Breaking Bad, "Say My Name": a man down by the river

Quick Take: Breaking Bad, "Say My Name"
"It's on you." - Mike 

Review: Breaking Bad, "Say My Name"
(S0507) I'm sort of of two minds about last night's episode of Breaking Bad, "Say My Name."

On one hand, there were individual scenes that were on par with the excellence we have come to expect from this show. Unfortunately, on the other hand, there were things that happened last night that simply defied logic.

And if Breaking Bad prides itself on one thing, it's adhering to logical story structure. Vince Gilligan and the writing staff typically take pains to ensure to ensure that Plot Point A naturally leads to Plot Point B and C and so on.

Last week -- as cool as the Walt MacGyver scene was -- felt like something of a shortcut. The writers needed to get from Point A (Mike and Jesse want to sell the methylamine and get out the game, Walt wants to hold onto the methylamine and keep cooking) to Point C (Walt gains control of the methylamine), without paying enough attention to Point B (how exactly Waly gets his hands on the chemical). Mike (Jonathon Banks) is smart enough not to leave Walt cuffed one-handed with a plastic zip tie. But it served the overall arc that the writers needed to tell, so he that's precisely what he did.

This week suffered from the same problem. But again, there was enough awesomeness to mitigate a lot of my misgivings.

Let's break down the Pros and Cons.

Pros

The cold open
Gilligan should teach a PhD class on the perfect way to begin an episode of television. He is an absolute master.

When we first see Walt (Bryan Cranston) crammed in the backseat of Mike's car, he looks nervous, unsure of himself. But the moment he steps out to meet the crew from Phoenix, he completely transforms into Heisenberg.

"Do you really want to live in a word without Coca-Cola?"
"We have 40 pounds of product ready to go, ready to ship. Are you ready?"
"You all know exactly who I am. Say my name."

"It's on you."
Two characters say this exact line to Walt in "Say My Name." The first is Jesse (Aaron Paul) when Walt refuses to give him $5 million cut. Jesse, rightly so (for the most part), blames Walt for all of the awfulness that has surrounded their partnership, particularly the deaths of children. 

Then Mike repeats the line when Walt demands a thank you for securing Mike's payment. "We had a good thing, you son of a bitch. We had Fring...you and your pride and your ego, you just had to be the man...if you'd known your place we'd all be fine right now." If I had to guess, Walt's reaction -- shooting Mike -- was based more on the realization that Mike was right in his assessment of Walt's deadly hubris and less on Walt's fear of Mike's legacy cost contingent.

Saul is awesome as always
He only get's one scene this week, but he makes the best of it by calling Walt and Jesse "the brain trust."

Mike's death
Let it be known that I love Mike; he's probably in the top two or three of my favorite characters ever to appear on the show. That being said, he had to die. He just had to. Thankfully, the show gave him a graceful exit: sitting calmly, peacefully even, in the midst of a gorgeous set piece of the sun gradually setting over a slow-running river.

Although, Mike's swansong paled in comparison to Gus' half-faced tie adjustment. Just sayin'.

Cons

Come on, guys! You know better than to trust Walt
I mentioned before that this episode (as well as last week's) forced the characters into service of the plot instead of allowing the plot to flow naturally and logically from the characters.

Last night, both Jesse and Mike decided to put their faith in Walt -- a man that has repeatedly, and extremely recently, proven that he is probably the least trustworthy man in the greater Albuquerque metro area.

First Jesse goes along with Walt's plan to force the Phoenix crew to distribute Walt's blue meth. And he does so with no guarantee of a monetary payout. Mike get's his $5 million, Jesse get's squat. He should have known better than to go along with Walt's plan without a way to leverage his promised cut. I find it mildly frustating that the writers make Jesse as smart or dumb as the plot requires him to be.

Late in the episode, Mike calls Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and asks him to retrieve is go-bag with his stash of money, fake IDs and weaponry. Saul balks, but Jesse is more than welcome to do Mike a solid. Instead, Mike chooses to let Walt help him. Why, Mike, why?! Last week's episode -- which was probably just yesterday in the show's timeline -- Walt pulled a fast one of Mike and stole all of their precious methylamine. Jesse has been his right-hand man for a while now, why the hesitance to trust him with the go-bag?

Moreover, why couldn't Saul bring Mike the bag? Sure, Saul has done a lot of shady shit for Walt and his crew, but none of it has raised the ire of the Feds. There was no real reason to believe he was being tailed.

The baked-goods loving lawyer
I am not a legal expert, but it struck me as fishy that the ATF would be able to, in a matter of days (maybe even hours), obtain a warrant to arrest a lawyer inside a bank safety deposit vault.

And all the lawyer was caught with was a suitcase full of money; how much time could he possibly be facing? A couple of years? Is that really worth flipping on Mike and his crew? The lawyer must know that Mike is a pretty heavy dude and narcing on him is tantamount to a death sentence.

Lastly, you'd think Mike (or the layer) would have sense enough to stash Kaylee's big 18th birthday surprise in a different bank than all of the legacy payments. Right?

Mike's death
NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Rest in peace, Mr. Ehrmantraut. You will be missed.

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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2 Comments
On: Monday, August 27, 2012
Dave said:

Hank knows Saul is Mike's lawyer, and since they're going after Mike primarily, they're going to try and get on anyone remotely close to him.

I think Jesse felt indebted to Walt after he thinks he mistakenly tried to kill him, until this episode at least. I think any of Jesse's trusting actions come as a result of him trying to atone for nearly killing Walt, and Walt plays on this to ensure he keeps doing what he wants. He kind of screwed that up by whistling though.

On: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
static said:

The episode blew our minds.  We did question a few things, but over all a totally shocking/bewildering episode that has us clawing for next week like rabid hyenas...!

I can't wait until Hank finds out, that will be insane.  You will probably see Walt sink to such an evil/psychotic level that it will completely horrify and shock the living crap out of Hank etc...

Who knows what will happen...

Until next week!

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