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Review #3662: Breaking Bad 5.7: “Say My Name”

Posted on the 30 August 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written and Directed by Thomas Schnauz

Walt’s downfall can be traced to a number of things, but I think it started at the very beginning of this episode when he sought validation through someone he doesn’t know and has never worked with before. This is over people he has known for a long time now, including his protege from the beginning of the series. As a result, we can already see the start of Walt’s fall from grace.

Review #3662: Breaking Bad 5.7: “Say My Name”

Walt is building the “empire” based on the Heisenberg name, which has a cache with notorious drug dealers, but his life behind the scenes is crumbling before his eyes. Is all this death really worth it? Does Walt even care what the price will be? That’s what we’re left to wonder as the episode plays out. At some particular point, this house of cards Walt has built will come crashing down on him. His ambition is driving all of the people he cares about away and it’s costing more lives. Granted, Mike doesn’t hold a lot of affection for Walt these days, but he was the security for the operation and the lone professional left from the Fring organization. Now, he’s dead, and I get the feeling he’s not going to be the last body that will drop on this show.

This episode showed the various disintegration of the relationships the characters hold dear. Usually, Walt is able to control and manipulate everything so that he gets what he wants. At the beginning of the episode, during the meeting in the desert with Declan, I noted that it has been a long time (episode-wise) since someone — anyone really — has said no to Walt. And it occurred in this episode. We all know that Skyler hates Walt. That was shown in the two scenes she was in here. Skyler lives in fear of Walt but despises him as well. Everyone can see that. What Walt fails to notice is that Jesse and Skyler could be forming a relationship based on the shared hatred for Walt. Given what we saw in regards to Mike’s fate in this episode, that doesn’t bode well for either of them.

Walt is nuclear now, and everything he touches is poisoned. Jesse has a conscience and is operating on that by getting out of their partnership as soon as possible. Walt says everything he can, uses every putdown he can think of, to keep Jesse in line. It’s sad, really, to look at how far Walt has fallen from before. Jesse looked up to Walt, but unlike his bedroom confrontation with Skyler, Walt can no longer intimidate Jesse. He is bereft of the sentimentality and morality that allows Jesse to see things clearly for the first time. Walt has no soul now. Jesse knows that Todd’s murder of the kid is on them, specifically on Walt, but he shares the responsibility of the kid’s death. Walt seems unable to comprehend that Jesse has more to his life than making money by cooking meth.

Jesse is unable to fully escape Walt’s clutches, but I like that Mike takes such a liking to Jesse that he’s protecting him whenever he can. He could have picked up the bag for Mike and Mike would have safely bolted out of town. It was determined to be too dangerous and Mike didn’t want anything to happen to Jesse. Just as he was protecting his grand-daughter any way he could. Making sure she had a nest egg for her future (which might now get confiscated by the DEA); Keeping out of sight when the police come to arrest him in the park so as to not allow Kaylee to see her grandfather in handcuffs or worse. That sentimentality did get Mike killed, although it was an admittedly stupid decision to allow a loose cannon like Walt anywhere near a gun.

I spent those final minutes of the episode wondering when Walt was going to kill Mike. It seemed inevitable. Walt’s actions seemed way too predictable by the end. His removal of the bug in Hank’s office seems less genuine simply because we’ve seen the act before. We know what the payoff is going to be. There were several moments in the final confrontation between Mike and Walt where the show could have pulled a surprise. It’s saved for the very end, when Walt feels disrespected and feels it necessary to shoot Mike. This is not Heisenberg in action. We saw Heisenberg at the beginning. The rest of the episode was desperate Walt. This is the man we have seen from the pilot episode, driving an RV with a gun tucked in his underwear, up until when he blew up Gus Fring. The one who makes things up as he goes along. The one who doesn’t think things through. He even admits it as Mike has a hole in his gut: Lydia has the names of Mike’s guys. For the first time in a long time, Walt is contrite and fearful. Only, Mike doesn’t want to hear it. What’s done is already done, and Walt cannot take it back.

The meth “empire” is now starting to go down. Walt has his distributors, but is now working with a cook who is nowhere near as skilled as Jesse was. Walt is essentially starting over. You can see the weariness on Walt’s face after he teaches Todd the basics of cooking “classic Coke” meth. He doesn’t know how Todd ticks, and the fact that he shot a kid adds a factor of unpredictability that Jesse didn’t have. Add to that the fact that the DEA is now inching closer and closer to cracking the case (and it was foolish to have one guy paying off the nine guys at the same bank like clockwork) and this is only going to end badly for Walt. No amount of scrambling or genius brain power is going to save him.

I would argue that there’s a big part of Walt that doesn’t want to be saved. That would explain why he and Jesse have such philosophical differences shown in this episode. There is a part of him that thinks he’s invincible and that there is no way he can be touched. He could have gotten out of this life, but he is so deep in the hole now that he can’t go back. He is learning the cost of his ambition. Mike’s death is the first proof that Heisenberg is not in control of his environment. It isn’t going to stop there.

Score: 8/10

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