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 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.
Lydia is a long-time employee of the German manufacturing and shipping conglomerate Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, working out of their office in Houston, Texas. She was eventually promoted to Head of Logistics and was awarded a Platinum Award in recognition of "Outstanding Leadership in Business."
At some point she became a secret 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
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. ("")
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 a phony job title as a "logistic consultant," which exists as just a paper transaction in order to give him a legal means of transferring his ill-gotten money into a legal bank account. She also corrects Mike on how he doesn't really know Gus in assuming he is "just a drug dealer". ("")
Lydia summons Mike to ask him to stop testing the security of the Madrigal facilities. Mike refuses, reasoning 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 warns him not to lose it. Later, Lydia calls Gus to complain about Mike. Gus curtly ends the call and advises Lydia to give Mike a security badge if she does not want him to steal other employees. ("")
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-striken, 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 mandating 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.("")
After she provides Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Mike with a free shipment of methylamine, Mike tips off 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 ("").
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 conclude she must be spared so as to not slow down their meth distribution ("").
Mike, Walt, and Jesse kidnap Lydia and bring her to an abandoned warehouse. At Mike's orders, she calls Hank to report on finding the tracker. On a laptop, Jesse taps into a bug Walt planted in Hank's office, and they listen as Hank and Gomez puzzle over who planted tracker - supporting 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 did indeed tag 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 ("").
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, resulting in Mike and Jesse wanting out of the meth business ("").
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 ("").
A few months later, Walt retires from the meth business and leaves all the cooking to Todd, which results in a severe drop in the meth purity percentage. Lydia visits him at the A1A Car Wash, begging him to come back. Walt declines and confesses to Skyler White that she was one of his former business associates. Skyler angrily approaches Lydia and kicks her out ("").Lydia meets with Declan in the desert to discuss the falling standards of their business operation since Walt retired. She finds the lab incredibly dirty and is upset over the falling 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. At this point, Declan is called to investigate a disturbance outside, and orders Lydia to stay in the lab. Knowing what is to come 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 engineered, so she covers her eyes as Todd escorts her to the car (""). 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 him to do better in future cooks ("").
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 tries to call off their partnership, Todd informs her the quality of meth has improved and the color is once again blue, and she reconsiders (""). At this point, Todd is infatuated with Lydia, but she does not reciprocate his feelings.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 the 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, not knowing that all of Jack's neo-Nazis have just been killed by Walt and Jesse. Walt answers and reveals that he replaced the "Stevia crap" that she always puts in her tea with ricin, leaving Lydia to comprehend her fate as he hangs up on her ("").
The night after the massacre at the White Supremacist Compound, Jesse listens to a news report which mentions a police investigation into an unnamed woman from Houston—Lydia—who was poisoned by Walter White and is being investigated for 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. ("")
Personality and traits
- "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 shrewd comment to Walter White.
Lydia is a very high-strung and nervous character, and displays these characteristics even more so 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 causes her to go to lengths to make an 11-person kill list of everyone 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.
Despite her uptightness 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 very much in control of her destiny: she chooses time and again to pursue the lucrative meth business, completely insensitive to 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 fulfil 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.
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 a child than seeing her mother dead, showing possible hints to abandonment in her or her daughter's past. It is possible that the father walked out on them.
Lydia is, in many, ways, very much similar to Gus: Both are consummate business people, who dress perfectly and try to approach the meth trade with a degree of professionalism not normally seen in the "game". However, personalitywise, they are complete polar opposites: Gus is calm, unflinching and relatively reasonable, 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 vs. her using Jack Welker's gang to dispose of Declan and his crew - Gus moves between bodies without fear while taunting the remains of his enemies, while Lydia plugs her ears not to hear gunshots and later has to literally be guided by hand with her eyes closed through the carnage.
Personality wise, Lydia is also very much similar to Walter's own during the first season: She dispatched others to do her dirty work for her, and is a constant nervous wreck of her criminal life affecting her personal life. Just like Walter, Lydia is also 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, as he could implicate her. The big difference between the two is that Walt has no qualms with getting his own hands dirty, and has become hardened by his experiences while Lydia still depends on others to do dirty work for her, and is often reluctant to look upon death, particularly that which she had caused. This is contrasted in Better Call Saul, she is much more composed and confident back in 2003 in the early days of her involvement in investing and transportation of meth using the huge corporation she works for as a front and totally uncaring about Mike's questions when he wonders out loud in her office that she's risking a lot for just a drug dealer, which she scoffs at and says if he thinks that's all Gus Fring is a good example of that. This indicates that her personality has changed over the years of Lydia's involvement with Gus and the drug trade.
Murders Connected to Lydia
- Duane Chow: Shot by Chris Mara on orders from Lydia. ("")
- Gus's 10 former employees: Murdered by Jack's White Supremacist Gang on Walt's orders, with Lydia collaborating. ("")
- Declan: Shot by Jack Welker under Lydia's orders. ("")
- Declan's Cook: Shot by Todd Alquist and Jack and his white supremacist group. ("")
- Eight of Declan's men: Shot by Todd, Jack and his white supremacist group, along with Declan. ("")
- "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.
- 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.
- Lydia is the final character to be killed both in the show and by Walter.
- Lydia's final fate is foreshadowed by Walt's apparent aborted decision to poison her with ricin at The Grove in "". He later fatally poisons her in the same exact place using the predictability he noticed in her behavior 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 of the character 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 also 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," its 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 gave 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 even without treatment.
- It is Todd's fixation on Lydia that causes Jack not to kill Jesse in "" because if the gang quit making meth, there would be no reason to continue doing business with Lydia. This allows Jesse to go on living until he is rescued by Walt in "".
- 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.
- She 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.