With only one episode left after this in this first half of the season, it’s reasonable to think that some proverbial shit would hit the fan. In the episode’s opening scene, Mike, Walt, and Jesse make their way to the desert to meet with the crew Mike had been negotiating with about the Methylamine. Walt promised Mike his $5 million dollars, and after some intense negotiating with the crew, he was able to give it to him.
But instead of just giving them the methylamine, he offered his cooking services. They reluctantly agree, but only because the money is too good to resist. Walt and Jesse (who is still set on leaving the business), make one final run to transport the Methylamine from the car wash to the new lab that they’re building. Meanwhile, Mike is working with a non-Saul Goodman lawyer to get money to the nine men who worked for Gus Fring, as well as Haylee, Mike’s granddaughter. Mike then listens in on a conversation with the DEA and abandons his laptop and his dirty guns before they have a chance to search his house.
With a warrant, the DEA does what they said they would but, of course, find nothing. Walt and Jesse talk about doubling down, but Jesse remains firm about getting out. This is when Walt switches into Heisenberg mode and tries to manipulate him into staying. Jesse, who seems to impervious to that kind of thing by now, stands firm and then walks out when Walt refuses to give him his money. Walt enlists the help of Todd who, as of now, is the only person to stick with him.
This decidedly unspectacular episode of “Breaking Bad” exists not to move the plot forward in a significant way, but to serve as a build-up for a final scene that, while I knew it was coming, still surprised me when it actually happened. The thing that really shines in the episode is the lighting. While the camerawork itself isn’t Vince Gilligan/Rian Johnson good, the way the light is manipulated makes for some fantastic still shots and layered visual metaphor.
Say My Name also marks the first time Jesse and Walt have had any real conflict since the pilot episode, and to be honest it was a little disappointing. Their teamwork is what made this season so great and seeing them truly break their partnership was a shock in many ways. The biggest shock of all, though, came in the last five minutes.
Vince Gilligan promised that episodes 5 & 7 would be the most shocking in the season’s first half and while episode 5 was definitely a shock, I’m still unsure how I feel about the twist at the end. After promising Mike that he’d get him his “go bag”, which is a bag filled with money, his passport, and a holstered gun, and then bringing the bag to him, Walt demands the names of the men Mike’s been paying off. When Mike refuses to give them up, Walt shoots him with the gun that was in the bag. Mike attempts to speed away in his car, but quickly crashes into a rock. Running down a nearby hill, Walt finds Mike sitting on a rock with a fatal gunshot wound in his stomach.
Walt realizes that he could have just gotten the names from Lydia and he apologizes to Mike, who replies with, “Shut the f*** up, Walter, and let me die in peace.” A few seconds pass and Mike falls to the ground, dead. Now, the entire Breaking Bad fandom predicted his death, but I’m still not sure that I agree with it. Of course, no one gets out clean here, but if Gilligan and Co. are willing to kill Mike, a fan favorite, how far can we expect things to go? Some fans are predicting the death of Holly White, while others are predicting a Scarface-style shootout at the end of the series.
I’m definitely not condemning the bravery of the writers, but I guess I’m just disappointed that my favorite character had to go. In a narrative sense, this may be Breaking Bad‘s most accomplished episode of the season. From a personal standpoint, I am, in some strange way, mourning the death of a character that I’ve grown so accustomed to over the past year.