Breaking Bad: Hermanos

"This is what comes from blood for blood, Hector. Sangre por sangre."

We just learned a lot about the mysterious Gus, who apparently believes in the Klingon proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold.

What jumped out at me in the flashbacks was the love Gus had for his friend and partner Max the chemist, who was the other "chicken brother", something of a parallel to Walt and Jesse. All through the episode, we kept getting flashes of that green swimming pool with the blood in it. Gus must have decided to fight the Cartel because they executed Max right in front of him. And they didn't kill Gus... why? Because of who he is? Or, more accurately, who he was back in Chile? Working with the Cartel after all this couldn't have been easy for a man like Gus. He must have been waiting all this time to break with them. He must have been planning his revenge for years.

Present-day Gus visited the helpless, voiceless Hector "Tio" Salamanca, taunting him with the death of his nephews and Cartel boss Bolsa. Back in the day, Tio Salamanca was an enforcer, a killer, and he was the one who killed Gus's beloved friend, Max. Gus isn't interested in killing Tio. He just wants Tio to suffer, and to continue suffering forever.

As if that wasn't enough, we saw yet another side of Gus when he was called down to a joint police/DEA/Hank meeting and asked why his fingerprints were at Gale's apartment. Gus was awesome, a picture of calm. He acted exactly like a normal, helpful businessman who supports law enforcement would act, and came up with the perfect explanation (including just a tiny bit of Gale character assassination) as well as the perfect alibi (fundraiser at the Presbyterian hospital). It was enough for Merkert and Tim; they believed Gus.

But not Hank, who has the bit between his teeth. Hank got Walt to put an illegal tracker on Gus's car. (A ten year old black Volvo, the perfect car for Gus's character.) Walt, obviously shaken, did the only thing he could do: he walked right into Los Pollos Hermanos and told Gus about the tracker. And Gus did the only thing he could do: he told Walt to go ahead and put it on his car. I swear I could almost see Walt realizing that he should have kept his mouth shut around Hank. Bryan Cranston is quite an actor. But we knew that.

Showing Gus's backstory and his love for another human being was a contrast to Walt sitting in the waiting room in a green hospital gown, about to have another PET scan. Walt showed a total lack of empathy for the young man in the next chair who was feeling lost and terrified and just wanted to connect with someone. Walt told the guy, "Never give up control. Live life on your own terms." Maybe Walt actually thought he was being helpful with that cold piece of advice.

Walt said that one of these times he's going to get bad news, but he told his family at the dinner table that he was still in remission. But why insert this particular scene if Walt is still in remission? Was Walt lying?

Which takes us to Jesse, whom Walt just caught in a lie. Jesse doesn't want to kill Gus. He's okay with the current situation. He's giving Andrea money, he's doing stuff with Mike, for Jesse, it's all good. You know, that text message seemed like a big coincidence. Is Jesse's house bugged? Why shouldn't it be? It would take Mike, like, five minutes.

Bits:

-- A lot of the background colors and the clothing was gray, and the flashback was very very Gus yellow. And of course, we had the red blood in the green swimming pool... that Tio Salamanca pissed in.

-- Skyler decided to store the illicit money in vacuum-sealed plastic bags with sweaters. The bar broke under the weight, so the plastic bags all ended up in the crawl space under the house. Seriously, it's so easy to find meaning in just about anything they do on this show.

And pieces:

-- Everyone in the flashbacks had so much hair. Even Tio.

-- I never really thought of it, but when they asked Gus if he wanted his attorney present, I wondered who Gus's attorney is. He must have one, and it can't be Saul.

-- When Gus came down to the station, he saw a poster with Victor's face on it.

-- All that stuff about meth being the poor man's coke was interesting. I'd never thought much about it before. And of course, it means that with meth being created in the super lab by Walt, no money goes back to Colombia. And Gus doesn't want money to go to Mexico, either.

-- The opener was a repeat of the scene in the hospital when Walt realized that Gus knew everything. Fitting.

Quotes:

Saul: (to Brock) "I loved school when I was your age. See-saws, story time, chasing girls with sticks..."

Hank: "We're not here for the chicken."

Jesse: "So what's this, like math or algebra? You add plus douchebag to a minus douchebag, you get, like zero douchebags."
Walt: "I got some math for you. Hank catching Gus equals Hank catching us. He's relentless. He won't quit."
And you realize that now. You're an idiot, Walt.

Mike: (re: Hank) "The guy's gone totally maverick. He's Miss Daisy with binoculars."

Tio Salamanca: "My advice? Stick to chicken."

Was this four out of four illegal tracking devices?

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder, Billie, if you get a gay-vibe from Gus too like so many seemingly do on the internet? I read speculations that Gale and Max were Gus´ lovers.

I have to compliment you. All your observations e.g. on the colour metaphores are so smart. I doubt that they would come to my mind :)

Billie Doux said...

That's interesting, Anonymous. I honestly never thought of that. Gus definitely did love Max, but it's hard to tell, in that fairly brief scene, *how* he loved him. I had gotten the impression that Gus liked Gale, but not that they were involved.

Mark Greig said...

I just finished watching this one and I did briefly wonder if Gus and Max were lovers. Considering how little we actually know about Gus (I starting to suspect that he doesn't even have a family) anything is possible.

Mark Greig said...

On the subject of Gus and Gale, I don't think there were ever anything more than employer and employee. Gus is too guarded to let anyone get that close to him.

Amy Ennis said...

I kept hoping we would find out exactly who Gus had been in Chile. I know they alluded to him being important, but he had to have been of major importance for the cartel not to kill him. I'm hoping we will find out more later.

Billie Doux said...

The earlier scene where Gus went to Gale and asked how soon he'd be ready to take over from Walt didn't seem intimate to me. Gus certainly loved Max, though. It's of course possible to love a friend deeply and not have a romantic relationship.

Jess Lynde said...

Great backstory episode. This show does such an amazing job of giving all of its characters shades of grey, even the most horrifying among them.

I want to give kudos to Mark Margolis for his portrayal of Tio Salamanca. The difference between that horrid man pissing in the pool and the creepy old man in the wheelchair is astounding. We always sing the praises of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Giancarlo Esposito (and deservedly so), but everyone on this show is so excellent. From Dean Norris to Anna Gunn to Bob Odenkirk, and right down to Mark Margolis.

sunbunny said...

So is this why when given the chance to kill Jesse in "Box Cutter," Gus killed Victor instead? He didn't want Walt to have to witness Jesse's death the way he witnessed Max's?

Walt is really getting on my nerves. The way he offhandedly mentioned that Jesse killed Gale shows how little Jesse's concerns weigh on him. It was almost like he'd forgotten until that moment, when it helped further his point. Urg.