Posted by Moreau_MD (402 posts) -

SPOILERS Please note, this isn't meant to be a discussion of 'why' Gus kills Victor. I get the logistics of it- weak as they are. This is more an assessment of what the character of Gus meant for the series and why I feel this episode in particular ruined that somewhat.

I've just watching season 4 of Breaking Bad and, whilst I still think it's easily the most finely crafted show on television in recent memory, the box cutter episode seriously bothered me.

To my mind, it took what was a genuinely novel, fascinating, and original character, Gus, and turned him into yet another Drug Baron; albeit a uniquely machivellian one (yawn). The whole scene just came across as lazy writing to me- something I never thought I would be saying about Breaking Bad.

Gus originally came across as a maverick- the prime mover several steps beyond everything and every one in the perfect guise of a mild-mannered owner of a series of commercially successful fast food joints who could, in actual fact, see the grand design behind it all. He was certainly not one to get his hands dirty. More than that, he also appeared to have adopted somewhat of a utilitarian approach to his particular line of work- one might even class him as a libertarian. There was something awesomely 'red hood', or, at a stretch, 'V' about the guy to begin with (that particular scene where he casually splits the mobile in half at the end...wow). He classed the twins, and the rest of the cartel by proxy, as 'animals'. He was not one of them.

I'm not at all saying that he was a good person, far, far from it. He was, however, supposed to be a strategist. We rarely, if ever, get to see dealers of this order portrayed in entertainment. By simply reducing him to a killer who can stoop to basic intimidation, the writers have totally ruined the mystery that was the Chicken Man. I feel they squandered an immense amount of potential here, not to mention halted any chance of further character development. They had a chance to do something truly different, even profound, with this character and they sort of blew it.

Still loving the series though ^_^

#1 Posted by Moreau_MD (402 posts) -

SPOILERS Please note, this isn't meant to be a discussion of 'why' Gus kills Victor. I get the logistics of it- weak as they are. This is more an assessment of what the character of Gus meant for the series and why I feel this episode in particular ruined that somewhat.

I've just watching season 4 of Breaking Bad and, whilst I still think it's easily the most finely crafted show on television in recent memory, the box cutter episode seriously bothered me.

To my mind, it took what was a genuinely novel, fascinating, and original character, Gus, and turned him into yet another Drug Baron; albeit a uniquely machivellian one (yawn). The whole scene just came across as lazy writing to me- something I never thought I would be saying about Breaking Bad.

Gus originally came across as a maverick- the prime mover several steps beyond everything and every one in the perfect guise of a mild-mannered owner of a series of commercially successful fast food joints who could, in actual fact, see the grand design behind it all. He was certainly not one to get his hands dirty. More than that, he also appeared to have adopted somewhat of a utilitarian approach to his particular line of work- one might even class him as a libertarian. There was something awesomely 'red hood', or, at a stretch, 'V' about the guy to begin with (that particular scene where he casually splits the mobile in half at the end...wow). He classed the twins, and the rest of the cartel by proxy, as 'animals'. He was not one of them.

I'm not at all saying that he was a good person, far, far from it. He was, however, supposed to be a strategist. We rarely, if ever, get to see dealers of this order portrayed in entertainment. By simply reducing him to a killer who can stoop to basic intimidation, the writers have totally ruined the mystery that was the Chicken Man. I feel they squandered an immense amount of potential here, not to mention halted any chance of further character development. They had a chance to do something truly different, even profound, with this character and they sort of blew it.

Still loving the series though ^_^

#2 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (733 posts) -

I think this development in his character (and later in season 4, look out for it) is perfectly in line with his evolution. He's been driven to do this by Walter and Jesse, and by killing his close subordinate, he's proven that anyone is expendable no matter how safe they think they are. Again, later on in season 4 you will see just how far he will go for "reasons," even to the point of stupidity, after all, he is only human.

#3 Edited by Pr1mus (3934 posts) -

I felt like they already spent a very long time establishing the character and his methods up to that point, methods that have made him very successful but none of which allowed him to put Walter back in line. This felt like the only logical next step for him. I didn't see it as basic intimidation but rather some pretty fucking serious threat of no more games, no more negotiation. Either Walter does what he's told or it's over for him. He did this to show Walter the one side of what he can do that Walter didn't know he had yet and why he kept breaking the rules of their engagement. To me it simply means that he never faced someone that forced his hand this much before.

#4 Edited by MiniPato (2741 posts) -

Well if you like Gus cause he's careful tactician who only does things for utilitarian purposes, season 4 is gonna take you for a hell of a ride cause he does have an emotional motivation as well as monetary motivations for the things he does.

#5 Posted by Tylea002 (2295 posts) -

By letting Walter White into his business for the higher profit, he's fucked up his business and shit has got unmanageable. This experience is taking a toll on Gus, and now, it's personal. I thought it was a brilliant moment, totally in line with the development so far.

#6 Posted by Moreau_MD (402 posts) -

Yeah, these points would all be very true if Gus was 'a drug baron'...but I felt he was meant to be something more than just that.

#7 Edited by Soapy86 (2622 posts) -

Personally, I just assumed that Gustavo was always a murderous psychopath (or at least has been for quite a while), Box Cutter was just Walt's (and our) first window into that.

Also, you can be a killer and a strategist. One doesn't preclude the other.

#8 Posted by Dany (7887 posts) -

Gus killed his own DUDE infront of walt/jesse just to send a message. He is does get his own hands bloody, literally.

There is still mystery to Gus, everything down in South America is totally unanswered.

