|“||A man provides, and he does it even when he is not appreciated, or respected or even loved.||„|
|~ Gustavo "Gus" Fring|
|“||Are you asking me if I would order the murder of a child?||„|
|~ Gustavo to Walter about the death of his child dealer|
Gustavo "Gus" Fring was a Chilean national and respected Albuquerque restaurateur/philanthropist who owned a successful chain of chicken restaurants, Los Pollos Hermanos, and used it as a cover for an extremely successful methamphetamine distribution network in the southwestern United States. He appears in the AMC crime-drama Breaking Bad as an anti-hero in Seasons 2 and 3, then the main antagonist of Season 4, and one of the main protagonists/anti-hero in Better Call Saul.
Little is known about Gus' past, except that he came from Chile and was connected to Madrigal Electromotive GmbH. Mike is the only person other than Don Eladio who might know something more about Fring's background. Mike reassures Gus that if he can't find out anything about him from before 1989 (the year Fring emigrated to Mexico, and subsequently the United States), then it is unlikely that the DEA will either.
In the late 80's, Gus and his partner, Max Arciniega, started a chain of Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants in Mexico. This, however, was a cover for their true intentions: to manufacture methamphetamine. They more than got the attention of the Juarez drug cartel by giving out "samples" to various low-level cartel players. At this time, the cartel was only interested in distributing cocaine, and Don Eladio punished Gus for his impertinence by murdering Max in front of him. To Gus' apparent surprise and displeasure, Eladio seemed to have some insight into his former identity; Don Eladio told him that "...he knows who he really is..." and that is the only reason he is not dead next to Max, who was just murdered in front of him by a younger, more expressive Hector (aka "Tio") Salamanca.
Gus later immigrated to the United States and set up his network there with more Los Pollos Hermanos locations. He eventually formed an uneasy alliance with the cartel once they decided to enter the meth business after all. Despite having been in business in New Mexico for nearly twenty years, it was only shortly before his death that anyone suspected his involvement in criminal activities. He conducted his business with extreme caution, never dealing with drug addicts or those he saw as irrational or having poor judgment. This was due in large part to his established role as a legitimate businessman in Albuquerque.
Gus lived in a typical suburban neighborhood, playing the role of a socially conscious philanthropist. His loved ones did not know about his real business activities; it would be easy to assume he simply spent his days managing his restaurants and attending functions and banquets.
Gus is introduced to Walter and Jesse after the two's failed efforts to sell their meth leads to their street dealers either being killed (Combo), arrested (Badger), or quitting (Skinny Pete). Saul Goodman makes the blunt observation "You two suck at peddling meth," but as the two still have 38 pounds remaining, Saul offers to connect them with a distributor through "a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy." Saul manages to arrange a meeting between Walt, Jesse and the distributor at a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant, but when Jesse turns up for the meeting late, high and agitated, the distributor does not make contact. Saul says later they likely blew their chance, but Walt, after some consideration, returns to the restaurant on his own. Asking to see the manager - Gus, who had stopped by their table during the earlier visit to the restaurant to see if they were enjoying their meal - Walt deduces that Gus is their contact after all. He praises Gus for his discipline and caution, saying that he sees the two as alike in that regard.
Gus then drops his facade, saying that Walter is not cautious at all and exhibits poor judgment by bringing the obviously high Jesse to a meeting. Walt counters that the quality of his product should outweigh any of these concerns and that Gus will never have to see or deal with Jesse. Gus demurs on whether or not the two will deal, but then on a later visit by Walt he is approached by Gus' henchman, Victor, with a final deal: $1.2 million for the remaining 38 pounds, delivered in one hour or not at all .
Meeting with Juan Bolsa, the Cousins and Tio Salamanca, Gus is told that the cartel holds Walt responsible for the death of Tuco - an important man in their organization - and that his execution has been sanctioned. Gus says that while he has no issues with their right to vengeance, he is presently in business with Walt and does not want him killed until that business has concluded. Bolsa agrees to advise the Salamanca family to be patient, but warns Gus that delaying could cost him his high standing with the cartel.
Successfully baiting Walt with half the money from a drug deal Jesse made through Saul, Gus invites him to his industrial laundromat where he reveals the details of his offer: he has constructed a massive "superlab" underneath the laundromat for mass producing methamphetamine. Receiving legitimate chemical deliveries every week and able to filter the byproducts of cooking meth via the laundry's filtration systems, the facility is capable of producing at least 200 pounds of methamphetamine per week. Swaying Walt with the high-tech apparatus of the lab, he closes the deal by appealing to Walt's pride in providing for his family.
