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"Hermanos" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of Breaking Bad and the forty-first episode altogether.

Summary

Teaser

In a flashback to the same previously seen hospital scene just after Hank Schrader's shooting ("I See You"), Walter White confronts Gustavo Fring about who was behind the attempt on his life. Mike Ehrmantraut slips away, unnoticed, after murdering the Cousin who survived the ambush. Later, still in flashback, Hector Salamanca seethes silently in a nursing home as he watches news coverage of the shootings. Gus drops by for a visit, switches off the TV set, props himself on a chair opposite Hector and offers to better recount the events for him personally. Almost victoriously Gus describes his nephews' - the Cousins' - deaths, and the cryptic warning Hank received before the attack, which, he relishes in pointing out, caused them to lose the upper hand and thereby their lives. Cartel boss Juan Bolsa is also dead, Gus reports with more sadistic glee. Hector is by now beside himself with rage, his red faced temper desperate to push through his paralysis, as Gus leaves him with a patronizing pat on the knee. As Don Hector rages, the screen cuts to water that grows tinged with blood.

Act I

Back in the present at an oncology clinic, another patient tries to commiserate with Walt, who is not in the mood to talk. Walt dismisses the young man's suggestion that cancer has put the man's life on hold. Later at the superlab, Gus observes Walt's every move on the security camera feed; despite his vehemence, Walt's not in charge of anything right now.

The DEA questions Gus

The APD and DEA summon Gus to APD headquarters, where he notices a Person-of-Interest sketch of Victor on a bulletin board. Hank Schrader, APD Detective Tim Roberts, Steven Gomez and ASAC George Merkert then greet a fully composed Gus. Tim reveals that Gus's fingerprints were found at a murder scene. Hank scrutinizes his every word and move intently and Gus summises they are referring to Gale Boetticher's apartment.

Gus explains Gale was given a chemistry scholarship that Gus established some years ago to honor Maximino Arciniega. Gale reestablished contact recently, and over dinner at Gale's apartment (thus explaining Gus's fingerprints) he proposed a vague investment opportunity that Gus declined. That would seem to explain everything, but Hank presses on before rattling off Gus's bio. Hank wonders why no record of Gus exists in Chile. This catches Gus by surprise, but he's perfectly composed, recovering instantly. Gus assures Hank that he'll locate documentation eventually if he persists.

Act II

After Gus departs, Hank and his colleagues discuss their impressions. Hank's colleagues are convinced by the scholarship story and his calm composure. It's good, Hank admits, though he wonders why a supposed law-enforcement booster, with so many 'cop buddies', didn't come forward sooner with information about a murder case he's been clearly aware of. Clearly, he's not satisfied. But the head detective reasons with Hank that they can't go around investigating people just because they failed to volunteer information.

Saul Goodman visits Andrea Cantillo at a house she's just rented in a nice neighborhood and delivers cash from Jesse Pinkman. Afterward, in Saul's car, a concerned Jesse asks about the house and Andrea's son, Brock. Saul then prods Jesse to check on them himself. At home, Skyler White conceals cash in vacuum-sealed plastic bags of clothes, and then hangs them in her closet. The weight of all the bags quickly sags, then snaps, the closet support rod. Desperate for a solution, she stashes the bags in the crawl space under the house. At dinner that night, Walt gives his family the news that his cancer is still in remission, much to all their relief. Marie Schrader mentions that Hank met with top DEA people about something. Uncomfortable, Hank changes the subject and asks Walt to drive him to a mineral show the next day. Walt, piqued by Marie's admission, agrees to pick up and drive Hank.

Hank and Walter at Los Pollos Hermanos

The next day as they drive Walt feigns interest in minerals but Hank soon admits there's no actual mineral show and instead directs Walt to the Los Pollos Hermanos parking lot. "Ready to get your mind blown?" Hank asks. He suspects Gus Fring is a major drug distributor, and to prove it, Hank wants Walt to plant a GPS tracker in the wheel-well of Gus's Volvo. While Hank gives an apprehensive Walt installation instructions, Mike pulls up beside Walt's car and stares him down. Walt, panicking, tries to dissuade Hank. Afterwards, Walt covertly exchanges some looks with Mike, then reluctantly exits the car. He approaches the Volvo and drops to his knee, but doesn't plant the device. He then proceeds into Los Pollos Hermanos, where Gus immediately greets him at the till. Walt tells Gus he didn't do it and begins flashing the GPS device and informing Gus of what's going down. Gus tells Walt to do it evenly, then repeats it when Walt dithers. He returns to the parking lot, drink order in hand, and this time plants the GPS tracker. Hank's unsure why Walt's returned to the car and winces at Walt's inept bungling, things not going quite as smoothly as he'd hoped. Returning to the car to Hank's puzzled looks, Walt explains he was just checking the device was securely attached on that second pass.

