Breaking Bad: Madrigal   Rewatch 
January 7, 2015 8:43 AM - Season 5, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Walt and Jesse seek out an unlikely partner for a new business venture. The DEA follows up new leads in its investigation.

"You are trouble. I'm sorry the kid here doesn't see it, but I sure as hell do. You are a time bomb tick, tick, ticking, and I have no intention of being around for the boom."

Mike is watching The Caine Mutiny (1954) on TV when Walt and Jesse visit. Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture:
This is a wonderful film reference because it refracts in so many different directions. "Madrigal" is itself about a corporate mutiny, with employees who were paid to be silent breaking their agreement when their money is frozen by the DEA. Walt, of course, led his own mutiny last season against his dictatorial boss, Gus Fring. Walt is now about to become the captain of his own meth manufacture/distribution cartel. I would not be terribly surprised if he ended up going out like Captain Queeg, succumbing to paranoia and arrogance and driving his men to turn against him.
Vince Gilligan, interviewed by EW:
One of my very favorite movies. I was very lucky with that, actually, because it can be very expensive to use clips of movies, which is why you don’t see too many clips on the show. But Caine Mutiny is owned by Sony/Columbia, our parent company. And yes, it may have some connection to where Walt is at this point.
Kino Obscura rounds up other movies shown on-screen in Breaking Bad. [contains some minor spoilers for episodes 503 and 507]

James Poniewozik, TIME:
Whenever Jonathan Banks takes the screen, Breaking Bad shifts into noir-Western mode, and he’s magnificent here: in his ice-cold staredown with Hank in the interrogation room, his hilarious (but also tense) meeting with Lydia, in his badass escape from assassination, and in the resigned way he decides to let the untrustworthy Lydia live, and to bring her on as a partner. Mike is one bad mother. Mike is a wit. But Mike is also a grandpa—a grandpa who, perhaps leaving himself open to the law, has been stashing away drug money for the future of his beloved granddaughter.
Seth Amitin, IGN:
There’s your juxtaposition—the long-awaited comparison between someone who’s actually doing it for his family (Mike) and someone who’s using his family as an excuse because he likes the power (Walt).
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ah, this one.

The opening with Gus' dead eyed, suicidal co-conspirator silently munching his way to his death in front of the increasingly nervous flavor experts was just *so* much fun.
posted by mordax at 12:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Those tater-tots-in-a-fishbowl looked kinda tasty.

Stupid ricin McGuffin. I wish they'd simply dropped it at the end of the Gus arc. The HEY GUYS REMEMBER THE RICIN shots here and later down the series suggest a big Chekov's-gun payoff is coming; but it turns out to be more a bit of incidental bow-tieing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Stupid ricin McGuffin.

Yeah, that was one of my least favorite payoffs in the series finale - it definitely had the feel of an afterthought. Really, letting Walt get away with poisoning people was a spot where I had trouble with the willing suspension of disbelief on the show in general - the first time we see him trying anything sneaky with ricin is with Tuco, where he totally blows it, and there's nothing to suggest he's gotten better at it by the time Brock or Lydia get their turn.

It's not like his other murder plots, which develop in a more believable way onscreen - like, he wants to blow up Gus, so they actually show him working on detonators until he gets it right. Total cheat.
posted by mordax at 6:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That said, I could use some tater tots with basically ketchup, right about now. Stupid Madrigal.
posted by mordax at 6:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


We call it "franch."
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


God Walt is so horribly sleazy to Skyler at this point, and it's hard to tell if he means to be, or if its unwitting. Either way, it's truly horrifying. Ah Mike, if only you had just got rid of Lydia and got out... Had to go showing mercy there, didn't you?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:09 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing that confuses me about Lydia (who in some ways feels like the Cousin Oliver of this season) is that her affect is so skittish throughout her entire arc* that it makes it really hard for me to believe that she ended up as a high-level executive in a massive multinational. I mean, I get the cliche of the neurotic hard-charger, but she just seems to be in over her head from Day 1 even though apparently she'd been in cahoots with Gus and Mike previously.

*OK, I do love her weird obsession with the sitting-at-adjoining-tables-in-the-cafe maneuver and how everyone she meets reacts to it differently. (Mike is, of course, the best with his sighing and plopping down right in front of her.)
posted by psoas at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


She does show some lethal criminal competence later in the arc, dealing with Declan.

My headcanon is that she was a silent hiding-in-plain-sight partner in Gus's operation; from her position in Madrigal logistics she'd arrange for deliveries to be made and blind eyes to be turned, but wouldn't get her hands dirty in day-to-day nastiness. So she's a white-collar criminal; she's skittish at being dragged into Mike's milieu because it's not her world. (And Mike calls her on it: "I don't know what kind of movies you've been watching...")

