Monday, September 5, 2011

"Breaking Bad" - "Hermanos"

Well, that was fantastic. “Hermanos” is easily the best “Breaking Bad” episode so far this season, and I’d even go so far as to call it one of the best hours of the show ever. There’s a heck of a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it. More (with spoilers) after the jump:

Gus is a character who’s been absent for much of the season. As others have noted, however, he’s still one of the biggest forces driving everything on this show. And yet, how much do we really know about Gustavo Fring? Not much. It turns out, however, that the show’s creative team has just been waiting for the right time to delve into his past. And the results are stunning.

“Breaking Bad’s” use of flashbacks has always been top-notch. It doesn’t overdo them, which makes them all the more effective when they’re used (such as the murder of Tortuga by the Cousins early last season). And they’re certainly effective here in deepening our understanding of Gus: starting with the early shot of water slowly turning red and ending with the jarring murder of Gus’s partner Max.
Gus also has problems in the present day. While he seems to have convinced the DEA and police that he’s not involved at all in Gale’s murder, Hank’s not convinced and soon ropes Walt into helping him with an off the book investigation. This ordinarily wouldn’t be a major problem, but as Mike points out it very well could become one if the cartel makes its move while Hank’s watching.

That would seem to be more than enough material for one episode, but “Breaking Bad” instead decides to throw us one more major curveball: namely, Walt figuring out that Jesse’s been lying to him about his access to Gus. While the title “Hermanos” most obviously refers to Gus and Max, it also applies to the increasingly tense relationship between Walt and Jesse. Something has to happen here, and soon. Doesn’t it?

So in short… Gus has now gone from an enigmatic, behind the scenes figure to a fully dimensional character. Hank continues to explore his suspicions about Gus: suspicions that will lead him back to Walt at some point if they don’t get him killed first. And of course, Walt grows ever more paranoid about everything (justifiably, I might add). Things are getting extremely tense and unpredictable, in other words. And that’s just the way “Breaking Bad” enthusiasts like it.

Other Thoughts

- The flashbacks also shine a new light on Gus’s actions earlier this season. The true reason for his rage at Gale’s murder (which he took out on Victor) is crystal clear now that we know Gale was the second of Gus’s partners to be killed.
- You’ll note that this review is shorter than the previous few. Here’s the thing: not only do I not get advance screeners of this show, as a non-AMC subscriber I also don’t even get to watch it until Monday morning via Amazon Instant. As such, I don’t get my review started until Monday afternoon at the earliest. And with other things in my life (most notably this very challenging speech class) taking up more time, the only way I can continue to write lengthier (800-1000 word) reviews of this show is if I hold off on posting until Friday or Saturday. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s too long. So instead I plan to post these shorter (but still decent quality, I think) reviews either Monday evening or Tuesday morning. That seems best to me.

- However, I am open to changing my mind if any readers out there prefer the longer reviews and are willing to wait for them. So leave a comment if that’s the case, and we’ll see.


  1. Great review. I say write about it as soon as you can. If possible, maybe you can go back and edit a review if you wanna put some insight to an episode.

  2. Thanks!

    Checked out your site, by the way. Your art is really, really good. Love the Clint Eastwood painting.