Several years ago, a younger and physically-well Hector "Tio" Salamanca watches over two nephews, Leonel and Marco, as he talks on the phone about a South American "chicken man" that he is none too trusting of. Marco, the older of the two boys, breaks one of Leonel's toys, prompting the younger of the two brothers to complain to Hector, crying that he wants him dead. Hector calls Marco over to hand him a beer from a tub of icy water next to his chair. When Marco reaches in, Hector suddenly holds his head under the water and starts to drown him. Leonel, realizing that he never really wanted his brother to die, tries to pull Hector off, eventually punching him in the face and bloodying his nose.
With Hector's grip on Marco released, Leonel rushes to his brother's side as Hector looms over them, imparting on them his intended lesson: "Family is all."
The two brothers would take this lesson to heart as they grew into men, sharing a bond with one another as they became the most dangerous assassins that the cartel had in their employ. Now, they set their sights on Hank Schrader, the man who murdered their cousin Tuco.
Hank drives to Jesse's house. Furious that he was tricked into believing that his wife was in hospital to lure him away from Jesse's RV, Hank violently attacks Jesse, knocking him to the floor and beating him unconscious. Realizing he's gone too far, Hank stops himself and calls for an ambulance. As Jesse is being taken to the hospital, Merkert approaches Hank and advises that he talk to a lawyer.
At the hospital, Walt comes to Jesse's hospital room to find Saul, eager to use Hank's act of police brutality in their favor. He's got a picture of Jesse's face, covered in bruises and cuts with one eye swollen shut, that he calls Jesse's "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. Walt is taken aback at the severity of Jesse's injuries. Jesse blames Walt for his predicament because he was the one who tricked Hank, so he tells Walt what he plans to do next: he will press charges against Hank and sue him into bankruptcy, then haunt him for the rest of his days until he drives him to suicide. Not only that, but he's going to resume his own meth cooking operation, and if he gets caught, he'll sell Walt out. "You're my free pass...bitch..." Jesse finishes, leaving Walt and Saul unsure as to whether he can be reasoned with.
At the DEA field office, Hank makes a statement to the Internal Affairs about what happened at the junkyard, but invokes the Fifth Amendment when it comes to his actions at Jesse's house. With Jesse filing charges, the investigators ask to photograph his bruised knuckles for the record. Marie comes to accompany Hank as he leaves, holding him as he weeps in her arms during the elevator ride.
Skyler visits Walt at his new condo and asks for his help in convincing Jesse not to press charges against Hank. Afterwards, Walt heads to the superlab to work with Gale, who has already set up the equipment exactly to Walt's liking and anticipates his every request. Gale says that this is the start of a beautiful friendship, but Walt just looks annoyed.
In the desert, the Cousins meet with a talkative arms dealer who is selling a wide array of weapons from the back of a trailer truck. He gives them a free hollow point bullet nicknamed "Black Death" and shows off his bulletproof vest, which the Cousins test by shooting him point blank. When the arms dealer survives, they purchase two vests and leave him on the floor complaining about possible broken ribs.
At the superlab, Walt checks their equipment and tells Gale that he set the wrong temperature for the batch, completely ruining it. Gale is insistent that Walt told him that temperature and that he'd written it down, but it does nothing to cool Walt's anger. Walt turns away with a pensive expression, the wheels turning in his head.
At home, Marie suggests to Hank that he lie and tell his superiors that Jesse instigated a confrontation with him, but Hank refuses. Marie states that it will be Jesse's word against Hank's; a low-life addict versus a long-time DEA agent. Hank, however, says that he did wrong and confides in Marie that he has been not well since his confrontation with Tuco, suffering from panic attacks that are getting worse, and is afraid that his career may be over...
Walt calls Gus and tells him that Gale is not working out as a lab partner. He asks to hire Jesse, since the two have history and a "shorthand" that allowed them to work together perfectly. Gus is wary about hiring a drug addict, but Walt reminds him that when he was hired, he was told that the lab was his, and he knew how to run it.
