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With Hank Closing In, 'Breaking Bad' Reveals a Bit of Gus' Past (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 6th 2011 4:46AM
'Breaking Bad' - 'Hermanos'Gustavo Fring is one of the most enigmatic and fascinating characters on television. Now that he's on Hank's radar on 'Breaking Bad' (Sun., 10PM ET on AMC), the writers have begun to slowly peel back the onion, revealing a few of the layers of his complex and stoic personality.

Hank's investigations into Gus' past take him clearly to Mexico and then back to Chile, but there he hits a roadblock, as there are no records of Gus in Chile. Neither do we get any knowledge of who he was in Chile, but we do get a hint that it was something notorious based on a flashback to Mexico.

There we meet Gus' partner in the chicken business, and find the reason he was so interested in Walt and Gale as chemists. Early in the game, Gus was the little guy cozying up to the cartel in Mexico. Now, either he was telling the truth in that he gave out samples of his partner's meth to the Don's men, or he was lying graciously to cover his tracks.

We know Gus plays a very bold game, and despite slight cracks in his smooth professional armor, like the finger tapping in the elevator after his interview with Hank and the DEA boys, he's one of the best liars on the show. Certainly, he's much smoother at it than Walt.

If Walt survives this series, it may well be a miracle. He seems to be hanging onto the edge at all times, in a state of near constant panic. He panicked when Hank had him drive to Los Pollos Hermanos, and then again when Mike pulled up next to them. He was in another state of panic when he told Gus he didn't plant the GPS device on Gus' car as Hank had asked him to.

But all of that was nothing to the panic that set upon him at Jesse's house. First, he was trying to instill in Jesse the need to kill Gus, but after catching a message on Jesse's phone indicating that Jesse may be playing for the other team, you could see the terror in his eyes. He may be truly alone in this.

Gus has been trying to pull Jesse away from Walt all this time, because he knows that Walt without Jesse is a weaker man; or at least he hopes he is. Certainly, he couldn't pull off a stunt like he did when Jesse killed Gale again.

But it was that long flashback scene that showed a more vulnerable and far less confident Gus that was the most powerful in the episode. In a way, Gus and his partner reminded me of Walt and Jesse. Perhaps this is what Gus fears in Walt -- he sees an earlier version of himself in this middle-aged chemist.

After watching Hector kill his partner, it made the scenes with Gus meeting with and talking to the now nearly immobile Hector even more harrowing. It also made Gus a sympathetic character in that moment, because we now know a glimmer of the pain that has hardened him in this drug world, and we know why the cartel is still gunning for him

But what about Chile? Don't get me wrong. I'm in no hurry to find out, because keeping a bit of mystery about why he was recognized from Chile, and why that recognition spared his life, keeps a bit of the mystery in Gus. And his is a character that benefits from mystery. So while I appreciate peeling back a few layers, let's not be in any hurry to reveal too much more just yet.

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