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You are tying up loose ends, and I don't want to be one of them. Once I give you that list, I've served my purpose, and then maybe I'm just one more person who knows too much.
― Lydia's shrewd comment to Walter White[src]

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle is the head of Logistics at Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, and is based at their office in Houston, Texas.


Warning, the following may contain spoilers.

She supplied methylamine to Gustavo Fring prior to the collapse of Gus' Drug Empire, and later aligned herself with Walt's Drug Empire and eventually with Jack Welker's Gang. She was also a single mother, raising a young daughter named Kiira Rodarte-Quayle.

After Gus' death, Lydia asks Mike Ehrmantraut to eliminate any loose ends that might connect her to the world of organized crime. When Mike refuses, she hires someone else to kill Mike and Gus' other associates. Mike outmaneuvers the hitman, and nearly kills Lydia for her deception. At the last minute, he offers clemency on the condition that she supplies methylamine to Walt's new meth operation.

When a GPS tracking device is discovered on the barrel of methylamine that Lydia planned to give Jesse, Mike suspects Lydia is working with the DEA. He insists to Walt and Jesse that she needs to be killed, until they discover that the DEA secretly planted tracking devices on every methylamine barrel in the Madrigal warehouse. Since her supply is now compromised, Lydia tries to regain her value before the guys decide to kill her anyway. She tells Walt about a train carrying a huge amount of methylamine through New Mexico, and helps them plan the perfect robbery.

After Walt kills Mike, he obtains the names of Gus' imprisoned associates from Lydia and has them killed. Knowing that she's next on the chopping block, Lydia finds another way to become invaluable to Walt: she becomes his business partner, expanding his meth empire to Europe. Business thrives for months, until Walt decides to quit. Lydia then helped Jack Welker's Gang improve the quality of their meth. After deciding to kill everyone who betrayed him, Walt fatally poisoned Lydia with ricin. News reports shortly thereafter revealed Lydia to be under investigation for her ties to Walter White and to not be expected to survive her poisoning.

Biography

Early career

Lydia is a long-time employee of the German manufacturing and shipping conglomerate Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, operating out of their office in Houston, Texas. She was eventually promoted to Head of Logistics and awarded a Platinum Award in recognition of "Outstanding Leadership in Business." She was at one point possibly married or in a relationship, and eventually had a daughter named Kiira. However, it appears that Lydia's partner or husband left the both of them, leaving Lydia to raise her daughter alone.

At some point she became a partner to Gustavo Fring and Peter Schuler in their secret meth operation, assisting Fring in his distribution network and helping him procure necessary chemicals, equipment, and resources to aid in his expanding empire.

Better Call Saul

Season 3

Lydia and Gus in 2003. ("Off Brand")

In 2003, Lydia is present when Gus looks around the Lavandería Brillante industrial laundry complex when it was put up for sale. Gus told her that "it could work," in reference to its suitability as a site for what would become the superlab. ("Off Brand")

Later, Lydia met Mike Ehrmantraut when he came to the Madrigal office in Houston. She explained to him the process of laundering his money, giving him the phony job title "logistic consultant," which exists as merely a paper transaction in order to give him legal means of transferring his illegally obtained money into a bank account. She also corrects Mike on how he doesn't really know Gus in assuming he is "just a drug dealer". ("Fall")

Season 4

Lydia calls Gus to complain about Mike. ("Breathe")

Lydia summons Mike to ask him to stop testing the security of the Madrigal facilities. Mike refuses, asserting that publicly performing his duties as Madrigal's security consultant reinforces his cover story. Finding herself at an impasse with Mike, Lydia warns him that he still has Gus's respect and advises him not to lose it. Later, Lydia calls Gus to complain about Mike. Gus curtly ends the call and tells Lydia to give Mike a security badge if she does not want him to steal other employees. ("Breathe")

Season 5

Lydia visits her boss in his hotel room after a board meeting of Madrigal CEOs in Houston. They meet with Gustavo Fring to discuss Lalo Salamanca, who had been causing serious trouble for Gus's business despite being incarcerated. Lydia suggests that he should be assassinated in jail, an idea Gus dismisses due to the suspicion it would cast on him. ("JMM")

Breaking Bad

Season 5

After Gus's death, Lydia attended a meeting between Madrigal's management and the DEA. She later met with Mike Ehrmantraut at a diner, who refused her request to kill eleven men in custody who could connect her to Gus. Panic-stricken, Lydia approached one of Mike's men, Chris Mara, with an offer of $30,000 to kill Mike and $10,000 for each man on the list. Mike reluctantly kills Chris.

