's family, who are searching for Walt after he went missing last night. Skylar speaks about Walt's strange behavior and the phone call he got last night. After a bit of pushing from Marie, Hank reluctantly admits that he checked up on said phone call, and that no record of it exists, meaning that Walt must have a second phone and therefore must be keeping some kind of secret from the family. Skyler wonders if this secret has something to do with Walt's disappearance, and Marie mentions to Hank that Walt recently had been buying pot from Jesse in the past and wonders if this is the secret Walt is trying to hide. Hank promises to check up on Jesse and ask him if he knows anything about where to find Walt.

Walt and Jesse, meanwhile, try to figure out a way to kill or incapacitate Tuco so they can make their escape. To make matters worse, Tuco believes that Gonzo is the guy who ratted him and his gang out, and Walt fears that the moment that he finds out the truth — that Gonzo is actually dead — he will no doubt blame either Walt or Jesse for his downfall. On top of that, Tuco's cousins will be joining up with him in a few hours, meaning that however they are going to get rid of Tuco, they have to do it quickly.

Having kept the bag of meth poisoned with ricin in his pocket, Walt attempts to coax the constantly drug-snorting Tuco into taking some of it. Tuco, however, notices that the sample smells weird. Jesse quickly improvises a sales-spiel and manages to convince the skeptical Tuco that it's a new special recipe of Walt's, but makes a mistake as he says that it contains chili powder. Tuco scoffs at this, and commenting that he hates chili, he decides to leave the bag alone.

Hank starts his search for Jesse by visiting his parents. Mrs. Pinkman is worried that Jesse is in trouble with the law, but Hank assures her that his reasons for wanting to talk with her son are purely private. She informs Hank that Jesse no longer lives with her and her husband, and directs him to his current address, the house of Jesse's aunt. Being unable to find Jesse there either, Hank decides to check up on his car, since Mrs. Pinkman told him that Jesse drives a red Monte Carlo that he converted to a lowrider. He calls Gomez to find out if Jesse installed a LoJack car-tracking system, and, if so, to try to get a fix on the vehicle's location.

Walt now tries to sneak the poisoned meth into Tuco's food, but Tuco's uncle, Hector, interferes and knocks the plate off the table. Noticing his uncle's strange behavior, Tuco tries to ask him what is wrong, and Hector, despite being old, wheelchair-bound, and only capable of communicating by ringing a bell, manages to convey to Tuco that Walt and Jesse are up to no good. Furious, Tuco grabs Jesse and drags him outside, overhearing Walt's protests and pleas for Jesse's life. Pointing a gun at Jesse, Tuco demands that Walt tell him what he is up to. Noticing that Jesse is about to pick up a rock, Walt attracts Tuco's attention by admitting, with no shortage of spite, that he tried to poison him, and tells him through gritted teeth, "You're an insane, degenerate piece of filth. And you deserve to die."

Walt's distraction works, and Tuco takes his eyes off Jesse long enough for him to slam the rock down on Tuco's head. During the ensuing scuffle, Walt grabs Tuco's assault rifle and Jesse ends up with his pistol, shooting the drug dealer in his side. He proceeds to kick the wounded Tuco into a hole. Walt and Jesse clearly considers just shooting him while he is down and wounded, but Walt manages to keep a cool head and tells Jesse that they will just leave him to bleed, as they head for Jesse's car.

But the duo soon realize that they don't have the keys to the car, and then spot an approaching vehicle. Believing it to be Tuco's cousins, Walt drops the assault rifle as he and Jesse decide to get away as quickly as they can on foot. But as they have gotten to a vantage point at a distance, they can't see that the arriving car is actually Hank, who has followed the signal from Jesse's car. Tuco, meanwhile, has managed to drag himself out of the hole and hobbles bleeding over to Jesse's car to lean against it. Hank disembarks from his car and addresses him, believing him to be Jesse, but then realizes that the person front of him is actually Tuco. Hank and Tuco are for a short moment stunned in mutual disbelief, but Tuco snaps out of it first and quickly grabs the dropped assault rifle and fires away at Hank, who jumps into cover and returns fire.

