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Recap / Breaking Bad S 4 E 8 Hermanos

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"Look at him..."
Gus pays Hector Salamanca a visit at his nursing home after seeing on the news of Bolsa being shot and killed. Gus gloats over Hector about the death of his nephews and associate, mentioning the cryptic phone call that Hank received before the Cousins attacked him which lead to their demise. He leaves Hector to seethe impotently with a few parting words: "Sangre por sangre", blood for blood.
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While undergoing treatment for his cancer, Walter chats with another patient who talks about giving up control of his life after his diagnosis. Walt, however, believes his acquaintance's philosophy to be "such bullshit": Walt states his belief that, regardless of his illness, he would live his life as though he was in control of his own destiny. Such words, however, ring hollow to him, for his life is no longer in his own hands, but those of Gustavo Fring...

Hank, the DEA, and APD summon Gus to discuss the fact that his fingerprints had been found in Gale Boetticher's apartment, where he had been killed. Gus explains that he had previously met Gale when he gave him a Maximo Arciniega Chemistry Scholarship, named in honor of an old friend who passed away long ago. Gale had invited him over for dinner recently to discuss a "business proposition". Hank is not entirely convinced: he asks if Gus's name really is "Gustavo Fring", mentioning that a Chilean national named Gustavo Fring immigrated to Mexico in the 1980s, but there was no record of his existence before then. Gus explains this away by claiming his records had been lost during Augusto Pinochet's regime. Gus manages to evade suspicion from the DEA and APD, but Hank is still unconvinced.

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As Jesse continues to have Saul deliver cash to Andrea so she can support herself and her son, Skyler works to conceal her husband's cash, keeping it in vacuum-sealed bags in the crawl space. That night, Hank asks Walt for a favor: to drive him to the gym and a mineral expo show.

The following day, Hank reveals the real reason he asked for a ride from Walt: he continued to have suspicions about Gus, and wants Walt to stealthily place a tracking device on Gus's car. Walt is hesitant, but agrees to do it. At first, he doesn't place the tracker on the car as he goes inside to order a drink to maintain a cover of innocence. Gus is waiting inside, and he tells Walt to "do it" while taking his order. Walt complies, then desperately pleads into the cameras in the superlab that he placed the tracker unwillingly, and that Hank would not be a problem.

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Walt visits Jesse afterwards. Jesse is dragging his feet in arranging a meeting with Gus to try to poison him. Jesse states that there was no meetings arranged, but while he isn't looking, Walt looks at the texts on his phone and sees that a meeting had been set up, but was cancelled, leaving him incensed.

Mike calls Gus to report that the DEA is not actively investigating him: as far as he knows, Hank is acting alone. More concerning is if Hank or the DEA catch wind of the cartel moving against him.

Gus removes the tracking bug before travelling to Casa Tranquila to talk with Hector. He informs him that the DEA is looking into his past, and the cartel had issued their ultimatum, before asking him, "Is today the day, Hector?"...

In 1989, Gus and his friend, Maximo Arciniega, met with Don Eladio Vuente, the leader of the Juarez Cartel, who is joined by Bolsa and a younger, physically-well Hector. Their discussion of the fast food restaurant they started, Los Pollos Hermanos, soon changes to discussions of methamphetamine, a secondary product that Max created and Gus helped to sell. They had snuck some samples to cartel members as a means of getting an audience with Don Eladio in order to discuss a partnership: the highly addictive nature of meth, combined with the simplicity of its creation and the ability to manufacture it without having to act as middlemen for the Columbia cartels, means Don Eladio could make even more money than they currently do working with Columbia, but without the risk. Don Eladio approves of the idea, but is cross with Gus and Max for using underhanded methods to get his attention, and asks Gus why he should be needed when Max is the chemist. Gus apologizes, and Max desperately pleads Don Eladio to forgive him.

Max's pleas are cut short by Hector, who shoots him in the head. Max slumps over, his blood and grey matter dripping into Don Eladio's pool. Gus lashes out at Hector, but Hector and Bolsa subdue him, with Hector forcing him to look into the eyes of his dead friend as Don Eladio warns a weeping Gus that he's only alive because "I know who you are. But understand: you're not in Chile, anymore."

Back in the present day, Gus asks Hector to look at him. Hector defiantly averts his gaze, to which Gus simply pats him on the shoulder and says "Maybe next time."

This episode contains examples of:

  • Artistic License: Taking Chilean demographics and racial inequalities into consideration it would be more likely for a man of Max's ethnicity to be the rich one and for Gus to be the poor one. Then again, considering Vince Gilligan deliberately left Gus's backgrounds ambiguous, it could be possible that Gus managed to rise higher than others of his race thanks to his implied position in Pinochet's dictatorial regime.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Max pleads with Don Eladio not to kill Gus for his transgressions. He gets what he asks for — Eladio has him killed instead. That said, Gus's life being spared isn't so much a case of Cruel Mercy as the implication that something in his past makes it too risky to kill him; Eladio makes it very clear that he would otherwise have had them both killed.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Max's execution; the first sign of it is when we suddenly hear a shot and then see Gus's face being splattered with Max's blood.
  • Cassandra Truth: Hank is right about Gus Fring but nothing is done about it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When the DEA/APD meet with Gus, he has answers and alibis ready for every question they throw at him. Hank later lampshades this.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The episode focuses on Gus, which fleshes out his character as well as giving a backstory to his relations with the Cartel, especially Hector/Tio.
  • Flashback: The last bit of the episode is dedicated to a flashback explaining Gus' hatred for the cartel.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Gus reveals early in the episode that Max is dead, so when you meet him in the flashback, you can guess what happens.
  • Former Regime Personnel: It is implied Gus held some position in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "Look at him."/"Look at me."
    • "Blood for blood."
  • Mysterious Past: Gus definitely has some dark secrets about his time as a Chilean national. Whatever it was he did during this time was scandalous enough for him to have all of his records of living there erased, and for Don Eladio to spare his life purely because he knows about this past life of his. Notably, even by the end of the series, we're given no answers to anything.
  • Noodle Incident: Gus' past before immigrating to Mexico was erased from official records and Eladio hints it was quite something.
  • Oh, Crap!: Walt tries his best to hide his sheer horror at discovering that Hank is on to Gus.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Hank Schrader has become this for Gus's feud with the cartel, now that he's investigating Gus. Mike reasons with him that if they made another move against him and Hank is there to see it...
    Mike: It would be the perfect storm.
  • The Reveal: The true origins of the name "Los Pollos Hermanos" are clarified to us in the darkest of ways.
  • Start of Darkness: Played with; while it's shown that Gus was at the very least already a meth dealer prior to Max's execution, and may have been doing even darker things in his mysterious past, Max's death clearly made Gus exponentially worse.
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