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Recap / Breaking Bad S4 E13: "Face Off"

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Season 4, Episode 13:

Face Off
"Last chance to look at me, Hector."
Written and directed by Vince Gilligan
Air date: October 9, 2011

"I won."

After his plan to kill Gus with a car bomb failed, Walt hurriedly removes the bomb from Gus' car and rushes into the hospital to ask Jesse if there is any other way to catch Gus off guard. Before Jesse can answer, however, he is taken into custody by police to answer for his claim that Brock was poisoned with ricin.

As detectives grill Jesse, Walt tries to find Saul to help get Jesse released—Saul had absconded when the situation with Gus became dicey. Walt breaks the office's window to get in, and Saul's secretary Francesca chews him out and refuses to give Saul's location until he pays for the window and for her pain and suffering; more money than he has on him. He makes his way back home to get his money, but stops when he realizes Gus' men may have his home under surveillance as they wait to kill him. He calls his neighbor to check in on his home, telling her that his family was on vacation and he wanted to make sure he didn't leave the stove on. As he suspects, Gus' goons are watching his home and the neighbor's arrival forces them out. While they're outside, Walt sneaks into his house to take some of his money for Saul's secretary.

Back at the police station, Saul arrives and forces the detectives to leave while he consults with Jesse. When asked about a way to get at Gus, Jesse thinks of one thing: after killing Don Eladio, dismantling the Cartel, and killing Joaquin, Gus paid a visit to a nursing home to gloat over Hector "Tio" Salamanca.

When Walt learns of this, he travels down to Casa Tranquila to talk to Hector. As Hector seethes in white hot rage at Walt's presence, Walt calmly states that while Hector may want him dead, there is someone else that Hector loathes even more: Gustavo Fring. Walt promises Hector that he can get his revenge against Gus if they work together.

Afterwards, Hector calls in his nurse and, using a letter board to communicate, tells her "NEED DEA". After some confusion, the nurse takes Hector to the DEA, where he insists on talking with Hank Schrader. Even though Marie, Skyler, and Junior are certain this is a trap, Hank meets with Hector. Once they are face-to-tace, though, Hector does nothing but taunt Schrader, using his aid and her letter board to tell him "SUCK MY" and "FUC", neither of which Hank needs to hear completed.

The meeting with the DEA serves its purpose, however: Tyrus has been tailing Hank and therefore sees Hector leaving the DEA office.

Jesse is informed by the detectives that a tox-screen run on Brock revealed no evidence of ricin poisoning. As such, Jesse is let off the hook and is free to leave. As Jesse leaves, however, he is tased and abducted by Gus' men. Tyrus, who had come to Hector's bedroom after his return to Casa Tranquila, informs Gus of Jesse's acquisition and Hector's apparent betrayal. Tyrus offers to take care of Hector, but Gus is adamant on ending matters with Hector himself.

Gus arrives at Casa Tranquila and, after Tyrus gives him the all-clear, confronts Hector, calling him a coward for meeting the DEA and a "crippled little rata". He takes a syringe of poison from Tyrus, informs Hector that it would be his last chance to look at him, and prepares to inject him.

To Gus' surprise, however, Hector looks at him and meets his gaze. Hector's face is one of sorrow and remorse, but then turns to one of rage and hatred as he begins to tap furiously at his bell. Little did Gus and Tyrus know, at some point before Tyrus entered Hector's room, Walt had attached his bomb to Hector's wheelchair and rigged it to detonate when he rang his bell enough.

Gus realizes this moments too late: the bomb goes off, killing Hector and Tyrus instantly and mortally wounding Gus, who leaves the room and straightens his tie as the nursing home staff look on in horror at the sight of half of Gus' face being blown off, exposing part of his skull, before he collapses and dies.

Walt is parked at an airport, listening to the news on the radio. When he hears of the Casa Tranquila bombing and reports of three people being killed, he departs immediately for the superlab, where Jesse is being forced to cook by one of Gus' guards. Walt kills two of the lab's guards and frees Jesse, informing him of Gus' demise.

The two then set about to open every chemical container in the lab, flooding the floor with volatile chemicals, then rigging a frayed wire to a Christmas light timer, leaving the lab before the timer goes off, igniting the chemicals and destroying the superlab with a powerful explosion.

