TV Review: “Breaking Bad” Episode 2 – Madrigal

Written by Devin Barnes July 28, 2012

Lydia and Mike meet in a diner.

Slow, Methodical Build Up…

Like its predecessor “Live Free or Die,” “Madrigal’s” primary focus is slow, methodical character interaction, as opposed to the enormous shocks we have come to anticipate from Vince Gilligan’s writing team. What is immensely shocking, however – perhaps more so than anything loud and superficial – is Walt’s cavalier attitude towards the meth cooking process. The inevitable conflict between Walter White and Hank Schrader is edging closer and closer, and it’s becoming clear that Walt’s crippling ego will end up getting the best of him.

Narrative-wise, “Madrigal” is a slow episode. DEA interviews, meth business meetings and breakfasts at the White household compose the bulk of the hour, excluding a tense sequence towards the end and a violent suicide at the outset, but “Madrigal” manages to succeed brilliantly at setting up conflicts for an inevitable end-game, ranging from the enormous Hank vs. Heisenberg dynamic to Skyler White’s steadily crumbling peace of mind.

The episode opens with a “Madrigal” employee’s suicide. Madrigal, as it turns out, was the company responsible for financing Los Pollos Hermanos, and was thus connected with the corrupt dealings of Gustavo Fring. In the wake of this tragedy, Hank Schrader and his intrepid team of DEA agents launch a full investigation of the company. This makes notable new character Lydia – a former associate of Fring’s – very nervous. Will she contribute to Walt’s undoing?

“Madrigal’s” suicidal employee.

Gilligan litters this episode with rich, interesting details, providing insight into individuals that grow more complex with each season. Walt, now addicted to the meth-making process and the power it provides him, has Jesse under his thumb, manipulating his innocence and good heart for dubious ends. The crooked Saul Goodman is showing obvious reservations regarding his continued association with Walt and Jesse, perhaps understanding that Walt has become a loose cannon, overwhelmed with the idea of proving himself the equal of Gustavo Fring. Skyler White, most dispiriting of all, barely gets out of bed, responding to Walt’s nighttime affections with nothing but a ghostly stare. Even Walt. Jr leaves his breakfast unfinished: perhaps sensing, on some intuitive level, that his father has become a dangerous, unfeeling man.

Somebody Else Completely

“He’s somebody else completely,” mumbles a stunned DEA agent. “Right in front of me, right under my nose.” This, of course, refers to Gustavo Fring, but it’s only a matter of time before Hank Schrader connects similar dots between Heisenberg, crystal-meth genius, and his meek, mild-mannered brother-in-law. I can’t wait for their inevitable confrontation.

Walt and Jesse try to recruit Mike for their new meth business.

My Rating: 8/10

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