‘Breaking Bad’ Recap (Season 5, Episode 2): “Madrigal”
Do you know how hard it is to discuss/review/critique something as perfect as Breaking Bad? The show has consistently been one of the best shows on TV since somewhere during its second season and “Madrigal” is another phenomenal episode in what is shaping up to be an excellent final season. The premiere was all about Walt trying to clean up his mess; this episode is all about Mike trying to clean up Walt’s further mess.
Mike, played by the legendary Jonathan Banks, has been a number of things since he was introduced in the second season finale: cleaner, hitman, bodyguard, babysitter, mentor, driver, grandfather, and super badass. After Gus was killed, everyone wondered how Mike would react: it turns out he wants nothing to do with Walter White (and I don’t blame him). Unfortunately, Walt knows Mike is the key to his future operation. Walt and Jesse know the chemistry and Mike knows the business: distribution, security, and logistics. They need him if they want to continue but Mike has other problems to deal with.
Remember the bank number hidden beneath Gus’s photo? It turns out that number leads Hank and the DEA to eleven other names – 10 people connected to Gus’s operation (including our old friend Chow from the chemical warehouse) and one other – Mike’s granddaughter. After one of Gus’ associates within Madrigal commits suicide, the DEA bring in everyone connected to Gus and start the interrogation process. However, Mike won’t budge: not even when another associate within Madrigal, a mysterious, nervous woman named Lydia comes to him for help “disposing” of the other 10 people, fearing they may talk. Mike does his best to ignore her until one of his men, Chris, attempts to do the job for her: he gets as far as shooting Chow before Mike does what he does best and kills him.
It’s not long before Mike is holding Lydia at gunpoint but after considering his current lack of employment and Walt and Jesse’s offer he decides to spare her life: she can provide the chemicals Walt needs to start cooking again. Mike might live to regret this decision but for now he’s done the best he can in a terrible situation. He calls Walt and tells him he’s in.
While the majority of “Madrigal” focused on Mike’s adventures, Walt and Jesse weren’t entirely absent. After Jesse calls Walt stressing about the mysterious disappearance of the ricin, Walt goes to Jesse’s house to help him find it – but not after replacing it with a fake and hiding the real ricin behind a power socket in his wall. The ricin is an incredible Chekhov’s gun: introduced near the start of last season and it still hasn’t gone off. But it’s only a matter of time. I’m sure of it. Walt is definitely going to use that ricin on someone before the show is over. Maybe he will even have to use it on Mike?
I’ve seen a few people talking about how Lydia is this season’s main villain but I disagree: if anything, she’s just another obstacle for the show’s true villain, Walter H. White. The fourth season finale established this fact when it revealed that Walt was responsible for Brock being poisoned. Though this episode focused on Mike, Walt’s arrogance was all over it: his magnet scheme to wipe Gus’s laptop (which Hank said was encrypted and most likely had nothing on it anyway) is what revealed the bank number to the police and led them to the 11 people associated with Gus. His determination to cook right there in town just like Gus did is another example of how deluded he has become: he wants to be the next Gus Fring but he’s forgetting that Gus ended up being blown up in a retirement home. Breaking Bad is perhaps the most unpredictable show that has ever been on TV but if there’s anything I can confidently predict it’s this: Walt’s arrogance will lead to his downfall. And I can’t wait.
Image credit: AMC
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