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+.


> "What will television viewers do approximately one year from now when must reside in a universe without Breaking Bad?" well, the first thing any responsible Breaking Bad fan will do is create YouTube scene-by-scene re-enactments.


@Curt He would have killed gale if he was able too as well.


This was nothing close to Walt's first kill. He shot the corner drug dealer point blank after running him over. He shot both generic thugs guarding the lab. And Gus Fring counts. He tried to push the button it he parking garage. He masterminded the whole thing. He planted th bomb. That counts. Reviewers need to get the basic facts straight -- it's part of their job.


I hate Walt and want him dead so bad that sometimes it is hard for me to remember that "it's just a ... TV show."


Did mike die? he didnt get shot and the end right?


Also, I think Todd brings down Walt. I think that has been hinted at. Todd doesn't care about the money? Interesting. Remember that he has prison connections? My guess is that Todd is just trying to learn the formula and methods of cooking and then will backstab Walt. Without Mike around, there is no one to protect Walt.


As for Mike dying. He was a great character and it stinks to see him go. It'll be interesting to see how Walt takes care of it. Does he just leave the body or does he have to dispose of everything? I think this series will end exactly like Scarface ended. With Walt dying in a gun fight. They even foreshadowed it twice this season. The opening scene in the season opener and Walt watching Scarface with Flynn. It was a good episode and I'm a little pissed that AMC decided to break this into two seasons.


Am I the only one who thinks that Todd isn't just cooking Meth with Walt to learn how to cook with him? I suspect he'll turn at first opportunity. He's got big plans, moving from burglary up to meth cooking. More money - win. That's why he talked to the guys in the first place. Great episode. So many intense moments. Too bad Mike's dead.


Oh one more comment (my friend who I regualarly sound off to is on a cruise!) Mike was suppose to be leaving town - which means Jesse isn't going to know about Mike dying or who killed him - at least not for a while - but once he finds out it was WW, he's gonna lose it!


The fact that WW's first comment upon seeing Mike was that he could get the list of names from Lydia showed that WW had no remorse over what he had done - his brain was still moving forward on his own agenda. Mike laid Walt out like a skinned cat - and his couldn't take it! His shooting Mike was the result of raw emotion; and boy was that scene tense. As for Jesse - the boys grown some big stones! Watching Walt cook with Todd reminded me of the mess he and Jesse started with and how far they've come together. You know he isn't going to let Jesse go - and Todd is up to no good - and I think Walter can feel it. When he was in the desert demanding SAY MY NAME - my husband turned to me and said, "hey! isn't that some chick's song?" LOL

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