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Why Did Gus Kill Victor In Breaking Bad?

Few TV series have ever captured the imaginations of viewers quite like AMC's "Breaking Bad." Following its debut in 2008, the show slowly but surely evolved into a phenomenon, upping the stakes year after year. While "Breaking Bad" primarily focused its story on the tale of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) using his skills as a chemist to cook meth for the criminal underworld, the show also introduced a host of compelling supporting characters across its five-season run. Among this supporting cast was none other than Giancarlo Esposito's stoic drug kingpin Gustavo Fring.

Gus became so popular among fans because of his enigmatic persona, with most of his inner scheming hiding beneath a blank stare. Gus remained difficult to read throughout his entire run on "Breaking Bad," with one of his most surprising and perplexing moves coming in the aptly-titled Season 4 episode, "Box Cutter," when he viciously murders Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) with a box cutter after Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul) successfully plot to kill Gale (David Costabile). Gus's decision to kill Victor not only puzzled Walt, Jesse, and Mike (Jonathan Banks), but it also raised some serious debate among fans as to the exact nature of his motives. The fans' debate about Victor's murder continues to this day (via Reddit), and a few plausible motives have risen to the top.

Some argue Gus killed Victor because of Gale's murder

One of the most obvious (and most logical) reasons for Victor's murder is the fact that he was seen at the scene of Gale's murder after failing to protect the ill-fated chemist from Jesse. As depicted in the series, Victor arrives shortly after the murder and is seen leaving the scene by a witness. This not only links Victor (and by extension, Gus's operation) to the murder, but the murder also only happened because Victor and Mike allowed themselves to be outmaneuvered by Walt and Jesse — and Victor is far more dispensible than Mike. 

This potential motive has not gone unnoticed by fans of the show in the Reddit discussion about Victor's death. r/walterpinkman45 said, "Because Victor showed his face at Gale's apartment, and it was to prove to Jesse and Walt that Gus isn't someone to f**k with." Gus, clearly having no patience for sloppy work that would jeopardize his operation, used Victor's death to make it clear to Walt and Jesse that further failure or insubordination would not be tolerated.

Further, a later episode shows Gus spotting a police sketch of Victor in the DEA's office, validating that he could have been identified by witnesses.

Others think Victor died because he tried to do Walt's job

Another possible reason for Victor's death in Season 4 of "Breaking Bad" is the fact that he overstepped and angered Gus by trying to work as a chemist despite having no apparent chemistry skills. Several times throughout the episode, Walt pleads with Gus to the effect that copying his process is not actually the same as knowing the chemistry behind cooking the blue meth. This is later validated in Season 5 when Walt refers to Victor's death and says, "Maybe he flew too close to the sun. Got his throat cut."

While Walt had no way of knowing whether or not he accurately read Gus's motives behind the killing, it is something some fans have come to accept as well. In fact, r/mitch13815 explained, "He kills Victor because he tried doing Walt's job for him. He showed a cockiness that Gus just did not like. By him taking the initiative and trying to say he was as good, as the greatest meth cook in the state (possibly country) he was spitting on Gus' choice of meth cook. Sure maybe sending a message was a side effect of what he did, but overall I'm convinced it was to show that if you cross Gus or his decisions, you will PAY." In the end, it's entirely possible that Gus agreed with Walt's assertion that the operation required a real chemist and not just someone who knew the steps. Then again, he does eventually try to replace Walt with Jesse once he's certain Jesse knows the steps. 

Some fans think Gus needed to let out his bloodlust on someone without jeopardizing the operation

Lastly, there is the simple possibility that Gus felt an overwhelming bloodlust and sense of anger during the events of this episode, ultimately forcing him to take it out on someone nearby. Mike had proven himself as a trusted enforcer, and like it or not, Walt and Jesse were the only ones who actually knew the chemistry behind their meth. As such, Victor found himself on the wrong end of the boxcutter.

The fans of "Breaking Bad" have picked up on this as well. In fact, r/LuckyLucEK wrote, "The way he was so cold and silent when in the lab, listening to Walt's pleading, showed to me the inner turmoil Gus was experiencing, and rather than jeopardize his operation by letting it out on Walt or Jesse, he chose the first best person he could expose of." Over the course of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul," while Gus was shown to be a master of hiding his emotions, he was not an emotionless individual. After hiding his frustration for much of "Breaking Bad," he finally snapped.

The exact reason why Gus chose to kill Victor may never be fully revealed. That said, it is likely some combination of the above, as all of them factored into his decision to take a box cutter to his henchman's throat.