Breaking Bad Review: Simply the Best

at . Comments

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
  • 5.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
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+.


One of the reasons for Todd's character to exist is his relatives in prison. I doubt that Walt has plans to keep paying the 9 guys in prison to keep them from flipping. Todd has relatives in prison, that fact was brought up a few episodes ago. Walt's going to have them killed and Todd's relatives will do the job. That's how I think it's going to play out. And, of course, something will go horribly wrong.


RIP Mike the only person with patience to put up with Walter.


Walt walked back to the car for the gun, he didn't 'suddenly remember he was supposed to be Heisenberg'. Mike has always been able to tell when he's been carrying a gun before.
And yeah, this was Walt's 7th kill, 10th if you count Gus, Tyrus and Salamanca, 11th if you include Jane.
And of course he's indirectly responsible for the deaths of all the people on both aircraft, plus the subsequent suicide of Jane's father.


j miner: walt was gonna kill mike regardless. whether he got the names or not. i think him remembering that he could get the name's from lydia was more about walt's mind still being on himself and his plans while mike bleeds to death


That was not walt's first true kill-- don't forget that he strangled Krazy8 in the basement, he allowed jane to choke to death when he could have prevented it. Those two technically may have been out of some sense of self defense-- krazy8 goes without saying, and jane was getting in the way.... and certainly, lest we not forget that not only did walter run over, and then shoot, the two drug dealers at the end of season 3, but he shot two people at the end of season 4.


Of course we root for the bad guys....just like we did for Tony Soprano.


When Mike said goodbye to Jessie, there was a mutual respect for each other; Walt was jealous of their relationship because Jessie's loyalty. The conversation between Walt and Jessie was amazing. I think Walt finally had enough of Mike and his attitude, the respect for Heinsberg was nonexistent, therefore in Walt's head he had to die.


Is running two drug dealers over and then putting bullets in them to finish them off not a "true kill?"


@J. Miner... That wasn't a flaw, he shot Mike out of anger. He knew that Mike wasn't going to talk, so he wanted to kill him (unsuccessfully).


Even in his regret over the shooting of Mike, Walt is the quintessential psychopath in stating that he didn't *have* to shoot him, because he had Lydia to fall back on. His regret was more of expediency than any true feeling. Amazing writing. I think Todd is Walt's equal in terms of being a psychopath. He didn't hesitate to shoot the teenager; and he was the first to countermand instructions to *not* talk to Jesse or Walt. He comes off as looking slightly vacant but I'm convinced he's not. He's got his own plan: that struck me when we saw him holding the jar with the spider in it.

Tags: ,