Breaking Bad – “Say My Name” – review

I’m guessing this will be the big Emmy submission episode for season five (part 1!) of Breaking Bad next year.  You’ve got Cranston giving last year’s “I’m the one who knocks” speech a run for its money with his monologue in the desert to the Phoenix boys wherein he insists they “say my name.”  Then there’s the big fight between Jesse and Walt at Vamonos and the final confrontation between Mike and Walter and you’ve got three big fucking scenes in one happening-heavy episode right there, one that begins and ends with some loud-ass bangs.

Walter lays it out for the Phoenix boys and we the viewers in the cold open, shouting to them that if they buy out Mike with the five million he’s owed then Walter will let them take over Mike’s old job of distribution.  Thing is, this also means that they get roughly Mike’s old cut of 35 percent.  They’re skeptical at first but then Walt tells them that he’s got Coke Classic and that he is the man who killed Gus Fring, the one they call Heisenberg – deal made, done and done.  How Walt is planning on guaranteeing these scumbags give him his proper cut and don’t try to fuck him I don’t know, but maybe they’re the reason he comes back to ABQ with a fucking machine gun a year from now…

Jesse complains that he wants his five million, insists he’s still out, but Walter shrugs him off.  They pick up the methylamine from the car wash where he’s been keeping it and Skyler does some light grilling about where it came from and in turn Walter does some light putting her in her place while Jesse awkwardly looks on.  Mike parts ways saying that he’ll cover the legacy costs with his cut and then insists Walt pick up the bug from Hank’s office before anyone sweeps the headquarters.

Mike gets word that the restraining order failed and that the DEA’s warrant went through, which sets Mike to work getting rid of his laptop and a huge cache of guns and setting up a car at the airport with an escape fund and a gun in the trunk of it.  The DEA comes by and nope, no dice.  Then we watch Mike’s lawyer pal Daniel Waxburg distribute the legacy costs via a bunch of separate safety deposit boxes, with a particularly big chunk of change going to Mike’s granddaughter.

Walt tries to play it cool and make Jesse forget all that bullshit about quitting the life but Jesse holds firm, even after Walter’s big speech about the pride of being the best at something and pointing out that Jesse has nothing else going for him and will probably end up back on the pipe.  (We don’t know for sure Jesse broke up with the lady-friend, though.)  They part badly with Walt refusing to pay Jesse his money, just some bad form shit all around.  Walt does a cook with Todd who is no Jesse but certainly seems to want to learn, even asking not to be compensated until he’s better at all the steps.

We get in on a little quality time with Hank and learn that he’s been slacking on his more bureaucratic duties that came with the promotion in favor of putting a lot man hours on the Fring case.  The director tells him that Mike is to no longer be trifled with so he takes a different tact, having Gomey follow the lawyer for all the legacy earners.  This ends with Waxburg being picked up at the bank in a cute scene, but one that makes little sense.  Hopefully we get an idea later as to how they were allowed access to all those safety deposit boxes so quickly in the future but right now my money’s on that they’re not gonna explain how they were able to take him down.

When Walt goes to pick up the bug from Hank’s office (this time he has to suggest the coffee run instead of Hank just bolting outta there at the first sign of crying) he learns that the lawyer has given up Mike.  Walt calls Mike then Jesse and Walt meet up with Saul and get a call from Mike who wants his getaway bag picked up and brought to him.  Though Mike wants Saul to do it, Saul says there’s probably a bunch of agents looking to tail him (which, if it’s true, hopefully they don’t take any pictures of Walt leaving the office that Hank will see anytime soon).  Jesse wants to go but Mike doesn’t want to drag him back into trouble, leaving it up to Walt.

Walt picks up the bag then meets Mike down by a river.  When Walt asks for the names of the legacies Mike refuses, which if you think about it is actually a dick move on his part.  Without the guarantee of the payments to their families, payments that Mike will no longer be able to make as the whole thing went tits up with the lawyer, Walt should know their names, either to be able to kill them or to maybe even keep paying them somehow.  (Unlikely for Walt, but still.)  This leads to a screaming match where Mike says what only looks he’s thrown Walt have conveyed for a long time, talking about how everything has been Walt’s fault and that if he’d just been less of an egotistical shit he could have worked for Gus in peace for years and years to come.

Walt *somewhat* impulsively puts a bullet in Mike (he’d already lifted the gun, after all) and then realizes as Mike drains out on the riverbank that he could have just asked Lydia all along.  Mike tells him to shut the fuck up and let him die in peace, he slumps over, the end.  Pretty huge stuff, broke badasses, pretty intense too.  I always figured that Mike had to be taken down by Walt but I thought it would be more about them butting heads as partners and Walt wanting more control in their arrangement, not right on the eve of Mike hightailing it and with him not even being a part of the business anymore.  But, you know, who can complain about a good surprise?