Later, Mike travels to Houston and sneaks into Lydia's house (also occupied by her daughter Kiira and a hired nanny) to kill her for ordering the deaths of Chris and Duane Chow. Lydia begs him to leave her body in the house so that her daughter won't think she was abandoned. On the verge of shooting her, he hesitates and asks if she can still get her hands on methylamine. ("Madrigal")

After she provides Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Mike with a free shipment of methylamine, Mike alerts Lydia that the police are about to show up at her office. Lydia escorts Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez to the Madrigal warehouse and leads them to Ron Forenall, the supervisor, who is arrested. A hysterical Lydia calls Mike, explaining that she cannot supply more methylamine without someone in the warehouse. On a later evening, Lydia opens a loading bay door to find Jesse outside, who has been sent to collect methylamine barrels that Lydia has erased from inventory. However, Lydia finds a GPS tracker affixed to one of the barrels ("Fifty-One").

When Mike learns that Lydia was the one who spotted the tracker, he assumes she planted it to extricate herself from the meth business. Mike wants to kill her, but Jesse and Walt insist she must be spared so as to not slow down their meth distribution ("Fifty-One").

Mike threatening Lydia. ("Dead Freight")

Mike, Walt, and Jesse kidnap Lydia and bring her to an abandoned warehouse. On Mike's orders, she calls Hank to report the tracker. Using a laptop, Jesse taps into a bug Walt planted in Hank's office, and they listen as Hank and Gomez puzzle over who planted the tracker - reinforcing Mike's belief that Lydia staged it. As Lydia protests her innocence, the group listens as Hank calls the Houston DEA office and learns that they tagged all of the barrels. Still, Mike maintains they should kill Lydia. Desperate, Lydia blurts out that she can direct them to "an ocean" of methylamine in exchange for her safety ("Dead Freight").

Lydia telling Mike, Jesse, and Walt how to pull off the train heist. ("Dead Freight")

Lydia lays down a map revealing the route for a train carrying a tanker car full of methylamine. She zeroes in on a three-mile stretch of "dark territory" - a dead zone for all lines of communication - and suggests they rob the train there. Mike, Walt, Jesse and Todd Alquist successfully pull off the train heist, stealing 1,000 gallons of methylamine. Following the heist, Todd shoots a young boy named Drew Sharp, whom he believed saw too much, prompting Mike and Jesse to retire from the meth business ("Dead Freight").

Later at a coffee shop, Walt asks Lydia for the names of Mike's men. Concerned that Walt will kill her once she gives up the list, Lydia argues for her continued usefulness by proposing he use Madrigal's resources to expand the business into the Czech Republic. Walt hears her out, and agrees to a trial run of her plan. Pleased, she shakes his hand and gives him the names. After she exits, Walt uncovers the ricin vial that he'd intended to poison her with: she'd been right about his intentions after all. As Walt and Todd cook batch after batch, Lydia ships the meth to the Czech Republic in oil drums using her Madrigal connections ("Gliding Over All").

Lydia discusses with Walt about the falling quality of the meth being produced. ("Blood Money")

A few months later, Walt retires from the meth business and leaves the cooking to Todd, resulting in a noticable decrease in purity percentage. Lydia visits Walt at the A1A Car Wash, begging him to come back. Walt declines and confesses to Skyler White that Lydia was one of his former business associates. Skyler angrily approaches Lydia and kicks her out ("Blood Money").

