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Recap / Breaking Bad S2 E7 "Negro y Azul"

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Season 2, Episode 07:

Negro y Azul
Ese compa ya está muerto / Nomás no le han avisado. *
Written by John Shiban
Directed by Felix Alcala
Air date: April 19, 2009

The Cartel, through Tortuga and his tortoise

Walt visits Jesse's apartment to discuss the matter with Spooge. He bangs on his apartment's door, attracting the attention of Jane, who mistakenly believes Walt is Jesse's father who kicked him out of his old house. Jesse eventually opens the door and invites his "Dad" in. Walt chastises Jesse for supposedly killing Spooge and lighting up pot afterwards, but Jesse explains that Spooge's drugged-out girlfriend was the one who did him in, and he had been smoking weed to cope with Spooge's nauseating demise.

Since Jesse is too distraught after his encounter with Spooge, Walt goes out to conduct business with Badger, Skinny Pete, and Combo as "Heisenberg". From them, he learns that business is going smoother than usual, due to everyone believing Jesse killed Spooge: everyone was fearful of the wrath of Heisenberg. Walt plays along with the rumor, and when he returns to Jesse, tells him to roll with it, too: he explains that Jesse is a "blowfish" who looks intimidating when threatening, and Jesse gets on board with the idea of using his newfound street cred to expand their territory.

Meanwhile, Skyler applies for a data-entry job at Beneke Fabrications, using her friendship with the owner Ted Beneke to get her old bookkeeping job back. Marie is disgusted that her sister is taking a job with "Mr. Grabby Hands," but Skyler waves her (and Walt, who thought she quit due to welding fumes) off. At the same time, Hank meets with "Tortuga" (Danny Trejo), a cartel informant, in El Paso. He is annoyed with his colleagues acquiescing to his every request and demands Tortuga cooperate, but Tortuga explains that he's a patient man and he will take his time to get what he wants.

While Jesse and Jane bond, Hank meets with his colleagues on the Mexican border as they conduct a stakeout. He sees something in the distance: it appears to be Tortuga. When the team investigates, they discover that it's actually Tortuga's severed head attached to the back of a tortoise (Tortuga's Spanish namesake) with "HOLA DEA" ("Hello, D.E.A.!") painted on its shell. Hank begins to feel ill as his colleagues laugh about the poetic justice that had been wrought on Tortuga, but the laughter comes to an end with bombs attached to the tortoise go off, killing one DEA agent and maiming three others (and the tortoise).

Jesse meets with his friends for the first time since dealing with Spooge. Playing on the street cred he built up, he tells them that they are now the kingpins of ABQ and can sell wherever and whenever they want. He also plans to increase the scale of their operation, and instructs the three to recruit their own dealers so they can expand their operation and increase their profits. Even this isn't enough for Walt's tastes: "Corner the market, then raise the price. Simple economics."

Back home, Jesse admits to Jane that, despite the name he gave on his lease, his last name is actually "Pinkman", not Jackson; and Walt wasn't really his father. Jane, however, respects Jesse's privacy, stating that she doesn't care what he does, so long as he doesn't do it in the duplex. The two celebrate Jesse getting a flatscreen TV and, while waiting for the TV to acquire a satellite signal, hold hands...

