Episode Title: "Say My Name"
Writer: Thomas Schnauz
Director: Thomas Schnauz
Previously on "Breaking Bad":
After being outmaneuvered by Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) take him to the desert to meet with Declan (Louis Ferreira), the drug lord who wanted to buy their stolen methylamine. Declan is incredulous when Walt explains that the methylamine is worth more in his hands and he wants Declan to take over distribution of the product in exchange for 35% and a $5 million dollar finder's fee for Mike. Jesse silently notes that Walt neglects to insure a payout for him as well. To boost his credibility, Walt also introduces himself as the man who killed Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Walt then basks in Declan's awe when he identifies him as "Heisenberg."
Soon after, Declan departs with his men, leaving the $5 million for Mike as agreed upon. Jesse tries to bring up the fact that he was supposed to get $5 million from the deal as well, but Walt blows off the talk until later and says that he still needs Jesse for the transition. Mike is grudgingly impressed by Walt's play, if not grateful for all of the hoops he had to go through to get his money. He tells Jesse to watch out for himself and he advises Walt to get the bug out of Hank's office. At the car wash, Walt's wife, Skyler White (Anna Gunn) follows Walt's instructions to let him and Jesse in so they can retrieve the methylamine.
Jesse has another awkward exchange with Skylar before Walt tells her to go back into the office. Meanwhile, Mike's lawyer, Dan Wachsberger (Chris Freihofer) sweet talks a female bank employee and plies her with cookies before she opens up several safe deposit boxes for him. Once she is out of the vault room, Dan fills each box with money from his brief case and he leaves an extra large box full of cash for Mike's granddaughter. Out in the parking lot, Dan tells Mike that the families of the nine men currently in custody have been picking their cash up like clockwork and he promises to keep the payments coming after Mike is gone.
In private, Mike uses the bug one last time to hear Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) speak about their increased surveillance of his activities. So, Mike gets rid of his laptop and several guns well ahead of a DEA raid. Both Hank and Gomez are perplexed when Mike shows no apprehension as agents search his home. Back at Vamonos Pest, Jesse tries to confront Walt again about the money that he is owed, but Walt suggests that Jesse should be running his own lab so that they can double their money. When Jesse is insistent about quitting the business, Walt starts to verbally tear him down.
This time, Jesse doesn't back down and he won't stay in the business even if Walt won't pay him what he is owed. Infuriated, Walt screams that Jesse will get nothing if he leaves, but it doesn't stop Jesse from walking out on him. During a DEA meeting, Hank zones out as he examines new surveillance photos of Mike that aren't incriminating at all. Hank is then chewed out by his superior for spending so much time and resources on Mike's investigation and he is ordered to pull the plug. Undeterred, Hank notices that Dan is representing all nine of Gus' former employees and he tells Gomez to have him followed.
At the next cook, Walt brings in "Ricky Hitler" himself, Todd (Jesse Plemons) as his new lab partner. He tells Todd to apply himself to the cook and Todd really seems to make the attempt, but it's clear pretty quickly that he is no Jesse. However, Todd impresses Walt by insisting that he get everything right before figuring out his cut of the cook. At the bank, Dan doesn't notice when the female bank employee is less than enthusiastic about his latest visit or his cake pops. And moments later, Gomez and the DEA agents catch Dan in the process of passing on Mike's illegal payments to his clients. At his home, Walt tries to make conversation with Skyler about his new partner, but she doesn't play along.
Walt returns to Hank's office and makes a big show of pouring out his emotions before giving Hank the cue to leave. This gives Walt the chance to retrieve his bugs without suspicion, but he still overhears Gomez telling Hank that Dan has flipped and that he will give up Mike. At the park, Mike watches his granddaughter play when he gets a frantic call from Dan, who says that he will see him soon. Walt then calls Mike and warns him that the DEA is coming. To escape, Mike is forced to leave his granddaughter behind. In an emergency meeting with their lawyer, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Walt and Jesse realize that Mike won't flip on them… but his nine guys almost certainly will.
Mike then calls Saul and asks him to retrieve his emergency bag with cash and a passport so he can skip the country. Saul tries to get out of it and Jesse volunteers to bring it himself, but ultimately, Walt says that he will do it. At the airport parking lot, Walt finds Mike's car and opens the bag in the trunk to find the cash and passport as described, as well as a small gun. In a remote meeting place, Walt drives up with the bag. However, he refuses to give Mike the bag until he gives up the name of his nine guys. Mike takes the bag from Walter and turns to leave, but Walt just can't let Mike go and an argument ensues.
