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Breaking Bad: Madrigal

Mike: "You are a time bomb tick tick ticking, and I have no intention of being around for the boom."

It's a Mike-centric episode! How lovely. Not that all that killing was lovely, but Mike the Fixer is a great character, and he deserved a great episode. And he got one.

So Mike is what you'd call a complex man. He's a hired killer who enthusiastically plays Hungry Hungry Hippo with his granddaughter, Kaylee. He obviously would do anything for her, including acquiring money by illegal means to provide for her future. Which is probably why he decided to accept Walt's offer at the end of the episode. Although Mike's agenda could very well be something that Walt is not expecting.

I liked the scene that introduced the ridiculous, homicidal Lydia, who appears to be a big wig at Madrigal. She meets Mike in a diner, calls all sorts of attention to herself by giving the waitress a hard time about their extremely limited selection of tea, and she thinks she's pulling off a clandestine meeting? Mike told Lydia with sarcasm dripping from his voice that he wasn't going to kill eleven of his own guys for her, and then he had to kill one of them, anyway. He was ready to kill Lydia herself, with her small daughter in the next room, and then he changed his mind and asked her for a contact to supply methylamine. It was an interesting touch that Lydia was ready to face death, but wanted her daughter to find her body so that the little girl wouldn't think her mother had abandoned her. Geez. Selfish much?

And there was Mike's oh so fun encounter at the DEA with Hank and Gomez, where we learned that Mike was once a Philadelphia cop (we knew he was a cop, but not where), that he left under dramatic circumstances (what circumstances? I wanna know), and that unless Mike decided to turn on Madrigal, there was no way Hank would ever get a word out of him.

Merkert is going under the bus for the fiasco with Gus. It's true that Merkert didn't listen to Hank, and he certainly should have. Is Hank back on the job, or consulting? And did Hank have a moment of clarity? When Merkert was talking about Gus coming to a barbeque at Merkert's house, he said, "Right in front of me. Right under my nose." And Hank looked like something had just occurred to him in a great big way. Is Hank finally on to Walt? Wouldn't that be interesting? It is the final season, after all.

Walt has a self-satisfied smugness about him these days as he continues to busily manipulate everyone around him. That deception with the poison cigarette in the Roomba was amazing, and I was surprised that Jesse fell for it. Jesse was even crying that he almost shot Walt, although I think part of it was that Jesse is still on the edge about killing Gale and thinking he poisoned Brock.

And Skyler is obviously dealing with clinical depression. Her fear of Walt has completely overshadowed her excitement about money laundering at the car wash. Her two scenes with Walt totally creeped me out. Especially the second one, where it appeared that Walt is still expecting her to be his honey in the bedroom, even though she told him outright she was afraid of him. *shudder* That first scene between them showed only Walt's torso. It was as if he weren't a real human being.

Finally, I just loved the opener with Herr Schuler at Madrigal headquarters. The lab coat guy, backed by a line of lab coat people, talked and talked about American junk food — in German. "Cajun kick-ass." "Franch." The suicide scene in the red and white bathroom with the blue defibrillator was sort of amazing, too, especially the toilet symbolically flushing as Schuler's body hit the floor. Trying out fast food dipping sauces isn't the way I'd want to spend the last hour of my life.

(I also really loved the Los Pollos sign taken down and zipping away on a truck. Weird dark humor. Breaking Bad in a nutshell.)

The big cheese at Madrigal said that he had no idea what Schuler was doing with the restaurants. What exactly is Mike's relationship with Madrigal? I wonder how Madrigal is going to react when they find out Mike just went into business with Walt and Jesse?


-- Loved the rolling pig, especially when Mike hung it over the peephole in the door. (Metaphor, anyone?) I thought for a moment that the guy was going to get shot through the peephole, which is what he had planned for Mike.

-- Walt hid the ricin capsule in an electrical outlet. I'm sure we're going to see it again by the end of the series.

-- When he was alone, Mike was chasing a can of Ensure with a beer while watching a Bogart movie. Very Mike.

-- Everyone seems to be wearing earth tones this season. Except the clearly unhappy and freaked out Saul, who was once again wearing purple. I miss the jovial Saul. I wonder if something is going to happen to him?

And pieces:

-- Hank is walking. Slowly, and with help, but he's walking.

-- I wonder if Schuler killed himself because getting found out by his bosses would be worse than death?

-- Jesse's house was fun. Crayons? Panties? And the Roomba from many episodes ago. Good continuity there.