Tuco, however, is too wounded to shoot straight, and Hank manages to gain the upper hand, shooting and killing him. Walt, watching from a distance as his brother-in-law emerges victorious and unharmed from the firefight, grabs Jesse's arm and the two run into the desert. As Hank walks over to inspect Tuco's body, he suddenly hears the ringing of a bell...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: It's outright cathartic to see Walt and Jesse get payback on Tuco, and even more so when Hank kills him.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tuco is slightly calmer, though just as threatening, as he keeps Walter and Jesse hostage with plans to get them all to Mexico to continue the drug trade. Even so, he takes an assault rifle to the surrounding wildlife and almost kills Jesse when Tio says he doesn't trust him.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Walt shows he cares about Jesse as he tries to keep him from being killed by Tuco during the episode.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Tuco fires off his assault rifle at random desert animals while cackling.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After shooting Tuco in the abdomen, Walt and Jesse look towards the railroad tracks and notice a car approaching and kicking up dust. Due to the vegetation on the ground and the geography, not to mention the bungalow proper, they can't get a good enough look at the car to see who it is, so they hide, thinking the car is Tuco's cousins coming to kill them. They can't see that the arriving car is Hank until the shooting stops.
  • Blunt "Yes": Jesse gives this response upon Walt's aghast at him suggesting that the cancer-ridden teacher sacrifice himself to off Tuco so that at least the young and healthy Jesse will live. Walt is less than amused.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Tuco's fate at the hands of Hank.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed. Both Tuco and Hank fire more bullets than their respective guns hold, but they do conveniently run out of ammo around the same time and both have to stop to reload. Hank uses this opportunity to get the jump on Tuco and shoot him in the head the moment he finishes reloading and attempts to rise from his cover to resume fire.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Tuco tells Walt and Jesse that he has his cousins coming to smuggle them into Mexico. By the end of the episode, Hank pulls up and murders Tuco... with the cousins still nowhere to be seen. They would later go on to become major antagonists in the first half of season 3.
  • Dirty Old Man: Implied, when Tuco assumes that Hector's anger at Walt and Jesse stems from their changing the channel from his "Mamacitas".
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • While both Jesse and Walt were living in fear of Tuco, Jesse was on the receiving end of all his abuse, and thus fittingly hits him in the head with a rock and shoots him with his own gun (and kicks him in the stomach a few times and pushes him down a hole, for good measure).
    • Walt also gets in on this in his own way moments before when he lays out the plain and simple truth for Tuco.
    • And to cap it all off, rather than kill him on the spot, Walt tells Jesse to let Tuco bleed out to death.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The episode's title references both Tuco's grill and the fact that he is grilling Walt and Jesse on whether they played a part in the DEA making a move on him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Hector Salamanca sports a rather grizzly-looking beard in this episode, a sharp contrast to his clean-shaven look that he would have for the rest of the series and the prequel to it. Also, Hector residing in a rather dirt-cheap house on the outskirts of the Mexican border is very different from where he usually stays.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Tuco dotes on his elderly crippled uncle, good-naturedly accepts to switch plates with him, and, knowing that despite being physically diminished he's still of sound mind, instantly listens to him when he tries to warn him against Walt and Jesse plotting his death.
  • Foreshadowing: While discussing ways to kill Tuco, Jesse suggests Walt cracks him over the head with something and then Jesse goes for his gun. Although Walt dismisses the idea, in the end, this is how they get the upper hand on Tuco, although the roles are reversed (Jesse bashes him over the head with a rock and Walt gets his assault rifle).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jesse suggests to Walt that he follow through with this trope in order to kill Tuco, using the argument that he is suffering from cancer as it is. Walt is not amused.
    Jesse: You got the C-bomb, alright? You're as good as checked out already. You should be all "sacrificial", and stuff. So why don't you go step on a grenade, yo?
    Walt: Oh, so my life isn't the priority here because I'm going to be dead soon anyway? Is that your point?
    Jesse: Uh, yeah?
  • How We Got Here: The Cold Open shows Jesse's car bouncing around and the immediate aftermath of Hank's gunfight with Tuco.
  • Humiliation Conga: The circumstances leading up to Tuco's death. He gets bested by Jesse and Walt, shot and left to bleed to death, then finally killed by Hank with a gunshot to the head despite carrying an assault rifle.
