Breaking Bad Review: Simply the Best

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Forget living in a world without Coca-Cola. What will television viewers do approximately one year from now when must reside in a universe without Breaking Bad?

The show hit on every conceivable cylinder on "Say My Name," easily the best episode of Season 5 and one of the best in series history.

Waiting for a Deal

When Walter concluded "Buyout" by telling Mike everybody would win, any longtime fan knew almost everybody would lose.

Walt thinks he's the best, he takes disturbing pride in being the Usain Bolt of meth cooking, actually making a believable speech to Jesse in questioning why anyone would desire a mundane life when he or she can excel at something. Truly excel. Like Coke. Like the New York Yankees. Yes, that something poisons millions of people per year.

But for someone such as Jesse, with little else to live for? For someone such as Walt, who has been made to feel feeble and average his entire adult life? There's a natural high at simply better better than every living human at something. I can absolutely get that.

We all know Walt is only Heisenberg in the lab, though. He talks a great game - that opening scene was an all-timer - and he believes the games he talks, especially now that his competition has been erased. But his plans fall apart. He rarely even gets his hands dirty.

I'm the man who killed Gus Fring? Really, Walter? You're technically not.

Nor are you the man who shot Gale, a reminder you made clear to Jesse when trying to guilt him back into your world.

As Jesse responded, Walt keeps saying no one will get hurt and he keeps saying he has things under control and the scary thing is that he actually believes that. But Mike laid it out to him perfectly in what proved to be his final words: his ego and his pride may not have come before his own fall (yet), but they've come before the fall of many others. He could have clocked in every day at Gus' super lab and made his family - those people who supposedly depend on him - millions of dollars per year for life.

But that wasn't enough. And Mike is now dead because of it.

What an incredible closing few moments. It wasn't hard to guess that's where things would end up. Not after we saw Walt glance at the gun in Mike's bag. But every second of the scene played out in incredible Breaking Bad fashion.

Walt was legitimately scarred by Mike's lashing out. He walked away. He felt like that powerless science teacher again. But then he remembered that he's supposed to be Heisenberg. He turned back. He opened fire. But, naturally, that didn't go according to plan, either.

The car crash. Mike's stumble. The gorgeous sunset. Walt's panic, his look of disbelief at what he actually did, his rambling over Lydia and finally the only fitting way for Mike to leave this Earth: in peace, resigned to the fate he had to have figured would eventually come his way.

It was impossible not to be moved by his passing, which is astounding considering the way we met Mike, as the right hand man of the area's most dangerous drug pin. He may care a lot about his granddaughter, but Mike Ehrmantraut is not a good man. He's done horrible things in his life. We've seen him do horrible things as recently as a couple days ago in the show's timeline.

But Breaking Bad centers around a truly horrific individual, yet is takes us so inside the world of Walter White and the performances by Bryan Cranston and company are so compelling, that we don't simply watch. We aren't simply invested. In many ways, we root for the bad guys.

A five-star, tremendous episode all around. Hank took a major step in the case, Jesse stood his ground against his mentor, Todd was brought in to the cooking fold, Walt struck a new alliance, there was another cooking montage and our first-ever Safety Deposit Box Cam.

And we were treated to mesmerizing exchange after mesmerizing, from Walt's demand that his new partners say his name, to Jesse and Walt having it out to the final couple minutes of Mike's life.

Walt seemed sincerely moved to confusion and possibly even fear over his own actions as that sun set on the installment. But he'll likely be over it by the time Breaking Bad airs its summer finale next Sunday. He'll have compartmentalized it. He'll have rationalized it away. Or, to be most accurate, he'll have blamed it on someone else.

What did everyone else think of "Say My Name?"


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (207 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


This is a comment you won't see too often! I'm almost done viewing the second season, and my goal is to play crazy-catchup so that I can watch current episodes with my son. I am officially addicted, but I know that I share that with millions. My son leaves for college in just a couple of weeks, and now we have something to share. I am so grateful for this show and what it has given me!


He had to kill Mike, though, regardless, because Mike would never have put up with him killing the men on the list, so it would have come down to a showdown with Mike at some point.


It is not how`Walt losing his humanity` but how Walt sees how to hang on to his humanity. His new `assistant and his criminal ties suggest the path to the machine gun Walt proeedures in the opening episode.
Walt`s problem is he always thinks he can appeal to people`s good/rational side. His new assistant and his criminal family will try to take over Walt`s business. Mike had to go! Shame-Mike was a great character.


Walt is slowly turning into Scarface, which means he will eventually kill Jesse towards the end of the show


Hands down the best show on television. Will be sad when it's over. I think with every episode we see Walt losing more and more of his humanity. All of his previous "kills" , one could argue, have been justified. To protect himself or his family or Jesse. This kill was done just for himself. Walt never liked Mike, he didn't have to kill him, but he wanted to. I think that was the disbelief we saw on his face. He was not even concerned with the fact that Mike was dying, and tried to rationalize it by saying he realized he could get the names from Lydia. My foreshadowing for next season is I think that Jesse and Skylar will form some kind of bond. Perhaps they will team up and go to hank. They can both see Walters decent and neither like it and worry about their own safety. Plus there were a few times when Jesse was looking at Skylar with pity. Plus I think we are starting to see that Walt has no problems in getting rid of those who get in his way. And who are two people who are getting in his way; Skylar and Jesse. We will see!!!


Hands down the best show on television. Will be sad when it's over. I think with every episode we see Walt l


SAY MY NAME was frigging amazing. My husband and I watched together and we had several WTF moments. When the feds starting closing in on Mike, I had a feeling he would not get out of it alive, but it didn't occur to me that Walt might shoot him. However, it now occurs to me that the darker Walt's psyche becomes, the more humane Jesse seems, and it might end up that Jesse is the one who somehow takes Walt down, if only to protect everyone else.


WALT, YOU FRIGGIN' MORON!!! "I just remembered, Lydia has the names." Can you blame Skyler for banishing the kids? Walt must be the stupidest genius on TV-EVER!
Loved the look on Gomee's face when he catches Wachsberg in the act-cat that's just about to eat the canary...


If Jesse ever finds out about mike all Walt needs to say is " hey mike told me to let you die" referring to episode 3.12 but Walt saved jesses life and paid the price for it with Gus and mike. And then mike liked Jesse, but hated Walt, for saving jesse's life


ps .. .. what clinched Mike's fate was Walt becoming aware of how close Jesse and Mike had become in contrast to Jesse's (deserved) abandonment of Walt. That was why Walt shot Mike. If it had been otherwise, Walt would have been fuming and angry at Mike's observed truths, but wouldn't have crossed the line into irrationality and kill him.

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