On Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 7: "Say My Name," no one wins, except us, the viewers. We win, because this episode is great. Several standout emotional scenes, some of that signature Breaking Bad beauty, and the further moral decline of Walter White — we couldn't ask for much more heading into the home stretch of this summer's season.
A note: Breaking Bad is a story about moral decline and the reasons people commit crime; in that spirit, we'll be using our recaps to track the moral state of the key players each week. Sound good? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 7: "Say My Name."
First: A moment of silence for the dearly departed Mike Ehrmantraut. He was too good — too professional, too smart — for Walt's ego-fueled power plays. You and your snark will be missed, Mike.
Okay, on with your regularly scheduled recap.
Walter White: "I'm Sorry, Mike. This Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided"
The good news: Walter apologizes for murdering Mike for no reason. That's better than not apologizing for murdering him for no reason, we suppose. It still doesn't make up for, you know, murdering him for no reason.
Beyond that, there's still a hint (okay, more than a hint) of caring when Walter lashes out at Jesse for walking out on him.
The bad news: Walter has killed before, but it's always been in an us-or-them situation — even poisoning Brock, though awful, was part of a convoluted master plan to get rid of Gus "I'll murder your infant daughter" Fring. But when Walter whips out his gun on Mike at the end of this episode it's all about anger and ego. Anger that Mike won't give up the names of his associates. Anger when Mike dares call him on his BS. Anger when Mike points out that Walter has brought all of this on himself. Walter rarely likes hearing the truth about himself, but this is just the first time he's killed someone simply for dissing him
Is it bad that we aren't shocked by this development? That we actually called it? If it's supposed to be a surprising moment, it fails for us. But as the next step in Walter's inevitable downward spiral, it's fitting. Mike is everything Walter isn't: reasonable and able to stay under the radar.
The scene we like more, though, is the confrontation between Walter and Jesse. Walter’s slow transformation into a killer without qualms is central to the show’s arc, but it is his sadistic manipulation of those he once loved that makes him truly frightening. This scene is a sick twist on the mentor-mentee relationship that has always defined Jesse and Walter.
"What we do, being the best at something, is a very rare thing," Walter tells Jesse. "You don't just toss something like that away. You want to squander that potential? Your potential? To do what?" It's exactly what a teacher might tell a troubled student — except Walter's trying to keep Jesse under his thumb and in the life of crime. He certainly knows how to push the poor guy's buttons, using his need for approval and validation against him. And when that fails he hones in on Jesse's insecurities, reminding him that until recently he was nothing but a lonely junky.
And when Jesse walks out anyhow, Walter replaces him … with Todd. Symbolic, much? Walter trades in the friendship that was the moral center of the show for mastery over the psychopath who killed a kid. That's practically Breaking Bad's equivalent of having him sit there and cackle while stroking a white cat.
Jesse Pinkman: "You Just Give Me My Money and You and I, We're Done"
The good news: Whoa, whoa, whoa you guys. Jesse is all grown up and actually calling Walt out. Can you believe it? Somewhere along the way our broken little meth addict found enough self worth that Walter telling him he's not just a good cook but his equal, that Walter offering him his own lab doesn't change his mind about walking away. Even the concept of losing out on his $5 million isn't enough to stop him.
Beyond that, he even has the guts to question if Walter really cares that the kid was killed (despite Walter's protest to the contrary, he clearly does not, or he wouldn't be willing to work with Todd). He uses that brain of his to realize that Walter has claimed the violence is over before. Now he knows that claim is empty. He tells Walter that that claim is empty. It falls on deaf ears, but at least he says it.
The bad news: Yes, Walt's constant claim that no one else will get hurt is BS. But you know what else has been BS? Every single other time Jesse's said "we're done." Is he really out this time? We want to believe it, but we have a hard time doing so.
