- "Consenting adults want what they want, and if I'm not supplying it, they will get it somewhere else. At least with me, they're getting exactly what they pay for. "
- ―Gale Boetticher talking to Walter White over why he chooses to cook meth
Gale Boetticher, B.S., M.S., was a German American chemist hired by Gustavo Fring to help set up the superlab and manufacture methamphetamine. Gus Fring hired Walter White after Gale praised a sample of Walt's blue meth as the purest he'd ever seen. Following this point, Gale became Walt's lab assistant.
Gale holds an MS degree in organic chemistry and is a specialist in X-ray crystallography. He described his political views as libertarian, and had an open-minded attitude regarding meth. A self-described "nerd," Gale was single, vegan, apparently quite cultured, and was perhaps near to being an intellectual equal of Walt. As a side project, he was working on a process for brewing a superior cup of coffee, and impresses Walt with his results ("").
Despite Walt respecting and enjoying working with Gale, he was forced to fire him in order to prevent Jesse from filing a lawsuit against his brother-in-law Hank. Eventually after Walt murdered two of Gus' employees to protect Jesse, Gale would be reinstated as Walt's assistant. Nonetheless, Gus' true reasoning for this was to have Gale master Walt's cooking technique in order for Gale to take over the lab himself and have Walt murdered for killing his employees. However, in a desperate attempt to save their lives, Walt orders Jesse to murder Gale in order for them to be the only meth cooks capable of producing "Blue Sky" available to Fring, which Jesse reluctantly did by shooting Gale in the face.
Gale's murder and the subsequent investigation by law enforcement would eventually lead to Hank discovering that Gustavo Fring was a meth kingpin, and this indirectly would lead to Fring's own death and the destruction of his entire empire as a result of Walt's actions. However, it was also because of Gale that Hank would also discover that his own brother-in-law, Walter White, was the elusive meth kingpin "Heisenberg" after discovering a book personally given to Walt by Gale himself. This would ultimately lead to White's own downfall as well.
Background informationIn 1994, after moving to the United States, Gustavo Fring established a college scholarship, known as the Max Arciniega Chemistry Scholarship, at the University of New Mexico Chemistry department. This scholarship honored Gustavo's dear friend, Maximino Arciniega. Gale was a recipient of the scholarship (perhaps one of three dozen), and this paid for his education (""). While at UNM, Gale received his Bachelor's degree, and graduated in 1999 (""). Gale had been pursuing his doctorate at the University of Colorado under an NSF grant but realized that it was not the life for him because he loves being in the lab and wanted to preserve the 'magic' he saw in chemistry. ("")
Better Call Saul
After Juan Bolsa instructs him to find a drug supplier north of the border, Gus visits Gale's chemistry lab on the UNM campus. Gale presents Gus with a hidden case containing methamphetamine vials of varying chemical purity. Dismissing the samples as "dreck," Gale urges Gus to allow him to produce higher-grade meth in his lab. Gus politely declines, saying such action is not needed yet and that Gale is meant for "better things."("")
Gus originally intends for Gale to be his sole meth cook. Gale excitedly uses a box cutter to unpack the machinery and assemble the new superlab (""). He informs Gus that a meth sample Gale had analyzed (synthesized by Walter White) was, by far, the best that he had ever seen (with a 99% pure quality). Thus, it was the urging of Gale that caused Gus to put aside his reservations and hire Walter.
Early in their collaboration, Gale impresses Walt with his résumé, his coffee brewing vacuum reflux / distillation apparatus, and his recitation by memory of Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer," about the exhilaration of experiencing scientific wonders first-hand. However, Gale and Walt's relationship sours abruptly. After Walter learns of Jesse Pinkman's intentions of pressing charges against Hank, Walt realizes he must fire Gale and re-hire Jesse as his partner. Walt, angling to install Jesse as his lab assistant, accuses Gale of making an error with the temperature on one of the tanks. Gale assures Walt that he was told to set it at 75 degrees as he had this written down in his notes, but Walt angrily tells him that he must have heard him wrong and that there's no room for this kind of negligence in chemistry ("").
The next day, Gale finds out that he is being replaced and is, understandably, confused as to what he has done wrong. Walt tells him that although he sees Gale as a promising young chemist, the two of them work at different frequencies. Using music types as an analogy, he refers to himself as "classical" and Gale as "jazz," saying that although there is nothing wrong with jazz, Walt requires classical. It's at this point that Gale meets his replacement, Jesse, who enters the laboratory wearing baggy clothing and emoting in slang, further confusing and dismaying Gale ("").
