Breaking Bad S5E7 “Say My Name” Review

SPOILERS:  Well, Mike’s dead.  As I’m sure all of you did too, my cousin and I sat in silence for minutes after the episode ended, our mouths agape.  We knew the half-season would be ending on a bang, but that was supposed to be next Sunday.  Here we are, not even enduring the year long wait for closure, and still we can’t wrap our heads around what we just saw.  Where to begin?

“Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace.”

Mike Ehrmantraut was an awesome character.  I loved him from the moment I watched him, cool and calculated, help Jesse clean up his apartment after Jane overdoses.  And though he began as quite the minor player, he soon stole entire scenes, most notably in “Half Measure”, during his amazing monologue detailing his somewhat shady police past.  It is hinted that he departed from the Philadelphia police force in quite the dramatic, and probably not so noble, fashion, but with his death any chances of learning that past most probably die with him.  A shame, as such a guarded character’s history may forever remain shrouded in mystery.  Regardless, his final team-up with the man he so derisively called “Walter” was destined to end badly.  In fact, after he gives Walter his final lecture and walks back to his car, I looked to my cousin and stated that I thought for a moment Walt might shoot him.  And then, well, Walt shot him.  My prediction remained the most implausible option, and yet the show went in that direction.  I was stunned.  The show’s ability to remain unpredictable once again reminded me just how much of a masterpiece Breaking Bad is.

This is the first time we’ve seen the actual Walter White in quite a while. It was a nice break from the usual ego-bloated Heisenberg we’ve grown to, um, “love”.

It was a bad mistake on Walter’s part.  Mike was on the verge of being arrested and was at the center of attention of the DEA, at least as far as Hank Schrader is concerned.  And though Hank continues to jeopardize his great career opportunities by remaining obsessive about his old case, his intuitions remain as sharp as ever.  Now, with Mike dead, the pressure will be amped up to find who killed him.  Could it be the elusive Heisenberg?  Everything depends on how well Walt managers to dispose of the evidence.  Will it be the old acid barrel he’s grown so accustomed to?  I predict not, simply because Walt’s nerves are finally so shot that he will get sloppy.  Maybe he’ll just shove him in the river?  A terrible mistake, and not at all logical, but then again, the killing itself shows that even Empire Walt isn’t as cold and rational as he would like to believe.  This is just too big a blunder for our anti-hero to close the doors on once and for all.  Something will be left open, and it will lead right back to him.

Of course, we’re now faced with numerous questions as to what will end up happening with Jesse.  He apparently left Walt with the money and cut ties completely.  We saw from the beginning of the season that Jesse didn’t care about the money as much as Mike or Walt did, and even offered to pay the hush money for the 9 inmates himself.  Indeed, it was a mystery as to why exactly Jesse got back in the business in the first place.  I think that issue dawned on him as well finally, and now he’s out.  Except, we all know that’s not the way the show works, but I still wonder just how Jesse will be brought back into the mix.  Walt’s already hard at work replacing him with awkward Todd, who’s as eager to learn as he is to shoot kids for waving at him.  And with Walt inevitably using Todd’s prison connections Todd mentioned a few episodes back to take out Lydia’s list, what motivation would Jesse have to contact his manipulative and murderous chemistry teacher again?  Or will it be Walt who finds Jesse?

Yo Mr. White, you still owe me $5 for that joint you smoked like nearly a year ago.

Which is interesting.  Early in the episode, Walt promises Jesse that no one else will die as they plug ahead in this little “empire business” of his, but old Mr. White couldn’t make it until the end of a single episode without shooting a man in cold blood.  His ego has taken over, there can be no question, but from his conclusion with Mike and his tirade against Jesse, it seems Walter has grown more and more unhinged as well.  I’m not entirely sure we’re still watching the three-moves-ahead tactician Walt we saw in seasons past.  As of now, it seems we’ve watched him fully evolve into a depraved killer driven solely by emotion.  That’s not the Walt we’ve grown to know, and honestly, it is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in his character.  His complete disregard of caution is stunning, and will surely be his inevitable downfall.

I’m given to believe these changes are based at least in part to his growing isolation and loneliness.  It really hit me last night when watching him standing in the pest control shop after Jesse left.  He has lost his family, he has lost his partner, he’s lost everything he’s held close over the past year.  And now what does he have?  Todd, an adult perpetually stuck in puberty; Deckland, a tough talking meth dealer so spineless he gives into Walt’s demands to say his name and acquiesces to all of Walter’s schemes; and his precious blue meth.  He has nothing.  He ventured so far outside of his life in order to help his family that he lost them, and is now stranded in a world he doesn’t truly desire.  He’ll get his money and he’ll make his meth, but his purpose is now missing.  Even if he builds his empire, he’ll be alone at the top.  And that lonely desperation, kept hidden deep within for all this time, is now seeping through the cracks as he lashes out at anyone that dare threaten his fragile worldview.  And Mike, god love him, did just that.  He poked the balloon and it finally popped.  And Walter is left without a plan.  He’s no longer acting, he is reacting.  And that puts him a few moves behind.

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.  Only one more episode before the long break, and I’m certain it will be huge!


One Comment to “Breaking Bad S5E7 “Say My Name” Review”

  1. Right from the start of this season, I new Mike wouldn’t be making it to the end. I always tried to keep it out of my mind, but the amount of development the show began to give him just kept bringing up the inevitable end to everyone’s favorite “Cleaner.” I at first naively thought he would go down in some heroic act of saving Jesse from Walt, but the writers once again surprised me for the billionth time. Instead they decided to use him as a device for the nail in the coffin that would finally push Walt into inescapable darkness. Gone are the days of Walt’s redemption (as you mentioned in your previous episode reviews) and boy has this point been made clear with this episode. If this was the penultimate episode of the mid-season, I can only imagine what dark twist will present itself in the next episode before the break. I know it’s childish as an English major and general lover of story-telling, but I still hope in the back of my mind that Mike only feigned his final moments to get Walter away from him. Either way, I’m sure Walt will be in for a very unpleasant surprise should Jesse ever hear the Mike is dead thanks to another brilliant blunder by his former meek Chemistry teacher.

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