Lydia inside Declan's meth lab. ("Buried")

Lydia meets with Declan in the desert to discuss the steady decline of their business operation since Walt retired. She finds the lab incredibly dirty, and laments over the decrease in quality. She suggests that Declan use Todd as a meth cook, pointing out that Todd's first cook without Heisenberg was 74% pure. Declan refuses, much to Lydia's disappointment. Following the disagreement, Declan is called to investigate a disturbance outside, and orders Lydia to stay in the lab. Knowing what is coming next, Lydia cowers in the bus and covers her ears; shooting is heard outside, and when Todd opens the hatch to the lab, it is revealed that Todd, his uncle Jack Welker, and Jack's White Supremacist Gang have killed Declan and his men. Lydia does not wish to see the carnage left by the coup she orchestrated, so she covers her eyes as Todd escorts her to the car ("Buried"). Following the heist of Declan's equipment and methylamine, she is present for Todd's first solo cook. She is upset at the poor quality of his meth, as well as the lack of blue color, and demands he do better in future cooks ("To'hajiilee").

After Walt is exposed as Heisenberg and flees to New Hampshire, Lydia and Todd meet at the The Grove to talk about the future of their deal and their freedom. Lydia hints that she thinks Skyler should be killed, but Todd insists they have intimidated her enough. As Lydia attempts to call off their partnership, Todd informs her that the quality of their meth has improved and the color is once again blue, and she reconsiders ("Granite State"). At this point, Todd is infatuated with Lydia, but she does not reciprocate his feelings.

Lydia, sick from the ricin, which leads to her demise. ("Felina")

Several months later, Lydia meets Todd at the cafe, where they are suddenly confronted by a returning Walt, whose worsened condition shocks Lydia. Walt offers to show them how to cook meth without methylamine in exchange for $1 million. Lydia feigns interest, and arranges for Walt to meet with Jack's group that evening. Once Walt is gone, she informs Todd that they will not be doing a deal with Walt, but killing him. That night, a visibly under-the-weather Lydia calls Todd to confirm that the task has been carried out, unaware that all of Jack's neo-Nazis have just been killed by Walt and Jesse. Walt answers Todd's phone and reveals that he replaced the "Stevia crap" she always puts in her tea with ricin, leaving Lydia to reckon with her fate as he hangs up on her ("Felina").

El Camino

The night after the massacre at Jack's compound, Jesse listens to a news report that mentions the police investigation surrounding an unnamed woman from Houston—Lydia—who was poisoned by Walter White, and is being investigated for her ties to him. The report states that while Lydia is still alive, she is in critical condition and not expected to survive. She presumably dies shortly thereafter. ("El Camino")

Personality and traits

"It's that Lydia woman, you're sweet on her, you little bastard. Hey, Kenny, you believe this? Come on, you can do better! I mean, that one's so uptight she's probably got a wood-chipper for a coochie. Stick in down there you're pulling back a stump. Aw, what the hell. The heart wants what the heart wants, right?"
Jack Welker teasing his nephew over his feelings for Lydia

Lydia talking to Mike. ("Madrigal")

Lydia is a very high-strung and nervous character, and displays these characteristics even more when she is under stress. She seems to suffer from panic attacks based on the fact that she will sometimes breathe quickly and lightly from her upper-chest, rather than taking deep breaths from her diaphragm. Lydia may have abetted Gus' criminal activities (de-listing methylamine barrels as they arrive, which Ron Forenall then ships to Golden Moth Chemical, which Duane Chow then ships to the lab), but it is clear that she is much more concerned about the blowback from Gus' death landing on her. This fear drives her to make an 11-person hit list of anyone who might tie her to the superlab and Gus's drug empire, and asks Mike to take care of them all.

Right before Hank and the other agents show up at the Houston office, Lydia realizes that she has put on two different shoes, and after the DEA leaves she screams into a throw pillow. It is revealed that Hank did not miss that clue to Lydia's possible involvement as a link between "Burgermeister Meisterburger" in the German home office of Madrigal and Ron in the warehouse. Lydia is also prone to exaggeration, telling Mike that 14 DEA agents were screaming and yelling at her, and swarming all over the warehouse.

Ultimately, Lydia's neuroticism is her fatal flaw. Walt poisoned the tea she obsessively drinks to ease her anxiety. He relies on the fact that she will use the Stevia, as her perfectionism and compulsivity will not allow her to enjoy the tea in any other way.

