The science of Breaking Bad: Seven Thirty-Seven

Breaking Bad : Season 2 : Episode 1: “Seven Thirty-Seven”

Tuco and Jesse face off in the scrapyard.

Tuco and Jesse face off in the scrapyard.

Season 2 kicks off with an enigmatic post-apocalyptic scene in what looks to be Walt’s swimming pool, and then drops us in the scrapyard right where season 1 left us. The dissemination of scientific knowledge is a little lacking in this episode, which is understandable when there’s an insane drug dealer after you. In this post, I’ll be talking about ricin.

You can read more about this episode at AMC, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

As Hank watches the CCTV footage of Walt and Jesse’s methylamine heist, he mentions “P2P” when Gomez tells his what was taken. This doesn’t refer to some kind of distribution network, but rather phenyl-2-propanone, another name for the phenylacetone that will be converted into methamphetamine.

Ricin

Tuco is significantly better protected than Krazy-8 was, and Walt comes up with a proven method to quietly bump him off – poison. His weapon of choice is ricin, a tremendously toxic substance that is easily extracted from the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), which in turn is easily found as ornamental foliage or as a source of castor oil. Walt mentions the infamous 1978 “umbrella murder” of Georgi Markov, who was injected with a ricin-filled pellet from the tip of an umbrella.

Unfortunately, it looks like our would-be assassins have stumbled over a questionable recipe that has been circulating the internet for decades. During the quick cuts of the cooking process, we can see the liberal use of drain cleaner (sodium or potassium hydroxide, commonly called lye) and acetone – this tells us that they’re going down the “Poisoner’s Handbook” route instead of the “US Army” route (which uses acid). Both methods are significantly more complicated than the recipes would suggest, so we can only hope that Walt knows what he’s doing.

Elements in the credits

Breaking Bromine
Bad Barium
Created Chromium
Bryan Cranston Bromine
AnNa Gunn Sodium
AAron Paul Argon
DeaN Norris Nitrogen
Betsy Brandt Beryllium
RJ MitTe Tellurium
Raymond Cruz Chromium
Steven MicHael Quezada Hydrogen
LynNe Willingham Neon
Robb Wilson King Tungsten
MiChael Slovis No such element
Dave Porter Polonium
Sharon Bialy Sulfur
SherrY Thomas Yttrium
Sam Catlin Calcium
StewArt A. Lyons Argon
Melissa Bernstein Beryllium
John ShiBan Barium
Mark JOhnson Oxygen
Karen Moore Molybdenum
J RobErts Erbium
Vince Gilligan Vanadium

I’m not sure why Michael Slovis wasn’t assigned iodine (I), carbon (C), hydrogen (H), sulfur (S), oxygen (O) or vanadium (V).

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One Response to The science of Breaking Bad: Seven Thirty-Seven

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