#9 Posted by lazyhoboguy (62 posts) -

EH I thought it was fine. There is no way gus could have gotten into the position he was in if he didnt do violent fucked up shit in the past. We just never got to see it firsthand until that episode. Gus is just really good at conveying an appearance he want to convey.

#10 Posted by MC_Hify (338 posts) -

I thought Gus killed that guy because he was seen by witnesses where Gail was shot.

#11 Posted by TheHT (11367 posts) -

I don't remember if it was before or after that where you get the implications of his past being hella shady and that he was associated with the Pinochet regime.

The box cutter moment was less a reduction to a brutish goon and more a reminder that Gus is not to be trifled with. Walt may think he can talk his way out of the shit-stew he's simmering in, but that's no reason for him to feel he has the upper hand. Gus could still fucking murder his ass himself, let alone send someone else to do it.

Before that scene Gus always seemed like a reasonable man who could perhaps, if the right arrangement came along, part ways with Walt and Jesse amicably. After that scene, Walt and Jesse are completely under his heel.

That's how I saw it all anyways. I'm not saying Gus wasn't dangerous before, obviously, given what was going to happen at the end of season 3. But after they play their ace in the hole Gus comes along and, like I said, shows them who's who.

#12 Posted by Whamola (131 posts) -

Gus is a cold and calculating person. You don't become a drug baron by being a nice guy who's always reasonable. Sure, Gus was incredibly smart, but the reason he didn't go around killing people himself anymore was because he had people to do it for him, and it wasn't a good idea for him to needlessly put himself in danger of being caught.

So when Walt was getting a bit too comfortable with the idea that he's free to do whatever he wants because Gus NEEDS him, Gus sent him a message. Yeah, he plans things well in advance, but that doesn't make a person good at what they do, he also has the ability to adapt to sudden changes.

#13 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4825 posts) -

Gus isn't mysterious or still depicted as "something else" in season 4?

I'd like to know what that Terminator walk was about, then.

#14 Posted by myketuna (1710 posts) -

@Whamola said:

Gus is a cold and calculating person. You don't become a drug baron by being a nice guy who's always reasonable. Sure, Gus was incredibly smart, but the reason he didn't go around killing people himself anymore was because he had people to do it for him, and it wasn't a good idea for him to needlessly put himself in danger of being caught.

So when Walt was getting a bit too comfortable with the idea that he's free to do whatever he wants because Gus NEEDS him, Gus sent him a message. Yeah, he plans things well in advance, but that doesn't make a person good at what they do, he also has the ability to adapt to sudden changes.

I agree with you. I kind of understand OP. I love Gus for the fact that he's just supremely calm and collected all the time. That being said, if you're dealing with drugs, killers, and assholes all the time. You WILL get your hands dirty eventually. I always figured him to be a straight killer behind that dead gaze. I think we all did. The only reason I think he looks down on the cartel and shit like that is because they're not as smart about doing their "craft" as he is.

Also, later on in the season you see Gus at a point where he wasn't as cool (I don't think) and what happens that kind of changes him into what we know as Gus today. And considering how it happens, that box cutter scene makes more sense for the character, I believe.

#15 Edited by Meltbrain (2973 posts) -

@Moreau_MD said:

Yeah, these points would all be very true if Gus was 'a drug baron'...but I felt he was meant to be something more than just that.

That's kind of the point, though. In that vulgar act of violence both the characters in the show and the audience are firmly and staunchly reminded that behind his strategic, extremely cunning business handling persona, he is still a drug lord. One who will make moves like that just to keep his business where he wants it. It was the logical move for his character. You had to always assume Gus was absolutely ruthless and completely cold when he needed to be.

#16 Posted by billyhoush (1192 posts) -

@runcrash said:

I thought Gus killed that guy because he was seen by witnesses where Gail was shot.

You are correct.

#17 Posted by ch3burashka (5087 posts) -

What would you expect him to do? He had two renegade meth cooks in his employ that were causing a shitload of trouble for him (and killed the only competition, thus ensuring their survival). He murdered a bro in front of them to show dominance, and as a warning of things to come, not because he's a "drug baron" or because he lost his cool he usually exhibits. It was an example of the "strategy" you wanted to see. Murder doesn't make him an animal - the reason they were animals was they killed for no reason, just 'cause. He killed with purpose.

This is stupid - Breaking Bad is damn near perfect.

#18 Posted by damswedon (3194 posts) -

I read the thread title as Breaking Brad and was weirded out by this talk of box cutters.

I should watch Breaking Bad at some point.

#19 Posted by ThePickle (4184 posts) -

That just falls in line with the rest of what the writers do with Gus in season 4. They strip much of his mystery away. That's not bad writing. Gus takes up a much larger role in season 4. They need to flesh him out more and broaden what the character can do. He can't be a Chicken manager forever, the same way Walt can't be a chemistry teacher forever. In season 3 he shot a guy right in the head. It's just character evolution. When you have a show on for any number of seasons, characters have to change. Stakes have to be upped.

#20 Posted by Knave (548 posts) -

@ThePickle: Exactly what this dude said. You want Gus to stay the same way he was when you first met him, and when he actually gets character development you call it lazy writing.

#21 Posted by Arkasai (701 posts) -

Oh man, every time someone in Breaking Bad snaps a phone in half, I can't help but fucking laugh. How melodramatic and superfluous can you get? Monkeys snap phones in half, cold calculating criminals pull the SIM/battery. Great show though, I like how they finished off that season and it could've easily ended there with him saying "I won."

#22 Edited by Grillbar (1849 posts) -

all i have to say is i cant wait for season 5

edit and the last episode is so fucking awesome