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, Madrigal executive.

Despite her neuroticism and energy, she can be cunning and quite ruthless when it comes to eliminating (such as Chow) or ratting out (such as Ron) other members of the organization to save herself. She is cold and calculating, and seems much in control of her destiny; she chooses time and again to pursue the lucrative meth business, completely unperturbed by the human cost. She gets lucky, though, when implacable, unstoppable Mike chooses to let her live instead of leaving her dead in a ditch somewhere. Now bartering methylamine for her life, Lydia gets lucky once again when she and Jesse discover DEA trackers attached to the barrels of methylamine they're about to steal, saving them all from prison.

However, since that means she's no longer useful to the meth operation, her life is forfeit until she suggests a heist on a train which is carrying a tanker of methylamine, to fulfill all their precursor needs. Even when she is terrified and backed into a corner, Lydia has the audacity to ask for a cut of the money from the train heist.

Lydia standing with Jesse in the warehouse.

In addition, when Mike was ready to kill her in her own home after she ordered the hit on him, she pleaded to Mike not to make her "disappear," even if her daughter saw the body. She wanted her daughter to see the body if Mike killed her so she would know her mother hadn't abandoned her. She seemed to see abandonment as far worse to scar for a child than seeing her mother dead, showing possible hints to abandonment in her past. It is possible that the father walked out on them.

The paranoiac and anxious nature of her personality is contrasted in Better Call Saul. In the early days of her involvement in the drug trade, she seems much more confident and collected. This distinction indicates that her demeanor greatly changed as her involvement with Gus Fring and the drug trade grew deeper.

Lydia is in many ways similar to Gus. Both are consummate business people, who dress perfectly and try to approach their operations with a degree of professionalism unusual for the meth trade. However, personality-wise, they are polar opposites: Gus is calm, calculated, and unflinching, while Lydia is paranoid, unpredictable, and unwilling to accept the brutality of the drug world. The contrast is best illustrated in Gus' massacre of the cartel as opposed to Lydia's using Jack Welker's gang to dispose of Declan and his crew. Gus composedly steps over bodies, reveling in exacting his violent revenge. Adversely, Lydia plugs her ears so as not to hear gunshots, and covers her eyes as she is guided through the carnage.

Lydia also shares traits with Walter. She dispatches others to do her dirty work for her, resulting in mental anguish as she struggles to maintain a separation between her personal life and criminal activity. Just like Walter, Lydia is obsessed with cutting off any loose ends that may implicate her, and even displays some of Walt's cold arrogance when she orders the death of Walter himself. To both characters, the ends always justify the means. The difference between the two is that Walt has no qualms with getting his hands dirty, and has become hardened by his experiences. Lydia, however, is totally dependent on others to carry out her nefarious deeds, and is often reluctant to look upon death, particularly that which she had caused.

Murders Connected to Lydia

Appearances

Breaking Bad

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5A
Season 5B

Better Call Saul

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6

Quotes

"Sorry, but I'm not gonna apologize for being careful - with all that's been happening, for all I knew you were one of those undercover people they send into high schools, so, yeah, I'll take paranoid any day over getting gang-raped by prison guards."
―Lydia talking to Jesse Pinkman.[src]

Hank: "What about that Lydia what's-her-name? Lady Banjo-Eyes at the warehouse?"
Gomez: "In this world? No way. Too uptight. Too together."
Hank: "Maybe. She was wearing mismatched shoes. How together can she be?"
Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez discussing Lydia's involvement.[src]

Mike: "You don't know this woman like I do. I had a chance to deal with this before, and I gave her a pass. That's what I get for being sexist. Now if you'll excuse me..."
Jesse: "Mike, you can't, just—Look, that's our precursor. We need her."
Mike: "Kid, if we have to ramp down for a while, so be it. It beats working with a lunatic who's gonna get us arrested or killed."
Jesse: "Look, she didn't seem crazy to me, you know? She just seemed, like, uptight."
Mike: "And now you're being sexist. Trust me, this woman deserves to die as much as any man I've ever met."
―Jesse and Mike discussing Mike's plan to kill Lydia.[src]

