Mandala (Breaking Bad)

"Mandala" is the eleventh episode of the second season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad. It was written by George Mastras and directed by Adam Bernstein. This episode introduces Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito.

Breaking Bad episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 11
Directed byAdam Bernstein
Written byGeorge Mastras
Featured music
Cinematography byMichael Slovis
Editing bySkip Macdonald
Original air dateMay 17, 2009 (2009-05-17)
Running time47 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Breaking Bad (season 2)
List of Breaking Bad episodes

Plot summaryEdit

Combo is selling drugs on a corner when he notices two rival dealers staring him down; he is then killed by a young boy working for them. Skinny Pete, spooked by his death and Badger's recent brush with the law, decides to quit the drug trade. Walt and Jesse meet with Saul to discuss their next move; he tells them that they are incompetent distributors, and need a businessman who is more restrained than Tuco and will buy their product in bulk. He offers to reach out to the only distributor of that kind he has heard of, but it will be difficult, as the man is extremely cautious. Jesse is distraught that he got Combo killed, and that night tells Jane to leave his apartment so that he doesn't harm her recovery when he smokes meth. Jane reluctantly decides to stay with him.

The next day, Walt waits at a local chicken restaurant called Los Pollos Hermanos, where the distributor has arranged to meet them; Jesse comes in late, still high, and leaves quickly afterwards. Nobody talks to Walt, but he realizes later that the distributor saw him and has refused to work with him. Meanwhile, Jane relapses into drug addiction and introduces Jesse to heroin. The next day, Walt goes back to the same restaurant and waits until closing. He eventually realizes that the man he assumes is the restaurant manager is in fact the distributor, and asks for a meeting. The manager eventually reveals that he is the distributor, and that he cannot work with a drug addict like Jesse. Walt assures him that his product is the best there is, and that he only uses Jesse because he can count on his complete obedience. The manager assures Walt that he will be in touch if he decides to work with the duo, and warns Walt never to trust a drug addict.

Skyler helps the company celebrate her boss Ted's birthday, where she sings him a sultry version of "Happy Birthday to You". She later finds, while investigating the accounts, that there are many inaccuracies in the payments to the company. Ted admits that he has evaded taxation on millions of dollars by under-reporting revenue to keep the company afloat and support its employees. Skyler says she will not turn him in, but cannot be a part of his illegal doings; however, she later comes back to work. Walt gets a message telling him to come to the restaurant, where he learns from the actual manager that the man he met is the owner of several stores, and that his name is Gus Fring. Just as Walt is about to leave, an associate of Gus named Victor blocks him from exiting and tells him to deliver the meth to a truck stop within the next hour. Walt rushes to Jesse's apartment and breaks in while Jesse and Jane are in a heroin-induced haze. At the same time, Skyler goes into labor and tries to contact Walt. Walt is tortured about his choice, but decides to meet with Gus anyway.

Title meaningEdit

Mandala is a symbol of significance in Hinduism and Buddhism, and a Sanskrit word meaning "circle." In the context of this episode, it refers to the circle of birth and death, as the episode begins with Combo's death and ends with Skyler giving birth.

Critical receptionEdit

The episode received positive reviews, but was noted for its slower pace. Seth Amitin, of IGN, gave the episode an 8.6/10, commenting the episode was: "about crossing the lines..." and that it "is the beginning of the set-up for the finale in two weeks".[1] Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B, writing that "it's inevitable that we'd have a merely good episode at some point" and, like Amitin, thought that the episode "seemed to be mostly concerned with moving the pieces into place for the finale".[2]

In 2019 The Ringer ranked "Mandala" 46th out of the 62 total Breaking Bad episodes.[3]


  1. ^ Amitin, Seth (May 18, 2009). "Breaking Bad: "Mandala" Review". IGN. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Bowman, Donna (May 17, 2009). "Breaking Bad: "Mandala"". A.V. Club. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  3. ^

External linksEdit