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Recap / Breaking Bad S5 E2 "Madrigal"

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Season 5, Episode 02:

The Last Supper.
Written by Vince Gilligan
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Air date: July 22, 2012

"These men - your men - yours and Gus's - these men were on the payroll, very publicly. They trace back to Pollos and the laundry. They trace back to Madrigal, and they're gonna get picked up by the police."
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle

Peter Schuler, an executive for Madrigal Electromotive based in Hanover, Germany, glumly tries out various condiments his company's test kitchen prepared before being informed by his secretary that men were coming to visit him. Schuler asks her to stall the men, by telling them that he will see them shortly. He knows all too well that those men are with the police: Madrigal's connection to the American drug trade, and his own connection to Gustavo Fring and the meth trade in the American southwest, has come to light with the death of Gus. Seeing no other alternative, Schuler takes a portable emergency defibrillator with him into a restroom, and locks himself in. Carefully taking off and folding his clothes in silence, as his secretary, and then the men from the police knock on the door demanding to talk with him, Schuler calmly applies one pad of the defibrillator to his chest while ripping the other one off and sticking the frayed cord in his mouth, as he turns on the device and commits suicide.

Back in Albuquerque, Walt helps Jesse look for the ricin capsule that Jesse thought he had lost, but that Walt had really stolen to trick Jesse into thinking that Gus had poisoned Brock. Hiding the real capsule in an electric outlet in his own house, Walt slips a decoy containing table salt into a roomba that Jesse owned, then pretends to find and discard it. Afterwards, Jesse tearfully apologizes to Walt for suspecting him of using the ricin to poison Brock. Walt comforts him and tells him to remember that they always should stick together going forward.

Afterwards, the two meet with Mike. Walt plans to start cooking meth with Jesse again, but Mike wants nothing to do with Walt, seeing him as a ticking time bomb and wanting to give Walt a wide berth because he "has no intention of being around for the boom."

Hank and Gomez meet with Madrigal executives, and are assured that they would aid Hank in his investigation and that Schuler was a "lone anomaly". Afterwards, they go to a bar with Merkert, who has been pushed out of the DEA due to his relationship to Gus and his failure to realize his true nature. Hank tells Merkert that before the laptop was destroyed in the evidence room debacle, he saw that the laptop had powerful encryption on it, so it was unlikely they would've learned anything from it. As Hank ponders who gave Hector Salamanca the bomb that killed Gus, Gomez speculates that there may be an answer hidden in the offshore bank accounts Gus managed...

Meanwhile, Mike meets with one of the Madrigal executives: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, who was also privy to Gus's drug empire. She gives Mike a list of eleven men in prison that Gus had been paying to keep silent about his drug business. Lydia suggests having them killed before they could implicate either of them, but Mike refuses and vouches for their integrity.

After the DEA grills Duane Chow, they bring Mike in. Hank is skeptical about Mike's claim to be the head of corporate security for Los Pollos Hermanos. Before Mike can walk out, Hank mentions his granddaughter, Kaylee, by name: one of the offshore bank accounts that Hank found was made in her name, with Gus stowing money away for her for some reason. Gomez makes an offer to let some of the money go to Kaylee in exchange for his cooperation, but Mike adamantly refuses, knowing there's no way he'd be allowed to leave behind his illicit money for his granddaughter...

As Walt and Jesse discuss starting their cooks up again with Saul, Mike is contacted by Chow, who claims the DEA seized his money, and wants to talk to him. Mike realizes something is amiss, and sneaks into Chow's house, where he finds and disarms Chris Mara, one of his former henchman, sitting near Chow, whom he shot in the head after luring Mike out. Chris admits that Lydia was paying him $30,000 to kill him, plus $10,000 for each man on the list. Resigned, Mike shoots Chris.