Act III

Back at the superlab, Walt rushes to the security camera and addresses Gus. Hank has no hard evidence and his colleagues don't buy his theory, Walt says, begging Gus not to harm Hank, as they have nothing on him. Later, Walt visits Jesse at home and says that Gus must be killed this week, preferably tonight. He updates Jesse on why the need urgency. No meetings with Gus are scheduled, says Jesse, but when Jesse briefly steps away, Walt surreptitiously reads an incoming text on Jesse's phone about a canceled meeting. "Boss is busy, will have to meet later" it reads. When Jesse returns, Walt informs him he probably has a call; then waits to check if Jesse will inform him or instead lie. When Jesse dismisses the call as nothing important, Walt is displeased, disappointed and concerned why Jesse is lying to him - but of that, he's just had proof of.

Act IV

Mike calls Gus the next day and reports to him that neither the DEA or the APD considers him a suspect and that Hank is operating completely on his own with limited resources at his disposal and risks hurting his career if he mentions Gus to Merkert again. Gus questions if there is a warrant on the tracking device on his car to which Mike says no. He claims all they need to do is watch their backs and thus Hank will never be able to make a case against them. Gus inquires about Chile and Mike says that if he can't find anything about Gus prior to 1989 than it is unlikely Hank can. Mike claims the Cartel is the bigger problem that can be managed however with Hank now in the picture there is a danger that he might be watching when the Cartel makes a move against Gus' operation and could result in a "perfect storm". Gus thanks him and says he will be in touch. Gus later removes the GPS tracker from his car and stows it on a nearby newspaper dispenser before he drives to the nursing home, where he informs Hector that he has defied the Cartel's ultimatum and that Hank is looking into Gus's past.

Gus and Max in 1989

In another flashback, it's 1989. Gus and his partner, Max Arciniega, sit poolside at a lavish Mexican hacienda. A younger and much sprightlier Don Hector walks out, urinates in the pool right next to them, and otherwise disrespects Gus and Max in front of Juan Bolsa (insinuating they "liked" watching him urinate - a probable dig at their sexuality.) Don Eladio Vuente -- the Cartel boss—strides out and compliments Gus and Max on their delicious chicken, saying that all his men love it. His demeanor changes, though, when he mentions that his men also get high on "metanfetamina" they receive from Gus and Max. Simply samples, Gus replies, for Don Eladio, to get his attention - insisting there was never monetary exchange for the drugs. Don Eladio calls meth the poor man's cocaine because there's no money in it. Max tells them that Gus is a honourable man who paid for all his studies. That he's now a trained biochemist and chemical engineer and can make a much superior product to what the Don is used to seeing - a very potent and pure crystal form of the product which he can teach his people to make. Gus points out that Don Eladio assumes great risk smuggling cocaine into the United States, but then must send much of the profit back to the Colombians, since coca leaves, the drug precursor plant, can't be grown in Mexico. With meth made locally, he'd control the entirety of the product and get to keep all of the profits for himself. This, they promise, would easily triple if not even quadruple, his profits.

Don Eladio, despite seemingly liking the idea, accuses Gus of insulting him by disrespecting him by selling under his nose, then manipulating him into a meeting in front of his own men. Gus apologizes and states he was merely using his initiative, but Max senses Don Eladio's anger, and the rising danger to Gus. While Max speaks about Gus' great skills and qualities, Hector steps up behind him and shoots him through the head. Juan Bolsa pushes Gus to the ground, and Hector places his foot on Gus's neck, forcing him to look into his partner's dead eyes, only inches away from his own, as Max bleeds out into the pool. Don Eladio tells Gus that he remains alive only because Don Eladio knows who he actually is. Back in the present at the nursing home, Gus leans in close to Don Hector. Hector refuses to look at Gus, his eyes fixed intently away from him. Gus leaves as Hector silently fuming in his chair.

