Last night we said goodbye to Mike, the crotchety grandpa who was one of the best characters on the show. We first met Mike way back in Season 2’s “ABQ”, where he was basically Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction, a cleaner that took care of Jane’s overdose and snapped some sense in to Jesse. His role grew in Season 3, where he put a bug in Walt’s home and was revealed to be part of Gus’ team, but his character wasn’t fully fleshed out until Season 4. He played a vital part last season, forming a bond with Jesse while trying to drive him away from the destructive nature of Walt. And at the end of “Say My Name”, Mike was proven right about Walt’s destructive nature as he lay dying besides the lake.
Four episodes ago Walt theorized to Jesse about Gus’ motives in killing Victor, how maybe it was because he flew to close the sun. Ever since that moment, it’s been obvious that Walt has been thinking about killing Mike. This episode didn’t try and hide it either, Mike seemed like a goner from the start of the episode. Even though Hank’s search warrant found nothing, due to Mike’s disposal of his laptop and guns, Mike knew his life wasn’t going to be easy. He’d have to live a normal boring life while DEA watched his every move. Still, he was happy to be out of the business, which makes what happened next so much more heartbreaking.
Hank was told when he was offered the promotion to ASAAC that he’d have to drop the Heisenberg case, but hasn’t been able to. His boss takes away all the surveillance funds on Mike, so Hank instead turns his attention to Mike’s list of guys and the one lawyer they all share. That is one of my favorite things about Breaking Bad. A throwaway character from earlier in the season turns back up in a pretty big way tonight, leading Gomez and his smiling face right to Mike’s stash of money.
When Mike told Walt what he thought was his goodbye earlier in the episode, he advised him to take care of the bug in Hank’s office, so Walt goes back to Hank with tears in his eyes. But Walt is much sloppier this time. Whereas when he first did I was convinced by his act at first, Walt is clumsily trying to get Hank out of his office, even asking him to get coffee. He retrieves the bugs and then overhears Gomez telling Hank that they’ve got surveillance footage that can incriminate Mike.
The lawyer is going to rat him out, so Walt calls Mike and tells him to get out of there, but Mike can’t. Just like Walt, whose excuse for cooking meth and killing people was that it was all about family, Mike deeply cares about his granddaughter, as evident by the massive stacks of cash in the bank vault. As he watches his granddaughter swinging away, Mike sees the cops drive up and realizes that he’s not going to be able to say goodbye to her. Mike, always in control no matter what the situation, has a look that we’ve never seen on him before – fear. His granddaughter, one of the driving reasons that he’s put up with Walt, is going to think her grandfather left her. He’s out of options, never a thing I’d expect for Mike.
Saul, in a welcome return, talks with Jesse and Walt about what they’re going to do. They get a phone call from Mike, who asks that someone get his money from the car he parked at the airport. He doesn’t want Jesse to do it, and neither does Walt, so Walt volunteers. Mike begrudgingly accepts, so Walt goes and gets the money. But when he opens the bag, Walt sees something other than cash. He sees a way to exact his revenge on one of the few voices of logic on the show.
So we end with one of the most beautiful scenes the show has ever done. Walt meets up with Mike, who is skipping stones out in the middle of nowhere, and gives him the cash. It should’ve been as simple as that. But Walt asks Mike for the names of his nine men, and Mike refuses. After Mike rips into Walt as he has many times, Walt, fed up with someone not graveling at his every word, goes back to his car to get Mike’s gun. Mike realizes it too late, and Walt shoots Mike, who drives away before stumbling out.
Walt’s face when he shoots Mike conveys something we haven’t seen in a while. When Walt has killed people recently – the two people in the superlab, Gus, the drug dealers from season three – he’s always looked calm and collected, like he was Scarface. But after Walt shoots Mike, we see a side of him we haven’t seen since Walt strangled Crazy-8 in his basement in season one. Walt looks sorry. Sadly, Walt reveals the sadness to be self-centered, as he realizes how pointless shooting Mike was. Lydia has the list of names, so he can easily get them from her. Walt just murdered a man who was about to disappear from his life forever out of petty anger. He tries to apologize, but you can’t apologize to a person you’ve just shot. Mike cuts him off, not wanting his final moments to be spent listening to Walt’s insufferability. Mike gets one great final line and falls out of frame.
So how is Walt going to react? He’ll obviously lie and let everything think he just gave Mike the money, but Hank’s going to go searching. Even if he lies to Jesse, Walt still wants him back. Walt may have found an eager pupil in Todd, but Walt isn’t ready to let his old partner walk away in to the sunset. Jesse, in a great moment of defiance, has questioned whether Walt was really sorry that the kid died. Jesse has begun to realize just how sick of a man Walt really is. And now that there’s no one to clean up their mess, everything’s only going to get dirtier.
- As sad as it is to see Mike go, we’ve got to remember that Mike wasn’t a good person. He was a murderer, and no number of cute granddaughters is going to negate all of the things he has done.
- Fantastic cold open this week, with Walt going full Heisenberg and making a deal with Declan. Every single line belongs in a “Breaking Bad supercut”.
- Hopefully with Giancarlo Esposito out of the running next year Jonathan Banks can pick up his supporting actor nod. He definitely deserves it.
- Great scene with Skyler asking Walt why he’s hidden all of his meth in the car wash, and Walt talking down to her like he doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of Jesse.
- This week Aaron Paul dropped a bombshell on Twitter and debuted the poster for a Breaking Bad movie, due next summer. Take a look!
- Next week on Breaking Bad: “Gliding Over All”: Walt takes care of loose ends and makes a dangerous decision. That is our final episode until next summer, and you can guarantee that some major stuff will go down. The name comes from the Walt Whitman poem: “GLIDING o’er all, through all, Through Nature, Time, and Space, As a ship on the waters advancing, The voyage of the soul–not life alone, Death, many deaths I’ll sing.” That doesn’t sound good.
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