Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki

"Hazard Pay" is the third episode of the fifth season of Breaking Bad and the forty-ninth episode altogether.



Posing as a paralegal, Mike Ehrmantraut visits Dennis Markowski, the manager of Gustavo Fring's industrial laundry, in jail. During the meeting, Dennis's lawyer, Dan Wachsberger, tunes out and listens to music: he doesn't want to hear what Mike has to say to Dennis about their ongoing collusion. Mike reassures Dennis that the deal he had with Gus is still in place and he should stay quiet.

Dennis swears he's loyal to Mike but since the feds took his hazard pay, and everyone else's. Mike guarantees everyone will get compensated for what the feds took as he's setting up anew, or does he need more than his word on it. Dennis agrees to stick to the deal and they shake on it.

In the hallway, Mike and Dan go through the list of Mike's guys and where they're being held. It's going to be a long, tiring day, but the two of them are going to see all of them.

Act I

Skyler White finds Walter White in high spirits as he unpacks boxes in the bedroom. It's official: he's decided to move back in. When Skyler notices and aprehensively questions whether this is a good idea, he doesn't pay her any mind, insisting it's the way it should be. Skyler's look of worry intensifies, she's not so sure.

Mike waits outside Saul Goodman's office while Huell Babineaux guards the door. Inside, Walt and Jesse Pinkman assuage Saul's doubts about working with Mike, who once threatened to break Saul's legs. They let Mike in and he lays down ground rules: He runs the business, Walt and Jesse cover production - he'll have it no other way. Saul privately asks Walt if he's okay with the arrangement, but Walt's unfazed: "He handles the business, and I handle him."

Saul takes the team on a tour of potential new lab venues, but Walt, Jesse, and Mike nix them all, spotting logistical problems with each. Jesse and Mike are ready to dismiss the final venue, Vamonos Pest, but Walt, noticing the folded up tent on the floor, immediately lights up, and declares, "It's perfect."

Act II

The new plan to cook meth

The next day, the four watch the pest-control team as it tents an infested home. Walt explains his plan: If they cook inside houses undergoing fumigation using a mobile lab apparatus, no one will bother them or question strange smells. They can hide in plain sight. Saul says the pest crew, run by a man named Ira, runs a burglary operation on the side - they don't steal while on the job, but rather, they copy the house keys and pass along information about the house's security codes and valuables to other criminals and take a percentage of the cut, or they wait a while and come back to burglarize the places themselves; they know how to keep secrets. When Saul is asked how he knows about their business, he tells them he's been their lawyer for a few years. Mike suggests a vote.

Skinny Pete (who is revealed to have a talent with classical piano) and Badger purchase four of the largest roadie equipment cases they can find from a local guitar store and wheel them into the pest control headquarters — the cases have been stenciled, "Vamonos Pest", a bonus from the salesman. They ask Jesse to get in on the new business, but Jesse (noticing one stern look from Mike) doesn't bite. Mike debriefs the pest control crew and forbids stealing from the houses. He also orders them never to engage with Walt and Jesse without an invitation, that they're "ghosts".

At Jesse's house, Walt and Jesse finalize plans for the mobile lab. They're interrupted by Andrea Cantillo, who stops by with Brock Cantillo and invites Walt to stay for dinner. Walt sits uncomfortably with Brock on the couch; it's impossible to say if the boy recognizes Walt as the man who poisoned him, but Walt is certainly uncomfortable in Brock's presence. Brock glares at him but says nothing, turning back to his video game.


After the homeowners leave, Walt and Jesse pull up to an infested house in a Vamonos truck. An employee, Todd Alquist, approaches Walt and informs him that he disabled a nanny-cam in the living room. Walt, impressed with his initiative, asks him what's his name.

Walter and Jesse preparing the lab

Walt and Jesse assemble the lab from the roadie cases and cook in a sealed tent inside the house. During a break, they watch TV and drink beer on the living room couch. Walt inquires about Andrea and says Jesse can decide for himself whether to tell her about their work — if he can't confide in her, then there's no way they can keep going.