So what do you guys think about next week?  Are we gonna have Walt going all baptism scene of The Godfather, wiping out everyone on the list with the help of Todd and Lydia?  Is he gonna hide Mike’s body and tell everyone that Mike made it out okay or is he gonna just say fuck it and leave everyone to deal with his decision?  Something else?  Only one more episode of the show for 2012 and goddamn am I sad to see it go!

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Jack Getze

Spinetingler's Fiction Editor is a former newspaper reporter and author of five crime novels from Down and Out Books. His short fiction has been published on the web at BEAT TO A PULP, A TWIST OF NOIR and THE BIG ADIOS.

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About Jack Getze

Spinetingler's Fiction Editor is a former newspaper reporter and author of five crime novels from Down and Out Books. His short fiction has been published on the web at BEAT TO A PULP, A TWIST OF NOIR and THE BIG ADIOS.

6 Replies to “Breaking Bad – “Say My Name” – review”

  1. This is not a review, it’s a recap. Anyone who saw the episode knows all this already, and those who havenæt seen it wouldnæt want it ruined by spoliers, so why is this even published?

  2. I am thinking that sociopath Todd might be the guy who ends up taking Walt out eventually. Once he learns how to cook adequately. That might be fitting. The second evil apprentice.
    So sad to see Mike go. Good article in the NYT with him today and also a good piece in THE NEW YORKER last week about the show.
    Is there anyone who still feels any sympathy for Walt by now? I think the largely absent Walt Jr. is to keep us from seeing Walt act human.

  3. I don’t know. I’m just not buying the whole Mike situation at all. I don’t believe Mike would’ve let Walt live after killing Gus, much less go into business with him. I think Mike would’ve shot Walt without hesitation at that first encounter in the desert. If Jessie didn’t get out of the way, he’d have been shot, too. I think this season is a result of having such a high the previous 4, especially 2 – 4. I’m a little disappointed.

    About who takes Walt down, I think it’ll be a collaboration between Jessie and Skyler. Nothing to really back that up, just a hunch I have. I see Walt getting the machine gun to handle the Phoenix boys, probably because they’ve threatened his family in some way, and then after Walt emerges from that fight, they kill him. Could be they set him up with the Phoenix people, expecting them to kill him, and when that fails, Skyler and Jessie handle it on their own.

  4. Patti –

    Todd is a possibility but I don’t feel like he’s been established early enough to do so. Maybe if he’d been hovering around in season four but this late in the game? Doesn’t feel right to me, though it’d be pretty cool.

    Walter Jr.’s absence feels like he may do something weird like follow Walt around, finding out what his old man does. So far the show doesn’t seem like they would actually kill off one of Walt’s family members (outside of maybe Hank eventually) but again, if he got killed I would be impressed. And horrified.

    Josh –

    Mike is basically infallible (I’ve heard people call him Batman before which is fitting), able to do anything necessary by any means necessary, but they’ve been showing him getting sentimental and soft a bit this season. Letting Lydia go? The Mike of season three and four wouldn’t stand for that shit. By the time Walt gets the drop on him he doesn’t seem to care if he lives or dies anymore. To quote Danny Glover, he’s getting too old for this shit.

    I really like the idea of Skyler going after Walt, something she hinted at with the Marie discussion last week. Maybe she’ll exhaust ways to tip off Mike and then, yeah, Jesse and her (who shared some meaningful looks at the car wash this week) could try to get him. But what sin will push Jesse over the edge? That he grew to like Mike as a father/mentor figure more than Walt over the past months and Walt went and killed him? (Assuming he ever finds out about that murder, that is) Does he find out about what Walt did to Brock? What Walt did to the girlfriend in season two? Does he just want his money he’s owed? Can’t see the whole picture yet but I *do* feel like the machine gun is probably, you’re right, meant for Declan and his boys.

  5. Did you see a hint that Walt’s mental condition may be deteriorating when he remembered too late that he could have gotten the names from Lydia. He has always been good at thinking things through as well as acting on the spot. Here it went awry. If I were Skyler, I would try to help Hank catch him rather than go after him myself. Would her kids forgive her later for being the executioner of their ill father?
    Probably the most just conclusion would be that Jesse finds a way to hand him over. Or that Walt kills himself in some extended soliloquy about the evil he has done.

  6. Maybe Walt Jr. has been absent from the plot because he’s upset about all the stuff that is going on. And he fell in with the wrong crowd. And he OD’d (or will OD) on meth.

    I think, in some way, Walt’s chickens need to come home to roost. And Skylar will lose her shit and the end game will be set in motion.