Jesse: "I hate to say it, but she's right, Mike. She saved our asses by finding that thing."
Mike: "She's saving herself. She's a loose cannon. I am telling you, she will turn a gun or a badge on us the first chance she gets. The woman put a hit out on me."
Walter: "Seriously?"
―Jesse, Walt, and Mike discussing the captured Lydia.[src]

Lydia: "Hey! You still need methylamine, don't you? Right? You wanna talk methylamine? Then tell your partner to stop threatening me, and let's talk."
Walter: "Talk about what? You heard. You can't even get us a single barrel."
Lydia: "Who said anything about barrels? I'm talking about an ocean of the stuff."
―Lydia bartering with methylamine for her life.[src]

Walt: "Hello?"
Lydia: "Is it done? Is he gone?"
Walt: "Yeah, it's done. He's gone. They're all gone."
Lydia: "Todd? Who is this?"
Walt: "It's Walt. How are you feeling? Kind of under the weather? Like you've got the flu? That would be the ricin I gave you. I slipped it into that Stevia crap that you're always putting in your tea."
Lydia: "Oh my god."
Walt: "Well, goodbye Lydia."
―Walt reveals to Lydia that he has poisoned her.[src]

"The drug kingpin once known throughout the Southwest as Heisenberg may yet claim a final victim. Texas authorities investigating the poisoning of a Houston woman are looking into her possible connection to Walter White's criminal organization. The unnamed woman, who is hospitalized in critical condition, is not expected to survive."
―A news reporter discussing Lydia's fate.[src]


Trivia

  • Lydia is the final character to be killed both in the show and by Walter.
  • Lydia's fate is foreshadowed by Walt's aborted decision to poison her with ricin at The Grove in "Gliding Over All". He later fatally poisons her in the same place, using the behavior he noticed during their earlier meetings there.
  • Lydia is fluent in German and possibly other languages. However, her pronunciation appears to be very poor. Actress Laura Fraser claims to have gotten the role after lying about her ability to speak German.
  • Lydia is technically still alive at the end of the series, but it is assumed she died from the ricin shortly after. While some believe that Lydia did survive, it must be noted that the ricin Walt gave her was weapons-grade ricin extracted by a master chemist, not stuff made in a basement by an amateur. In "El Camino," it is stated that she is in critical condition and not expected to survive.
    • In real life, if Lydia sought emergency care immediately after learning she had been poisoned, it is likely she would have survived. According to Dave Trumbore, co-author of "The Science of Breaking Bad": since Walt told her the exact manner of her poisoning and she had been exposed to the ricin about 12 hours earlier, giving her plenty of time to seek medical attention, she could have survived anywhere from 36 to 72 hours without treatment.
  • It is Todd's fixation on Lydia that causes Jack not to kill Jesse in "Granite State", because if the gang quit making meth, there would be no reason to continue doing business with Lydia. This results in Jesse's imprisonment in a cage, until he is rescued by Walt in "Felina".
  • It is probable Lydia used a surrogate when welcoming her daughter based on the prequel. Mike states Kiira is five years old in Fifty-One (5x02) of Breaking Bad, which takes place on September 7, 2009 (Walter's 51st birthday). This means she would likely be born sometime around or before September 7, 2004.
    • Lydia's appearance in JMM (5x07) in the prequel, Better Call Saul occurs between May 8-10, 2004, which either contradicts Kiira's age or confirms she used a surrogate. If she did not use a surrogate, Lydia would be either heavily pregnant or shortly postpartum, which does not seem to be the case.
  • Lydia is seen driving several rental cars, including:
  • Both Tuco and Lydia have said the sentence "We're going to make a lot of money together" to Walt.
  • Lydia's name is the last word Walt says before dying, and to an extent, the last word in the entire series.
  • Lydia is the only female character among the additional main cast in Breaking Bad.
  • Lydia enjoys wearing red-soled Louboutin high heels.
  • In Breaking Bad, Lydia never meets Walter Jr. and Marie. Lydia is never seen on screen with Gus, but it is clear that they did know each other.
    • In Better Call Saul, Lydia and Gus are shown together in a couple of episodes.
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