Afterwards, Mike travels to Houston and sneaks into Lydia's house. He corners Lydia in her own room and prepares to kill her. Lydia begs Mike not to shoot her in the face, so that her young daughter wouldn't be too shocked when she finds her body; but Mike dismisses her, stating that no one would ever find her. Lydia begins to panic, claiming that her daughter can't believe she abandoned her and threatening to scream unless Mike leaves her body where she can be found. Mike prepares to shoot her, but hesitates, and ultimately asks if she can secure him methylamine...

With nowhere else to turn to secure the hazard pay for his guys in prison, Mike reluctantly decides to join Walt's new cook operation.

After talking with Mike over the phone, Walt climbs into bed with Skyler. As Skyler lay motionless and scared of her husband, Walt kisses and molests her as he assures her that the guilt she felt over what happened to Ted Beneke would pass, because she did what she had to for the family...

This episode provides examples of:

  • And Another Thing...: While being interrogated by Hank and Gomez, Mike asks if he's under arrest or not and gets Hank to admit they don't have enough evidence to arrest him. So Mike gets up to leave, at which point Hank asks, "Oh, well, I don't suppose we could talk about the $2 million in your granddaughter's name?"
    Hank: Yeah. It seems that, uh, Fring had all these secret offshore accounts that he would deposit money into. Like, uh, well, an even dozen of them. And they're all in the names of certain people on his payroll. There was the, uh, the manager of the laundry, umm, a couple guys from the Pollos distribution center. Uh, there was the owner of a chemical warehouse, a bunch of others, you know. Guys that must've been getting paid off the books. Anyway, one of the names was Kaylee Ehrmantraut. Ten years old and just cute as a button. Yeah. $2 million and change we found on deposit for her. Way more than anybody else. Now, my partner here? He took one look at that and said, "Shit, man! This fifth-grade girl is the muscle behind Fring's entire operation!" I said, "Whoa, whoa, hey, partner, slow down there. Maybe it was actually her dear old granddaddy." Impressive, no? That... [clicks his tongue] level of insight? [Mike stares at Hank and Gomez as he absorbs the realization that his funds have been seized] He's not impressed, Gomie.
    Gomez: Perhaps he's picturing all that money going bye-bye.
    Hank: Yeah, well, I mean, the government's gonna take every last dollar, unless... Well here's the thing, Mike — or Michael?
    Mike: Mr. Ehrmantraut.
    Hank: Here's the thing, Mike: lucky for you, you didn't touch that money. I cannot say the same for the other eleven on the list.
    Gomez: One of your guys is gonna roll on you, and then we'll definitely remember the handcuffs.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: It's impossible to deliberately electrocute yourself with an Automated External Defibrillator, which won't even activate unless it detects that it's connected to someone whose heart is fibrillating. You could probably get the job done with a portable manual defibrillator, but even then, most of them have safeguards to prevent someone from accidentally electrocuting themselves.
  • Assassin Outclassin': When Mike refuses Lydia's offer, she hires a guy named Chris to kill all of Gus' former employees, including Mike. This doesn't work out so well, with Mike seeing the trap Chris set from miles away and killing him instead.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Chow is killed by Chris this way.
  • Call-Back: Mike spitefully tells Lydia you don't kill people as a prophylactic measure to cover your own ass. Means a lot more knowing what happened to Mike's son in Better Call Saul.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The only reason Mike decided against killing Lydia is because she can get him methlyamine, which can help him make up for Gus' hazard pay.
  • Cardboard Box of Unemployment: Merkert lampshades this by saying his cardboard box will be his announcement he is leaving the DEA in light of Fring's exposure.
  • The Determinator: Mike intends to get his men the hazard pay that was promised by Gus, and the money he wanted his granddaughter to inherit, even if it means working with his former enemy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Merkert laments to Hank on how impossible it is fathom that someone who could be such a close family friend could be running a drug empire right under your nose. Although Hank doesn't realize it, the parallel with him and Walt is evident.
    Merkert: I had him out to my house. Fourth of July. We cooked out in the backyard. ...That whole night, we were laughing, telling stories, drinking wine. And he's somebody else completely. Right in front of me. Right under my nose.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lydia is more concerned about what would happen to her daughter after her death than her death itself.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Mike refuses Lydia's suggestion that they kill his guys in prison to make sure they don't rat and insists on protecting them.