With Walt's services engaged alongside Gale Boetticher in the lab, Gus' attention turns to the Cousins, who have taken to sitting in his Los Pollos restaurant all day, ordering nothing and saying nothing. He reiterates that Walt will not die until their business is finished, and offers the Cousins permission to take their vengeance on Hank, who was Tuco's actual killer. However, when the Cousins make their move to kill Hank while he is unarmed in a store parking lot, an anonymous person calls Hank and, using a voice modifier, warns him of the impending attack. It is this warning that allows Hank to get the jump on the Cousins and take them down.
After the attack on Hank, Bolsa contacts Gus demanding an explanation, as the Cousins would never have shot Hank without approval. He concedes that meth shipments will be delayed indefinitely, then vows to learn the truth about the assassination plot from the surviving cousin, Leonel. Shortly afterwards, Gus goes to the hospital with a large buffet of fried chicken for the police officers keeping vigil over Hank, also revealing that he is offering a $10,000 reward for information on the assailants. In a room with Walt, Skyler, Marie, Walt Jr. and ASAC Merkert, he mentions that he knew Hank from the fun run sponsorship and that Hank was raising money for Walt's cancer treatments at the time.
Walt, speaking to Gus afterwards, expresses that Hank is not a danger to their arrangement but he continues to fear for his family's safety. Gus simply says that he investigates everyone he does business with and doesn't feel there is anything to worry about, as the surviving assassin's survival is doubtful. Shortly afterwards, Leonel goes into cardiac arrest and dies - murdered by a lethal injection from Mike.
Following this death, Bolsa calls Gus, angrily stating that he thinks Gus was behind both the authorization of the shooting and the death of the second Cousin, possibly as a move to break away from the cartel. Promising that he will weather the federal attentions and find proof of Gus' treason, he is interrupted by glass breaking and gunfire as unseen assailants gun down his bodyguards and then him. Hearing Bolsa die on the other end, Gus quietly smiles, then disables and discards the cell phone.
As the methamphetamine production accelerates, Gus' method of distribution is revealed: he has the meth broken up into pound bags, concealed in buckets of batter for fried chicken marked with a star only visible under ultraviolet light, and taken to other states in Los Pollos Hermanos trucks. Walt, after calculating how much Gus stands to make off the deal - $96 million at wholesale price - meets with him to voice his theory that the establishment of the superlab was part of his overall strategy to cut the cartel out and establish himself as the chief distributor of the Southwest. He also says that he sees the shooting of Hank as part of this play, both to increase federal attention on the cartel and ensure Walt's safety. While not acknowledging the truth of this statement, Gus does agree to a raise and an open-ended extension of Walt's contract - $15 million a year - as well as continued protection of his family.
Walter's relationship with Gus is jeopardized when Walter kills two of Gus' dealers to protect Jesse. Gus, along with Mike and Victor, meets Walt in the desert and demands that he explain himself. Walt implies that he suspects Gus of having ordered the dealers to kill 11 year old Tomas, which Gus angrily denies. Gus seemingly accepts Walter's plea to regard the episode as a "hiccup" and allow him to continue cooking meth, but re-appoints Gale as Walter's assistant. Gus visits Gale at his apartment and surreptitiously instructs him to learn Walter's formula so as to be able to replace Walter. Walter again deduces Gus' true intentions and plots with Jesse to kill Gale. Walter surmises that any delay in production would weaken Gus' position and that without Gale, Gus would be forced to retain Walter as the only cook capable of producing the high-quality meth needed to sustain his operations. Walter sets out to kill Gale, but is intercepted by Victor and brought to the lab where Mike is waiting for him. Under the pretext of luring Jesse to the lab to betray him to Mike, Walter convinces Mike to allow him to call Jesse. Instead, Walter instructs Jesse to kill Gale. Victor rushes to Gale's apartment but arrives too late to stop Jesse from killing Gale.
Mike calls Gus on his cell phone shortly after he hears from Victor about Gale's death at the hands of Jesse. A while later, he arrives at the superlab, gets undressed, changes into a hazmat suit, and coldly slits Victor's throat, holding him firmly so he will bleed to death quickly (minimizing his suffering) and directing the aim of the blood in Walt and Jesse's direction. He remains eerily calm during the killing, and after he feels Victor die, gazes at the two of them with anger and disappointment and leaves his dead henchman on the floor while he washes up and changes back into his original clothes. The only words he speaks to them are "Well...get back to work" before he exits, leaving them to clean up the mess he made and dispose of the corpse. Gus later tells Mike that he does not want to lay his eyes on Walt ever again, and Mike communicates this to Walt. He also brings in a new henchman, Tyrus, whom he instructs to station himself in the lab and help Walt and Jesse with their cooking. Walt, desperate and fearing for his life, drives to Gus' house at night and plans to kill him. As he walks to the driveway, he gets a phone call from Mike, who is watching him nearby and tells Walt to leave.