Later, after the killing of two of Gus' dealers at Walt's hands to protect Jesse, Walt and Gus meet in the New Mexican desert to discuss future arrangements. Since Jesse is on the run and in hiding, Gus informs Walt that he will require a new lab partner. Walt says he can get on it right away, but Gus informs Walt that this time, he, himself, will choose. Later when Walt returns to the lab to work, he notices Gale's Subaru Outback parked outside the laundromat. Walt seems to recognize it and its owner from the recumbent bicycle that is attached to the roof of the vehicle. Gale had been appointed by Gus to replace Jesse as Walt's lab assistant. Gale has seemingly forgiven Walt for letting him go previously and the two shake hands. Gale promises that there will be no mistakes this time.
Walt and Gale, wearing their yellow coveralls and ventilation masks, are working together in the laboratory and tend to contents of a large tank. Gale punches something into a console and Walt tells him that everything is good. They remove their ventilators and Walt tells Victor, who is now supervising all activity in the laboratory, that it is safe to remove his mask as well. As they're cleaning up the floor, Gale asks Walt if Victor ever leaves and Walt tells him that his presence is something new and that there was some drama with the person Gale replaced.
Later, as Gale is watering plants in his apartment and singing along to music, he receives an unexpected visit from Gus, whom he addresses as Mr. Fring. Gus inquires about his knowledge regarding Walt's medical condition. When Gale reveals that he is ignorant, Gus reveals Walt's cancer diagnosis and says that they must "prepare for the worst case scenario." He tells Gale that Walt has terminal cancer, and that the meth production cannot halt for even a week because of his business' high overhead. Gus tells Gale that if push comes to shove, he will have to take over the lab as soon as possible. Gale is visibly confused and reluctant to accept the offer. Gus pressures Gale to master the cooking process as quickly as possible; to learn Walt's method and formulas as fast as he can. Gale agrees to take over the lab full-time after one more "cook."
The next day at the laboratory as Walt and Gale are scrubbing out a large tank, Gale begins to ask Walt a question, but seems to hesitate as Victor appears and stands by them. After a short pause, Gale asks Walt if there is any trick to purging the catalyst bed and Walt replies that it is a quick and straightforward procedure. Gale seems perturbed by Victor's presence. The two continue scrubbing and as Victor leaves, Gale turns around and looks towards Victor's direction and then looks at Walt.
Walt, knowing that Gus needs at least one chemist who knows the "Blue Sky" formula to continue cooking, proposes to Jesse that they must kill Gale, and since Walt is under constant surveillance, Jesse has to be the one to do it. Jesse declines, but assists in the plan by tracking Gale back to his apartment and gives Walt the address so he can do the job himself. As Walt is leaving his house, he is confronted by Victor and is told that he must go to the laboratory at once, since there has been a leak. Arriving at the laundromat, he is led to the lab and encounters Mike who instructs Walt to go down and fix the problem. Walt, who by now has realized that this is a ruse to get him down into the lab where he is going to be killed, pleads with Mike and tells him that he "doesn't have to do this."
Failing to negotiate and fearing for his own life, Walt tells Mike that he will work for free and pleads for his life. He offers to give up Jesse in exchange for his life. Walt phones Jesse and tells Jesse that he hasn't killed Gale yet. Walt tells Jesse that he must kill Gale now or Victor and Mike will kill him and tells Jesse that he has a twenty minute head start. Mike and Victor seem puzzled and question Walt as to what the phone call meant, and Walt reveals to them Gale's address. Mike and Victor realize that Walt and Jesse know where Gale lives and that they are planning to kill Gale. Mike stays at the laundromat holding Walt at gunpoint and taking out his cell phone, and Victor is seen leaving for Gale's apartment.
On Wednesday the 23rd, at around 8:00 p.m., Gale is at his apartment when Mike calls to warn him, but Gale's loud music muffles the sound of his cellphone, which is vibrating atop a stack of CDs on a table. Gale is also preoccupied with a kettle of water on the stove which had begun to boil. Gale methodically raises an infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the kettle. He removes the kettle from the stove to prepare a glass of tea when he hears a knock at his door. Gale walks towards it, not noticing that his cell phone is vibrating anxiously along the table. Gale answers the door to a distraught Jesse, who appears to have been crying. It is not immediately clear if Gale recognizes Jesse as his former replacement at the lab, since when the two had met, Jesse's face was severely swollen and bruised after being beaten by Hank Schrader.
He greets Jesse and asks how he can help him. Jesse reaches into his waist and pulls out a gun, aiming it at Gale's head. Gale steps backwards into his apartment, unable to speak any words at first, but finally tells Jesse to take whatever he wants. Gale begs for his life, offering Jesse his possessions and money. Jesse, who is on the verge of tears, walks towards Gale still pointing the gun at his head but doesn't reply to Gale's offers. Gale looks down and implores Jesse to not kill him, and tells him that he "doesn't have to do it". A gunshot is heard as the screen fades to black ("").
