Breaking Bad: Say My Name, Season 5 Episode 7
Taking a closer look at Say My Name: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 7
As intricate and well thought-out as Breaking Bad is, some of the strongest characters such as Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring were created as a result of bad luck. According to creator Vince Gilligan, the actor that played Tuco (Raymond Cruz) was no longer available because he became a regular on the TV show ‘The Closer’. Consequently, they came up with Gus Fring who is everything Tuco was not: “button-down and business-like.” The introduction of Mike was also out of happenstance. Originally, at the end of Season 2 after Jane’s overdose, it was supposed to be Saul Goodman that comes to clean up the house but the actor (Bob Odenkirk) was unavailable, thus the creation of Mike, the all-purpose go-to-guy. Gilligan was a huge fan of the tv show Wiseguys staring Jonathan Banks and when he discovered who was up for the part, Banks got the role. There weren’t necessarily any long-range plans for Gus and Mike but the producers responded to the actor’s performances and included the characters into the show’s evolving narrative.
Here are some of my quick reactions after watching this episode:
• Classic Coke – Walt makes an offer the competition can’t refuse. In exchange for handling the distribution end, the competition gets 35% of the take. In the last episode the competitor showed his intelligence when he deduced there was a third partner just by being offered 666 gallons of methylamine which is about two-thirds of a 1000 gallons – a nice round number. In this episode, Walt has to spell out the math and logic to convince the competitor to abandon his blue-dyed meth knock-off for the real thing. Walt telling the guy to say his name is an act of empowerment, making the competition acknowledge Walt’s superiority and reputation. Walt adds to the legend of Heisenberg by explaining he was responsible for the assassination of drug kingpin Gus Fring, not the drug cartel. There’s a smug, confident demeanor that emanates from Walt that is so far removed from the character we first met, completely out his element wearing only a crusty underwear.
• Heisenberg – Walt is using his all of tricks this episode. His plan to stay in business works on many levels. He keeps all of the methylamine for himself to cook, turns the competition into his partner (aka subordinates), acquires a new distributor and obtains 5 million dollars so Mike can retire and pay off the legacy cost. Conveniently, Walt has no immediate plans for the $5 million owed to Jesse because he wants to keep his sidekick on board. Walt goes for the low blow telling Jesse his life has no meaning if gives up the business and it’s only a matter time before Jesse starts using drugs again. Fortunately, Walt’s Jedi-mind tricks have no influence on Jesse this time. Jesse doesn’t believe for a second that Walt is remorseful for any of the deaths on their hands or that the killing will stop. I loved that Jesse called Walt out on his bullsh*t and gave up $5 million of tainted blood money. I do also like that Walt recognizes he’s going to that special place in hell, but while he’s alive he’s not going to lie down. Which brings us to Walt’s new replacement for Jesse. Do you think it’s a terrible idea for Walt to take on Todd as his meth-cook partner? If Jesse is Häagen Dazs, then Todd is some sort of soft-serve sewage sludge.
• Let Me Die In Peace – Mike entrusts the legacy payments to Dan the lawyer who puts the money in safety deposit boxes for each recipient. When the DEA discover Dan’s true agenda and the money, Mike becomes a wanted man. Walt wants the names of the 9 people receiving the legacy money because he wants to eliminate them before they flip like Dan; he has no interest in continuing the payments. The final scene is hauntingly poetic; from the shot of Mike skipping stones, the view of the trees overlooking the parked cars and the contemplative serenity of the glistening lake. Mike essentially breaks down why things have spiraled out of control. The reason is Walt. Walt’s pride and ego consumes or destroys everything that comes in its path like a malignant cancer (something that many reviewers and show producers have pointed out). This accusation and refusal to reveal the names enrages Walt and causes him to shoot Mike in cold blood, only to later realize he could have gotten the names from Lydia. Mike has had nine lives from surviving the ambush on the los pollos hermanos truck that got sprayed with bullets to getting shot in the gut in Mexico. But if he was going to get killed off on the show, staring out into the peaceful lake was a fitting end to a fan-favorite character. As for Walt, he is usually so methodical, thinking three or four moves ahead but he is surprised at himself for losing control and killing Mike. So what is Walt’s next play? Getting the names from Lydia and crossing them out on his list?
• ‘Best Quotes from the Episode’
Walt: “Do you really want to live in a world without Coca Cola?”
Jesse to Walt: “It’s bullsh*t every time! Always!”
Mike: “Shut the f* up and let me die in peace.”