Madrigal (Breaking Bad)

"Madrigal" is the second episode of the fifth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 48th episode overall. Written by series creator Vince Gilligan and directed by Michelle MacLaren, it originally aired on AMC in the United States on July 22, 2012.

Breaking Bad episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 2
Directed byMichelle MacLaren
Written byVince Gilligan
Produced byBryan Cranston, Diane Mercer, Stewart A. Lyons
Featured musicDave Porter
Cinematography byMichael Slovis
Editing byKelley Dixon
Original air dateJuly 22, 2012 (2012-07-22)
Running time47 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Live Free or Die"
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"Hazard Pay"
Breaking Bad (season 5)
List of Breaking Bad episodes

"Madrigal" was seen by an estimated 2.29 million American household viewers. It received highly positive reviews from critics, with one citing it as an example of great artistic directing in a television series.


In Hannover, Germany, Peter Schuler, an executive for Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, the parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos, kills himself with a portable defibrillator after police arrive to question him about his longstanding ties to Gus. Back in Albuquerque, Jesse panics over the missing ricin cigarette, worried that someone will find it and get poisoned. Walt hides the vial of ricin behind an electrical outlet cover in his house and creates a fake one, planting it in Jesse's Roomba when he helps search Jesse's house. Jesse finds it and tearfully laments what he believes is his own stupidity, apologizing to Walt for suspecting him of poisoning Brock.

Walt and Jesse offer Mike an equal, three-way partnership in a new meth operation. Mike refuses, explaining that Walt is a dangerous "time bomb". Saul suggests that with Gus eliminated, Walt can safely and cleanly quit the drug trade. However, Walt justifies rebooting the meth business by claiming that it is a golden opportunity that he cannot afford to leave behind, since he is actually $40,000 in debt after Skyler gave over $600,000 to Ted, and paid for Hank's physical therapy. But the main obstacle to Walt and Jesse's comeback plan is the need for a new source of methylamine, the precursor to their premium-grade version of meth.

Meanwhile, Hank takes part in a meeting between the DEA and Madrigal's CEO, who claims Schuler was a lone criminal within the company and promises full cooperation. Hank's boss, ASAC George Merkert, reveals that he is being forced out of his job as symbolic punishment by his superiors for failing to heed Hank's warnings about Gus. Merkert reflects on his friendship with Gus and wonders aloud who else might be leading a double life, which eventually seems to suddenly strike a chord with Hank.

A Houston-based Madrigal executive named Lydia Rodarte-Quayle asks Mike to kill eleven men from Gus's operation in order to tie up loose ends. Mike refuses, as Gus paid them enough to keep quiet. However, when he is called in to meet with Hank and Gomez, Mike learns the authorities have seized all of the offshore accounts Gus had set up for key underlings in his meth operation. Mike is affected as well, since his account (set up in his 10-year-old granddaughter's name) was worth $2 million. On Mike's way into his interview at the DEA offices, he runs into a visibly-scared Duane Chow—Gus' methylamine supplier—who was just leaving his own DEA interview.

Later, Chow invites Mike to his home to discuss their shared problem with the police. Mike correctly suspects that it is a set-up and gets the jump on Chris, one of his former men, who has already killed Chow. Chris explains that Lydia had contracted him to kill everyone after Mike refused, as he needs the money. Mike kills Chris and later breaks into Lydia's house in Houston. As he is about to execute her, Lydia's panicked pleas about her daughter affect him. He decides to spare Lydia in exchange for her becoming Walt's new methylamine supplier. Mike calls Walt and accepts a partnership in the new meth operation.

Skyler has become paralyzed by feelings of overwhelming fear and helplessness at the type of person Walt has become. Walt joins Skyler in bed for the night, gently explaining why it's for the best that she accept the new phase their lives have entered, and again hints at remorse for what happened to Ted. Even though her back is still facing him, Walt continues to reassure Skyler on how things are much better than she thinks they are—while escalating sexual foreplay on her. Looking anxious, lost, and perhaps on the verge of some kind of outcry, Skyler remains completely quiet as the scene suddenly cuts to black.


