Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 7 Deconstructed

by: Michael Shields

Although still somewhat in shock, and frankly saddened, it is time deal with the fallout of ‘Say my Name’…


The creator of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan, and his esteemed staff of writers did a very powerful thing this season.  They cleverly found a way to compensate for feelings we once extended towards Walt, the sympathy we once felt for him.  As the lead character of this show subtly transformed into a monster that we could hardly recognize, Gilligan shrewdly rotated a background character into the main fray that was as lovable as a grizzled ex-cop with a proficiency to wipe out problems with a gun could be.  We as viewers have a few needs, chief among them is having an antihero present for us to root for.  We have become accustomed to this.  When we lost ours Gilligan revolved one in1 that fit the bill.   One equipped with a never ending arsenal of wisecracks and an abounding amount of love for his precious granddaughter2.

Mike Ehrmantraut3 was gunned down last evening by Walter White after insulting Mr. White for the last time and holding back highly coveted information from him4.  We all knew there would be blood but it wasn’t obvious where the first drops would come from, but Mike was as good of a guess as any.  Walt was oil to Mike’s vinegar and the one thing I take comfort in is that Mike is at peace far from his nemesis.  As much as their headbutting sessions entertained they also foreshadowed what occurred along the creek bank last evening5.  A sad day, one we all saw coming.

Mike became collateral damage6, and although Mike would have rode off into the sunset never to return, once you’re in Walt’s web escape is nearly impossible.  I cannot decipher without a shadow of a doubt if Walt had in mind ridding the world of Mike when Saul shuffled through his cell-phone drawer, but I wouldn’t put it past him at all.  He did steal Mike’s gun on route, leaving behind the empty holster.

Walt’s power was displayed in all it’s might and arrogance throughout this episode, particularity in the opening scene during his meeting with Declan.  The way he intimidated the out-of-towners into using the services he provides7 was nothing short of a clinic.  Heisenburg at his finest, imposing his will.  This is who Walt has become, a man who says with the strongest of confidence and pride that he was the man who killed Gus Fring8.  That clearly earns you respect on the streets but that doesn’t do much for you on the home-front as a microwave dinner and a empty dinner table prove it’s sometimes lonely at the top.

Some of this week’s most memorable lines9:

“Grade school tee-ball versus the New York Yankees…..” -Heisenburg

“Your just some tepid off brand generic cola–what I make is Classic Coke.” -Heisenburg

“You all know exactly who I am” -Heisenburg

“Do you really want to live in a world without Coca-cola?” -Heisenburg

It is frustrating, to say the least, to watch Walt’s handling of Jesse at this point.  He is using every trick in his manipulation toolbox to keep his partner.  Jesse wants out, at any cost – even if it means walking away without the 5 million he was expecting, but Walt refuses to release his clutch.  Walt attempts to play both sides of the coin, first praising Jesse (“You’re every bit as good as me”) then tearing him down (“squandered potential” / Gale / “blood money” / his addiction).  Jesse seems ready to stand up for himself at least, but how far will Jesse go is the question.  We all know Walt has no limits to what he will do to get what he wants.

We have one episode left before the hiatus. Personally I feel we have come much further than I assumed we would have at this point.  I discussed in the episode 3’s recap that we are dealing with a situation now where it is Walt vs. anyone who gets in his way.  Well, Walt vs Mike has been hashed out.  On deck we have three very intriguing battles yet to be waged….Walt vs. Jesse ; Walt vs. Skyler ; and Walt vs Hank.  All three of which are heating up and I suspect they get dealt with in this very order10.

Mike was an amazing character.  It was a joy to see so much of him throughout this season and he truly will go down as one of the most memorable characters on one of the most memorable shows of all time.  The drug game is unforgiving.  It also is hard to walk away from unscathed11.  The look in his eyes as he left Kaylee upon that swing to make a break for it told us that the most apt cleaner in the history of television has a huge heart.  It didn’t have to go down like it did I suppose……but in many ways it occurred the only way possible.  Mike was never able to remove the thorn in his side that was Walt, and he clearly knew better than to work with this “ticking time bomb”.  But he would do anything for Kaylee.  Anything……

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

Mike Ehrmantraut

Rest in Peace

  1. A maturing Jesse, too, is filling this need []
  2. Kaylee has no idea how close she was to becoming a multimillionaire []
  3. Played to perfection by Jonathan Banks []
  4. These DAMN legacy cost.  Losing Mike this way was indeed sad, but heightened to unbearable when Walt realized he could have just asked Lydia for the list of names []
  5. Particularly in the episode entitled ‘Hazard Pay’ where Walt implies to Jesse that Mike is flying a little too close to the sun []
  6. It is important to note that Jesse is collateral damage as well with Todd now cooking and his insistence upon retiring []
  7. “70 % pure – if your lucky vs. 99.1% []
  8. Vanity in all it’s glory []
  9. Truly too many to include them all, went with a Heisenburg themed list []
  10. Walt vs. the disgruntled inmates, now numbered at ten, who are expecting to be paid for their silence is a heated storyline as well []
  11. Prime example – D’Angelo Barksdale []

2 Comments

  • Indeed it was Mr. Ritz. I appreciated the simplicity of that scene. She just wasn’t having it.

    My prediction for next week has something to do with what Todd said in last week’s episode. Everything matters in Breaking Bad so when Todd mentions his uncle has connections in jail (and Mike confirmed it was true) that is relevant. There are 10 men in jail who are a threat to Walt’s empire and he may have a way to get to them through Todd’s uncle. But he may only have to get to one (the manager of the laundry we met??) to send a message. This should all come in to play.

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