The Mexican Cartel victimize Gus' men one by one, until a talk is conducted between them. Gus meets with man named Gaff, who claims to represent the Cartel. Gus attempts to negotiate with Gaff, offering a one-time payment of $50 million to the Cartel under the condition that their relationship is terminated. Gaff responds that Gus knows what the Cartel wants, and offers an ultimatum of, "Is it a yes, or a no?" Gaff leaves soon afterwords, and it is implied that Gus chose "no."
Hank Schrader becomes convinced that Gus Fring is related to the murder of meth cook Gale Boetticher after a Los Pollos napkin was found in Gale's apartment with a serial number written on it in pen. Hank found this suspicious since Gale's apartment indicated he was a strict vegan. Under the pretense of taking Walter Jr. out to eat, Hank visits Los Pollos Hermanos and talks briefly with Gus. Gus refills Hank's drink, but Hank keeps the cup and bags it as evidence when he reaches his car. After a meeting with Merkert and Gomez, they decide to bring in Gus for questioning. He comes in to the office voluntarily.
While waiting outside an office for the interrogation, Gus spots a wanted poster on a billboard across the corridor from him with a sketch depicting Victor. Gus is called in by agents Hank, Gomez, Merkert, and APD detective Tim Roberts, who question why his fingerprints were found at Gale's crime scene. Gus acknowledges meeting with Gale, explaining that Gale had won a chemistry scholarship he funded and that Gale had contacted him recently seeking money for an investment.
Just as the inquiry seems to be ending, Hank asks if "Gustavo Fring" is Gus' real name, since Hank can't find anything about that name before Gus immigrated to Mexico. Gus assures him that it is his real name, and that poor record keeping in Chile in the days under Pinochet could explain why Hank could find nothing about his background. With that, Gus is free to go. Hank still has his doubts, but his colleagues agree that he is innocent, his alibi is unquestionable, and that nothing legal can incriminate him. Outside, Gus can be seen twitching his index finger and his thumb, rather tensely. (For Gus, this is a huge display of tension and nervousness.)
Since Hank is now suspicious of Gus, he convinces a reluctant Walt to bug Gus' car with a tracking device bought over the counter. Walt sees Gus inside and there is a tense exchange where Walt apologizes for his involvement and Gus' only response is to insist that Walt place the device. After a day of work at one of his restaurants, Gus unclamps the bug, and places it on a newspaper stand outside a Pollos Hermanos. Walt later pleads his innocence through the surveillance camera in the lab, and asks that no revenge be taken against Hank. That said, the two enemies resume their separate routines.
Later, Hank and Walter return to a Pollos Hermanos to retrieve their tracking device. Hank plugs the tracker into his PC, but is dissapointed with the results. Apparently, Gus only drove between work and home the entire week. He does discover, however, that all of Gus' restaurant establishments have a common base of operations.
Aware of Hank's recent findings, Walt alerts Gus. That same day, Jesse helps Mike clean up any potentially incriminating evidence at the facility. As they are loading a truck outside, one of the workers is shot through the head by a hidden sniper. The crosshairs of the sniper's gun move over to Jesse next, but he is saved at the last second by Mike. Gus hears the shots and emerges from his office, stepping directly into the line of fire. Mike yells at Gus to get down, which Gus ignores.
The gunman continues to fire at Gus' feet, and it becomes clear that he is intentionally missing him. The sniper, a man named Gaff who Gus had met with previously, stops firing since it is evident that Gus understands the message. Gus later phones the Cartel from his office, announcing he will capitulate to the Cartel's demands.
Jesse makes noise to Mike about the shooting death of his co-worker and walking into bullets superman routine, demanding answers from Gus. He prompts Mike to set up a meeting, but Mike replies, "you got questions? Ask him yourself." Gus invites Jesse to a dinner meeting, and Jesse shows up with the ricin, wondering if he should poison Gus or not. Anxious from the cartel attack, Jesse wants to know what is to become of him and Walt. Gus asks Jesse whether he can cook Walt's formula without help. Angered at the idea of Gus killing off Walt, Jesse insists that he will no longer cook if anything happens to his one-time partner. Gus explains that conditions with the Mexican Cartel have become intolerable and he only wishes to avert an all out war. He asks again, " Can you cook solo?"
Gus eventually takes Jesse to Mexico, to the place where his former partner was killed. Jesse is his answer to the cartel's demand. He will offer Pinkman as his olive branch, to teach them how to cook blue meth themselves.