This episode provides examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Vanco, Hank's new co-worker, loses a leg when Tortuga's head explodes.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Tortuga's fate is horrific, but he is still an unrepentant cartel gangster and informer who cheerfully admits he's only in it for himself.
    • To a lesser extent, Vanco is rather snide towards Hank, sneering at him when he is overwhelmed by the sight of Tortuga's severed head atop a tortoise... so the audience may not feel too sorry for him when it explodes mere seconds after, resulting in his leg being severed.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The cartel's bomb involves Tortuga's severed head and a live tortoise. The latter is killed when the bomb explodes.
  • Ballad of X: The full title of the opening song is Negro y Azul: The Ballad of Heisenberg.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Jesse Jackson comes back, and Walt's reaction is hilarious.
    • "Tortuga" translates as "tortoise" (see Meaningful Name); when the Cousins are done with him, he's a severed head riding on the shell of a real tortoise.
  • Changing The Uncomfortable Subject: Jesse stops a few words short of telling Jane why he stopped drawing without saying anything concrete really. The topic is never brought up again.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Walt gives another to Jesse telling him to use the incident from the previous episode to incite Jesse to expand their business. Doubles as a Funny Moment.
    Walt: Jesse, you are a blowfish!
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Jesse explaining events of the previous episode to Walter makes himself look worse and worse.
  • Dull Surprise: Jane uses this to great effect, completely unsurprised by the discovery that Jesse's last name is not Jackson.
  • Dead Star Walking: Tortuga is murdered by the cartel after a couple of appearances in the Cold Open and a single scene in the hotel.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Tortuga makes several appearances throughout the Cold Open music video before he's introduced properly within the episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment: We get a good idea of how much scarier the Cartels are compared to the likes of Tuco and Krazy-8 in this episode. They rat out the DEA's snitch in Tortuga, brutally murder him, attach his head to a tortoise, load it up with explosives, and send it into the desert to kill the DEA agents unfortunate enough to find it.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Hank, who is fairly accustomed to drug violence and the predictably grim things he encounters in his line of work is horrified to see what happened to Tortuga. The fact that he's not only struggling not to vomit, but everyone around him is just laughing the event off really emphasizes just how out of his depth he is and just how astronomically terrible the situation with the cartels is.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Walt briefly freaks out when he thinks Jesse was the one who killed Spooge.
  • Fish out of Water: Hank's Boisterous Bruiser antics are practically the glue that holds the Albuquerque office culture together. His attempts to replicate that fall completely flat in the El Paso office, with several of the DEA officers being just as or more experienced than he is, and often having a quieter or more subdued style of work.
  • Flesh and Bombs: The cartel sends a message to Hank by strapping the severed head of his informant to a tortoise. Hank is so disgusted that he goes to the car to try and calm down, which saves his life when one of the other cops moves the head and sets off the bomb hidden in it.
  • Foreshadowing: The chorus in the Cold Open.
    But that homey's already dead
    He just doesn't know it yet
    • Jesse's crew spend most of the episode in a nuclear science museum, surrounded by bombs and pictures of explosions.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jesse is on a minor one after Spooge's death, hiding in his house smoking weed. Hank later gets a big one after seeing Tortuga's severed head on a tortoise, and then witnessing it blow apart several co-workers.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Vanco and another Federale have lots to say about Hank in Spanish, a language they not too long ago learned Hank doesn't speak.
  • Irony: Hank likes to pretend that he's much more macho than he really is, pretending that the firefight with Tuco isn't affecting him and often being as loud and obnoxious as possible to cover up his fears and nervousness. When he's working with actual macho DEA agents from Texas who see crazy, horrific bullshit (such as a decapitated head on a tortoise) all the time, Hank is positively meek by comparison. And yet, it's this very same squeamishness that saves his life when he has to walk away from Tortuga's head before it explodes, whereas the other DEA agents are either killed or lose several of their limbs. Or both.
  • Jerkass: Vanco is so much of a jerk he can't even insult Hank to his face, preferring to say them in Spanish to his colleagues.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Vanco, mocking Hank: "Hey! Welcome to w—" [BOOOM] Downplayed in that Vanco isn't actually killed, but he's down one leg from the experience.
  • Killed Offscreen: Played with. Tortuga's death happens offscreen, but we'll see it in a later episode.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Vanco mocks Hank for suffering a Heroic BSoD and fleeing from Tortuga's severed head... seconds before it explodes, resulting in his leg being severed.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Los Cuates de Sinaloa, a Mexican corrido band, perform a cheerful song called "Negro y Azul" (Black and Blue) during the Cold Open. The song is actually a narcocorrido (a narrative folk song, but about drugs, hence the 'narco') about "Heisenberg" becoming infamous for his pure quality drug and insulting the cartel bosses by cornering the meth market in the southwest; which will end in payback in the form of death. Which is pretty par for the course regarding this music genre.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • At the atomic bomb museum, after Walt learns how everyone believed Jesse killed Spooge and that the news was driving up business, the sound of a bomb going off is heard as he walks away, signifying his intent to play up the rumor for all it was worth.
    • When Jesse offers to let Jane over to see his flat-screen TV (the first step towards them having a relationship), church bells are heard in the background.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Tortuga invokes this: "I take my time, but I always win." The cartel then invoke this in another way by sending his severed head on top of a tortoise.
    • The lyrics of "Nergro y Azul" mention the rising drug markets and cartel activity is making the state of New Mexico live up to its namesake.
      Now New Mexico's name, Finally suits it well.
      It looks like México, In all the drugs it's hiding.
      Except there's a gringo boss, And he's known as "Heisenberg".
  • Seen It All: Subverted: the jaded and cynical DEA officers Hank is assigned to work with have this attitude to the horrors of the cartels, as witnessed by their dismissive reaction to Tortuga's horrific death and their mocking of Hank for being overcome by it... except given that not one of them was prepared for the tortoise carrying his head to explode right beside them, clearly they hadn't seen it all. Also deconstructed, since they were all clearly playing up this trope for macho points just like Hank had been, and if they had been similarly overwhelmed like Hank, or had simply exercised a little more caution instead of trying to prove how tough and unfazed they all were, they'd all still be alive and / or have all of their limbs.
  • Serendipitous Survival: Hank was lucky that he wasn't able to look at Tortuga's head for too long, if he had stayed where he was standing instead of going to the car, he would have gotten injured or worse in the ensuing explosion.
  • Steel Eardrums: Averted; when the Tortuga bomb goes off, the audio is dampened to cue to us that Hank has been temporarily deafened by the blast.
  • Tempting Fate: "What's the matter, Schrader? You act like you never saw a severed human head on a tortoise before!"
  • The Unreveal: Jesse trails off before saying why he gave up drawing when Jane asks and the subject is never referenced again. It can be inferred, however, that his parents were unsupportive and discouraged him from doing it professionally.
  • Vomiting Cop: Hank is visibly trying not to throw up when seeing Tortuga's severed head. He immediately retreats to the car to do so...which ends up saving his life when explosives attached to the tortoise are detonated.

"What's the matter, Schrader? You act like you never saw a severed human head on a tortoise before!"