Recap | Breaking Bad: ‘Say My Name’

“Say My Name” opens with a meeting in the desert, where Mike’s contact is expecting a 1,000-gallon delivery of methylamine. But Walt has something else in mind: He wants Mike’s contact to take over the distribution of his blue meth now that Mike is out. Walt makes a convincing case, too, making me believe maybe he does have the chops to run a drug empire.

When asked just who he thinks he is to make such demands, Walt answers, “You all know who I am. I’m the cook. I’m the man who killed Gus Fring. Say my name.” When the men acknowledge that he is the mythical Heisenberg, Walt does his best Clint Eastwood: “You’re goddamn right.”

Heisenberg. Walt seems ready to build his empire without Mike’s assistance; Jesse’s participation is another matter, however. Here we get to see how much Walt needs Jesse. When the distribution deal is all wrapped up and Jesse and Walt are removing the methylamine hidden from Mike at the carwash, Skyler and Jesse share a look; you can see in Jesse’s eyes that he understands where Skyler is coming from. Both of them are trapped in their respective situations with Walt.

Walt and Jesse have always had a sort of father-son relationship, of course. In Season 1, as Walt sat coughing up blood outside the Winnebago, Jesse showed him compassion during a time when he was nothing but a failed genius turned science teacher with cancer, and his wife was nothing but a harpy. Jesse accepted Walt as he was, he saw his humanity, and he looked up to him. And Walt, in his own way, truly cares about Jesse.

Now Walt is desperate to keep Jesse with him. For all of Walt’s bravado, he’s scared to move forward without him. Bryan Cranston is masterful in convincing us that Walt is not only a monster with an ego the size of Texas, but also a scared little boy looking for a life raft. That life raft is Jesse.

And doesn’t he let Jesse know just how unwilling he is to see him go. Walt uses the same tactic with Jesse that he did with Skyler: First he butters him up in an attempt to convince him to stay, but when Jesse makes it clear that he’s done, Walt lets him know that he gets nothing if he leaves, not his $5 million cut of the business or anything else. Jesse, who wants no more blood on his hands, decides that walking away beats $5 million.

So Walt recruits Todd, who helped out with the heist and killed that kid, as his new lab assistant. In Todd, Walt gets a guy who doesn’t talk back, and who insists that payment can be discussed after he gets a better handle on the cooking process. You can practically hear the “cha-ching” noise in Walt’s head. So the cooking seems to be going smoothly, even without Jesse, and the distribution is going to be taken care of, even without Mike.

It seems, at first, that Mike might get away unscathed. With his buyout money in hand, he dumps his guns and laptop into a well and sits back to wait for the DEA to come knocking, knowing that a search of his house will turn up nothing.

The trouble is, Mike’s attorney (not Saul Goodman, much to Saul’s chagrin), who’s been handling the payments to Gus Fring’s former associates, turns Mike in after some DEA pressure. This leads Mike to put his trust in Walt to help him retrieve his go bag from the airport. And we all know what happens when someone puts trust in Walter White.

In exchange for the bag, Walt wants Mike to give him the hazard-pay list. Walt ends up shooting Mike with his own gun, but not because Mike refuses to give him the pay list. No, it’s because Mike says what many of us have been thinking: “All of this is YOUR fault, Walt.” If only Walt had kept his head down, known his place and not made a grab for power, he could be cooking away in an underground lab and raking in a steady paycheck.

Walt can’t take responsibility for his actions; to him, the end justifies the means. The only moment I can remember Walt admitting that he is the architect of his own ruin was in the 10th episode of Season 4, when he breaks down in front of Walt Jr. after getting his ass kicked by his surrogate son, Jesse. Here we saw sad, desperate, remorseful Walt.

So he shoots Mike. As Mike sits next to the river, dying, Walt realizes aloud that he could’ve gotten the pay list from Lydia. Stoic and dry to the last, Mike says, “Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace.” In the moments before Mike dies, Walt looks unsure of what to do, and scared as hell. He knows he’s responsible for this. This blood is on his hands, not on Jesse’s or Todd’s or Mike’s. Not so tough. Not exactly drug-kingpin material, Heisenberg.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/ComputerSci5 Cory Jameson

    Your “analysis” of Walt and what happened at the end of season 4 and in this episode is ludicrous. Fring was going to kill Walt. Fring was going to replace him, first with Gale and then with Jesse. After replacing Walt, what exactly did you think was going to happen? That Fring would just let him go?! Walt had no choice but to takeover Fring’s station.  

    The other point is, Skyler is a faithless bitch. Walt could never depend on her. And now, even though he’s brought in tons of money, she says she wishes his cancer  would come back. If Walt survives, and he accumulates sufficient money I’m sure he can buy the affections of someone younger and hotter than Skyler. 

    Killing Mike was a TACTICAL mistake. But it’s not fatal. If anything, Mike made the mistake by not just giving Walt the list of names because I’m sure it occurred to Mike as well that Lydia would give Walt the names.