At the car wash, Marie Schrader tells Skyler that Hank Schrader is back at work and insists Skyler plan a party for Walt's birthday. When Skyler takes out a cigarette, Marie chastises her as she's not been a smoker in years. She keeps nagging about this and that, setting Skyler on edge, who yells at her to shut up. Marie, at first clearly hurt, is soon concerned and baffled by the outburst.

Act IV

In the new "lab," Jesse and Walt weigh the meth and Walt admires the excellent yield. As they leave the house, Jesse sets off the fumigation system to finish the pest control work - the thick fog quickly masks any trace of their own production fumes. Walt finds a worry-etched Marie waiting for him at home. Skyler rests in the bedroom as Marie recounts Skyler's breakdown and presses Walt for its origin, concerned for her sister's well being. She's not leaving till he tells her. Walt, cornered and wanting to deflect any suspicion away from himself tells her that Skyler had an affair with Ted Beneke, who is now in the hospital. Marie is shocked, shooting Walt a look of pity as she attempts to comfort him. Walt begs her to keep it a secret and not mention anything to Hank or Skyler. Marie leaves still dumbfounded. Walt happily munches on an apple after Marie leaves, having just framed Skyler as being the sole source of their marital problems.

Walter, Walter Jr. and Holly watching Scarface

At Jesse's house, Andrea and Brock play video games while Jesse zones out. Andrea asks if he's okay. After rousing herself from bed, Skyler finds Walt and Walter White Jr. watching Scarface in the living room. She stares silently but disapprovingly, as the two revel in Al Pacino's bloody shooting rampage. Hearing her son discuss the violence so nonchalantly, Skyler is clearly unsettled by this tableau.

The hazard pay erupts an intense discussion between Mike and Walter

Back at the Vamonos office, Mike divides the profit into three piles — $367,000 each. He first takes $40,000 from each pile and gives it to Jesse for the $120,000 he fronted for the new setup. Mike takes money from each pile to pay for distribution drivers and Ira's fumigation crew. But Walt balks when Mike takes additional money from each pile to pay his nine jailed men - what Mike calls "legacy costs." Walt's outraged by Mike's audacity, but he tells Walt that since he killed Gus they're his responsibility. Jesse, uncomfortable with them arguing over money, offers to cover Walt's share. The prideful Walt finally relents, insisting he'll pay his own way, but bitterly complaining at his net reduced profit. After Mike leaves, Walt asks Jesse how he feels about it. Jesse glumly reports that he broke up with Andrea as it was inevitable. Walt cuts him short; he was asking about the money. Jesse reasons that ultimately they're getting a bigger piece of the pie than when they worked with Gus, so they shouldn't complain as ultimately they're still doing better and are their own bosses. Walt disagrees, and as they're about to leave, he brings up Victor - Maybe, he surmises, Gus didn't just kill Victor to send a message.

