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



Combo, casually sipping a fountain drink, is standing on a street corner. It becomes clear that he is selling, presumably on new territory. Near by, a young boy, Tomás Cantillo, is riding his bike. A car pulls up and Combo crosses the street to meet the two men inside.

When the two men don't respond, Combo raises his shirt and shows them the silver pistol in his waistband. The two men pull off. Combo returns back to the corner as the two men in the car then circle the block. They begin watching him as they sit at the intersection. Nervous, Combo calls Skinny Pete, telling him that he's "gettin' eyeballed hard" and may need backup. While he talks, Tomas circles him while riding his bike. Moments later, the driver honks the horn to his car. A split second later, Tomas produces a pistol and shoots Combo in the chest. The two of them both share terrified expressions. Tomas hesitates for a second, but then shoots Combo again. Combo drops his drink and tries to run away, yet he only makes it to the middle of the street before Tomas finishes him off. Tomas and the two dealers then flee the scene as Combo bleeds to death.

Act I

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

Over at Jesse Pinkman's apartment, Skinny Pete bemoans Jesse's mandate to expand their territory. "What'd you expect?" he asks, referring to Combo's murder. Jesse insists they're "on the verge of making some serious coin," but Pete wants out. "I'm on probation, man," he explains. Adding insult to injury, they've lost their street cred now that the "whole town" knows Jesse didn't actually kill Spooge.

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Walt and Jesse go to Saul Goodman's office, where their conversation quickly devolves into bicker over who's to blame for their setbacks. "Who do I look like, Maury Povich?" Saul interrupts. Delighted to learn they have thirty-eight pounds of meth, Saul says, "You're sitting on a gold mine." Walt and Jesse "suck at peddling meth," he concludes, but he offers to put them in touch with a cautious, low profile businessman who'll buy their product in bulk.

Later that day, Jesse asks Jane Margolis 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. A support meeting might help, Jane suggests, but Jesse rejects the idea. Jane starts to leave, but stops and follows Jesse into his bedroom.

Act II

Walt goes to a local Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant where he and Jesse are scheduled to meet Saul's businessman. Jesse arrives late, high, and agitated. "This is bullshit," Jesse tells Walt, annoyed that they don't even know their contact's name. "I'm outta here." Walt stays, hoping the businessman will show.

Skyler watches her unborn baby on an ultrasound monitor at the 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.

Jesse returns to his messy apartment. Rousing Jane, he says that they should drive to Santa Fe. "Sure," she groggily replies before loading more crystal into her pipe.

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.


Walt calls Saul, complaining that the businessman never showed up for their meeting. Saul informs Walt that the buyer was in fact there, but 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 heads back to Los Pollos Hermanos. He sits in the restaurant, eating and thinking, until it dawns on him that the restaurant's amiable manager is Saul's businessman. The manager, Gus Fring, feigns ignorance when Walt reveals his suspicions, but Walt persists. Walt says that he understands — he's cautious too — and that he deserves a second chance. "You are not a cautious man at all," Gus replies. "Your partner was late. And he was high." Walt touts his impeccable product and maintains that he can trust Jesse. "Thirty-eight pounds. Ready to go at a moment's notice," Walt adds. Gus walks away, warning Walt, "You can never trust a drug addict."

Skyler shows Ted some irregularities she discovered on the company's books. He tries to convince Skyler it's nothing, but eventually admits he's committing major fraud to keep the company alive and save everyone's job. "I'm not going to turn you in, Ted," Skyler says. "But I can't be a part of it."

Jesse sits in his recliner listening as Skinny Pete leaves a voicemail recap of Combo's funeral. "Man, it was, like… emotional," Pete says. Jane arrives with heroin and two hypodermic needles. With swift precision, she mixes up a meth and heroin speedball. "What's it feel like?" Jesse asks. "There's a chill," she answers. "And then… you'll see." Kissing him she adds, "I'll meet you there."

Act IV

Walt's cell phone, hidden in his classroom's ceiling, vibrates while his students take an exam. Upon retrieving it after class he reads the 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. As Walt leaves, Gus's henchman Victor stops him and tells him to deliver the 38 pounds of meth to a local truck stop within the hour, or never show his face at the restaurant again.

Racing away in his car, Walt leaves a phone message for Jesse: "I need the product now!"

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Skyler, meanwhile, has decided to return to Beneke despite Ted's fraud. Sitting at her desk lamenting her decision, she goes into labor.

Walt bangs on Jesse's front door. No one answers. Skyler calls as Walt stands on Jesse's front porch, but Walt doesn't answer his phone. Walt rushes to Jesse's backyard and breaks down the door with a flower pot. Walt slaps and splashes water on a zonked out Jesse, frantically trying to find out where he stashed the meth. "In the kitchen. Under the sink," Jesse mumbles before passing out again.

While stuffing the bundles of meth into a garbage bag, Walt ignores another call from Skyler. When his phone chirps, Walt stops to read a text message: "BABY COMING!!!" He starts to smile, but quickly reconsiders, "Not now. Not now!" Back to business, Walt hoists the garbage bag over his shoulder and rushes out the door.

Official Photos


  • 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.
  • When Walt is supervising the exam in his classroom, a note on the blackboard, "Test today", is seen behind him. This may be a reference to the test Walt is about to face in complying with Victor's instructions.
  • 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 Chrysler).
  • 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 until 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 his 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
  • Walt's act of breaking down Jesse's back door with a flower pot was similar to his later failed attempt to break Ted Beneke's window with a large potted tree ("Green Light")
  •[1] is a real web page in real life. If you click on the "donate" button it will automatically take you to the AMC's breaking bad web page.
Mandala mistake

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

  • 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.





  • 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.

"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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