For Whom the Bell Tolls

On Breaking Bad, even the stone cold killers have a heart. And through that heart pumps the blood of family. For Tio Salamanca, family, whether dead or alive, inspired the willpower to live regardless of his post-stroke wheelchair-bound state.

Of all the darkly humorous and bizarre characters of Breaking Bad, Tio takes the cake. His dribbling, twitching, hostile self provoked what was a revolting image as well as a mesmerizing one. And the bell. Yes, Tio’s telltale bell. It got to a point where one dreaded Tio’s bell-banging tirades, yet could not wait for the next dinging frenzy to come.

Tio Salamanca used his bell well. It and he told us that clearly Tio was all about his family. Who can forget his more than usually twisted facial expression when he was informed that his nephew Tuco was dead? Tuco had always been loyal to Tio and was beloved for that. So, Tio soon sends his nephews out for revenge. They, being the stylish twin killing machines (a.k.a.The Cousins).

And consider the effect of Gus’s visits to Tio at his nursing home. Gus bragged to Tio, claiming responsibility for the murders of his nephews – The Cousins. Gus emphasized the fact that with Tuco also murdered, the Salamanca bloodline was destroyed. Tio was explosive.

As things go very awry, mastermind Walt informs Tio that Gus was responsible for The Cousins double assassination. In turn, Tio sacrifices himself spectacularly, avenging his nephews’ death by killing Gus – for whom the bell tolled.

Family matters to all on Breaking Bad. In Season 5.5, which bloodlines do you think will be tested?

Monica Z. Sage is a freelance writer. See more at


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