Breaking Bad Review: “Say My Name”

I can’t remember another show that’s gone through such a drastic shift for its main character. Sure, we’re no stranger to anti-heroes, guys who are bad from the start like Tony Soprano or Dexter, and the show grows outward from them.

But Walter White? Five years ago (and one year in show time), he was a chemistry teacher trying to raise money to beat cancer and provide for his family.

My, how far we’ve come.

Each episode this season has built on the last, showing how Walt is reaching new depths of craziness on a mad power trip to become meth king of the American Southwest. But last night? He’s crossed the bridge to insanity and blown it up behind him.

No point beating around the bush, Walt killed Mike, and up until the thirty seconds preceding it, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting that kind of turn. It was almost botched in typical Breaking Bad fashion, as for a moment it seemed like Mike could have gotten away to be Walt’s reckoning another day. But alas, he expired on the banks of a rather picturesque river, allowing Walter to bask in the madness of what he’d just done, and realize he didn’t even have to do it at all.

It’s just so strange to have the main character of the show twisted from the good guy into the villain. There’s no redemption for Walt now, we’re passed that. The hero mantle now falls to Jesse it seems, who has graduated from supporting character to the only real person we’re rooting for on the show any more. And I suppose Hank if you want a swift law enforcement ending to the whole thing. But can you really imagine that happening?

Before Mike’s final goodbye, we saw Walt flexing his muscle in different ways. He did so successfully securing a deal with the rival drug gang, though going into business with a bunch of murderous thugs he’s never met is probably not that smartest idea. But Walt has been anything but smart recently. His strongarm tactic failed to work with Jesse, and his insults drove him away rather than made him realize he had nothing without Walt. I think it was a pretty significant moment to have Jesse choose jack shit over Walt and millions of dollars. Walt just couldn’t believe it, and he lost his only actual friend.

Now Todd is being trained to make meth, and though he’s a good student apparently, let’s not forget this guy MURDERED A CHILD a few weeks ago, so I’m guessing he’s not going to be a net positive for Walt’s little operation. I could see him ending up killing Walt. That’s something this show would do, rather than make it some big dramatic showdown between established characters.

And really, doesn’t Walt have to die? Isn’t this the way this is going to go? We’re only a few lines of coke and an M-16 away from the ending of Scarface. Walt’s in full Tony Montana mode as evidenced by his “Say my name” power play in the desert. I’m surprised he didn’t yell, “You f*** with me, you f*** with the best!” shortly after.

This was a truly powerful episode from start to finish, and not just because of Mike’s death alone. The full range of emotions on nearly every character was on display here, and by the end even self-proclaimed badass Walt lost his cool when he realized how far he’d gone.

Now what happens? Next week is the “season finale,” whatever that means in bizarro AMC land where seasons are eight episodes long and take six month breaks for some reason. So what goes down in the finale? How could it possibly top this?

How will Mike’s death be discovered, or will it? Will Walt just pretend Mike escaped to happyland, or will the police somehow find the body in that remote location? What happens when Jesse finds out? He has to know Walt did it, and I think we might get one more showdown between the pair of them before this series ends.

And…what does long-haired Walt need that machine gun for months later as we saw in the first episode? Where the hell are we going here?

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  1. Man, I’m really glad I saw “The Wire” already. Nice spoiler alert for that. As to the show, awesome as usual. Like you, I was surprised at how Mike went down, but thought it was brilliant, especially the bit where Walt realized how pointless Mike’s death was. Especially ironic, that, as it is pretty obvious that Walt doesn’t and hasn’t understood that about any of the other deaths he’s caused.

  2. Dude, why put a spoiler that big out of the blue for no reason?

    I’m currently watching the wire and you just spoiled my favourite characters death!

    If you’re not going to use spoiler tags or warnings please do not put shit like that in your articles. Please remove it ASAP so you don’t spoil it for other people!

  3. How did you not see it coming? The instant Mike was busted, I knew it could only go two ways – he kills himself right there in the park, or Walt kills him.

    Walt’s been a villain the whole time; making meth for any reason isn’t some sort of noble undertaking. Walt’s actually the only guy who “gets it;” once you make the decision to become a criminal, the rest logically follows. The deaths – rival dealers, kids, girlfriends, a guy trying to enslave you – that’s the business of protecting yourself.

    Mike was a loose end. There really is no “retiring” from a partnership like that.

