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Opinion I The Backstory of Hector Salamanca's Bell





Sitting in his wheelchair at Casa Tranquila, a nursing home that Hector will remain until his death. He can't speak or walk, the only form of communication Hector has are facial expressions and tapping of his right index finger. Depressed, a feeling that his status of being a feared man is over. Lalo, a nephew of Hectors, walks into the activities room of the nursing home where Hector is watching television. Lalo came to visit with his uncle, he hasn't seen in quite a while. He was shocked to see Hector so weak and helpless. A man that would always "just want to go out and kill everyone," is now nothing but an old man sitting in a wheelchair. Lalo walked over to Hector and sat down. He brought a gift for his uncle, the gift was a bellhop bell. Lalo placed the bell onto Hector's wheelchair under his right index finger and wrapped a rubber band around it. Ding, ding, ding, ding... Hector now has a way to communicate.

The brilliant team behind the critically acclaimed AMC hit drama Better Call Saul has a way of taking something as small as a bellhop bell and pressing the rewind button to go back in time to tell the backstory. Wiedersehen, written by Gennifer Hutchison, tells the backstory behind Hector Salamanca's bellhop bell. The bell that Hector used to warned his nephew Tuco Salamanca that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were trying to poison Tuco with ricin. A poison Walter White ( Heisenberg) cooked in his lab out of beans, to make it look like crystal meth. The bell that spelled out the words S-U-C-K M-Y on his letter board with the help of his nurse, to D.E.A agents Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez, in Breaking Bad. The bell that brought an end to the long-running feud between Hector and Gus Fring that left Hector blown to pieces along with half of Gus's head.

The bellhop bell comes into play at some very iconic moments during the Breaking Bad era. The episode that will be forever remembered is Face Off, written and directed by Vince Gilligan. Hector Salamanca has many enemies, but two men wanted him dead more than anyone, Gus Fring and Walter White ( Heisenberg), and they also wanted to kill each other. In Face Off, Walter White came to Hector with a proposal to get rid of Gus, and Hector agreed. There were two parts to the plan; first, it needed to look like Hector was going to the D.E.A to rat out Gus. Hector spelled out N-E-E-D D-E-A on his letter board. When Hector got to the station, he told Hank Schrader to suck him and f*k off, via letter board. Hector's nurse apologized for his behavior, and they left. As she pushed him up the ramp onto the shuttle bus back to the nursing home, a man was watching. Tyrus, one of Gus's men. And the first thing he did was contact Gus to let him know that Hector was talking to the D.E.A. Hector's plan worked, Gus took the bait. The second half, Walter White wired a bomb to Hector's wheelchair and connected the trigger to the bell. Later that same day, Gus Fring walked into Hector's room at the nursing home to euthanize him. He looked a Gus, checkmate, Hector started to ring his bell faster, faster, and faster to trigger the bomb, then BOOM! They both blow up and die together. A bit of poetic justice. Gus thought he got his revenge on Hector for shooting his good friend/business partner in the head. All those years ago by halting his physical therapy after his stroke, which permanently put Hector in the wheelchair. But Hector won.

The story behind the bellhop bell begins with Lalo Salamanca visiting his uncle Hector at Casa Tranquila and taking Hector down memory lane. Lalo told Hector a story about a time when the Salamanca family stayed at Hotel Tulipan. " Uncle Hector, you know what I was thinking about this morning. The smell of burning leather and horse hair stuffing." Hector smiled, he started to remember the owner, a former professor who bragged about his education. "Hector is not college educated and is threatened by book smart people."

Like most hotels, the front desk had a bellhop bell, to call the bellhops. When the owner rang it, the "bellhops snapped to attention," which showed the owner great respect. Hector felt threaten, not just by the fact that the owner was so much smarter than him, but because the owner was gaining more respect from his employees. Finally, he snapped it was "Teaching the Teacher," time as Lalo puts it. Hector took the former professor in the back room to tortured him, all the while, the owner's wife listened from the next room. Hector wanted to show the former professor the "ways of Hector's world." A proud moment for Lalo and Hector, it shows just how evil the Salamancas can be. Lalo reminded his uncle, "You took your time with him, and his wife listening from the side." Hector smiled with pride.

Afterward, the Salamanca's burned the hotel to get rid of the evidence. When the flames went out, Lalo walked back into the hotel, he told his uncle he wanted a "souvenir." Through all the smoke and ash Lalo found the bellhop bell which symbolizes power and " Lalo took it to give that power to Hector."

Hector Salamanca always needed to be the man in control, 'the boss.' Hector lost that control when he had the stroke. When Lalo gave him the bell that symbolizes power, it gave Hector the feeling like he was in control again. It was not just a form of communication for Hector; it was a reminder of his past, who Hector Salamanca used to be.


References for this article, including quotes came
from the interview with writer Gennifer Hutchison
and Better Call Saul episode 409 Wiedersehen.


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