-- Congratulations to Breaking Bad! They got 13 Emmy nominations for season four. Not a surprise.


Walt: "There's no denying the popularity of our product. There's a market to be filled, and currently no one to fill it."

Hank: "How many krauts do we got?"
Gomez: "Enough to invade Poland."
Nothing like a little Nazi imagery to spice up Madrigal as a new foe, huh?

Four out of four dipping sauces,

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


  1. I thought in 'half measures' Mike told Walt, when he was a cop, he beat the crap out of some dude for killing his wife. I don't remember all the details, but could that be why he was fired from the police department?.

  2. Yeah, I assumed Mike's departure from the PD had something to do with the story from 'Half Measures.' But I've seen lots of people wondering, so maybe it was something else.

    Another good episode. I've seen some complaints about the slow pace and nothing happening, but I love these episodes that spin out the consequences and simmer along with slow-build tension. Especially when they center on Mike the Fixer! He's great. I hope that whatever angle he's working now, it is something Walt doesn't quite expect, as you suggest, Billie.

    Skylar's depression/terror is a nice touch, and a wonderful counterpoint to how her forays into 'breaking bad' have affected her vs. how they affected Walt. He's become an inhuman monster (witness the way he continued to manipulate Jesse as he cried in relief and misplaced blame), while she's still got some humanity left. I hope she pulls out of this enough to do something that really protects her family.

  3. Mike's story in "Half Measures" relates to why he's a killer now and not a cop, but I don't think we learned what happened to the man who killed his wife. Just that Mike tried to stop it by threatening the guy, and realized later that the only way he could have saved the wife was killing the husband. It's certainly possible that Mike's departure from police work had something to do with this situation, but it didn't seem to me like a foregone conclusion. I'm sure we'll find out.

  4. Thanks for the great review! I enjoyed this episode a lot for many of the reasons you mentioned. I love the character of Mike, so it was such a treat to see him as the focus of the episode. I also love it when Hank is onto something, so I really hope he is becoming suspicious of Walt. I am completely disgusted by Walt at this point, but I admire the creator and writers for having the courage to show him in such a negative light.

  5. Once again a great review, Billie.

    I loved the episode (though I'd cut the last scene. Maybe put it in the next ep or in another part of this one. It felt misplaced). One of the things I love about this show is that some characters start out seeming like the usual characters we see around (like the crass cop Hank was), but then they develope well enough to be unique.

    One thing I noticed about this episode is that, much like Walt has replaced what Gus represented (the unassuming, cold criminal mastermind), Hank the unkillable has replaced Walt as the man who does horrible things, allegedly for his family, but we sympathize with nonetheless. I wouldn't say that Hank is a complete monster, and until last season I wouldn't say that of Walt either. This "musical chairs effect", if I may call it, was shown in the structure of the episode itself, which mirrored Gus's introduction in the show: Mike went around realizing that it's too late to back out and that he'd have to go on doing illegal acts and give in to Walt's proposition; and Walt was the calm man cheerfully doing housework.

    I'm sure that, were he in Mike's place, Walt would have killed Lydia and disregard the child. Seeing that Mike has been doing what he does for so long and so far managed not to cross the Moral Event Horizon (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoralEventHorizon), I think Mike may survive the series! But then again, when has BB not surprised me?

    I just LOVE Hank. He's such a great cop, and not cocky about it. When he was inerrogating Mike, I didn't know whom to root for. And I agree, he may be starting to realize that maybe Heisenberg has been right under their noses all this time, but I don't think he's though of Walt yet. He really admires and likes Walt.

    Saul has become a tragic figure, hasn't he? What a long way from the comic relief he was until recently. I love "jovial Saul", too, but I appreciate that side of his even more now we've seen somber Saul.

    Can't wait for tomorrow's episode and your next review.

  6. Did anyone else notice that on the counter in Mike's kitchen was an identical humidifier to the one Tio Salamanca had in his nursing home room? Both had a water canister that was pale blue.

  7. I'm wondering why the company (and the episode) are called Madrigal? Madrigal, as we know, means a song, but the original meaning is from the Latin for womb (matrix has the same meaning). Is the Madrigal company the birthplace of this drug empire - the place where it was originally conceived?

  8. By the way, I don't think the Roomba is the same one we've seen before. That one got taken apart by a meth head during Jesse's party. I assume he got a new one.

  9. There's one camera shot of a cereal bowl early on when Jr goes off to school after breakfast. Walt is seen looking at it....i have a bad feeling.


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