Breaking Bad Roundtable 5.7 Say My Name

I don’t know where else to start but the end. What are your initial thoughts?

Dave: I wasn’t crazy with the way they lead up to Mike’s death. I wouldn’t say I was all that shocked either. Mike needed to die to advance the story and between last week and this week I just thought they were in too big a hurry to kill him. As opposed to what felt very deliberate and slow moving with Gus’ murder. Mike was the best character so far this season and I felt like he deserved more. Walt has fully made his transition from likable guy to villain as well. I know I’ve been pretty negative to start, but I actually liked a lot of this episode. We’ll touch on that in later questions.

Kevin: I thought it was a unique way for Mike to exit stage left. We knew he and Walt would come to some kind of showdown, but I’m not sure many people would have thought Walt shooting Mike and then feeling bad about it because it “wasn’t necessary” was part of the plan. I expected Walt to come up with a more sinister way of doing it. My main issue is that as soon as Walt said he’d grab the bag you knew that was it. I would have preferred they got into a fight without Jesse around and the same scene could have happened without the obvious “ah shit, here it comes.” Also, kudos yet again to the cinematographer(s). I really liked the shot of the sun and the river and the two bald heads in the lower right. A few seconds go by and Mike just falls over. Cool way to go.

Burner: I can see what you’re say Dave about the lead up, the but confrontation that gets Mike killed was very satisfying. He’s the only guy with the stones to tell Walter how it is, and even if it got him killed it had to feel good to let all that out. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh at Walter’s half ass rambling apology or not, it was kind of funny, but made the whole thing feel that much more tragic as well. “This all could have been avoided…” will be the words on Walter White’s tombstone.

Ben: The way Mike died was pretty badass, but the whole scene felt very forced for Walt’s character. Earlier in the episode Walt is in control and force, but after he doesn’t get his way he has a hissy fit and shoots Mike. Definitely would have liked to have seen a little more calculation goes into the end of such a good character.

Chas: As you both said, the lead up to Mike’s death seemed forced. Clearly he needed to die at some point but the introduction of a new lawyer that he randomly went to instead of dependable old Saul Goodman? Why would he do that? Those type elements made the build up haphazard and disappointing. That said, Breaking Bad knows how to execute a “scene”. The death itself was part random and chaotic yet perfectly staged and poetic. Can you imagine dying that way next to an ignoramus like Walt bumbling out an apology? Walt is such a dumbass and I’m glad before Mike died he got to tell Walt exactly why. I can’t wait to hear the bullshit he spins to Jesse about Mike’s death. As I’ve been saying all season, Walt couldn’t run a hot dog stand let alone a meth empire.

Walt’s hot dogs would rank poorly on the Hot Dog Quotient

Let’s skip back to the beginning. What was your reaction to Walt’s “Say My Name” moment?

Dave: By the end of the episode it seemed obvious that this was Walt’s moment on top. I thought the whole scene was a little ridiculous and over the top but I’m sure that was on purpose. Walt’s gone from a likeable character to over the top and ridiculous.

Kevin: It’s getting to the point where the ridiculousness of Walt — pointed out by me in the first episode if you recall– has reached terrible-mobster-movie-level bad. Walt saying “say my name” (more than once) literally made me cringe. The cartel guy should have shot his face off for saying that nonsense. Gilligan is lucky the rest of the show is fantastic, because he’s really making the Heizenberg Walt one of the dumbest sounding characters on TV.

Burner:

Ben: I liked this scene, it was showing Walt getting more confident and knocked the other drug lord down a peg.

Chas:Walt likes “playing gangster” and this type of scene might as well have been pulled out of one of the mob movies Mike was watching while the FBI searched his place. Walt thinks he’s Scarface. It’s all a little on the nose for me.

Let’s talk more about Mike since this will be our last opportunity to do so. What is your favorite Mike moment from the series?

Dave: I certainly enjoyed his final argument with Walt from this week but thinking back my favorite is probably the interview he did with Hank at the police station. Calm and collected. Classic Mike.

Kevin: I’ll go with that scene where Walt confronts him at the bar to kill Gus. Mike listened to what Walt ramble on, then punches him in the face, thanks Walt for the drink and leaves. Classic Mike.

Burner: I can’t really point to a specific moment but the thing that made me love Mike as a character was his competence. I liked that he was a guy who had his shit together and understood his world. He understood it well enough to call Walt on his bullshit over and over again, combined with Jonathan Bank’s killer one liner skills, that made every scene he had with Walter crackle with energy.

Ben: I’m on board with Burner, I don’t think I have a favorite scene with Mike, but he was always cool and calm in every situation. He never panicked or made random moves, everything was very deliberate. It made him interesting because he was usually off doing random crap that didn’t make sense when it was first seen, but made sense later in the grand scheme of things.