Mike tells Walt that they had a good thing with Gus, that was ruined by Walt's ego and Walt's refusal to know his place. As Mike gets in the car, he notes that his gun is missing right before Walt appears besides him and shoots him through the window. Mike drives off… and he quickly crashes the car. When Walt catches up to the car, Mike has already gotten out of the vehicle. Walt finds Mike gravely injured near the river and he disarms him before offering a self-serving apology. Walt also realizes that he can get the 9 names from Lydia. Mike tells Walt to shut the f*** up and let him die in peace. Moments later, Mike falls over, dead.
Before the current season of "Breaking Bad," series creator, Vince Gilligan said that Walt was going to do something that would erase all sympathy for him. If Walt killing Mike wasn't it, then I shudder to think what's in store for next week's mid-season finale. The truth is, I lost all sympathy for Walt last season when it was revealed that he poisoned Brock just to get Jesse back on his side. And Walt did plenty of things this season as well that made it clear that he no longer has any empathy for anyone. So, why should we have any for him?
Like the majority of "Breaking Bad" fans, I'd gotten attached to Mike. He may have been an outlaw, but Mike was still honorable in his own way. Textbook drama is the threat of bad things happening to characters that the audience cares about. However, I must have missed the chapter where the main character is the one killing his supporting characters. Walt's actions may have been inevitable, but it was still kind of heartbreaking to see Mike go out like that. Mike deserved better, but his death still worked on every conceivable level.
Jonathan Banks deserves one last shout out for his role, especially for the sadness that Mike showed as he abandoned his granddaughter in the park to make his escape. She was the one thing that Mike really loved and now her last memory of him will be that he left her behind… and she never saw him again. Mike couldn't even give his granddaughter the financial security that he worked so hard for. Walt may have lost sight of his original goals, but Mike seemingly never did. I'm curious as to how Walt plans to cover this up… not just from the cops, but from Jesse as well. Jesse and Mike had gotten to the point where they really cared about each other. And Jesse would definitely avenge Mike if he knew the truth.
Even in the midst of all of this darkness, Bryan Cranston's Walt still gets some truly hilarious moments. Walt's "apology" to Mike as he was dying gave that scene a much needed laugh, as did Mike's curt retort. The same goes for Walt's second meltdown in Hank's office, when he practically had to coach Hank into remembering his excuse to leave Walt alone with his crocodile tears. The last confrontation between Mike and Walt was also pretty riveting. Mike had a point that life was better under Gus Fring, but to Walt, that life was the equivalent of forced servitude. There was also a moment after Walt shot Mike that he almost seemed to regret what he had just done. But like everything else in Walt's recent history, it was too late to undo his actions.
Walt may have resisted trying out his own product, but he's clearly addicted to the rush of stepping into his Heisenberg persona. In the desert, Walt didn't even blink when Declan threatened him and his "Would you want to live in a world without Classic Coke?" line was one of the best of the season. I don't think we've seen Walt any happier than when this drug distributor whom he didn't even know said "Heisenberg" with a level of respect that Walt has been searching for most of his adult life. Finally, he's been recognized for his accomplishments. But as Jesse said last week, is a meth empire really something to be proud about?
Aside from Mike, no one was more screwed in this episode than Jesse. It was Jesse's intervention that kept Walt safe last week when Mike wanted to shoot him for moving the methylamine. And Walt betrays his long time partner by attempting to blackmail Jesse into staying in the business. Jesse at least had a good moment of character growth when he called Walt out on his bulls*** and still walked away from the business. But knowing Jesse, he'll end up back in Walt's orbit sooner rather than later. There is almost a gravitational pull between them, no matter how hard Jesse tries to break it.
Of course, Walt may be pining for Jesse himself after trying to make Todd his new assistant. Todd may not be a stupid as he appears, but it's pretty obvious that he just doesn't have Jesse's affinity for the meth cook. But Todd does have an amoral streak that Walt may value more than anything else. As for the remaining loose ends of Gus' operations, I expect that Walt and Lydia will have them killed, possibly as soon as the next episode. It also wouldn't surprise me if Walt and Lydia become lovers. They are both extremely selfish people who are sometimes deluded about their place in the world. It's almost as if they were meant for each other. As for Skyler, her current arrangement with Walt can't last forever. And she's already found a way to torture him by taking away any illusion he has about their future together.
"Say My Name" was an exceptional hour of television. But that's just par for the course when it comes to "Breaking Bad."