If it's crap ... We'll tell you
We're Broken Badly
Season 5, Episode 2 "Madrigal"
Sunday on BrBa we were welcomed, this time not by a flashforward- but instead a trip across the globe. Many moons ago in an interview Vince Gilligan hinted at German subtitles popping up and it came to fruition here in "Madrigal". The opening teaser was weird and wacky from the Wonka-like visuals in the taste testing room, to a flush of the porcelain throne accompanieng a dying businessman in his final moments. Shortly later in the opening scene we're smacked back into the increasingly darker world of Breaking Bad, where loveable fast food chains are dismantled and business executives off themselves with First-Aid kits. I think that says something wonderful about the show. Something that can execute the weird scenes and have them work individually and then tie it back with the remaining grounded and dark narrative. It's why we love the series.
The next scenes speak a great deal of volume over Walt and Jesse mangled relationship Both men are in very different places in their lives compared to a similar montage that could be seen in season 1. The voice over of an off-camera discussion between the two would serves as a conscious of sorts for most men, but not WW. It becomes incentive for him to go deeper into his deception. He has no plans of letting Pinkman in on anything and it's painful watching his process of doing this. Paul crushed it this week as Jesse utterly breaks with guilt that he fathomed, when in reality Heisenberg is to blame for most of his troubles. Jesse's still a fairly innocent kid, who's wrapped up in a world far more corrupt than he is in spirit. You almost want Walt to throw Jesse a genuine kind word but it looks like he's just trying to chill him out and get him ready to "move forward".
Another smaller segment of this fantastic episode was a few steps forward in Hank's ongoing arc. We now from the cross board meeting that Madrigal is clean and professional, and the International League of Criminals that they are juxtaposed well against a posse of American law. Hank's scene with Gomez and Mercer was subtle in all the right ways. We get a great picture of the kind of man Gus was from Mercer's tale and the priceless look on Hank's face hints that this isn't the first time a criminal Walt has crossed his mind- maybe it's time to take it seriously. The chemistry was on point between Hank and Gome, one really gets the feeling of two guys who have known each other for years doing what they do best together. Identifying G4's, kicking back some whisky, and giving punks a hard time in the interrogation room. Only this week's punk wasn't Badger or the lovely Wendy, but instead the very un-punkish Mike Ehrmantraut. I was expecting Mike and Hank to know each other from some where along the field, but it's best to leave the crazy random happenstances of the series up to the writers- and a fine job they did. The good cop, bad cop dynamic was a little of when you throw in a bad PI in the mix. Hank and Gome were throwing loads at Mike in the stealthy way they typically do, and he was hurling them right back. His lies give Gus a run for his money, replying with "That's the first I'm hearing of that" when confronted about the secrets behind Los Pollos Hermanos. The back-and-forth was mesmerizing as Norris depicted someone who's intently curious but also holds some reservations in himself and Mike who can only flinch after the meeting when mention of his granddaughter arises. We want Hank to catch Heisenberg, but we also want Mike and Walt to make money together. The beauty of it.
And this really was a Mike spotlight episode, possibly also serving as a great potential Emmy submission for Banks. He really commanded the episode with his performance here. Up until the death of Gustavo, Mike's mantra has been the lines of "following orders", now as far as we now he has no orders to report to. Mike's a lone merciless gunman, but not one without weakness. His relationship with his granddaughter is especially important to him, it's his extension of what keeps him human after a night's killing spree. Nonetheless he still manages to stand his ground against not only the pesky DEA but the likes of Walt and Jesse. From the look on his face as he opens the door to his home, it's evident Mike has already made up his mind. Partially what makes Mike so smart is he's not afraid to tell Walt his faults, right to his face. I think the time-bomb line captures Walt's explosive persona this season, and how it's affecting many different relationships. Mike's past with Laura Fraser's role as Lydia served a vital center in this episode. She came off as a nervous sheep in her introductory meeting with Mike at his favorite diner, really mirroring Walt's bar meeting with Mike in last season's second episode. Only Lydia shows her balls of steel within hours of her meeting with Mike. You can tell he's fairly fond with this woman, but he was fond with Chris too. The scene with his killing was built up perfectly with the hostage situation involving the now late Mr. Chow (what a hero), the foreshadowing with his granddaughter's LOL pig and the calm quiet shooting that leaves Mike cold. In this business emotion can't be a factor and when Mike gives you advice it's best to take it. It all comes together in a great climax scene in Lydia's home. (Kudos to Michael Slovis for the brilliant lighting on Mike's face when he's hiding on the other side of the wall.) The tension's high as we know Mike isn't afraid to kill, but some pathos from Lydia saves the day. She loves her daughter and wants so desperately to be a mother for her. Mike finds himself without money and a loved one of his own to support. The two compromise with a gut-punch of a twist, a half-measure from him benefiting Walter- the methylamine request. We've never seen Mike go to this place and it should be great to see where he goes next.
Even though Mike's presence in "Madrigal" was prominent, Walt was still taking charge. He was dictating in terms of moving forward in Saul's palace. "There is gold in the streets" Walt proclaims. He knows he good at something and certainty thinks he's the best at doing it. Jesse recommends re-embarking on the ABQ Crystal Ship, or returning to an easier pseudo-based method. Saul just plain want out. Heisenberg ignores both of them as we see this season Walt wants it his way without question. Then there's his abrupt response to a desperate Mike, essentially knowingly signing off on his death-sentence. His face of utter satisfaction is something to be noted, are High School teacher drug dealer with a heart of gold is long gone. To quote from the song "Truth" from Alexander Ebert- " All my enemies are turning into my teachers. Walt fully displays this as he paraphrases Hector Salamanca's mantra about family. Gunn does so much in the closing scene by saying so little. The physicality she displayed in the frightening scene paralleling the Pilot's closure captured a Skyler White who's trapped and scarred. Just like Mike with the magnet heist, I don't see the White's marriage ending in "Miller Time".
Thank you for reading today's entry. It was another stunning episode and sets up the pieces for more Madrigal, DEA, meth cookin' fun. Looks like next week Marie will have something to say. See you post "Hazard Play"!