Chas: I always thought it was an absolute pleasure watching him work (read: kill people.) The scene in the season 3 finale “Full Measure” where he takes out the cartel holding Chou hostage is one of the best scenes in TV history. There, I said it. Also, in that episode Mike taught us something very important:

So what are the odds that Walt and Jesse cook together again?

Dave: I really enjoyed the scene between Walt and Jesse and Jesse made it completely clear that he was 100% out. No one else called Walt on his shit like Jesse does. I actually think Walt and Jesse may never cook together again. Not that I have much faith in Todd, I have none, but I think we’re seeing the beginning of the end.

Kevin: I don’t see it happening again either. I think we’re in a full-on, downward spiral mode from here on out. They only reason they’ll be in the same room is to plan their strategy to avoid being caught by the DEA.

Burner: Agreed, we’re in things fall apart territory here. I expect Jesse and Walt to be pretty antagonistic towards one another after their last meeting. I’m also expecting some duplicity from Todd, does his jail house connection have more juice without Mike around?

Ben: I don’t think they cook together again, but I’m wondering if we’re starting an arc with Jesse where he tries to clean-up Walt. If the series has shown anything is that you never try to force Walt to do anything.

Have we seen the last Jesse and Mr. White cook?

Chas: They’re never going to cook together again. Jesse is going to put a bullet into Walt’s head. You read it here first.

What was your favorite scene from the episode?

Dave: I thought there were a lot of great individual moments here. The cook was excellently shot, the lawyer getting caught at the bank was pretty funny, Jesse and Walt’s fight, the dinner scene, and even Skylar and Jesse’s moment at the car wash. But the final moments with Mike were amazing. Jonathan Banks has been incredible all season and his final moments, asking Walt to “shut the fuck up and let me die in peace” was just great TV.

Kevin: The final scene with Mike was the obvious winner here, but I also enjoyed Jesse telling Walt he’s done and Walt trying everything he can to talk Jesse back into it. That’s one of those scenes that shows just how evil Walt is. Jesse is his one remaining partner and in the span of 30 seconds he tells the guy he’s the best cook around while also reminding him that’s he’s just a drug addict with no friends or family.

Burner: I agree, the final scene wins. I did enjoy the brief scene with Jesse and Skyler in the car wash, too. Great work by Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn to communicate so much, almost without words, in such a quick scene.

Ben: Yup, on the river was best.

Chas: Final three minutes of the episode. Just the fact that Mike stumbled out of his car and went to sit by the river to die speaks volumes of his character. He was a murderer but he also recognized and appreciated what’s most important in life. He was still in the game because he wanted to give his granddaughter a good life. Compare that to Walt who can’t appreciate anything and simply pretends to care about his family. The final far shot of the river where we can barely see Mike pass away and his body tips over while the river keeps flowing by. Beautifully done.

What were your overall thoughts on this episode.

Dave: I still think the truncated 8 episode “season” is effecting the pacing but there were great moments here. Breaking Bad can be a victim of it’s own success at times and I think this week was a prime example. The final episode of Season Four was the perfect way to kill off a great character. I’m just not sure this episode is even in that stratosphere and that’s a shame because Mike was great (no Gus but still). Personally I think we have at least two more deaths coming in Jesse and Walt so maybe they’re saving their A++ material for next year.

Kevin: Yeah I agree, for a penultimate episode with the death of a major character this didn’t really have the punch it should have. RIP Mike, for being a hitman you were pretty cool. I think I would have preferred just having one more season of 16 episodes instead of 2 with only 8, but I guess we’ll see what kind of cliffhanger we end on next week.

Burner: I think by positioning Mike’ death in the second to last episode of the mini-season was an effort to avoid comparisons to Gus’s death. It’s a tough comparison to avoid though, given how large that death looms over both the show and Walt’s personal mythology (what a jackass brag, only little piss ant dogs yap that much). I do agree though that the truncated season is hurting the show. The need to impose an arc for both eight episodes and sixteen episodes has left this season too dedicated to moving pieces, which has left some of the larger moments feeling a little perfunctory.

Comparisons to Gus’ death are inevitable.

Ben: I thought it was a little weak, Mike was best and most interesting character this season and he got a pretty crappy end. Not a bad episode, but nowhere near the excitement of the train robbery episode

Chas: While I’m not a fan of how they got there I am happy that Mike’s actual death was so memorable. And it was done in such a generally simple and quiet way. Gus’ death was nothing if not over-the-top. Mike’s final moments were more subdued and tragic, much like the man himself. This is the match that will like the Jesse vs. Walt conflict. I’m expecting that Jesse will use this as an excuse to start cooking for the other drug dealers. Walt already admitted that Jesse can cook as well as he can. Obviously Walt was buttering Jesse up in hopes of keeping him working with him but I think there’s a level of truth to that. And if Jesse gets the weight of a drug cartel behind him that would be a pretty good reason for Walt to invest in a machine gun.

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