On the roof of the hospital, Jesse tells Walt that Brock is expected to make a full recovery: it wasn't ricin that poisoned Brock, but a common plant called "Lily of the Valley", which has poisonous berries that children may eat, thinking it edible. Gus didn't poison Brock after all. Nonetheless, Walt reassures Jesse that Gus had to die, and they did what they needed to do.

Walt calls Skyler, who saw the news of the Casa Tranquila bombing, and asks him what he did. Walt simply answers, "I won." Satisfied, he drives home.

Unbeknownst to Jesse, Walt has a particular potted plant in his backyard: a Lily of the Valley...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Action Dad: Walt truly shows what he is capable of when he's driven into a corner.
  • Angry Eyebrows: Hector spends two whole seasons refusing to look Gus in the eye. When he finally does, he really makes it count.
  • Artistic License – Explosives: In reality, an explosion strong enough to blow a door clear off its hinges from a few meters away would have at the very least immediately killed someone as close as Gus due to the overpressure, and likely have sent them flying as well. And that's assuming they didn't simply get turned into Ludicrous Gibs. But then we wouldn't have had that great reveal.
  • Asshole Victim: Gus and Tyrus Kitt clearly had what was coming for them for going after Walt's family and Hank.
  • Badass Boast: Walt gives a laconic one:
    Walt: I won.
  • Bathos: In a little bit of Black Comedy in an otherwise serious episode, as Walt is regrouping with Jesse in the hospital after the failed assassination attempt from last episode, his makeshift bomb's magnets momentarily stick themselves to a metal elevator door while inside Walt's bag, leading to him awkwardly trying to unstick the bag without anyone getting suspicious. Jesse notices this and realizes with incredulity what Walt has done.
    Jesse: (loud whispering) Did you just bring a bomb, into a hospital?!
  • Batman Gambit:
    • After Walter learns about Hector Salamanca and his location, he conspires with him, has him "talk" with the DEA, and gives him the bomb, expecting Gus to make his appearance as he uses Hector to blow himself and Gus up. Gus took the bait all too well.
    • Turns out Walter pulled one off an episode earlier. He poisoned Brock with a Lily of the Valley plant in an attempt to make Jesse think Walt used ricin, and then convince him that this was Gus' plan all along.
  • Call-Back:
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The one mistake Gus makes in the entire series-deciding to kill Hector personally-is the mistake that gets him killed.
  • Camera Abuse: The camera gets coated with fluid as Jesse and Walt coat the superlab in all of the chemical fluids.
  • Censorship by Spelling: Hector agrees to help Walt get rid of Gus Fring, by luring him into a trap. This means asking to be taken to the DEA to speak to Hank. Once Hank shows up, Hector begins answering, using this laborious communication to spell out things like "S-U-C-K-M-Y" before being cut off, then "F-U-C-"...
    Hank: We—we get it.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: This episode shows that because of Gus' threatening the lives of Walt and his family and with no way to escape, Walt has stooped to absolutely repugnant moral depths to keep his family alive, poisoning an innocent child, sending his oblivious neighbour into a life-or-death situation, and using an old man as a suicide bomber inside a nursing home. If Gus hadn't given Walt his ultimatum, it's unlikely it would've gotten so bad.
  • Could Say It, But...: When Francesca starts to complain about the broken window, Walt offers $1,700 for it to get replaced. She shoots that down, saying it would cost about $20,000 for the glass to be fixed. And right as Walt is in the middle of complaining about the unreasonable price, the penny drops, and he realizes he's being blackmailed. And then Francesca "rethinks" it, and guesses it's closer to $25,000.
    Francesca: (calmly) Now I'm thinking 25.
  • Curse Cut Short: Hector's insulting messages to the DEA are cut off at the last word or letter both times.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gus' lab monitor: "You wanna cook with a broken arm?", and, "You got a problem with stairs!?".
  • Death Glare: Hector gives one hell of a death glare to Gus before he sets off a pipe bomb tied to his wheelchair, killing himself and taking Gus with him.
  • Defiant to the End: Hector ensures that he dies in the most explosive way possible, while staring at Gustavo Fring with a look of pure hatred to let him know that he will destroy the man who ended his family.