He watches proudly as Jesse cooks a 96% pure meth in the cartel lab, proving he is indeed the cook for the job. In celebration, the cartel bosses take Jesse, Gus and Mike to a familiar location: Don Eladio's estate. Gus stares at the pool and swallows a hidden gel capsule as Eladio emerges with his captains.
Gus offers Eladio his favorite brand of tequila as a peace offering, and the ever-cautious Don makes sure Gus takes a shot before drinking any himself, along with his captains. As the party begins to rage, Gus excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Once inside, he lays a towel down and discreetly vomits into the toilet.
As Gus emerges from the bathroom several cartel members have already begun to fall to the ground. The tequila had been poisoned with a fast acting, lethal toxin. The capsule consumed by Gus delays the effect of the poison allowing him time to purge, narrowly avoiding death. As a weakened Gus walks into his view, Eladio's face contorts with rage and he falls into the pool, dead. Gustavo Fring's twenty-year plan for revenge finally comes to fruition.
Back in New Mexico, Tyrus sees Hector Salamanca visiting the DEA and notifies Gus. Hector must be killed, and Gus is adamant that he will kill Salamanca himself. After Hector is returned to the nursing home, Tyrus enters and sweeps the place for bugs and cameras in case Hector is now an informant for the DEA. Walt waits outside the window for Tyrus to complete the sweep. When Tyrus leaves to tell Gus it is clear, Walt presumably uses this time to plant a bomb under Hector's wheelchair. When Gus arrives, he insults Hector for talking to the DEA.
Hector then musters up an expression of pure wrath. He begins furiously ringing his bell and gradually Gus realizes that it is rigged to the bomb. Gus jumps up to escape, but is a moment too late—the bomb goes off. Gus then walks out of the room, pauses, and straightens his tie with dignity. He then collapses to the floor, dead, as the entire right side of his face has been blown off, exposing his skull and part of his brain.
Although he is now dead, he is mentioned several times in Season 5, and also is part of the reason Mike begins work with Walter. His situation also causes Walt to become more of the "King". His death also starts a feud between Mike and Walter, and winds up with Mike's death.
Always calm and cautious by nature, despite being one of the most successful and fearsome methamphetamine drug runners in Albuquerque and the owner of a successful multi-million-dollar business, Gustavo Fring remains very humble, low-key and friendly towards his patrons. Publicly he is well-known for his numerous charitable donations to the DEA and manager of fast-food chain, Los Pollos Hermanos which he has several social interactions with his customers and is always accompanied with a smile. An actual wolf in sheep's clothing, Gustavo was not a boastful man and intensely careful with whom he does business with, never partnering up with someone unless they are as cautious as he is. Accompanied with his low-key nature he drives a second-rate, beaten-down ten-year old Volvo.
Beneath this Gus is smiling through his teeth and is actually a ruthless, calculating criminal. He controls his drug empire with an icy hold and numerous people who work under him are either unaware of his true nature or in fear of him. Gustavo is a cold, high-functioning, Machiavellian sociopath; he excels at business transactions and manipulations and usually retains his calm and collected demeanor. Even in dangerous situations he keeps his apathetic head. The only time Gus did lose his cool however was moments before his death when he discovered Hector Salamanca was a suicide bomb to kill him. Despite his flaws he is a man of honor and will always repay his debts to someone.
However Gustavo does have a compassionate side and genuinely cares about people. He saved Max Arcienega from the slums, financed him going to school and partnered with him together to become the co-managers of Los Pollos Hermanos and enter the methamphetamine trade together. After Max was killed before his eyes, the loss of such an emotional and possible romantic factor of his life snapped Gustavo into a ruthless crime lord. He has a vengeful side as well and lives by a "blood for blood" motto ever since Max's death rather than simply business, killing the cartel proves to be more out of a personal vendetta. Because of this he took delight in tormenting Hector Salamanca over both of his nephew's death and Walter was able to use Gustavo's hatred for Hector to result in his death.
It was noted a massive personality change of Gus around the 4th season. Whereas earlier he has shown to be patient with Walter and Jesse after they continued to defy him; Jesse preparing to attack two of his dealers who killed his girlfriends son and Walter actually killing them then murdering his meth cook, Gale Boetticher seemed to turn Gustavo more unhinged. Whereas in season 2 he claimed that fear was not an effective motivator amongst his employs by the 4th he threatened to kill Walter's entire family should he interfere. Though he usually orders men to fulfill his jobs, a testament to his descent into a deranged criminal was when he killed Victor, his own man in front of Walter and Jesse with a box cutter as he defied him and didn't seem fazed over killing Victor, calmly telling them to get back to work and left his body as a grim reminder. It was this deteriorating state of mind that was the cause of Walter's constant planning to kill him.