Breaking Bad creator and episode writer Vince Gilligan spoke about opening the episode at Madrigal: "We always like to surprise our viewers, and the idea of suddenly opening in Germany seemed like fun. We also wanted to start showing you the business of Madrigal, the company that financed Gus Fring. Is Madrigal all corrupt? Or was it just a couple of executives?" However, all actors speaking German in the opening scene display a strong English accent, implying none of them are native speakers. He also spoke about Jonathan Banks, who was the main focus of the episode, and Mike's evolving over the series: "It’s a testament to the great actors on this show – Aaron Paul, Dean Norris who plays Hank – that those characters became more important over time. Jonathan Banks is just fantastic in the role." When asked if Mike was watching The Caine Mutiny in the episode, Vince stated: "That is The Caine Mutiny, one of my very favorite movies. I was very lucky with that, actually, because it can be very expensive to use clips of movies, which is why you don't see too many clips on the show. But Caine Mutiny is owned by Sony/Columbia, our parent company. And yes, it may have some connection to where Walt is at this point."[1]

Several fake restaurant chain names were made for the headquarters of Madrigal. One of these, "Burger Matic", was actually taken from Gilligan's previous work, Home Fries.[2]



The episode was watched by approximately 2.29 million American viewers on its original broadcast, down from its series-high ratings of 2.93 million viewers the previous week.[3]

Critical receptionEdit

The episode received critical acclaim with many critics considering it a step up from the season premiere and praising Jonathan Banks' performance. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly called "Madrigal" "terrific", stating: "One of the methods to Breaking Bad's endless fascination is the way it unfurls maps of inter-dependence. Certain characters may like to see themselves as independent agents, as lone wolves, but everyone is dependent upon someone else – someone else's errors, or rare twinge of good conscience – and thus must remain part of a group. It's a braided metaphor for the reasons we form societies." He did, however, wish the episode ended "more forcefully" with Mike making the reluctant phone call to Walt, rather than ending with the Walt/Skyler bedroom scene.[4] TV Fanatic's Matt Richenthal gave the episode 4.8 out of 5 stars, commenting: "Through its attention to detail, direction and dialogue, Breaking Bad possesses an uncanny ability to enrapture and enthrall. You can't help but be invested in every moment." He also commented on Jonathan Banks' performance: "Overall, just a terrific showcase this week for Jonathan Banks. His portrayal of Mike paints the picture of an exasperated career criminal who excels at the game ... and is resigned to his fate. He's funny ... and he somehow manages to be the moral center of this operation, despite his willingness to kill and kill and kill."[5]

Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture cited the episode as an example of great directing in television, stating that it "contained not a single dull shot" and is stylistically reminiscent of Alan J. Pakula's thriller films through Michelle MacLaren's "sense of space, light, and pacing".[6]

In 2019 The Ringer ranked "Madrigal" as the 37th best out of the 62 total Breaking Bad episodes.[7]


  1. ^ Franich, Darren (July 23, 2012). "'Breaking Bad': Showrunner Vince Gilligan talks about 'Madrigal'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  2. ^ 'Saul's Marriages' Easter Eggs Ep. 507. AMC. March 30, 2020. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  3. ^ Bibel, Sara (July 24, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'Breaking Bad', 'Falling Skies', 'Army Wives', 'The Newsroom', 'Longmire' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  4. ^ Tucker, Ken (July 22, 2012). "'Breaking Bad' review: 'You are a time bomb'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  5. ^ Richenthal, Matt (July 22, 2012). "Breaking Bad Review: Prophylactic Measures". TV Fanatic. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  6. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (May 12, 2013). "eitz: How to Direct a TV Drama". Vulture. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Andrew Gruttadaro (September 30, 2019). "The Ringer's Definitive 'Breaking Bad' Episodes Ranking". The Ringer.

External linksEdit