  • Disabled Snarker: When Hector goes to the DEA and attempts to have his nurse spell out "SUCK MY DICK" (or perhaps "COCK", "BALLS", or really anything else) and "FUCK YOU" to Hank.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Not only does this episode feature the final face off between Walter and Gus, but it ends with half of the latter's face literally blown off. The events of the episode are also kickstarted by Walt getting into a face off with Francesca.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Anyone who took Walt's claims about Gus poisoning Brock at the end of the previous episode at face value are forced to completely reevaluate the scene (and all of his interactions with Jesse afterward) with this episode's final shot.
  • Enemy Mine: Hector Salamanca teams up with Walter White, who indirectly killed Tuco and was the ultimate reason the Cousins got killed, to take down Gustavo Fring, the man they both hate.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There is a framed picture of Hector, a child, and two baby twins seen in the nursing home he is kept in. The kids are Tuco and the Salamanca twins. A flashback reveals that Salamanca believes that "family is all," which is why they're all so Ax-Crazy about avenging each other. He even keeps Eladio's necklace on the photo frame.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Walter has become ruthless enough to poison a child, he still made sure it was non-fatal.
  • Evil Versus Evil: What originally started as Black-and-Gray Morality, with Gus as the Black and Walt as the (darker) Gray, clearly turns into full-on Black and Black Morality at the end. Well, Walt didn't intend to kill Brock as we see later, but this proves that he's nearly there. There's also Hector killing Gus; neither men are at all good, but they hate each other so much that Hector is willing to die to exact his vengeance.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Played for Laughs: "Who the hell is going to charge $20,000 for a plate glass door?!"
  • Eyes Are Unbreakable: Averted: Gus' right eye is totally obliterated.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Hector goes out in a blaze of glory, killing the man who destroyed his family, all while staring at his mortal enemy with nothing but rage and hatred in his eyes.
    • Double-subverted with Gustavo. When he sees Hector's bomb attached to his wheelchair, Gustavo screams in utter panic and attempts to get up in an attempt to save himself. In the aftermath of the explosion however, Gustavo calmly exits the room and simply straightens his tie, seemingly ignoring the fact that half of his face was blown off.
  • Facial Horror: Gus meets his end when hit with a bomb, but not before surviving long enough for the camera to pan around and showing half of his face blown off.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Even with Tyrus standing right behind Hector, he somehow fails to notice the big bomb stuck to Hector's wheelchair. Prior to that, Tyrus had swept the room for bugs in preparation of Gus' visit and also managed to miss Walt hanging outside the window to plant the bomb afterward, despite Hector's next room neighbor almost giving him away by cheerfully hailing him through her own window.
  • Fatal Flaw: Gus' is wrath. Choosing to kill Hector himself instead of letting Tyrus kill him is what ultimately allows Walt to get the best of him. Beyond that, if Gus had never threatened Walt's family and tried to kill Hank, the series of events leading to his death would've never happened.
  • Fiery Cover-Up: After killing Gus, Walt goes to the superlab to free Jesse and they both proceed to spill chemicals all over the place and exit, pulling the laundry's fire alarm as they go, before the timer they set up gives off a spark, triggering a conflagration that torches the whole basement down.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • Jesse informs Walt at the end that Brock wasn't poisoned with ricin; instead, it was with some Lily of the Valley. And then the ending shot in Walt's garden happens...
    • "Last chance to look at me, Hector..."
    • After Hector does look at him, he repeatedly rings his bell and the sound it gives comes off as noticeably muffled and tinny (as if something's inside it and impairing its sound), right before the camera pans down to show the bomb wired to it.
    • We see and hear the horrified reactions of the nursing staff as they approach Gus from his disfigured side before we see the disfigurement itself.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Did you just bring a bomb to the hospital?" Walt blows up a nursing home later.
    • Turns out the teddy bear at the opening of Season 2note  didn't actually foreshadow Walt's end...
    • Another one hinting at Gus' fate. When he is in the car at front of the nursing home, the camera is framed so that shadows fall on the right half of his face.
  • Gilligan Cut: Hank is in protective custody at his house due to Gus making a threat on his life. Gomez tells him that Hector Salamanca is at the DEA office and wants to talk to Hank, and only Hank.