    • He later backs out of killing Lydia because it would mean making her daughter an orphan.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Chris was hired by Lydia to kill the other 10 people on Lydia's hitlist, plus Mike. He only did it to both cover their tracks, and because his hazard pay was confiscated, thus he needed the money. He was successful in killing Chow. Not so much with Mike.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mike is outraged at Lydia's suggestion of killing his own men. But by the end of the episode, he realizes she's right about them eventually caving and talking to the cops, unless he can come up with enough money to keep them quiet.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    Chris: Listen, Mike, I— [Mike shoots him four times]
  • Morton's Fork: By the end of the episode, Mike realizes he has a choice; he will either be sold down the river to the cops by his own people, or he can go into business with the fundamentally unreliable Walter to try and make enough money to pay them off. In the end, he takes the second choice, which only forestalls his own doom.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Or Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, depending on your perspective; Walt, Jesse, and Mike's efforts to disable Gus Fring's laptop are revealed to have inadvertently tipped off the authorities to Gus' offshore accounts that provided money for Mike and his men, allowing the feds to seize all of the money. To add insult to injury, Hank even notes that Fring's laptop was encrypted anyway, meaning that the entire effort was All for Nothing.
  • Noodle Incident: When Mike is being questioned by Hank, Hank mentions that Mike's tenure as a Philadelphia police officer ended under dramatic circumstances, but neither he nor Mike want to talk about them. Hank doesn't want to because he's more interested in probing Mike for any evidence that he was doing work off-the-books for Gus.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the interrogation room, Mike does the silent facial variant as Hank explains to him that the hazard funds Gus had set up for Mike and his employees have been seized.
    • Chris has an equally silent one when he hears Mike's voice behind him, knowing instantly that Mike has the drop on him.
  • Perp Sweating: Mike is asked to come down to the DEA for an interview, which he agrees to without an attorney. As a former cop and hitman himself, he easily sees through their attempts to rattle him, such as calling Gomez' bluff that they have evidence to put him in the underground lab, but Hank revealing that Gus's offshore accounts have been discovered does get a subdued response from Mike.
  • Prepare to Die: Mike asks Chris "Are you ready?" just before shooting him.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mike refuses to work with Walter, because he considers him a ticking time bomb of problems that could result in arrests and more deaths. He starts to work with him anyway when his hand is forced by circumstance.
  • Put on a Bus: George Merkert is pushed out of his ASAC position due to his friendship with Gus Fring and failure to recognize that he was running a huge meth operation. He even remarks, "Somebody's gonna go under the bus."
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Walt practically has his way with Skyler at the end of the episode, as she is too afraid of her murderous druglord husband to try to stop him.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Merkert straight up says this as he realizes that his friend Gus Fring was indeed running a drug empire.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: There was no way that Merkert was going to keep his job after Fring's death and his failure to investigate his friend came to light.
  • This Is Reality: When Lydia wants Mike to kill all of the potential witnesses she identified from Gus' former operation, he tells her that she's been watching too many movies; Mike personally vetted all the people on Lydia's list, and they're all being compensated for not informing on them.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Herr Schuler stares off in the distance while attending a food test with some Madrigal technicians, looking completely shattered inside.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Mike intends to kill Lydia after she puts out a hit on him. She talks him out of doing so.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Lydia tries to hide her identity during her diner meeting with Mike with a bunch of tactics she likely knows from spy movies — wearing a giant hat and sunglasses, conversing with Mike back-to-back in adjoining tables, using fake names — all of which just make her more conspicuous.

"When we do what we do for good reasons, then we've got nothing to worry about. And there's no better reason than family."