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In Breaking Bad Walter White hired Jack Welker to kill all of Mike's men along with their lawyer, Dan Wachsberger. Jack said he could have them all killed, but not within a 2 minute interval. Walter insisted they kill all during that time.

Why 2 minutes? Why not 10 minutes? Why not an hour? Why not a whole day?

If the men were killed over a few days, somebody might figure out that everyone associated with Mike was targeted and then move some of them into solitary confinement to protect them. But that would take time. Even if Mike's men were killed over 1 day, Jack's henchmen could probably get them all since the men (not counting the lawyer) were incarcerated in 3 different jails and it would take time for the authorities in 3 different jurisdictions to realize what was up.

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  • I don't specifically remember this scene as it has been a while, but IIRC this is late in the series, when Walter's paranoia was getting the better of him in terms of second-guessing others. Even if the 2 minute interval wasn't logically necessary, he may have thought it was necessary - assuming his enemies would react unrealistically quickly to stop him, because everyone is always trying to stop him, the Great Heisenberg. – Steve-O Apr 28 '20 at 16:37
  • I assumed it was the beverly hills cop robbery theory. Basically, 2 minutes is enough to get it done. Any more, and it's enough to go wrong. He was probably just emphasizing the possibility that if it is not done in 2 minutes the chance of someone getting away grows too high to accept. But he wouldn't explain that. He's Heisenberg. He expects people to do as he says because... well, that's what became of WW over the course of the show. – Kai Qing May 1 '20 at 2:54
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Walter White could have had multiple motivations.

Ego

Walter White has a huge ego. He doesn't like it when somebody doesn't do things the way he wants it done. When Jack Welker snaps his fingers two inches in front of Walt's face and says "It can be done, just not the way you want it done," Walter insists it be done in two minutes. It's his way of saying, "I call the shots, not you."

Note that Walter never mentions the more pragmatic motivation described below. We have no indication that he even thought of this reason. If he had, it would seem prudent to communicate that to Jack. The only motivation shown in the show is ego.

Lockdown

Walter White might have a more pragmatic concern: make sure every potential snitch is killed before the jail goes into lockdown mode. Another possible reason is that when a prison riot occurs or somebody gets killed, the entire jail goes into lockdown mode. Toward the end of the scene montage where the prisoners are killed, you can hear alarms blaring. This is because the guards have discovered 1 or 2 dead bodies already. They hit the alarm and order everyone back to their cells. Those prisoners might be in lockdown mode for another day or two. What if the hitmen missed even one of Mike's men before they were ordered into their cells? Notice that the last man to die was burned alive inside his own cell. He obeyed the lockdown order by going into his cell, and his killers flamed him before they too went into lockdown.

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  • "Notice that the last man to die was burned alive inside his own cell." IIRC he was in some sort of protective custody, hence the more elaborate way of killing him. – BCdotWEB Apr 28 '20 at 22:56
  • I am going to go with the "Ego" answer because that is actually mentioned in the story. The Lockdown answer is plausible but not supported by the story. – LincolnMan May 1 '20 at 5:09
  • Honestly I think the Lockdown answer is extremely plausible @LincolnMan and no less supported by the story. A "Figure it out, that's what I'm paying you for" doesn't really constitute 'support' for the Ego answer. Walter is intelligent and knows that the longer it takes the more likely that someone will escape to be a witness. He's just willing to pay the price to ensure he is safe. – iandotkelly Feb 13 at 0:51
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In addition to the reasons provided in RichS's answer, and similar to the "Lockdown" explanation, the DEA was in the process of trying to get information out of these men, knowing that they all had information about Fring's empire. Because of this, if word got out that any one of these men had been murdered the rest of them would have been given extra protection immediately. The DEA would have taken extra measures to ensure the safety of this group of men specifically, including removing them from the general prison population where it was possible for them to be killed.

It is not clear realistically how much time would be needed for the DEA to find out and respond to the murder of one of these men; but it's not unreasonable to think that even if there were an hour between one killing and the next, that it would be too late, that hour would give the DEA enough time to act to protect the other men.

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    "...if word got out that any one of these men had been murdered the rest of them would have been given extra protection immediately." -- Makes the most sense to me. +1 – Charles Apr 28 '20 at 21:18
  • Isn't this answer basically the same as the Lockdown explanation in the other answer? – LincolnMan Apr 28 '20 at 22:36
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    @LincolnMan It intends to expand upon it in 2 ways... 1) "Lockdown" specifically refers to what happens at a specific jail when someone is killed; it does affect people in other jails. And 2) The other answer doesn't talk about how these men are of special interest to the DEA and would be given special protection if anything happened. – GendoIkari Apr 29 '20 at 0:17
  • That’s supposed to say “doesn’t affect...” – GendoIkari Apr 29 '20 at 4:00
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Along with the other reasons, I believe it was to avoid having the surviving witnesses be put in protection. When it flashes to Hank taking the pictures with the girls, clearly the message he received was: your witnesses in the Gus Fring case were all just killed.

If Walt hadn't given a short enough time for the killing to take place, the deal would have had the time to remove the other witnesses, so that's the reason for the 2 minutes. I'm sure it could have been done within maybe 10 minutes or something more reasonable being that it was split between 3 jails in different jurisdiction, but where's the drama in that? Like another said, it could have been an ego thing as well or possibly testing Jack's capabilities and reach. Either way, it was most definitely to cut loose ends. That's why they highlight Hank in that scene.

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Besides the other reasons given, the reason Walter wanted them killed in the first place was because the payments to their families had been shut down, and he was concerned that this would remove the incentive they had to keep quiet. If word got out that they were being killed, that would give even further incentive for them to flip. Remember, they wouldn't have to survive to trial to screw him over: if any of them had recognized him and given his name, and that had made its way to Hank, that would have been enough for Hank to put the pieces together.

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If you're going to make a complicated hit, you want to do so in quick fashion so that no one gets wind of what's going on.

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