"Box Cutter" is the first episode of the fourth season of Breaking Bad and the thirty-fourth episode altogether.


In a flashback, Gale Boetticher excitedly unpacks sterling new high-tech lab equipment, making notes in a distinctive journal labeled "Lab Notes" - he is setting up the superlabGustavo Fring visits Gale in the lab to check on his process. Gale then praises the blue meth Gus gave him to analyze — it's beyond the purity that he, or anyone else he knows of, could produce - a 96% to 99% purity difference, which doesn't seem much but is in fact quite major. Gus politely demurs, saying the chemist responsible wouldn't make a suitable partner due to other considerations. Gale insists on the superiority of this blue meth — he says that they "have their work cut out for them" if that is their competition, and he knows the value Gus puts on perfection. Gus reconsiders; it seems Gale has just talked Gus into hiring Walter White.



Gale's corpse

Back in the present, Jesse Pinkman stands in Gale's doorway, having just shot him. Jesse is in a state of shock, with red flooded eyes, he can hardly flee when he does. Moments later, Victor pushes his way through a small group of neighbors, including one on the phone to 911, and finds Gale dead, shot through the eye. Outside, Victor spots a shell-shocked Jesse in his car. Victor jumps in and orders Jesse to drive at gunpoint.

At the lab, Walt and Mike Ehrmantraut stare each other down, Walt fearing for his life. Victor returns with Jesse and for a moment Walt thinks Jesse failed and it's possibly the end for them both. But on seeing the state of Jesse Walt realizes he must've triumphed, he breathes again. To Mike it's clear he failed; Gale is dead. He's not looking forward to calling the boss.

Mike asks if Victor performed a sweep of Gale's apartment. Victor replies that he couldn't because people were already there. When Mike asks if he was seen, he admits he was, but is certain they mistook him for "just another looky-Lou."

Early the next morning, Marie Schrader appears at Skyler White's house with a stack of unpaid medical bills. Seeing Walt's car, she assumes Walt and Skyler have reunited. After Marie leaves, Skyler moves Walt's car to a nearby street so Walter, Jr. won't ask questions when he wakes up.

Back at the lab, Walt explains the new reality to Mike and Victor: like it or not, he's the only one who can maintain the meth production schedule. In response, Victor switches on the equipment. "We ain't missin' no cook," he says defiantly. Now Walt and Jesse have a new problem - if Victor can manage a cook by himself.

Saul Goodman, frantically scouring every inch of his office for bugs, receives a call from Skyler asking where Walt is. Returning her call by payphone, Saul lies and assures her Walt is fine; then he tells his new bodyguard, Huell Babineaux, that they might need to leave town.

Skyler drives with Holly to Walt's apartment. When no one answers the door, she convinces a locksmith, Adam, to break the law and let her inside by feigning a panic attack, which she does perfectly convincingly. (Skyler is fast becoming quite the expert deceiver.) Searching the apartment, she finds no clues to Walt's whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Marie gushes about Hank's progress in physical therapy. Hank dismisses the compliment; she's exaggerating, since he only covered sixteen feet in twenty minutes. Humiliated and defeated, he asks Marie to help him use his bedpan.

At the lab, Jesse remains nearly catatonic while Walt waits and hopes for Victor to miss a step in the cook. He doesn't. Gus arrives and Walt immediately tries to defend his and Jesse's actions. Gus wordlessly changes into one of the lab's orange clean-up suits. As he becomes more nervous and agitated, Walt blames Gus for Gale's death: did Gus really think that Walt wouldn't take "extreme measures" to defend himself? Gus says nothing and Walt, panic mounting, taunts Victor with rapid-fire questions pertaining to the chemistry of the meth-making process, attempting to convince all that he and Jesse are indeed still needed.

It's called "a cook" for a reason, counters Victor, you follow a recipe. And he's sure he knows the recipe as he's memorised all the steps. But Victor doesn't know the chemistry and can't fix problems that might arise, Walt challenges. Without him and Jesse, says Walt, the lab is just "an eight million dollar hole in the ground."

Gus picks up a box-cutter and walks menacingly toward Walt and Jesse. "You kill me," says Walt, "you have nothing. You kill Jesse, you don't have me."


Gus slicing Victor's throat with a box cutter

Gus crosses over to Victor, and continues staring at Walt and Jesse as Walt begs him to forget everything and let them get back to work. Suddenly, Gus grabs Victor and slashes his carotid artery with the box cutter. Victor struggles, but Gus pulls Victor's head back ensuring that the blood from the wound sprays on a shocked Jesse and Walt. Mike, dumbfounded, watches as his partner bleeds out and begins moving less and less. Walt can hardly meet Gus' icy stare. Jesse, grinding his teeth, locks eyes with Gus until, his face covered in blood, Gus pushes Victor's dead body to the floor. He walks past Walt and Jesse, dropping the box cutter. After calmly washing all the blood off his face, Gus silently changes back into his street clothes and walks out of the lab.

At the door, he turns and looks over the rail at Walk and Jesse. "Well?" he says. "Get back to work."

As Mike watches, Walt and Jesse squeeze Victor's body into a plastic drum then pour in hydrofluoric acid. "You sure it'll do the job?" Mike asks. "Trust us," Jesse replies. Walt seals the drum, which is shipped off with a load of hazardous material.

