BREAKING BAD: 5 Things We Learned From Madrigal


As Walt continued down his destructive path, several interesting pieces of the puzzle came to light. Here are 5 things we learned from Breaking Bad 5.02 “Madrigal”:

Full Breaking Bad “Madrigal” spoilers follow


Gus’ death has had a serious knock-on effect, leading all the way up to the Madrigal boardroom, which is quite apt given that Walt is “the one who knocks”. Not even the delights of ‘Franch‘ was enough to prevent Mr. Schuler from taking his own life as the heat from his hand in Gus’ doomed empire came closing in around him. ‘Hot Water Lydia‘, on the other hand, is made of different sauce; opting to fight dirty in order to keep justice from her crooked door. Her desperate and foolish attempt to kill Mike almost triggered a full-scale Madrigal civil war. Her motivation? Self preservation, in part because she has a young daughter — a connection she shares with Mike, who’s association with Gus and his eventual decision to partner with Walt is based on providing for his granddaughter. A weakness he must hope Walt never exploits. Meanwhile, courtesy of Lydia’s contacts, they have the meth to rebuild an empire new.


As suspected, Walt executed Brock’s poisoning by getting Saul’s bodyguard, Huell, to pick the ricin cigarette pack from Jesse’s pocket and replace it with one minus the ricin cigarette, so Jesse would think Gus was behind Brock’s illness and side with Walt in killing him. This was actually confirmed in “Live Free or Die” when Saul tells Walt that it was a miracle Huell’s fat fingers got the pack from Jesse. Now, we see Walt tying up the loose ends, by creating a fake copy of the deadly cigarette made with salt and placing the real ricin cigarette behind a electrical socket in his house (for a rainy day?). He then proceeds to help Jesse look for the (fake) ricin that he planted in the ‘robot of silence’.

I don’t know what was more fascinating, the fact that Walt decided to wear rubber gloves while feigning his search for the ricin cigarette, his casual yet believable reaction to its ‘discovery’, or the fact that it all came so naturally to him? I guess the entire ruse is remarkable. He introduced a “smoking gun” (semi-literally) and not only used it to disarm Jesse and his opponents, but made Jesse a loyal and indebted disciple as a result. Jesse’s lack of questioning of Walt’s decision to “move forward” confirms that he’s less of a partner and more of a total believer in the ‘Cult of Heisenberg’. “Have faith” indeed.


If anyone was in any doubt, this episode confirms it: Jesse’s too innocent for the world he’s found himself in. That’s not to say he’s a saint, far from it, but I wonder whether he will need to lose this core part of his being in order to not only see the truth but take down Walt?

His emotional reaction to finding the ricin cigarette, relief coupled with self-loathing at almost killing his beloved master (not to mention his largely misplaced guilt over Brock), was in stark contrast to Walt’s complete lack of any emotion since Gus died other than satisfaction and arousal. In fact, I can’t remember the last time Walt cried, but I sure do remember the last time he laughed maniacally or stood (metaphorically) on Jesse’s shoulder like the devil incarnate.


Maybe Walt’s discovered the sauce source, because he’s somehow tapped into Breaking Bad‘s heightened world ala Gus before him. We saw hints of his ‘intuition’ in “Live Free or Die”, but he took it to another level in this episode, somehow calm and knowing, assured that all the pieces would fall into place if he just waits..and washes the dishes. The mundane meets the ‘supernatural’, this is a man who has been awakened by death and notions of immortality. All humans have some low level of intuition, an untapped connection to the world and our surroundings, so Walt’s belief in his own destiny (or whatever you want to call it) isn’t necessarily absurd, but the way it’s been activated (whether he’s delusional, lucky, or otherwise) and the manner in which he’s reacting to it, is an interesting yet creepy new facet to his character.


Skyler is Terrified of Walt with a cap “T”. If that wasn’t already clear from “Live Free Or Die,” this episode made it crystal meth. When it comes to Walt she’s like a deer caught in headlights.

Though Sky is certainly no saint. She’s deeply implicated in Walt’s actions and while her domestic entrapment gains sympathy, she’s contributed to the situation by not just supporting Walt’s fall from decency (however feigned that decency was) but holding his hand and mapping his path. That Sky and Walt are ‘life partners’ says something about how they feed off one another, and while Walt’s Heisenberg wears the crappy hat, Sky has a Heisenberg of her own who, from time to time, wears the trousers — as Ted rediscovered when Sky’s mask slipped the moment he appeared to press her for more money.

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  1. says

    Great post! 😀 One thing – The last time Walt cried was one episode before the crazy laughter. 😉 It’s when he tells Junior the story about his father, when Junior says it’s not that bad to remember Walt in that way.

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    • Aria Mohtadi says

      Actually he sort of shed tears again in End times, when his car-bombing plan failed to work on Gus. :)

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      • says

        I also forgot about the scene RIGHT before the crazy laugh, when he tells Saul Hank doesn’t deserve to die because of the things he’s done.

        And he ”sort of cried” after the ”I won” line as well. :p

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        • Aria Mohtadi says

          Yes exactly! That one, plus the following crazy laugh are my favorite season 4 moments.

          Oh, right!
          I guess we could assume that was tears of joy… 😀

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    • Aria Mohtadi says

      Yup, this version of Walt is definitely less sympathetic
      than the one before the plane crash.

      I was actually talking to a friend of mine who’s a big ‘Boss’ fan (Starz series – which he eventually made me watch and I absolutely LOVED the Kelsey Grammer character plus the whole show!) about how Breaking Bad and Boss are similar, but yet drastically different when it comes to the ‘gray’ protagonist;

      In Breaking Bad we’ve got Walter White who goes into the meth business primarily due to his terminal illness (well, his insecurity too) and gradually does some horrible things.

      On the other hand, mayor Kane of Boss, is downright Evil from the start,
      and ironically too, he’s got a terminal neurological disorder. It’s like Breaking bad, yet in reverse motion! 😀

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