  • Hypocrite: Walt asserts to Tuco that he has a family he can't leave behind, and Tuco just retorts, "So? Get another one." This coming from the man who we later learn was taught by his uncle that family comes before everything else.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Tuco unloads an entire M4 magazine in Hank's general direction and doesn't hit him once, while Hank manages to shoot him in the head while he was reloading. Justified because at the time, Tuco had a severe gunshot wound to the abdomen, had previously sustained a head injury, and was probably high on drugs as well. He was also blazing away on fully automatic from the hip while jerking around, while Hank actually crouched and used his gun's sights. No surprise he hit nothing but air.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Tuco comes to the conclusion that Gonzo was a DEA informant, with no other evidence beyond the fact that Gonzo has been acting "pouty" over the death of No-Doze and hasn't been able to get in contact with him for two days.
  • Internal Reveal: Hank and later Skyler realize Walt must have a second cell phone after learning there was no record of the call to his phone from the previous episode.
  • Ironic Echo: Jesse's plan to take out Tuco is to have Walt hit Tuco's head with a heavy object while Jesse goes for Tuco's gun. Walt at first scoffs at this idea, but later, he unwittingly carries out Jesse's plan albeit in reverse: Jesse ends up being the one who hits Tuco's head with a rock while Walt is the one who steals Tuco's rifle.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: As Hank explains in the briefing scene, while the DEA knew full well that Tuco was a drug kingpin, they didn't have any firm evidence that they could pin on him. However, his bloodied fingerprints being found on No-Doze's body allows them to very easily get a search warrant for a potential murder charge, allowing them to raid his headquarters and find what they need to completely dismantle his organization.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Hank's search for Walt leads him to Tuco's compound. He pulls in just as Walt and Jesse (who have spotted his car from a distance and think it's Tuco's cousins coming to kill them) hide near the back of the compound. After Hank kills Tuco in the ensuing gunfight, he fails to notice Walt and Jesse fleeing on foot while he advances on Tuco's body.
  • Nerves of Steel: Hank is shown to have very quick reflexes in a firefight, and barely flinches when Tuco fires an assault rifle at him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jesse nearly gets Tuco to take some of the poisoned meth he and Walt cooked for him, only for him to claim that the meth has a "secret ingredient" in the form of chili powder. Tuco remarks that he hates chili powder, and so doesn't snort it. Walt lampshades Jesse's stupidity in that regard a few moments later. It ultimately ends up a subversion, however, as the slow-acting nature of ricin would mean that Hank would have showed up when Walt and Jesse were sat around waiting for the poison to take effect, meaning that best-case, Walt and Jesse would have had the very awkward job of explaining why they were in the presence of a known drug lord and murder suspect, and in the worst case, an uninjured Tuco would have had the upper hand in the gunfight and killed Hank.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Not to the point that he isn't truly wheelchair-bound and mostly immobile, but Walt and Jesse discover the hard way that Hector isn't nearly as senile as they thought.
  • Oh, Crap!: A few.
    • Walt and Jesse display this reaction when they realize that Hector knows what they're doing.
    • Twofold at the end; Hank is shocked when realizes he's facing down Tuco, then Walt is shocked to see his brother-in-law out in the same place as him and immediately starts running.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Tuco's actor, Raymond Cruz, was both uncomfortable playing the character and busy with other acting work. Thus, Boom, Headshot!.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: When they can't convince Tuco to snort the ricin, Walt hastily tries to hide it in Tuco's burrito while his back is turned, but the plan is ruined by Hector, who wasn't as senile as Walt thought and is able to stop Tuco from eating the burrito and get him suspicious that Walt and Jesse are up to something.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Walt's short but brutal speech to Tuco shown above.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The episode cuts between Jesse and Walt trying to kill Tuco after being kidnapped, and Walt's family trying to find out where's his disappeared to. The storylines converge at the end when Hank, tracking down a possible lead to Walt's disappearance involving Jesse's car, stumbles upon a wounded Tuco instead, whom he kills in a heated firefight.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Tuco accidentally turns on the bouncing hydraulics on Jesse's car when he opens fire on Hank. After Hank kills him, the car bounces more and more slowly until it stops completely, not unlike Tuco's heart as he lay dead.
  • South of the Border: Where Tuco plans on taking Walter to make him cook in a Mexican superlab.
  • Stalling the Sip: During lunch, Walt attempts to poison Tuco's burrito with some poisoned meth. After a particularly tense moment where Walt frantically folds the burrito back up while Tuco's back is turned, Tuco finally gets ready to eat the burrito... when his disabled uncle, Hector, who Walt had assumed was senile, begins frantically ringing the bell on his wheelchair. Tuco initially ignores this and almost bites into the burrito again, only for Hector to ring the bell even more. Finally, Tuco assumes that his uncle wants the burrito, and gives it to him instead. Hector then musters enough strength to knock the burrito to the floor, ruining Walter and Jesse's plans and finally cluing Tuco in that something is afoot.
  • Wham Episode: Hank fatally shoots Tuco, the established Disc-One Final Boss of the show, with Walt and Jesse about fifty yards away.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Tuco's wounds (the result of Jesse hitting him on the head with the rock and Walt shooting him in the abdomen) prevent him from being at his most dangerous in the climactic gunfight between him and Hank.