Official Photos

Trivia

  • The "Hermanos" of the title is the Spanish word for : Brothers. ... The titles in BB usually refer to multiple points within an episode. The most obvious 'Hermanos' here probably alludes to the relationship between the two "brothers" at the centre of the 'Los Pollos Hermanos' franchise, i.e. Gus & Max - which is the main theme at the centre of this episode and explains the motivation for Gus' avenging of his dear "brother's" killing. ... The word, or sentiment of the word, 'brother' (or even the more urban 'brutha') can easily be exchangeable with the word 'partner', as it does here. It's been established that Gus & Max were not true 'brothers' in blood, but more so 'partner' brothers. (Plus, extended further, even quite possibly : 'partners' in the more gay/homosexual sense of the word - as has been established is probable they were.) ... So in that hermanos/partner sense, the title could also be referring to : Mike and Jesse's partnership, and how Walt might be feeling betrayed by his 'hermano' on discovering he's being lied to by his partner Jesse. ... Thirdly, at more of a stretch but still fits - it might also be referring to the 'brothers-in-law' double act of Hank and Walt, in the car with the tracking device. 'Brothers-in-law' directly translated is 'hermanos-en-ley', or more so 'hermanos políticos' / (and though that's strictly accurate, to be fair the more casual word 'cuñados' is more often used.)
  • Additionally, brothers may refer to The Cousins who were twin brothers. The Cousins' deaths were used as a trigger to enrage Hector Salamanca while Gustavo gloated.
  • From this episode we learn that Gus' killings have in fact been motivated not merely by 'business' but also, more deeply so, by revenge - a "blood for blood" revenge against Hector in particular and the Cartel in general for their killing of his partner Max. It's possible it was the loss of Max, his killing and Gus' avenging hand thereof, that's responsible for ultimately turning Gus into the ruthless killer/villain he becomes.
  • Although Gus and Max's deep relationship was never outright confirmed by the show as being a homosexual one, it was interpreted by many of the more astute viewers as certainly being so. Series creator Vince Gilligan has stated that he decided against the show officially confirming or denying whether or not Max and Gus were, in fact, a couple; however, he's also said that they "probably were lovers." Even Esposito himself (i.e. Giancarlo Esposito - the actor who portrayed Gus) interpreted the character as probably being gay.
  • Vince Gilligan has said Gus Fring was likely involved with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's government somewhere. However, the writers had deliberately not determined his entire back story in order to keep the character not only more interesting/mysterious but also allow them some greater flexibility for future episodes' story/character development. The two instances that demonstrate this likely involvement in said government, is 1) the fact that Gus apparently left Chile in 1986 - the very year of Pinochet's attempted assassination (by the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front) and 2) The fact that Hector Salamanca has referred to Gus as "Grand Generalissimo". The added tidbit that Don Eladio tells Gus that he knew who Gus was but he's "not in Chile anymore", hints at the probability that Gus held some sort of clout when back home that he no longer holds.
  • The first article of clothing that Skyler places along with the money in the vacuum bags is the pink sweater that Walt wore in the episode "ABQ."  The sweater is the same shade of pink as the Teddy Bear from the Wayfarer 515 crash.
  • Max Arciniega is the same name as the actor who played Krazy-8.
  • Steven Bauer and Mark Margolis reunite in this episode after having costarred in the 1983 hit ''Scarface'' about a similar theme only the drug in question was cocaine.

Production

Credits

Featured Music

  • '"Concerto for Flute, Harp & Orchestra in C major, K.299, Second movement, Andant'ino by W.A. Mozart" by Richard Edlinger and the Capella Istroplitana Ensemble with Hana Mullerova (Harp) and Jiri Valek (Flute) (in the waiting room before Walt's scan)
  • "Crickets Sing for Anamaria (Os Grilos)" by Walter Wanderley (while Skyler hides the money around the house)
  • "Grandparent's Polka [From "The Big Joe Polka Show"]" by Fritz's Polka Band (at Casa Tranquila when Gus visits Hector)

Filming Locations

Memorable Quotes

"Oh, to hell with your cancer. I’ve been living with cancer for the better part of a year. Right from the start, it’s a death sentence. It’s what they keep telling me. Well, guess what? Every life comes with a death sentence. So every few months, I come in here for my regular scan, knowing full well that one of these times– hell, maybe even today–I’m going to hear some bad news. But until then, who’s in charge? Me. That’s how I live my life."
―Walter to a patient whose cancer has just been diagnosed.


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