    Everyone in Walt’s life has either failed, abandoned, or betrayed him. So I hope in the end he’s the only one left standing – with all the money. In fact, that’s my prediction

  • Kanati

    Probably the best episode this season thus far.
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claude-Gaudette/100000594289875 Claude Gaudette

    Mike was going away for good. From what we’ve seen of Mike and how he operated, we can be reasonably certain he wasn’t going to come back or drop the dime on Walter and his operation. So this is the first time Walter has killed somebody, not because they were a direct threat to him, his family, or Jesse, but because they told him no, pissed him off, and called him on his bullshit. It was the first time he killed someone for wholly petty reasons. Just when you think he can’t sink lower, Heisenberg grabs a shovel and starts digging.

  • Demoncat4

    from this episode and shooting mike looks like walt has finaly gotten what jesse was trying to get it into his head he is finaly totaly gotten corrupted by greed and power that its now putting even blood on his hands. that walt has become  a true monster once and for all. plus he could have just skipped mike and gone to lydia for that list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claude-Gaudette/100000594289875 Claude Gaudette

    Really, we’re at “Skyler’s a bitch who should be grateful her husband is a meth dealing murderer” already? Combined with a cheap shot at her age and appearance? Wow. I know from past experience there’s no changing the mind of somebody who comes right out of the blocks with that kind of statement, but I’m enough of a masochist that I just couldn’t leave it unremarked upon.

     And before someone chimes in with “Skyler cheated on Walter! Skyler’s committed crimes too!” Of course she’s deeply flawed. She admitted she was morally compromised by her decision to launder money through the car wash. But that was when she thought that Walter was just a lab monkey, before she realized the depth of the danger he was putting them in. Her affair was her way getting back at Walter when he forced his way back into the house while she was trying to divorce him (for being, y’know, A LYING METH DEALER!!). Not a laudable motivation, but an understandable one.Ted’s injury was the unintended result of dealing with incompetent thugs. She may have been relieved by Ted’s reassurance that he’d keep his mouth shut, but she’s not proud of any of it.  Look at the human wreckage left in the wake of Walter’s product alone, and Skyler’s sins pale in comparison. Add in everything else, and they’re statistically insignificant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claude-Gaudette/100000594289875 Claude Gaudette

      Vince Gilligan has repeatedly stated that Breaking Bad is the story of one man’s transformation from “Mr. Chips to Scarface”. But here’s what I think some people fail to get about that analogy: Tony Montana wasn’t a hero. Like Walter White, he was the main character, the one we followed through the story and invested in as an audience, so you end up rooting for him. It helped that the people standing in his way were awful monsters in their own right. But his goals were deeply wrong, evil, and twisted.(In the beginning you could argue Walter’s terrible decisions were just misguided desperation. Not any more.)His rise to power was brutal, his empire was built on human weakness and suffering, and he only got to enjoy the spoils of his labor very briefly before he was destroyed. Even if Walter is somehow miraculously still alive at the end of the series, he will have sacrificed every trace of the flawed but basically decent person he once was on the altar of Heisenberg. Think back to the opening scene of this season’s premiere: however this ends it’s gonna be in blood and tragedy. And none of that is Skyler’s fault. 

  • Mike Boarts

    Walt will continue taking people out.  Lydia, Saul, Todd, Jesse’s pals, and it will come down to Skyler and Jesse being the only ones left standing that know.  We can’t even guess what any of those three players will do, but it should be interesting!  I think Skyler is going to make a move by the end of this half season.  

  • darthtigris

    …….. wow.  Even creator Vince Gillligan won’t take up for Walt like that.  Wow.

  • darthtigris

    You are on FIRE here.

  • Chase

    I mean everyone is free to their own interpretation, but this seems way off base. I think it is hard to say that everyone has abandoned Walt. What I gather is he has destroyed everyone in his life for pride and power.

    That is what I see anyway.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XA4RDSRSUX3XRSCPRR7XNGSPUQ Joshua

    Man Skyler sure does take a lot of flack for that affair.

  • Fuzzy Dunlop

    …are we watching the same show?

    Walt is sinking ever lower, causing the death of a child, condemning that child’s parents to a lifetime of never knowing what happened to their child, taking the man who murdered that child onto his payroll.
    ..and Skyler is a ‘faithless bitch’!? Her dalliance with Ted was clearly a cry for help as her husband consistently lied to her, driving her to the brink of insanity, before revealing the horrible truth behind his lies.Are those two things even vaguely comparable? At all?(Has anyone noticed the implications that seem to be being made occasionally that Walt didn’t really love Skyler in the first place? He loved Gretchen, but ended up knocking up Skyler in a fling and then ended up selling his shares in his company off to support his disabled son. We don’t have all the pieces of that story yet. But that’s my prediction)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Claude-Gaudette/100000594289875 Claude Gaudette

     The passion of the newly converted. I watched all four prior seasons for the first time just before the premiere of Season 5, and this show has got its hooks in me HARD.