Breaking Bad, Ep. 4.08: ‘Hermanos’

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Breaking Bad, Season 4, Episode 8: “Hermanos”
Written by Sam Catlin and George Maestras
Directed by John Renck

Just a brief recap/review this week, as I’m still up at the Telluride Film Festival binging on movies and mountain air.

Giancarlo Esposito has been Breaking Bad‘s secret weapon since Gus Fring became the closest thing the show has to a proper Big Bad back near the end of Season 2. This week, he gets his greatest showcase yet in an hour that delves far more deeply into Gus’s origins than any previous episode. It’s effectively a detour – which is a little frustrating given Season 4’s “leisurely” pacing, but there’s an undeniable pleasure in letting Esposito take a significant percentage of an episode’s screentime for a change.

Meanwhile, with all parties aware that Hank is pursuing Gus on his lonesome, it’s becoming increasingly clear that without some major plot contrivances, someone is going to have to be removed from the “equation” that Walt and Jesse briefly consider. (Two points about that: this episode subtly hints at the possibility that Jesse might decide to simplify things by just going after Hank, who he’s always had an understandable hate-on for. Also, I don’t quite buy that none of Hank’s colleagues qare willing to play ball with him, all things considered, but that’s bound to change, anyway.)

The show plays considerably more broad and pulpy in the Gus flashback sequence than it has for the bulk of the season, but it’s actually a refreshing change from the completely grounded approach we’ve seen for much of the season. The most intriguing product of the sequence is not Gus’s dead “hermano,” but the tantalizing prospect of his concealed identity. I guess we may as well start calling him Keyser Soze. Here’s hoping the show can significantly advance its master plot next week while making optimal use of its new plot wrinkles.

Simon Howell

3 Comments
  1. Mario in Philly says

    I loved watching Gus/Esposito in that last scene. In fact I watched it twice. I hadnt considered Gus’ sexual nature but the pieces would fit.
    And I always wondered how or if the phrase “chicken brothers” would have an alternate meaning. If Gus was “chicken” or afraid in the past he doesn’t show it now. (But that could be his mask. I think he does worry a lot..)
    Nice comments @tmack.

  2. tmack says

    Actually, I didn’t consider this episode a detour, certainly not the kind of detour where we were treated to half a show devoted to Marie going to open houses or what seemed like hours of Skyler buying a car wash. Gus is a pivotal player in this plot and he is an effective villain who’s been sidelined way too much since he slit Victor’s throat. (And it should be noted that this episode featured the first encounter between Walt & Gus since that bloody night.) Bringing Hank back in as the pursuer/antagonist restores a level of threat and tension that had been missing. The tumblers are beginning to fall in place; I can finally hear them clicking.

    Out in the BB blogosphere, speculation rises on the issue of Gus’s sexuality, which began with the karaoke-singing, “I doff my proverbial hat to you,” vegan, libertarian Gale. Was his first chemist & protege, Max, whose fate Gus sobbed loudly over, more than just a “hermanos”? Was Victor’s bond to Gus sweetened by more than business? This episode introduces more questions about Gus than it answers.

    This episode clearly belongs to Gus and Giancarlo Esposito does an award-worthy job of conveying menace masked by an almost effeminate politeness…except when he is in an elevator alone and looks capable of applying a box cutter to the entire DEA force. Who else can ask “Can I help you with your order, sir?” and demand that Walt “do it” at the same effin time, frightening poor Walt to death?

    Who, besides me, believes that Walt’s cancer may be a problem he’s not sharing?

    1. Simon Howell says

      Lots of great observations there. I wish I’d had more time to process the ep and expand on the possibilities offered but you covered a lot of the bases that had been percolating.

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