Official Photos


  • Walt and Walt Jr. watch a classic scene from the film Scarface (1983). Vince Gilligan has often described the character arc of Walter White as "Taking Mr. Chips and turning him into Scarface."
    • Interestingly, Scarface featured in supporting roles a number of actors who were also in Breaking Bad as supporting characters, including Mark Margolis (Hector Salamanca), Steven Bauer (Don Eladio) and Míriam Colón (Tuco's grandmother in Better Call Saul).
    • A scene with Walt and Walt Jr. watching Scarface originally appeared in the Pilot (2005 script) version of the spec script for "Pilot" but was removed before filming.
  • Hank Schrader does not appear in this episode. This is possibly because actor Dean Norris had gotten a new role on the CBS show Under the Dome, and had expressed a desire for the character to be killed off in 5A due to his new commitment.
  • This is Season 5's least-watched episode, only ranking 2.20 million, while others served as the most-watched episode of the series.
  • The title comes from Mike promising Dennis Markowski he'd get his hazard pay, and is also what Walt and Mike fight about in the end of the episode.
  • Vince Gilligan has stated he and his writers are proud of the new setup they have made for Walt and Jesse to transact cooking in. Though he has also stated that he doesn't know if setting up mobile meth labs in houses undergoing fumigation would work in real life, but if it were, it'd be a real challenge. 
  • This episode features the first appearance of Todd Alquist.
  • Vamonos Pest uses cyfluthrin for its fogging work, and also has a shelves full of bromadiolone and glyphosate (Roundup).
  • The paper strip that Walt drips a liquid onto to get a colour change is probably pH indicator paper. This suggests that Walt is using the pH of a mixture as a proxy for determining when a certain reaction has gone to completion.
  • The scene of Walt and Jesse drinking beer on the couch is used in The Simpsons Couch Gag in Season 24 Episode 17 'What Animated Women Want'
  • Walt tells Jesse at the end of the episode that maybe Victor 'flew too close to the sun.' Hank used this same line with Walt Jr. when Walt Jr. asked for the Dodge Challenger instead of a cheaper car. 
  • When Mike tells Walt that paying off the guys in prison is "what you do", Walt dismisses it as Mike wasting money on an unnecessary personal code, and opts to have them all killed instead. But in later episodes, Hank is pretty easily able to flip Huell by convincing him that Walt wants him dead as a "loose end". This actually reflected many real life cases, where crime bosses killed their subordinates too easily and those who still were alive quickly turned to the police in fear that they were going to be next. In other words, Mike's code is the intelligent, reasonable way of dealing with the world of drug-dealing. Mike knew what he was doing, and Walt just didn't have a clue. It's a subtle but key example of how Walt brought about his own downfall by trusting his own judgment above everyone else's, even though he really doesn't get how the criminal world works. This even explains how, in the finale, Walt is able to enlist Badger and Skinny Pete to help him with the Schwartzes: because Walt once made a point of setting Badger free from prison when he got stung by the cops instead of just killing him. Of course Badger stays loyal to Walt, and naturally enough, Skinny Pete, as a friend of Badger's, trusts Walt as well.
  • Mike's admonishment to Walt, "Just because you killed Jesse James...don't make you Jesse James," foreshadows Walt's train robbery two episodes later; in the same way (and at the approximate same time in the episode, in the same room) Walt in the next episode says "Nothing stops this train."



Featured Music

  • "Gambler's Guts (aka You Got The Guts?)" by Doghouse Lords (playing in Dan's headphones while Mike talks with Dennis)
  • "Los Galvez's y los Contrera's" by Sergio Caro (in the background at the tortilla factory)
  • "Solfeggietto No. 2 in C Minor, H 220, Wq. 117" by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, performed by Charles Baker as Skinny Pete (while he and Badger shop for roadie cases)
  • "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" by The Peddlers (while Jesse and Walt cook)
  • "Three Blind Mice (The Three Stooges Main Theme)" by Lyle Murphy (while Jesse and Walt watch TV during the cook)
  • "Seaside Hill" by Jun Senoue (video game background music)

Memorable Quotes

Saul: "So you bring him here? Come on! The three of us, we're the three amigos. All for one, one for all. We don't need a fourth amigo."
Walter: "Saul, Mike knows the business. He knows distributors."
Jesse: "Mike's okay."
Saul: "He's okay? He said he was gonna break my legs. And don't tell me he didn't mean it, okay? Because he gave me the dead mackerel eyes. He meant it."
Walter: "Saul, Mike threatened me. He threatened Jesse. He probably threatened someone before breakfast this morning. It's what he does. Come on, grow a pair."
―Walter, Jesse and Saul on partnering with Mike.

"Everyone dies in this movie, don't they?"
―Walt commenting on Scarface.

"Listen, Walter. Just because you shot Jesse James don’t make you Jesse James."
―Mike to Walter about the murder of Gus.