BREAKING BAD “Hermanos” Review

Breaking Bad “Hermanos”, Season 4 Episode 8 – I guess it HAD to be this episode of Breaking Bad, “Hermanos”, the best episode of the season so far, where I’m in the middle of nowhere up in Montana celebrating the Labor Day weekend. It couldn’t have been another episode, or another show I was missing that I don’t care as much about. Nope. It had to be this.

Either way, I apologize for the late review and not being able to share my thoughts earlier. However, we’ve got a LOT of great TV to talk about so buckle up and let’s get going!

I’ve been talking just about every week about the opening scene of the episode, as they are consistently excellent on this show, and this week was no different. We got a rare flashback from Breaking Bad, where we go back to the season three episode “I See You” and see the meeting between Gus and Walt. This time, though, we get a different camera angle that shows Mike depositing something in a trash can at the hospital. It looks like the other cousin didn’t just succumb to his wounds, but rather he was finished off by Mike. I love that Breaking Bad takes the flashback, which has been a tried and true storytelling trick in TV and movies for decades, and is able to offer their own tweak on it. We see things from another angle, in another light, and it actually shows us something that we didn’t see the first time. Great stuff.

We go from that scene to another great scene, Gus and Hector Salamanca (Who we’ve only known in the past as “Tio” Salamanca). That’s right, Mr. Ding himself has finally made his first season four appearance, and it was a great one. Not only did his character provide a window into some much needed backstory for Gus, but it was just a great guest spot all around. The fact that he could convey so much pain, anger, and frustration without even saying a word is a testament to Mark Margolis’ skill as a character actor.

I hate to just go scene to scene and gush over how great everything is, but there was so much important stuff here and I don’t want to miss anything! Of course you have Hank’s investigation hitting quite a bit snag when they bring Gus in to answer for his fingerprints showing up in Gale’s appartment, only to find that he has a rock-solid story for why he was in his apartment and a perfect alibi for the night Gale was killed. Giancarlo Esposito was so incredible all week as Gus, so I’m not going to mention every single instance that my jaw dropped to the floor while watching him this episode, but I will mention how great he was during this interrogation. The fact that his face is able to betray so little emotion, while still appearing friendly on the outside, we still can see that something is bubbling right underneath the surface. We know, and Hank knows, that something’s up with Gustavo Fring.

The middle of the episode dragged a teeny bit for me, as it just seemed to be pushing forward the auxillary story lines. We saw Skyler give money laundering a whole new meaning (Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week!) We also got some appreciated move forward on the Jesse/Andrea relationship. I can only assume, since this is Breaking Bad and all, that there is something else in this story line down the road. I’ve got to believe there’s some reason we’re getting these tepid scenes of Saul telling Andrea’s son about his grade school romance woes, and I’ve got faith that the writers of this show will bring up Andrea later for a good reason. For right now, though, I kind of wish we just had some closure and moved on. Jesse has so much internalized already with his murder of Gale, and all of these secret missions with Mike, that I can’t handle one more thing that makes him all moody and emotional.

I would be remissed if I didn’t mention the great scene with Walt in the doctors office giving another cancer patient a “pep talk”, or the scene with Walt telling Jesse he needs to accelerate his plans, but I do want to touch one two more things before I wrap this up. While I liked Hank tricking Walt into driving him to Pollos Hermanos to do some extra-curricular detective activities, I have a hard time buying that Hank can’t tell that Walt is obviously uncomfortable whenever this case is mentioned. We got the idea that Hank suspected Walt, even for a brief second, that he might have been involved with Gale. However, now he shows up to Pollos Hermanos with him and Walt turns into an absolute wreck. He can barely speak, he’s stressed out, and doesn’t want to do what Hank is asking at all. I have a hard time believing that Hank is observant enough to know that something is wrong with Gus, when he’s betraying NO emotions and showing no tells, but he doesn’t even get an inkling of suspicion about Walt when he’s acting like he’s already been caught red-handed. It’s a minor quibble, but I felt it was worth mentioning nonetheless.

Finally, we get to the scene that everybody is talking about. We finally get to the flashback of all flashbacks, where we see the original “Pollos Hermanos” meeting up with Don Eladio to talk about doing business with them. This was a great scene, and for me cemented Giancarlo Esposito’s submission into best supporting actor for next year’s Emmys. He did such an incredible job, and the fact that he was surrounded by such great character actors, like the afore-mentioned Mark Margolis and Manny from Scarface, he was still able to shine. He didn’t get any cool one-liners, he didn’t get any great speeches or grandstanding, but he does such a great job with so little. He’s so understated and believable, and it made the entire scene near-perfect. Just like the rest of the episode.

Random Thoughts:

– I still want to see more of Walt Jr.! Has he forgiven his mom for taking his car?

-We got yet another shot of RAGE being played by Jesse this week. Are they sponsoring this show or what?

– That was a pretty violent headshot for AMC. Glad to see they’re giving Breaking Bad some lenience in the violence department.