Afterwards, Walt goes to the hospital to ask Jesse to partner with him at Gus' superlab. Jesse thinks Walt is simply trying to save Hank, but Walt tells him that they will be equal partners and stand to make $1.5 million each. Jesse refuses and breaks down, telling Walt that ever since the two of them started working together, his life has gone to hell. He is still hurt and furious at Walt for telling him his cook was garbage. Walt, letting go of his pride for a moment as he turns to leave, admits to Jesse that he was wrong: his cook was every bit as good as Walt's.
In his car, Walt sits in contemplation. He hears his cellphone ring and answers it. After thinking over the offer for a moment, Jesse reconsiders: he agrees to be Walt's partner once again, if they split the profits 50-50.
At the DEA office, Hank admits to assaulting Jesse. When he refuses to amend his statement fraudulently to place him (and by extension the agency) in a better light, Merkert puts him on suspension without pay, ordering him to surrender his gun and badge. As Hank leaves, he learns from Merkert that word on the grapevine is that Jesse is not pressing charges after all. When a surprised Hank asks why, Merkert muses that he might have a guardian angel.
Later, Hank visits a shopping mall, buying flowers for Marie. As he's about to get in his car, Hank receives a phone call. An electronically disguised voice warns him that he has one minute before two men show up to kill him. Hank, defenseless without his gun, scans the parking lot. After one minute passes, Leonel appears and shoots out the rear window, hitting Hank in the arm. Hank throws his SUV into reverse and pins Leonel between his rear bumper and the hood of a car parked behind him, crushing his legs. Marco then opens fire on Hank's car from the driver's side, hitting Hank in the hip as he grabs Leonel's gun and dives out the other side. Marco shifts Hank's car into drive, releasing Leonel. A badly wounded Leonel tells his brother to "finish him".
Marco strides back toward Hank, killing a passerby along the way and almost killing another woman, only failing because his gun has run out of bullets. As Marco reloads, he doesn't notice the Black Death bullet fall out of his pocket. As he continues to advance, Hank surprises him from behind and shoots him four times with Leonel's gun, unaware that he's wearing a bulletproof vest. Marco, still standing, shoots Hank twice in the chest. Hank falls to the ground, bleeding profusely. Marco walks up on him, points his pistol at Hank's head, but stops. He decides that shooting Hank in the head would be "too easy" after what he's done to Tuco and Leonel, so walks back to their car to retrieve his axe.
As Marco walks away, Hank notices the Black Death bullet lying on the ground nearby. His hands slicked with blood, Hank grabs the bullet and painstakingly loads it into the gun. As Marco returns and raises his axe to strike the killing blow, Hank finally manages to load the bullet, and fires. The bullet blows out the back of Marco's head and he falls to the ground, dead, his axe lodging itself in the pavement a few feet away from Hank. Hank then passes out from blood loss as the parking lot falls deadly silent, the silence only broken by the sound of a car alarm.
This episode contains examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: When Hank kills Marco with a headshot, the axe falls out of Marco's hands and cuts into the asphalt far enough to stay upright. It wasn't even swung downwards — it just fell about 7 feet and landed on the blade.
- Abusive Parents: Tio beats the "family is all" mantra into his nephews by holding Marco's head underwater and forcing Leonel to save him.
- Arms Dealer: A genial yokel with a semi truck full of serious hardware who sells a couple of Bulletproof Vests, handguns and some hollow-point bullets to Leonel and Marco as they prepare for their assassination of Hank. They test his own vest out before paying up, but luckily for him he sells good merchandise.
- Artistic License Physics: As demonstrated by the truck driver/arms dealer, bulletproof vests do not make the wearer immune to bullets. A vest only stops penetrating injury — they do not counteract the high energy of an impacting round, which can easily break ribs and cause internal injury, as happens with the truck driver. When Hank empties five bullets into Marco with Leonel's gun — the same gun that was used to wound the arms dealer — Marco is barely fazed despite the fact that he just took five rapidly fired bullets to his upper chest. That many hits at such close range in such a small zone would have, at minimum, shattered several ribs and potentially punctured one or both lungs — both critical and incapacitating injuries. Realistically, Marco should then be unable to lift his pistol to shoot Hank in the chest twice, much less walk all the way back to his car and swing a heavy axe. Additionally, at least one bullet appears to impact Marco's clavicle and upper shoulder — both areas that are not protected by the vest.
