Mike Ehrmantraut's end is well known for those who first met the breakout character from Breaking Bad.
His beginnings, however, were less than clear. Until now, that is. "Five-O" was light on Jimmy McGill and heavy on Mike Ehrmantraut and that's more than okay.
Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 6 dug into Mike's history and gave us a glimpse into the life of the strong, silent, sticker-taking man.
While their interactions tonight were limited, "Five-O" marks the beginning of Jimmy and Mike's more regular working arrangement, one which will continue to be fleshed out in Better Call Saul Season 1 Episode 7. What little we got tonight was more than enough.
When Mike called Jimmy he had one request. A cup of coffee. Mike needed the coffee not to drink, but to spill on the cop taking notes so he could swipe the notebook and find out what information the officers had on him and on his son's death. Jimmy refused but Mike knew he would go through with it and, sure enough, he did.
Jimmy helped Mike steal the notebook, but drew the line at having Mike tell him why he wanted it. Instead of having Mike confess anything to his attorney, a man who is paid for silence, Mike decided to bare his soul to his daughter-in-law. She's the one who needed the answers anyway, and by telling her, the more compelling narrative came forward.
Gilligan and Gould aren't really the type to go into anything half-cocked, but it's unclear (to me) if they could have anticipated just how much fans would come to love Mike when they first introduced him on Breaking Bad. Our love came with knowing virtually nothing about him except he was smart, an excellent shot, loyal, and fiercely protective of his time with Kaylee, his granddaughter (Who should be a toddler right now but who is the same age/size and/or bigger than she was in Breaking Bad, but hey, they can't get it all right, can they?).
Now there's a little more Mike to love after learning the story behind what brought him to New Mexico in the first place.
In short, he was on the run. But it's more like he was running toward something – a future – instead of just away. I mean, he was running away from his demons; alcohol, being on the take, and probably a host of other things he (mostly) left behind. But Albuquerque was a fresh start without the haunting reminder of his loss lurking in the shadows of every street corner.
From the minute the officers in the interrogation room described the scene where Matt, Mike's son, died, there was no other place the story was going except the way it did. Hoffman and Fensky killed Matty and Mike killed Hoffman and Fensky.
Some might say the predictable nature of a story like that took away from the reveal. I say it's the opposite.
Using a predictable, dime-a-dozen, dirty-cop-gets-revenge-killed story like that allowed the characters, writing, and storytelling to shine. A lesser actor or inferior writing might have left us feeling...nothing...for the cops who died. Apathy is the worst emotion writers can evoke in their audience. That wasn't the case with this one.
Mike's interactions with his daughter-in-law as he withheld the truth from her and later broke down and laid it all out were fantastically written and performed.
If your heart wasn't a little bit broken as Mike described breaking his son, maybe it's time for a check-up.
Mike understood the gravity of what he did when he encouraged his son to take the bribe and keep his mouth shut and realized the futility when Matty was killed anyway. Of course revenge had to happen, and in a police force where all the cops are crooked, what other option did he have?
Mike couldn't go to the dirty police and tell them about Hoffman and Fensky, in part because he risked incriminating himself, but also because doing so could have allowed the cops to spin a narrative about his son being the dirty one. It wasn't a risk Mike was willing to take after having already lost so much and caused so much pain.
A few episodes back, we wondered why Stacey held Mike in such contempt when we saw such a positive relationship between them in Breaking Bad. He lurked in the street outside her home instead of being able to visit Kaylee. Now we know why.
After he moved to Albuquerque, Stacey couldn't trust him. Now she's the keeper of his secrets, even the ones he intimated but didn't say out loud. In her heart she knows that her husband's death was avenged and there's some comfort in that. This is the turning point in Mike's relationship with his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
He trusted her with the truth and now she can trust him with her daughter.
What did you think of Better Call Saul tonight? Did you know Jimmy would spill the coffee on the cop? How bad will the police be coming for Mike next week?
ICYMI: watch Better Call Saul online right here at TV Fanatic!
Miranda Wicker was a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in 2017. Follow her on Twitter.