    Gomez: If you did want to talk to this guy, there's no safer place than the office.
    Skyler: I don't think this sounds like a good idea.
    Walt Jr.: Yeah, I agree, Uncle Hank.
    Marie: It is a ridiculous idea, and there is no way you are going to do it, end of story.
    [Cuts to Hank at the DEA office]
    George Merkert: Hank, thanks for coming down. note 
  • Karmic Death: Hector's bomb destroys half of Gus' face, making him Two-Faced. The camera focuses on his uninjured side (the "legitimate" fast food mogul which everyone sees) - and slowly pans around to his disfigured side (representing the blood-soaked meth dealer). His death is also a reference to how a chicken will continue to walk around for a bit even after it's beheaded.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When Walt breaks into Saul's office, and gets into a confrontation with Francesca in order to see him, she all but spells out she wants a bribe in order to let him through. Walt proceeds to get into her face... and then waffles.note 
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Gus used Jesse to taunt Hector as he killed his grandson in Mexico, and also successfully (for a while) drove him against Walter. He relayed the subsequent information to Walter, who finally found a way to corner and kill Gus.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The end credits theme starts off almost positive and hopeful-sounding, until it suddenly starts glitching and distorting towards the end.
  • Lured into a Trap: Gus visits Hector at the nursing home to put him down after the latter went to the feds... only Hector didn't tell the feds anything (he was just trolling the feds) and the trip was made to coax Gus to get close to him and the pipe bomb Walt strapped to his wheelchair.
  • Manly Tears: Jesse cries with relief as he tells Walt that Brock will pull through.
  • Meaningful Echo: Jesse's "Did you bring a bomb to a hospital?!" is very reminiscent of Walt saying to Jesse, "You brought a meth lab to the airport?!" in "4 Days Out". Interestingly, the roles are reversed in this case.
    • 'Look at me, Hector'... Gus uses it as a taunt to the old helpless Hector who just lost his friends and family... And when Hector finally looks at Gus, it's more like your time is up pal!
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Gus calmly walks out of the bombed out nursing home room, seemingly unharmed, only for two nurses to walk up, looking at Gus with expressions of horror, at which point the camera pans around to Gus' left side to show half his face has been blown off.
  • Non-Answer: When Skyler sees the news that Gus, whom Hank was investigating under the suspicion of Gus' connection to the drug trade, was killed in a cartel suicide bombing, she immediately calls Walt and demands to know if he had something to do with it. Walt gives ambiguous answers that nonetheless make it completely clear he was involved, saying that they're safe now and that he "won".
  • No-Sell: Subverted. Gus has just had one of his enemies successfully set off a bomb right in his face. The room is destroyed, but Fring walks out calmly, straightens his tie... then falls over dead, the camera revealing that half his face has been blown off.
  • Not Enough to Bury: While Gus is left (mostly) intact by the explosion, Hector (who was sitting right on top of the bomb) and Tyrus (who was standing right next to Hector when the bomb went off) appear to have been completely vaporized, with the only evidence of either being an unidentifiable severed leg.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Look at Jesse's face when he asks about the bomb. He very clearly almost freaks out at Walt.
    • Seconds before the bomb goes off, Gus' calm exterior finally crumbles into confusion and panic. His last act is to recompose himself from this, stoic to the bitter end.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Hector looking at Gus clearly freaks Gus out, not to mention the bell spam.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gus practically soils his pants when he realizes Hector is but a mere moment away from blowing him to hell.
  • The Only One Allowed To Kill You: Tyrus offers to off Hector himself, alone. After all the history between the two, Gus is having none of that.
  • Out-Gambitted: Gus clearly thought he had all his corners covered, and not without any good reason, even putting his men into constant alert status. He didn't account for a babbling cook and a vengeful old man though...
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Blink and you'll miss it, but the normally petty Tyrus smiles kindly to the old lady he passes when casing the old folks' home.
      • Also, his offer to kill Hector himself, in a messed up way. Despite being a jerkass, he’s loyal enough to risk detection with a public assassination for Gus.
