UPDATE AUGUST 26: After last night’s episode, there are a lot of questions about Jesse’s desert revelation and how it all fits together, so I updated this post to include that toward the end, to keep it chronological. You can skip to that part here.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people come across my blog from googling something like, “How did Walter White poison Brock?” or “What happened to the ricin cigarette?” or “what happened berries Walter Brock” or something similar. On the Breaking Bad message boards, questions about these topics still rage. While watching the latest episode on Sunday night, some friends were asking the the same questions. This storyline definitely has to be one of the most complex–maybe even convoluted–plotlines on the show. Some of it is more left to assumption than explicitly shown. So I thought I’d try to elucidate with my understanding of what happened, start to finish.
In episode 407 “Problem Dog,” Walt makes some ricin in the superlab. He gives it to Jesse, who puts it in a “lucky cigarette” that he keeps upside down in his cigarette pack. The ricin cigarette is born.
Walt, his revolver and lily of the valley
In episode 412 “End Times,” Walt is despondent and doesn’t know what to do. Gus has just threatened his wife, son, infant daughter and brother-in-law. Walt knows that Gus could be close to turning Jesse against him and that Jesse’s flagging loyalty is the only thing keeping Gus from killing him. Since Skyler gave a big chunk of Walt’s drug money to the IRS for the Ted thing, Walt doesn’t have the money to get himself and his family out of town through Saul’s disappeaerer “vacuum guy.” He sits out back behind his house and spins a revolver. The first two times, it points at him. The third time though, it points to a potted plant, which (we will later come to see) is a lily of the valley plant. Here is where Walter White gets his idea.
Is it me or is this season already flying by way too fast?
Walt comforts Jesse
So let’s get to Season 5, Episode 2, “Madrigal.”
The opening shot is a perfectly swirled blob of mustard. I’m not sure if this was intended or not, but I immediately thought of the pilot episode, when Walt first finds out he has cancer and all he can focus on is the mustard stain on the doctor’s coat.
It looks like we are in for some unexpected teasers this season. This one went from Madrigal Electromotive exec Schuler taste-testing such flavors as “Franch” and “Cajun Kick-Ass” with a look of dread (he knows what’s coming) to killing himself with a defibrillator. I think the most compelling moment of that whole sequence was when he put the lead under his tongue. If he was the least bit unsure about what he was doing before, that was *the* decisive moment.
When he first starts taking off his jacket to perform his suicidal task, I immediately thought of Gus exquisitely taking off his jacket and folding it before making himself vomit the poisoned tequila in “Salud.” Schuler does have a level of care in that scene, removing clothes layer by layer, but he’s not as meticulous as Gus (could anyone ever be?) and in an interview about “Madrigal” Vince Gilligan says the connection wasn’t intentional, even though many fans and critics had the same thoughts. Even the pristine clinical feel of the lab feels a little like Gus.
Other notes from the teaser:
They were taking down the Los Pollos Hermanos sign, wow.
Was that Lydia in the background during the taste-testing? Because of my blindness, I sometimes have trouble distinguishing faces, especially in the background, but a few people to the right behind the guy presenting “Franch” and the other flavors, was a woman who looked a lot like Lydia, with her hair parted in the exact same place. Can anyone confirm or deny?