AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 4, Episode 10: “Salud”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Peter Gould & Gennifer Hutchison
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bug” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Crawl Space” – click here
In the desert, Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), Mike (Jonathan Banks), and Jesse (Aaron Paul) await the arrival of a small plane touching down. This is their transportation to Mexico. It’s a bit of a terrifying moment for Pinkman, who’s not sure what’s about to happen when they get to their destination. A far cry from dealing on the street. Mr. Fring assures his cook he “can do this.”
At his place, Walt (Bryan Cranston) nurses his injuries from the fight with Jesse, and at home Skyler (Anna Gunn) greets Jr (RJ Mitte) on his 16th birthday. She’s the one left to reveal they bought him another vehicle. It’s not particularly what he wanted – a PT Cruiser – though it’s still a damn car, and a nice one! He acts ungrateful towards mom, not thrilled by his present.
In his office, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) sits for a chat with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). He’s informing Ted of a supposed “great aunt” passing away recently. She left behind a “sizeable estate” Ted will inherit. He’s not aware of a distant relative. Doesn’t matter, given he’s receiving just over $600K. Coincidental it’s enough to pay off the IRS? I think not.
In Mexico, the three get off the plane and, blindfolded, are taken to a factory somewhere secretive guarded by men with assault rifles. They’re brought inside. There, they meet Benicio Fuentes (Carlo Rota), who runs the drug lab. Jesse’s meant to do a cook with the men there. He walks around to take a look at their equipment and their supplies. He doesn’t see any “phenylacetic acid,” which they synthesise in house. This already puts the cook in a bad position. Fuentes starts talking shit in Spanish, so Jesse calls the man an “asshole” several times. Perfect! Afterwards, Jesse complains about the filthy lab, requiring everything be cleaned for contaminants. His assertion of authority impresses both Gus and Mike.
Walt Jr. goes to find his dad seeing as how Walt missed his birthday party. Eventually dad lets him in and Jr. sees the bloody state of his face. He tells him about the fight, but lies, saying it had to with his gambling addiction. He breaks down in front of Jr. and the boy sees his father at his weakest. Walt realises what he’s done to Jesse, all of that comes down on him. Because he sees parallels in how he’s treated his son and how he treats Jesse. They’re completely different situations, yet he sees how he’s failing the young men in his life – Walt, his son, and Jesse, his surrogate son – and it’s too much for him to bear. Jr. helps him back to bed. And that’s where Walt calls him Jesse by accident in a semi-medicated state.
At the Mexican lab, Jesse has a massive audience. They even tape him to make sure they know the process perfectly. He cooks a batch of blue crystal. When it’s done, Fuentes puts the crystal in for a test. Everyone waits with bated breath, not knowing what will happen if the test doesn’t come out at expected numbers. The computer reads a percentage of 96.2% (still not as pure as Walt), impressing everybody. Jesse’s then told: “You belong to the cartel now.”
When Walt wakes he sees his son’s cleaned the house up for him. He feels awful for Jr. seeing him in that state, drunk and on pain medication. He apologises, despite Jr. understanding. Walt doesn’t want his son to think of him poorly because of his mistakes. He talks of his own father, who died when he was only a boy. His father had Huntington’s disease and Walt only remembers him before he died, the chemical smell of the hospital, and the man’s “twisted up” body which scared him. Point being, Walt only wants to leave his son with good memories, not his weakness. But Jr. says last night is nothing compared to how his dad’s been over the past year. He appreciates the realness of what he saw in those weak moments. After the kid leaves, Walt’s visited by Tyrus (Ray Campbell) trying to keep him on schedule.
Saul goes to Skyler about the Ted situation. Ole Beneke’s paying a lease on a Mercedes, as if he doesn’t have a felony tax problem. This stresses Skyler out. The lawyer never liked the plan in the first place. She goes to see Ted, casually inquiring about the IRS. He only confirms his recklessness. Oh, man— what an absolute idiot! He’s basically not planning on paying. This will push Skyler to extreme measures. She’s already admitting it was her who fixed up the supposed estate payout.
In Mexico, Gus takes a pill by the poolside at Don Eladio’s (Steven Bauer) home, where he saw his friend Max get murdered by Tio a couple decades prior. Mike assures Jesse either they’ll all go home together. Don Eladio greets Gus with great/fake happiness. He’s glad to be coming to good terms with the chicken man. He meets his new cook Jesse. Then he’s interested in the gift Gus has brought him: the finest of tequila, Zafiro Añejo. Everybody’s about to drink, though Mr. Fring says Jesse “must be sober,” so the cook doesn’t get a shot. They all salud. Gus drinks first, then Don Eladio and the others follow.
It’s a big poolside party for the cartel members. A celebration! Gus isn’t thrilled to have to give in to the cartel. Neither is Jesse exactly excited about the prospect of having to stay in Mexico. Don Eladio makes a few comments to Gus alone, calling back to their previous history. Soon, the chicken man excuses himself to the bathroom. There he turns on the faucet, takes off his jacket, lays a towel neatly on the floor in front of the toilet, and begins vomiting.
Meanwhile, out by the pool, all the cartel members begin to die, including Don Eladio. The tequila was poisoned. Jesse and Mike watch on as everybody around them starts to keel over, the latter using a garrote to kill Gaff (Maurice Compte). This was the plan all along, to decimate the cartel and allow Gus to fill the void unchallenged. First, they’ve got to get out of Mexico alive. Gus isn’t doing so well, either. Jesse and Mike get him in a car. Before they leave, Mike takes a bullet and Jesse kill the shooter. So Jesse has to get the two injured men in the car and drive them out of there himself.