Madrigal (Breaking Bad)

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"Madrigal"
Breaking Bad episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 2
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Vince Gilligan
Original air date July 22, 2012 (2012-07-22)
Running time 47 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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Breaking Bad (season 5)
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"Madrigal" is the second episode of the fifth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 48th overall episode of the series. Written by series creator Vince Gilligan and directed by Michelle MacLaren, it originally aired on AMC in the United States on July 22, 2012.

Plot[edit]

In Hannover, Germany, Peter Schuler, the head of fast food operations for Madrigal Electromotive GmbH—the parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos—kills himself with an automated external defibrillator when police arrive to question him about his relationship with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Back in Albuquerque, Jesse (Aaron Paul) continues to panic over the missing ricin cigarette, worried that someone will find it and poison themselves. Walt (Bryan Cranston) hides the vial of poison behind an electrical outlet cover in his house and creates a fake one, planting it in Jesse's Roomba when he helps search Jesse's house for it. Jesse finds the fake ricin cigarette in his apartment. Jesse tearfully laments what he believes is his own stupidity and apologizes to Walt for suspecting him of poisoning Brock. Walt and Jesse later meet with Mike (Jonathan Banks) and offer him a partnership in a new meth operation. Mike refuses, believing Walter is a dangerous "time bomb".

Saul (Bob Odenkirk) suggests that Walt use Gus' death as an opportunity to safely quit the drug trade, but Walter needs the money since Skyler (Anna Gunn) gave much of his drug earnings to Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) and paid for Hank's (Dean Norris) physical therapy. The main problem challenging Walt and Jesse's plan is the need for a new source of methylamine.

Meanwhile, Hank takes part in a meeting between the DEA and Madrigal's German CEO, who claims Schuler was a lone criminal within the company and promises full cooperation with the law. After the meeting, Hank's boss George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) reveals that he was fired for failing to heed Hank's warnings about Gus. Merkert reflects on his friendship with Gus and wonders aloud who else might be leading a double life, which seems to strike a chord with Hank.

An American Madrigal executive named Lydia (Laura Fraser) later meets with Mike and asks him to kill eleven men from Gus' operation in order to tie up any loose ends. Mike refuses because Gus paid them enough to keep quiet; however, when he is called in to meet with Hank and Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada), Mike learns the authorities have discovered and frozen Gus' Cayman Islands account, using the RICO Act to halt and seize payments to Gus' subordinates, including Mike, who had $2 million that he was planning to leave behind for his granddaughter, Kaylee.

Duane Chow (James Ning), Gus' methylamine supplier, calls to meet with Mike. Mike correctly suspects it is a set-up and gets the jump on Chris, one of his former men, who has already killed Chow. Chris explains that Lydia had contracted him to kill everyone after Mike refused, as he needs the money since Gus' payments have been seized by the law. Mike kills Chris and later breaks into Lydia's house in Houston, Texas. As he is about to execute her, Lydia's panicked pleas about her daughter affect him. He decides to spare Lydia in exchange for her becoming Walter's new methylamine supplier. Mike calls Walter and accepts a partnership in Walter's new meth operation.

Production[edit]

Breaking Bad creator and episode writer Vince Gilligan spoke about opening the episode at Madrigal: "We always like to surprise our viewers, and the idea of suddenly opening in Germany seemed like fun. We also wanted to start showing you the business of Madrigal, the company that financed Gus Fring. Is Madrigal all corrupt? Or was it just a couple of executives?" He also spoke about Jonathan Banks, who was the main focus of the episode, and Mike's evolving over the series: "It’s a testament to the great actors on this show — Aaron Paul, Dean Norris who plays Hank — that those characters became more important over time. Jonathan Banks is just fantastic in the role." When asked if Mike was watching The Caine Mutiny in the episode, Vince stated: "That is The Caine Mutiny, 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."[1]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

The episode was watched by approximately 2.29 million American viewers on its original broadcast, down from its series-high ratings of 2.93 million viewers the previous week.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received critical acclaim with many critics considering it a step up from the season premiere and praising Jonathan Banks' performance. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly called "Madrigal" "terrific", stating: "One of the methods to Breaking Bad's endless fascination is the way it unfurls maps of inter-dependence. Certain characters may like to see themselves as independent agents, as lone wolves, but everyone is dependent upon someone else — someone else's errors, or rare twinge of good conscience — and thus must remain part of a group. It's a braided metaphor for the reasons we form societies." He did, however, wish the episode ended "more forcefully" with Mike making the reluctant phone call to Walt, rather than ending with the Walt/Skyler bedroom scene.[3] TV Fanatic's Matt Richenthal gave the episode 4.8 out of 5 stars, commenting: "Through its attention to detail, direction and dialogue, Breaking Bad possesses an uncanny ability to enrapture and enthrall. You can't help but be invested in every moment." He also commented on Jonathan Banks' performance: "Overall, just a terrific showcase this week for Jonathan Banks. His portrayal of Mike paints the picture of an exasperated career criminal who excels at the game...and is resigned to his fate. He's funny... and he somehow manages to be the moral center of this operation, despite his willingness to kill and kill and kill."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Franich, Darren (July 23, 2012). "'Breaking Bad': Showrunner Vince Gilligan talks about 'Madrigal'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ Bibel, Sara (July 24, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'Breaking Bad', 'Falling Skies', 'Army Wives', 'The Newsroom', 'Longmire' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ Tucker, Ken (July 22, 2012). "'Breaking Bad' review: 'You are a time bomb'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ Richenthal, Matt (July 22, 2012). "Breaking Bad Review: Prophylactic Measures". TV Fanatic. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 

External links[edit]