- Ax-Crazy: When the Salamanca cousins ambush Hank, Marco refuses to shoot Hank in the face when he had the chance, choosing instead to go back to the car to get the axe. That decision works out about as well as it usually does, as Hank manages to get the drop with Leonel's gun before Marco gets a chance to axe him.
- Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The Salamanca cousins meet with a gun dealer and test out the Bulletproof Vests he's selling by shooting the one the dealer is already wearing. After checking to see that the bullet in fact did not penetrate through the vest, they actually pay the dealer and leave him groaning on the floor. After all, why waste a good supplier?
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The show from this point would have probably gone much differently if Marco chose to just shoot the incapacitated Hank rather than return to his car to grab his axe and slowly walk back, dragging the ax head on the pavement. This, obviously, gives Hank time to get the bullet dropped from Marco's pocket and use it to shoot his would-be killer.
- Boom, Headshot!: Hank kills Marco with the Black Deathbullet.
- Bulletproof Vest: The Cousins purchase a pair from an illegal arms dealer. Played realistically: one of them shoots the dealer in the chest to test the vests — he survives, but one of his ribs is broken and he's left moaning in pain as the Cousins walk away.
- Call-Forward: The wooden chair on which Hector "Tio" Salamanca is sitting in the flashback strangely looks like the wheelchair he now uses.
- Camera Abuse: When Hank kills one of the twins, brain matter from the exit wound hits the camera lens.
- Car Fu: Hank cripples Leonel by backing his car into him and then pinning him against another car.
- Chekhov's Gun: The hollow-point "on the house" bullet that the Cousins got from the arms dealer is used by Hank to kill Marco.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: The Cousins' attack on Hank is in broad daylight in a public parking lot, and at least one bystander is killed in the crossfire.
- Contrived Coincidence: The vest-piercing bullet the arms dealer gives to one of the cousins is conveniently dropped by Marco where Hank can reach it after the gun Hank is using runs out of bullets.
- Deadly Euphemism: When Jesse goes on the warpath and becomes determined to sue Hank, Saul warns Walt that, for their own sake, they may need to "talk options". He doesn't elaborate, but given the situation and other euphemisms he makes later in the series, his intent can be inferred...
- The Dog Bites Back:
- Season 3 has been less than kind to Hank, having him outwitted every time he gets a bit too close to the truth, deal with panic attacks from his shootout with Tuco, and generally put through one humiliating misstep after another. A recipe for Badass Decay, you might say, until he shows his grit and tenacity by taking out two of the coldest killers on the show.
- Until he gives in and accepts Walt's offer (and despite being confined to a hospital bed), this entire episode is arguably an example of this for Jesse. After 2 seasons of being constantly verbally abused and manipulated by Walt and physically assaulted by multiple people, he finally snaps, expressing in no uncertain terms his desire to make both Hank and Walt pay for what each of them have done to him, to the point where it's heavily implied both Walt and Saul see him as a legitimate potential threat going forwards.
- Double-Meaning Title:
- Tio suggests Marco has one minute to live as his head is dunked in icy cold water.
- Hank has one minute left until he is attacked by the Cousins.
- Foreshadowing: The arms dealer selling to the Cousins touts his hollow point bullets, saying they will "shred your mama's head like a cabbage". Three guesses as to how one of the Cousins dies, and with what kind of slug.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- Walt protects Hank's career by convincing Jesse to drop the charges, although some may argue this was more about Walt saving his own ass since Jesse was threatening to give Walt up to the DEA.
- Walt also rejects Saul's advice to kill Jesse due to feeling this way about him.
- The Salamanca twins are shown to genuinely care for one another.
