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"Mandala" is the eleventh episode of the second season of Breaking Bad and the eighteenth episode altogether.

Summary[]

Teaser[]

Casually sipping a fountain drink, Combo is standing on a street corner, selling Walt's meth in new territory. A car pulls up and Combo is silently confronted by two rival dealers inside. After Combo raises his shirt and shows them the pistol in his waistband, the dealers drive off. Combo returns back to the corner as the two men circle the block and park, watching him from a nearby intersection. Worried, Combo calls Skinny Pete and asks for backup. While he talks, a young boy circles him on his bicycle. Moments later, the dealers honk the horn of their car, signaling the boy to draw a pistol and shoot Combo in the chest. Combo tries to flee, but only makes it to the middle of the street before the boy finishes him off. The boy and the dealers then flee the scene as Combo bleeds to death.

Act I[]

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Walt and Skyler meet with Dr. Delcavoli and Dr. Victor Bravenec, a thoracic surgeon. Dr. Bravenec tells Walt he is a candidate for an aggressive but risky lobectomy surgery to remove his lung tumor. Learning that he's "just waiting for the cancer to spread" if he passes on the opportunity, Walt agrees to the surgery even though the bill could run as high as $200,000.

Later that day, Jesse calls Walt to inform him of Combo's death, only for Walt to admit to not even remembering which one of the three dealers Combo was, causing Jesse to hang up in disgust. At Jesse's apartment, Skinny Pete bemoans Jesse's mandate to expand their territory and is quitting Walt's meth business, saying that they have lost their street cred now that everyone knows Jesse didn't actually kill Spooge.

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Walt and Jesse visit Saul's office, where their conversation quickly devolves into an argument over who's to blame for their setbacks. Saul puts a stop to the argument and after checking with Jesse that Combo didn't have anything identifying him as one of their dealers, says that the police are unlikely to spend much effort investigating his death. Walt angrily complains that their distribution network has completely collapsed, leaving them with no way of shifting the thirty-eight pounds of meth they have on hand after their recent cooking session. Saul is momentarily stunned by this quantity, and then bluntly tells them that they "suck at peddling meth," but offers to put them in touch with a cautious, low-profile businessman who will buy their entire stock in bulk.

Later that day, Jesse asks Jane to leave his apartment; he feels responsible for Combo's death and needs to smoke some crystal, but doesn't want her to risk a relapse. Jane suggests a support group meeting, but Jesse rejects the idea. Jane starts to leave, but turns around and enters Jesse's bedroom.

Act II[]

Walt goes to a local fast food restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, where he and Jesse are scheduled to meet Saul's businessman. Jesse arrives late, high, and agitated. They are briefly interrupted by what seems to be the manager, who asks them if they are enjoying their meal before leaving. Annoyed that they don't even know their contact's name, Jesse quickly leaves. However, Walt stays, hoping the businessman will show.

Later, Skyler watches her unborn baby on an ultrasound monitor at her OB/GYN's office. Walt is late, but he arrives before Skyler decides to schedule a C-section rather than going through a potentially difficult labor.

Meanwhile, Jesse returns to his messy apartment, where Jane has relapsed. The couple decide to go on the Santa Fe trip Jane previously planned.

At Beneke Fabricators, Skyler attends an office birthday party for Ted. Although she's reluctant at first, she grants Ted's birthday wish for a sultry rendition of Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Ted kisses her on the cheek.

Act III[]

Walt calls Saul, complaining that the businessman never showed up for their meeting. Saul informs Walt that the contact was in fact there, but that he's no longer interested in working with them. Walt demands a second chance, but according to Saul, "with this particular individual, all you get is the one shot." Walt returns to Los Pollos Hermanos and sits at a booth for several hours, eating and thinking, until it dawns on him that the restaurant's amiable, unassuming manager actually did make contact with them by asking them how their food was. The manager feigns ignorance when Walt reveals his suspicions, but Walt persists. Walt says that he understands the man’s cautiousness, and feels that he deserves a second chance. His demeanor changing instantly, the manager counters that Walt is "not a cautious man at all,” and proceeds to criticize Jesse for being late and high. Walt maintains that he trusts Jesse because he "does what I say," and assures him that he can move the thirty-eight pounds of meth at a moment's notice. The man's face remains unmoved, and he simply walks away, warning Walt, "You can never trust a drug addict." Pressing his luck, Walt asks if he will be in touch, and the manager reassumes his public mask and pleasantly confirms he has Walt’s number.

Skyler shows Ted some irregularities she discovered on his company's accounting books that prove that over a million dollars of revenue have been unreported. Ted attempts to chalk it up as a mistake, but Skyler reveals she continued digging and found falsified documents; Ted then admits he's been committing tax fraud for years to keep the company afloat and all of his workers employed. He then asks her not to report the crime; Skyler responds that while she won't turn him in, she can no longer work for the company.