    • Even though Hector previously tried to have him killed, Walt gives him a chance to back out of the plan.
  • Properly Paranoid: Walt rushes home to gather enough money to pay off Saul's secretary, but stops the car before reaching the house, fearing that Gus' men may be inside waiting to kill him. So he calls the Whites' neighbor Becky and asks her to go inside the house and check if they left the stove on. As she enters the house, two of Gus' thugs do indeed exit through the backyard and run off.
  • Real Stitches for Fake Snitches: Walt has Hector go to the DEA, only to waste their time by not giving them anything. Tyrus reports his sighting of the former cartel Don being wheeled out of the DEA's offices, and knowing Hector's been deprived of everything he thought was worth living for, Gus is willing to believe he's been ratted out as one last desperate attempt to fight back. Gus can't help but go to his location to end him personally... right into the pipe bomb Walter rigged Hector's wheelchair with.
  • Red Herring: The ricin cigarette. As it happens, Brock wasn't poisoned that way...
  • Refuge in Audacity: Not only did Walt decide to bring the bomb with him into the hospital when meeting up with Jesse, but it also very clearly gets stuck to the elevator for a brief moment.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Had Gus simply allowed Tyrus to kill Hector by himself, as Tyrus himself had suggested, then all that Hector's suicide-bombing would have achieved would have been killing one of Gus' mooks. Instead, Gus' need to be there and finish Hector off personally proves to be quite literally a fatal mistake.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Factoring in the reveal, it turns out Jesse's accusation of Walt poisoning Brock was wrong on three points: the method of poisoningnote , that Walt did it in revenge against himnote , and that Saul helped poison Brocknote .
  • Suicide Attack: Hector uses the pipe bomb strapped to his wheelchair to kill both Gus, Tyrus, and himself. Before triggering the bomb, Hector accepts his death and fate from Walter, so they could both get revenge against their enemies.
  • Taking You with Me: How Gus meets his end, courtesy of Hector.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Hector has in his room the bad eye chain from Joaquin, and a picture of Marco, Leonel and Tuco as children.
  • Troll: Hector screws with the DEA once again, even giving Hank a taunting wink as he's wheeled into the elevator.
  • Two-Faced: Gus walks out of the explosion, seemingly unharmed, until the camera pans around to reveal that Harvey Dent got off easy by comparison.
  • Unflinching Walk: Walt, taking his final form as Heisenberg, does the most spectacular of these in the Season 4 finale when he and Jesse blow up the super meth lab under the laundry. After Walt shouts "Vamonos!" and the employees scatter, they walk away nonchalantly as the lab explodes and smoke starts spilling out in the background.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Gus' dignity collapses for the first and only time in the series as he leaps from his chair and shouts wordlessly right before the chair explodes. He lives for just long enough to regain his composure before falling over dead.
    Gus: HA-!
  • Wham Episode: Walter finally kills Gus in an impressive Batman Gambit, concluding the longest story arc in the show to date and signalling a major overhaul of the status quo. On top of that a Twist Ending revealing Walt poisoned Brock and pinned the blame on Gus to bring Jesse back on his side.
  • Wham Line:
    • Jesse's free to go, since one of the agents tells him, "No ricin poisoning."
    • Rather than exactly explain what happened, Walt only responds to Skyler's concerns with two words: "I won." This is then succeeded by the Wham Shot of his backyard.
  • Wham Shot:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jesse practically has a meltdown right then and there when inquiring if Walt brought the bomb into the hospital with him.
    Walt: (angry hushed voice) What?! Was I supposed to leave it on his car?
  • Would Hurt a Child: It's revealed that Brock Cantillo was poisoned by Walt, in an attempt to make it look like Gus had poisoned him, so that Jesse would turn on Gus.

♫ Until you travel to that place you can't come back
Where the last pain is gone and all that's left is black... ♫


Video Example(s):


Hector kills Gus

As part of a scheme by Walt to eliminate Gustavo Fring and thus save both himself and his family, Walt gives a bomb to Hector, one of Gus' most personal enemies, and sets him up as a suicide bomber.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (34 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakingYouWithMe

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