In the season 4 premiere, Gale is found dead by Victor while a group of Gale's neighbors are surveying the crime scene from the hallway. Victor enters the apartment, causing the neighbors to become suspicious. He then escorts Gale's killer, Jesse, to the lab. It is confirmed that Gale was indeed killed by a gunshot wound to the face, just below his eye and to the left of his nose (""). Gus kills Victor for bringing suspicion upon himself at Gale's apartment, slicing his throat open with a box cutter in front of Jesse, Walt and Mike. When Victor's body is dissolved in hydrofluoric acid by Mike, Walt and Jesse, they also destroy the gun used in Gale's murder. Gale's Lab Notes are shown close to his body, on a table, during the crime scene investigation, at the end of the episode.
While investigating Gale's murder, the police discover Gale's notebook that provides intimate details on the superlab and Walter's meth formula. Later, an Albuquerque police detective named Tim Roberts gives Hank Schrader copies of the evidence taken from Gale's apartment so that he can provide some input, considering his previous work history regarding the blue meth ("").
After reviewing it, Hank then shows Walt and Walt Jr. a DVD amongst the evidence. The DVD shows Gale singing karaoke of the song "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by German musician Peter Schilling in front of images of rockets and wildlife while the song is captioned in Thai script ("").
Walter is shocked to learn that Hank is investigating Gale's murder, Hank believing that Gale was the elusive Heisenberg and expressing regret that he was not able to arrest him. Walt assures him that Gale was just a novice, opposed to the idea of somebody other than him taking credit for his work. When asked by Hank to read about a chemical process written in Gale's lab notes, Walt notices a Walt Whitman poem and a dedication: "To W.W. My Star, My Perfect Silence."
When Hank chuckles at the initials matching Walt's, Walt jokingly admits "you got me" before explaining to Hank that "W.W." refers to the poet (""). When Walt asks Hank about the investigation, he learns that the only leads are some fingerprints and an eyewitness spotted at the scene. Hearing about this evidence, Walt is spooked and worries that the police will connect Jesse to the murder. Ironically, while Hank knows Jesse is connected to the Blue Sky, he doubts Jesse murdered Gale despite the "history" between Jesse and Hank. Hank decides to close his Heisenberg investigation, content that Gale was the man he was looking for until Walt points out that he might be wrong and the real Heisenberg could still be at large, unwilling to let Gale have credit for Walt's work. ("")
Hank's investigation into Gale's murder starts pointing him towards Gus after he discovers a Los Pollos Hermanos napkin in Gale's apartment, ("") a place Gale would never eat at as he was a vegetarian. Hank determines that the numbers scribbled on the napkin were part numbers for an industrial-strength air filtration system that Gale took delivery on, a system that is perfect for "the biggest meth lab north of the border" whose manufacturer was Madrigal Electromotive. As a result, Hank comes to the correct conclusion that Gale was Heisenberg's former cook and that it all connects to Gus, having also identified Gus' fingerprints as having been in Gale's apartment. ("") Though Gus is able to come up with a story about his connection to Gale that satisfies most of law enforcement, Hank is not convinced and as a result, focuses his attention on Gus as a potential major drug distributer. ("")
Throughout the season, Jesse is continually racked with guilt for murdering Gale. As he plays the incredibly violent first-person shooter video game "Rage," he is disturbed by brief, recurring glimpses of him shooting Gale as he shoots the mutants in the game (""). He presses the restart button on the game, further tormenting himself. Later, in his NA meeting, Jesse euphemizes Gale's killing as taking care of a problem dog - not one who bit anybody, not one who's sick, just one whose existence was a problem - and lashing out at the group leader (and the universe) for refusing to pass judgement on him. Jesse says, "The thing is, you just do stuff and nothing happens - what's it all mean, what's the point? No matter how many dogs I kill, I just do an inventory and I accept?" ("")
During a lunch by the pool at the White Residence, Hank leaves to use the bathroom. Rummaging for reading material, he finds Walter's copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass under some magazines in the bathroom, the same copy given to Walter by Gale Boetticher (""). As he thumbs through the pages of the book, Hank finds a handwritten dedication: "To my other favorite W.W. It’s an honour working with you. Fondly, G.B." Flashing back to a much earlier conversation, in which Walter jokingly admitted to being the "W.W." found in a handwritten dedication in Gale's lab notebook, Hank becomes visibly shocked and finally realizes that Walter White is the elusive meth kingpin "Heisenberg" that he has been searching for all along.
Gale's murder is presumably part of the confession tape Jesse makes for Hank and Steven Gomez though he is not mentioned by name in their discussion of the tape. The two DEA agents note however that there is no physical evidence such as bodies or murder weapons to tie Walt to any of it. ("")
Personality and traits
- "Now this Gale Boetticher is a bonafide chemistry genius. I mean, he's got degrees up the wazoo, right. And, uh, as you might expect, he's a nerd's nerd, right - vegan, sandals and socks kind of guy. As it turns out, he's also an A-number 1 meth cook."