Heck, he still shows up to Saul's at the end of the episode. Sure, it's because he's worried about Mike — his willingness to get Mike's bag for him is sweet in that special Jesse way — but there's always someone to be worried about. There's always Walter to be worried about. Can Jesse really cut that emotional tie? We think it's going to take finding out about Jane and/or Brock (and/or Mike?) to really put an end to his twisted devotion to his mentor.
Mike Ehrmantraut: "You and Your Pride and Your Ego"
The good news: Can we wax lyrical about Mike for a second here? Good TV is, in large part, about creating emotional connections with characters. We aren't surprised Mike is dead, but we're going to miss him a lot, and that means the writers (and actor!) did their job in spades. The man was a methodical assassin, but we can't help but love him.
Some of that love is for his truly awesome level of competence, which is on full display this episode. He takes care of his payoffs. He dumps his impressive gun collection down a well. He's ready to sit back, relax, and watch TV by the time the DEA comes a-knockin. "If you want me to read that, I'm gonna need my glasses." You gotta love a man with balls that big.
Besides, he does have a heart. The man that leaves his money to his granddaughter. The man that insists Jesse not bring him his getaway bag, because he doesn't want to risk Jesse getting in trouble with the DEA.
The bad news: Shouldn't have used that lawyer, Mike. For such a smart guy, that seems like a pretty dumb move. Sigh. RIP, you magnificent, murderous bastard.
The good news: Hank finally succeeds at getting someone to flip on Mike! Yeah, yeah, it makes us sad, but it's a job well done in the grand scheme of things. Also, the man gets bonus points for attempting to comfort weepy Walter. How's he supposed to know Walter is just getting the bug out of his office?
The bad news: Yes, Hank's tail on the lawyer paid off in a big way, but tailing the lawyer at all was clearly going against the spirit, if not the word, of his supervisor's instructions. He still has a bit of the cowboy cop in him. It makes him more fun as a character, for sure, and it's necessary to drive the plot forward. But obsessing over one case isn't really the road to solid, legal police work in the long run. Let us not forget the time he assaulted Jesse. Is he on that path again?
Notable Scenes, Quotes, and Other Thoughts
- Another nice cold open. "I'm the cook. I'm the man who killed Gus Fring." Walter is Heisenberg, indeed.
- Walter to the dealers in the cold open: "It's grade school t-ball vs. the New York Yankees," and "Do you really want to live in a world without Coca-Cola?"
- The slow build of Walter subtly refusing to let Jesse go is well done. It's also nice that Jesse picks up on it from the cold open on, and keeps pressing Walter about when he's going to get paid. Their relationship dynamic really has shifted as Jesse has grown; the writers and actors have done a great job making that clear without beating us over the head with it.
- Skyler and Jesse interacting is always comedy gold. Also, love the way the scene between them, when Walter and Jesse stop by the car was to pick up the methylene, is shot in shadow. Beautiful.
- Bacon banana cookies sound delicious.
- We like the first safe-deposit box scene, but tonally it feels like a cold open — the music and random quirky characters are a bit out of place in the middle of the episode.
- "What Todd did? You and I have done just as bad." Not really true, Walter. Yes, he and Jesse have killed. But killing people in the drug business and killing a random child are not quite the same thing.
- Still not quite sure what to make of Todd. Very eager to please with no moral compass, or totally crazy?
- Skyler walking away from the dinner table while Walter is talking to her made us cheer.
- Jesse insisting Mike would never flip is really touching. Also, accurate.
- Love Saul's drawer of a billion cell phones.
- Mike to Walter: "If you'd done your job, known your place, we'd all be fine right now." Yes, but that would require Walter not to have an ego the size of New Mexico, Mike.
- Jesse is not going to be happy when (and if) he finds out Walter killed Mike.
- Mike line of the week. "Shut the fuck up. Let me die in peace."
Do you think next week's finale will top this? What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below.
Read the rest of Wetpaint Entertainment's Breaking Bad coverage here.
Breaking Bad airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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