- From Bad to Worse: Hank accepts the repercussions of assaulting Jesse and is suspended. He gives up his badge and gun. And later in after buying his wife some flowers... yup, the Salamanca cousins show up to murder him (but not without warning).
- Gone Horribly Right: Walt's continual dismissal and belittling of Jesse unfortunately worked so well that Jesse repeats Walt's words in his teary-eyed angry rejection of Walt.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Hank messes Leonel's legs up something fierce, such that they had to be amputated in the next episode. The viewer can't see the extent of his injuries, but judging by Marco's reaction, it was pretty gnarly. A doctor in the following episode describes his femurs as feeling like "a bag of wet gravel".
- Heroic Willpower: When the Salamanca brothers ambush Hank, he manages to reload his pistol and kill his assailant despite the fact that he'd just been shot multiple times.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Marco is shot with the very hollow-point "Black Death" bullet that the arms dealer gave to him as a freebie.
- I Will Only Slow You Down: Marco checks on Leonel bleeding out on the parking lot, his brother tells him to finish off Hank.
- Just Following Orders: Tio takes Leonel's wish that Marco was dead (Marco had just broken Leonel's toy) to the extreme and begins drowning Marco in the cooler, responding to Leonel's shock by saying, "This is what you wanted!"
- Mistaken for Prank Call: At first, Hank fails to take the warning call that the Cousins are coming seriously, thinking it's a prank from Gomez. However, he realizes midway through calling Gomez's number that the call wasn't a prank.
- Motor Mouth: The Arms Dealer.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After a deception allows Walt and Jesse to elude him, Hank is enraged to the point of severe Police Brutality against Jesse. After he calms down, he is visibly horrified at his actions.
- In the Cold Open, a young Leonel clearly displays this reaction when his uncle begins to drown Marco after Leonel shouts that he wishes Marco were dead.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Hank is on the transmitting end in this trope to Jesse.
- No-Sell: During the shootout between Hank and The Twins, Hank unloads half a clip from a handgun into Marco, who is wearing a Bulletproof Vest, and the guy barely budges. This is notable as when they tested the quality of the vests by shooting a guy who was wearing one, the guy they shot lived but immediately went down and started shouting that his ribs were broken.
- Police Brutality: Hank's attack of Jesse also falls under this. The possibility of Hank embellishing his story in order to make him look better (implying self defense for example) is brought up but Hank doesn't take it, and is suspended without pay for his misdeed.
- Pretty Little Head Shots: Averted. Hank shooting Marco in the head leaves a pretty nasty looking exit wound◊.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jesse delivers a hell of a one to Walt when the latter tries to convince him to be partners again.
- Shout-Out: While working with Walt in the lab, Gale quips "This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
- Trunk Shot: When Marco is retrieving the axe from his car.
- Unstoppable Rage: After Hank discovers that news of Marie being in a car crash was faked (to allow Walt and Jesse to escape an RV they were hiding in), he tracks down Jesse at his house and assaults him, outraged that they knew some of his important personal details. He ends up being thrown out of the DEA as a result.
- Wham Episode: Hank beats up Jesse as revenge for an earlier Batman Gambit which made him think his wife had been in a car accident. After the beating, Hank is disgraced by the DEA and has his badge and gun taken away. As he's about to leave work, he gets a phone call claiming that the Cousins are coming to kill him, and that he has one minute before they arrive. In the following gunfight, he is shot multiple times before managing to paralyze one of the cousins and kill the other, and the episode ends with all three men down.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: When Marco has Hank on the ground and helpless after shooting him, he looks as if he's about to put a final bullet in his head, but says "No. Too easy." His decision to finish Hank off using his axe gives Hank time to load his retrieved gun with the hollow-point bullet, and Marco takes that same bullet through the brain as he's about to bring the axe down.
- Xanatos Gambit: Gus granting Leonel and Marco permission to go after Hank instead of Walt. This plays into Gus' plans perfectly: if Hank dies, the police turn up the heat on the cartel's operation, allowing Gus to corner the market; if the attack fails, Walt is safe, two of the cartel's biggest hitters are down, and Gus can force a sitdown.