Later at a diner, Jesse eats ravenously, while Walt appears shaken. Walt asks Jesse what their next move should be, "given the fact that at his first opportunity Gus will kill us." Jesse disagrees; if Gus wanted them dead, he would've done it at the superlab. Walt replies that they merely bought time until Gus finds another chemist.

"Good luck with that," laughs Jesse, eerily unaffected, adding that everyone is on the same page now: "The one that says if I can't kill you, you'll sure as shit wish you were dead."

Walt arrives at Skyler's house in a cab but can't find his car. Skyler meets him in the driveway and tells him she moved it to avoid questions from Walter, Jr. She does not ask him where he's been, she simply directs Walt to his car and returns to the house. Walt smiles, and seems optimistic that he's making some headway with Skyler.

At Gale's, Albuquerque PD processes the scene. Gale's "Lab Notes" journal sits in plain sight on his coffee table.

Official Photos


  • Skyler finds the Teddy Bear eye from Seasons 2-3
  • A bedridden Hank is shown bidding on a magnesite crystal on a fictional auction site called "". The url displayed in the browser is actually a local file on Hank's laptop: "C:\Users\Mad Props\Desktop\Mineral Emporium screen\ebay hero.html". in fact redirects to and that redirects finally to[1]
  • The box cutter Gus uses to kill Victor is presumably the same one used by Gale to cut open the boxes containing the equipment at the beginning of the episode. It's later use is foreshadowed in the earlier scene, and is an example of Chekhov's Gun.[2]
    • The production designer says he and Gilligan chose the type of box cutter on purpose: the green color was easy to see on the red floor.
    • The box cutter model used in episode is the RSG-383 QuickBlade Safety Grip by Pacific Handy Cutter, Inc.[3]
  • Gus's actions towards Victor in this episode contradict his previous statement in "Green Light" about fear not being an effective motivator.
  • During a scene when Gale's neighbor calls police to report his murder, a clock in Gale's apartment reads 10:13. This is a deliberate reference to the number 1013, which frequently appeared in The X-Files, where Vince Gilligan worked as a writer and producer. It refers to the October 13 birthday of X-Files creator Chris Carter. See references to The X-Files.
  • Gale's apartment contains several Persian rugs similar to the rugs used in the film The Big Lebowski (1998). The Dude's original rug was soiled by urine. Gale's rug is soiled by his own blood.
  • The scene in the diner is clearly an homage to a similar scene in Pulp Fiction (1994). Vincent and Jules share breakfast after cleaning up Marvin's murder with assistance from The Wolf. Vincent and Jules are uncharacteristically wearing T-shirts because their clothes were covered in blood.
  • During this scene Walt and Jesse are wearing matching T-shirts with country music singer Kenny Rogers on them. The T-shirts are deliberately not explained in the episode, but Vince Gilligan said he believed Mike simply bought the first articles of clean clothing he could find for Walter and Jesse after their clothes were soaked with Victor's blood.
    • Walter's still retains the sticker with the shirt size - "Large".
    • The T-shirts displaying Kenny Rogers could also be a reference to his most well-known song, 'The Gambler', which would be associated with Walt's gambling story or the risk Walt took in choosing to kill Gale. Rogers other well-known hits "She Believes In Me," "Coward of the County," "Islands in the Stream," "We've Got Tonight," and "Lucille" also offer ironic interpretations for this episode. Rogers also sang "Just Dropped In" with First Edition, a song about coming off of a drug-induced high used in the film The Big Lebowski.
  • When Mike asks if the hydrofluoric acid will work, Jesse says, "Trust us," referring to their use of hydrofluoric acid to dissolve Emilio Koyama's body in "Cat's in the Bag...".



Featured Music

  • "Bringing It Back" by Tee-Double (playing in Walt Jr's room in the morning)
  • "Eyeball in the Drawer" by Dave Porter (while Skyler snoops around the Beachcomber)
  • "I Don't Mind" by Jamie Dunlap, Scott Nickoley, and Stephen Lang (in the diner while Jesse eats)
  • "Unknown Track #1" by Unknown Artist (in the diner while Jesse eats)
  • "Truth" by Alexander Ebert (as Walt walks to get his car and the police examine Gale's apartment)

Memorable Quotes

"Alright, let's talk about Gale Boetticher. He was a good man and a good chemist. He didn't deserve what happened to him. He didn't deserve it at all. But I'd shoot him again and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. When you make it Gale versus me, or Gale versus Jesse, Gale loses! Simple as that. This is on you, Gus, not me, not Jesse. I mean really, what'd you expect me to do? Just simply roll over and allow you to murder us? That I wouldn't take measures – extreme measures – to defend myself? Wrong! Think again."
―Walter to Gustavo Fring.

"I walked sixteen feet in twenty minutes, which is up from like fifteen-and-a-half yesterday. And I had maybe this much less shit in my pants. So, yeah, Marie, if you and him and everybody else in America secretly took a vote and changed the meaning of the entire English language, yeah, I guess I broke new ground."
―Hank while recovering from The Cousins' attack.


  1. Mineral Emporium
  2. Chekhov's Gun
  3. RSG-383 QuickBlade Safety Knife
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