In retrospect, too, the whole Madrigal thing seems an enormous unexplained hand-wave. How did Gus's fried-chicken business come to be absorbed into a German multinational? And how did it come to be that parts of that multinational were supporting a criminal conspiracy? Did Gus recruit Schuler, Lydia, and whoever else at Madrigal was in on the action into criminality? Or was there some mutual recognition between them that they were all on the make and could help each other out -- a secret handshake? Like Gus's Chilean origins, it's hinted at but never elaborated on.

(Also I wonder now: was Lydia the "snot-nose lawyer" who shut down Hank's initial fishing into Madrigal?)

Jonathan Banks is so good in this episode; he does resigned exasperation so well. The "I guess I'll come to you" to Lydia; the "you ready?" to his wannabe assassin; the whole scene with Hank and Gomie.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think Walt felt betrayed that Skyler didn't support him in his choice to kill Gus. To him, this is one of his greatest successes ever, he's come home victorious having outsmarted his only competition for World's Smartest Genius, who was trying to kill him, and now he's top dog. He thinks he and Skyler are a team, always, because that's how he wants it. And suddenly Skyler is openly judging him instead, saying she's afraid.

I seem to remember the Vulture review for the first episode of this season calling Walt 'reptilian' and I think that's absolutely perfect. He's a petty person who thrives in the worst way when he thinks he has one over on somebody. And right now he's so puffed up that he sees Skyler's rejection of him as a screwup. She walks out of the bedroom and he sits down and raises his glass to his own reflection. The only other time in the whole series that he behaved so coldly to her in the way that he does now was that string of episodes after IFT. Then he went icy in the same way. It was mildly less awful then.
posted by heatvision at 5:03 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have long wondered if Lydia's overcaution, played for laughs, was actually funny. All of the examples of Walt and Mike being cautious were played straight. But suddenly we're supposed to laugh at a woman being cautious?
posted by Monochrome at 9:20 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a good question.

To me the humor seems less about Lydia being cautious -- as we see, she's entirely justified in being scared of being dragged into Walt and Mike's world -- and more about her fish-out-of-water reaction to that world.

There was quite a lot of similar fish-out-of-water comedy earlier in Walt's arc: that he's entering a criminal world that he's unprepared for. Walt meeting Tuco in the junkyard, both Jesse and Tuco amused by it: "what, was the mall closed?"

Lydia's much more broadly played for laughs than Walt, though. Maybe the better comparison is Saul: often a comedic character, and prone to moments of overcaution and sheer panic: employing Huell, frantically preparing to get out of Dodge as the Gus/DEA stuff goes down.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:37 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing that confuses me about Lydia (who in some ways feels like the Cousin Oliver of this season) is that her affect is so skittish throughout her entire arc* that it makes it really hard for me to believe that she ended up as a high-level executive in a massive multinational. I mean, I get the cliche of the neurotic hard-charger, but she just seems to be in over her head from Day 1 even though apparently she'd been in cahoots with Gus and Mike previously.

My take is that Lydia is having a slow motion freakout based on Gus' assassination. His whole operation *looked* untouchable: things ticking smoothly for years, huge profits, no violence anywhere she'd have to be especially aware of it... then *BOOM*, he gets iced by a bomb in a nursing home. The operation is imploding, suddenly the police have a whole list of people who can ID her... I'd be pretty nervous too.

Jonathan Banks is so good in this episode; he does resigned exasperation so well. The "I guess I'll come to you" to Lydia; the "you ready?" to his wannabe assassin; the whole scene with Hank and Gomie.

Mike is my favorite character in Breaking Bad, in no small part due to the strength of Banks' performance.
posted by mordax at 11:26 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hank and Gomez's interrogation of Mike feels authentic: police asking a lot of questions they know the answers to, looking to see if the suspect will panic and come up with some lie. I'm curious about Mike's past--the "dramatic" end of his career which Hank refers to--but I like it that they don't explain exactly what happened, just as they don't explain exactly what happened when Walt left Gray Matter. I don't think the writers of Breaking Bad would stoop to "As you know, Bob"isms, but exposition in TV & movies is often done badly, and it feels more realistic to me that there are things we might want to know about others' past but never find out.

God Walt is so horribly sleazy to Skyler at this point, and it's hard to tell if he means to be, or if its unwitting.

Yes, this. Ugh, Walt.... I felt like I needed a shower after watching the way he was talking to Skyler. He's so smug, so sleazy, so unaware of (or indifferent to) her revulsion.
posted by johnofjack at 11:44 AM on January 11, 2015


It strikes me that Mike not killing Lydia goes directly against his "no more half measures" dictum; he instead opts to partner with Walt and Jesse, which is not going to end well for him.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2018


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