At his apartment, Jesse sits in his recliner listening as Skinny Pete leaves a voicemail recap of Combo's funeral. Jane arrives and introduces Jesse to heroin, handing him one of two hypodermic needles. She mixes up a meth and heroin speedball for both of them and Jesse is immediately overwhelmed by the resulting high.

Act IV[]

At the high school, Walt's second cell phone vibrates in his classroom's ceiling while his students are taking a test. After initially chastising the class for one of them having their phone on, he barely dismisses it as "the pipes." Upon retrieving it after class, Walt reads a single text message: "POLLOS." Walt rushes to the Los Pollos Hermanos and is surprised to discover a different person running the restaurant. The manager on duty tells Walt that the man he mistook for the manager is actually the owner, Gustavo, or Gus. As Walt leaves, a henchman for Gus stops him and informs him that Gus is offering $1.2 million for the thirty-eight pounds of meth and that he is to deliver it at a local truck stop within the hour; if he fails to do so, he is to never show his face at the restaurant again. Racing away in his car, Walt leaves a phone message for Jesse that he needs their math, although Jesse does not answer.

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Meanwhile, Skyler has decided to go back to working for Ted, although she is conflicted. However, while she is sitting at her desk lamenting her decision, she goes into labor.

Reaching the duplex, Walt bangs on Jesse's front door, although he does not answer. Skyler tries to call Walt while he's on Jesse's front porch, but he doesn't answer his phone. Walt rushes around to Jesse's back door and after getting no response, breaks through the door. Walt tries to awaken a passed-out Jesse, frantically trying to find out where he stashed the meth. Jesse mumbles that the meth is under his kitchen sink before passing out again.

While stuffing the bundles of meth into a garbage bag, Walt ignores another call from Skyler. Skyler then texts him that the baby is coming. He starts to smile, but realizes that he has to miss the birth of his daughter in order to make the meeting with Gus. Walt hoists the garbage bag over his shoulder and rushes out the door.

Official Photos[]

Trivia[]

Mandala mistake

Mysterious person in Jesse's apartment on the left-hand side.

  • This episode marks the first appearance of drug kingpin Gustavo Fring.
  • "Mandala" means "Circle" in Sanskrit, which is a reference to the Buddhist teaching of "wheel of life", as the episode starts with the death of Combo and ends with Skyler going into labor.
  • Walt gets the "POLLOS" text from Gus, goes to Pollos Hermanos, doesn't find Gus, and asks the manager for Gus's phone number. Walt's phone should have recorded the number that the text came from. This might not have been the number Walt needed, but he could have tried it.
  • Victor tells Walt to bring the meth to a truck stop "two miles south of Exit 13 on the 25." Presumably this is I-25, which does run through Albuquerque but exits on I-25 in Albuquerque run from 220 to 234. There is no Exit 13 on I-25 in New Mexico, but if it existed it would be a bit north of Las Cruces, over 200 miles south. There's no way Walt could make this in an hour (even if he already had the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8).
  • The scene where Jesse begins his heroin high and appears to physically float up into the air was filmed with practical effects. A wooden board was placed under Aaron Paul and lifted upwards with a crane which had the camera attached.
    • According to the commentary there was a real, former heroin addict on set to consult the actors. Aaron Paul recalls that the former addict's hands were shaking and nervous because he hadn't prepared heroin in a long time.
    • On the set they had Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" playing in the background, however it was changed to "Enchanted" by The Platters in the final cut.
  • There is an additional person, presumably a film crew member, who can be seen through Jesse's doorway while Walt is carrying the bag of meth after collecting it from the sink.
  • The cup Combo drops while fleeing is empty, doesn't have the straw, and the pavement where he was standing is dry when it should be wet from the spilled soda.
    • The cup used does have the bullet hole but this is only visible by watching frame-by-frame.

Production[]

Credits[]

Co-Starring

Uncredited

  • John Augustini as Tim
  • Unknown actress as Lucy
  • Unknown actor as Bob
  • Karen M. Hudson as Office Worker
  • Z. Ray Wakeman as Los Pollos Hermanos Patron

Filming Locations[]

Featured Music[]

  • "Electricity in my Bones" by The High Plane Drifters (playing in the car of someone Combo serves)
  • "Happy Birthday To You" by Patty & Mildred J. Hill, performed by Anna Gunn (as Skyler) in the style of Marilyn Monroe (at Ted's birthday party)
  • "Enchanted" by The Platters (as Jesse shoots heroin for the first time)
  • "Baby's Coming" by Dave Porter (as Walt retrieves the meth)

Memorable Quotes[]

"Look, let's start with some tough love, alright? Ready for this? Here it goes: you two suck at peddling meth. Period."
―Saul explaining the situation to Walter and Jesse.
"Let's just say I know a guy who knows a guy... who knows another guy."
―Saul on contacting Gustavo Fring.
"I don't think we're alike at all, Mr. White. You're not a cautious man at all. Your partner was late. And he was high."
―Gus to Walter.


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