- ―Hank Schrader to Steven Gomez and ASAC George Merkert
Gale was an extremely intelligent libertarian with an open-minded attitude about drugs: since somebody was going to cook meth anyway, it might as well be him because the quality would be better and the product (relatively) safer than any alternatives available locally in New Mexico. Ron Paul campaign stickers can be seen on the rear bumper of his Subaru and in his lab notebook, confirming his libertarian political views.
Gale has been described as mild-mannered, polite, fastidious, and quirky. The possessions in Gale's apartment, located at 6353 Juan Tabo Boulevard, Apartment #6, also reveal facets of his character. These include vintage cameras, a mask, a potato battery, a water pipe, a copy of Stephen King's Everything's Eventual, Jane Austen in BOCA, The Waverley Novels, The Magnificent Activist: The Writing of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and Fundamentals of Marxism Leninism. Gale has a variety of interests. His apartment contains a pair of skis, a surfboard and even a picture of him on Mt. Everest. He also enjoyed drinking tea. In Gale’s lab notes, along with the Heisenberg formula, he included a list of top ten recumbent bikes, a recipe for vegan s'mores, indoor composting tips, and a Far Side cartoon where the scientist is about to pop a paper bag behind a scientist working on the nuclear warhead.
Gale's music choice is also demonstrative of his idiosyncratic and peculiar personality. He is a fan of foreign language music and apparently speaks fluent Italian. As an example, as he waters his plants in his apartment, he sings along with Quartetto Cetra's "Crapa Pelada." A jazzy song, the Italian lyrics of Crapa Pelada are a bit of a tongue-twister because of its incredibly fast tempo. On a trip to Thailand, Gale created a film version of himself performing a camp karaoke version of Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)."
Gale expressed his delight with experiencing the magic of scientific wonders. His favorite poet is Walt Whitman, and has a particular fondness for the Whitman poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." He also wrote this poem down in his lab notes book, along with a sketch of Walt Whitman. Gale recited this poem from memory to Walt, who was intrigued. At some point, Gale gave Walt a copy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass with an inscribed note as a gift. This copy was later discovered by Hank Schrader, making it an incriminating piece of evidence linking Walter White to Gale, a known methamphetamine manufacturer.
- "I can guarantee you a purity of ninety-six percent. I’m proud of that figure… However, that other product is ninety-nine. Maybe even a touch beyond that."
- ―Gale talking to Gus Fring
- "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 White talking to an incensed Gus Fring
- Hank: "Right here, here at the top, it says, "To W.W. My star, my perfect silence." W.W. I mean, who do you figure that is, y'know? Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? Walter White?"
- Walter: "Heh. You got me."
- ―Hank and Walter looking at Gale's notebook.[src]
- "...like Scarface had sex with Mr. Rogers."
- ―Hank Schrader commenting on the personality that Gale's notebook evokes
- Hank: "Crazy is the wrong word...this guy, Gale Boetticher, he was an eccentric. Real character, y' know? He's, uh, he's dead now."
- Skyler: "Who was he?"
- Walter Jr.: "He was a meth cook."
- Hank: "Uh, he was a meth chef. I mean we're talking 5-stars, candles, and white tablecloth. I can't believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but he was a genius, plain and simple. I mean, uh, boy, if he had applied that big brain of his to something good, I dunno, who knows? He could've helped humanity or something like that. I mean, how many actual geniuses are there in the world? If he'd have taken his life in a different direction, who knows?"
- ―Hank describing Gale to Walter, Skyler, Walter Jr., and Marie[src]
- Counting the recordings, photographs and flashbacks, Gale appears in more episodes after his death than before.
- It's Gale's dedication to Walter on Walt Whitman's poetry book, that Gale gave to Walter, that allows Hank to finally realize that Walter is Heisenberg, which ultimately leads to Walter's downfall. In a way, it could be said that from beyond the grave, Gale got revenge on Walter for orchestrating his murder.
- Gale is the first person to be killed by Jesse, and the last person to die in Season 3, although his death wouldn't be confirmed until the beginning of Season 4.
- Hank would ironically note while investigating the murder that he doubted Jesse had anything to do with it despite his connection to the Blue Sky meth, never even considering Jesse a suspect.
- Gale's murder is presumably still officially unsolved when the series ends. Though Jesse likely told Hank and Steven Gomez about it in his confession tape in "", the two agents were working alone and never shared their findings with anyone and Jack's White Supremacist Gang subsequently destroyed the tape. As a result, with the deaths of Victor, Gus, Mike, Hank, Gomez and Walt, Jesse is the only known living person who knows the truth about what happened to Gale.