  4. I think Walt gets the machine gun to go out in a blaze of glory and vengeance against his enemies, who have probably killed some or all of his family. Remember, Gus Fring had some powerful, as-yet-unseen friends. (There was a reason the Mexican cartel wouldn’t kill him) I can only imagine that they hit back at Walt at some point.

  5. I bet Todd’s Prison connection will come into play soon. Especially now that Mikes crew flipped. Maybe the next episode will have a Godfather style ending. That’s where my money’s on.

  6. i dont like the half seasons either, but futurama is supposedly doing it too, south park does it, so many shows do it, but, as long as there is an intermittent show im fine, dexter starts in a couple weeks, the shitting dead a few weeks after that, i am sure by the time those are done breaking bad will be back shortly to take some space

  7. no the prison connects wont flip beacuse walt will pay them….in the end jesse might do something stupid or the cartel or those new guys that bought the meth off walt

  8. I was so disappointed by that ending. I mean, it was obvious Walter was going to kill Mike. It was coming. And I’m really sad about that, because Mike was my favorite character over the entire series. Say what you will about the evolution of Walter and Jesse and even Hank, Mike was the most well developed character on the show. I’m incredibly sad to see Mike gone.

    But that was a crap way for him to go. He deserved better than a gunshot to the arm that happened to enter his chest. He deserved better than to be killed by a man he had just asked to help him escape and live out the rest of his days freely.

    But… nope.

    I really did like the comments about Hell that Walter made. Seemed oddly poetic given what he was about to do. That’s 11 people he has personally murdered, although I think it is fair to lay Gale on him as well. He’s going to whatever bad place exists after death. No doubt about it.

  9. @ Josh, Mike was awesome, but he never really underwent any sort of character development.

    He started out as a bad ass, and ended as a bad ass. (even though he died by stupid Walts hand)

    Mike was my favorite too. Very sad to see him go. It’s rare that a TV show can evoke such strong emotions from me.

  10. This season is really steaming along with every episode a classic, could it be that Walt ends up on some kind of throne at the end of all this, picture the end of Conan the Barbarian (john milius one) or end scene of the chronicles of riddick!

    No one has said anything about one of the main horrors of this episode, “bacon cookies” bleaurgh!! The americans will eat anything.

  11. I wish the commenters could remove their “The Wire” spoiler like Paul did. Thanks a lot, guys.

    Anyway, shocking episode. Did Walt kill him just because he was mad? I saw no logical reason for it, and with Walt that is WEIRD.

  12. Charley Ward, exactly my thought, here’s when it gets interesting…

    I’m not on board of the theory that we’re watching the descent of a man into his own made hell, regardless of what he said in this episode; what we are watching is a reinvention of Jeckill and Hyde, and for a while now Hyde has the control. Walt, as Dr. Jeckill, is still alive in there, he appears when the drug and death business logic does not compute. He appeared today, when mike was killed for no practical reason (he wasn’t going to talk, we know he would never betray anyone… if he was the betrayal type, fring would have never hire him for such a big operation). His killing was messy, stupid and completely outside of any Heisenberg (Hyde) logic… that was Walt in his worst moment, that was the worst Walt could have done even if he was the one who killed the little biker boy, for we know that all the prior deaths weren’t his to blame, but his alter ego… I risk to say this one is the truly first time Walt killed someone, because that someone reminded him the pain he underwent to convert into Heisenberg, the pain of being poor old forgotten and rotting Mr. White

    No matter how shocking, outrageous or painful a death is in BB, for Heisenberg always make sense, this one didn’t because it wasn’t him in control of the situation… so he flipped.

    Mike is an example of many, many things, the purist and the ones who believe in the morals of the law and happen to know right from wrong and all that shit may think that, after all, he was just a hitman, a criminal, a goon… but those of us (continues…)

  13. .. but those of us who don’t believe in the (hier)ethics of some greater power or dominating elite, we know that Mike did what he did to survive, to grow, to provide and secure.

    The world need some real men to tugh up society, even as a character, mike was just that… a man who knows what he is doing, who is in charge, who knows his place and do what he has to do with precision, w/o bragging or showing off… teaching with the example and talking when is absolutely necessary.

    By far, one of the more Zen characters I have ever seen… so what if he worked against whatever the corrupted society calls “Justice and order”…

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

  14. im surprised no one mentioned the movie being played when the DEA were searching Mikes house, it makes it seem like Hank will commit suicide. as for the Machine gun at the beginning of the season, i think walt will use it against Jesse in some way

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