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This Was The Key To Gus Fring's Immense Success On Breaking Bad

AMC's beloved Breaking Bad is full of powerful and unpredictable characters, but few can compete with the owner of the seemingly harmless Los Pollos Hermanos fried chicken franchise, who also happens to run the decidedly less than harmless drug operation behind it. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) is the show's most dangerous chessmaster, and although Walter White (Bryan Cranston) manages to blow him up in the end, the operation requires far more luck and reliance on past adversaries than Gus' own, almost casually genius schemes.

However, there's always a bigger fish, and for Gus it comes in the form of the Juaréz Cartel. While he's technically their underling, there's a strong (if unfailingly polite) animosity between him and the cartel all along. This eventually escalates when Walt and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) enter the Albuquerque drug scene with their blue crystal meth. Gus ends up taking them under his wing in an uncomfortable alliance, thus preventing the cartel from getting its mitts on the duo and their recipe — but his power and success are still far from unchallenged, despite having access to the hottest meth cooks out there and the most reliable distribution system around. So, how does he ultimately secure his immense, unrivaled success on Breaking Bad?

Gus Fring's tequila scheme establishes his dominance

Gus establishes his success in the season 4 episode "Salud," in which he, Jesse, and Mike (Jonathan Banks) visit Juaréz Cartel bigshot Don Eladio Vuente (Steven Bauer) — and under the guise of peace talks, poisons him and his capos with a bottle of poison tequila. This might seem like a suspiciously easy way to topple a powerful criminal organization, but when a Breaking Bad fan asked on Reddit whether he truly managed to bring down the whole cartel, user Universal-Gleam pointed out that Gus' plan was devastatingly effective.

"I would assume that Gus essentially destroyed the whole cartel due to assassinating Eladio and other high ranking members (including Juan Bolsa  [Javier Grajedja])," they wrote. "Is that to say that the whole cartel would disappear overnight? Unlikely, but it wouldn't be operational for very long without that leadership and would have no means of maintaining its power. Word would spread about Eladio's death and it would fall apart. Hector [Salamanca, played by Mark Margolis] was the last surviving high-ranking member after the assassination, but was obviously in no position to do much by himself. The resulting power vacuum would just leave the door open for Gus to increase his own empire freely, and any remaining Cartel operations would be easily broken down over a short time."

So, yeah. The poison tequila maneuver was all it took for Gus to destroy his enemies, and to become the single most powerful character on Breaking Bad. Of course, the only reason Gus' success doesn't last is specifically because he leaves the seemingly harmless Hector alive. This enables Walt to conspire with the old cartel member to equip his wheelchair with a bomb — which, in turn, proves to be the end of Gus.