Breaking Bad Review: Simply the Best
Forget living in a world without Coca-Cola. What will television viewers do approximately one year from now when must reside in a universe without Breaking Bad?
When Walter concluded "Buyout" by telling Mike everybody would win, any longtime fan knew almost everybody would lose.
Walt thinks he's the best, he takes disturbing pride in being the Usain Bolt of meth cooking, actually making a believable speech to Jesse in questioning why anyone would desire a mundane life when he or she can excel at something. Truly excel. Like Coke. Like the New York Yankees. Yes, that something poisons millions of people per year.
But for someone such as Jesse, with little else to live for? For someone such as Walt, who has been made to feel feeble and average his entire adult life? There's a natural high at simply better better than every living human at something. I can absolutely get that.
We all know Walt is only Heisenberg in the lab, though. He talks a great game - that opening scene was an all-timer - and he believes the games he talks, especially now that his competition has been erased. But his plans fall apart. He rarely even gets his hands dirty.
I'm the man who killed Gus Fring? Really, Walter? You're technically not.
Nor are you the man who shot Gale, a reminder you made clear to Jesse when trying to guilt him back into your world.
As Jesse responded, Walt keeps saying no one will get hurt and he keeps saying he has things under control and the scary thing is that he actually believes that. But Mike laid it out to him perfectly in what proved to be his final words: his ego and his pride may not have come before his own fall (yet), but they've come before the fall of many others. He could have clocked in every day at Gus' super lab and made his family - those people who supposedly depend on him - millions of dollars per year for life.
But that wasn't enough. And Mike is now dead because of it.
What an incredible closing few moments. It wasn't hard to guess that's where things would end up. Not after we saw Walt glance at the gun in Mike's bag. But every second of the scene played out in incredible Breaking Bad fashion.
Walt was legitimately scarred by Mike's lashing out. He walked away. He felt like that powerless science teacher again. But then he remembered that he's supposed to be Heisenberg. He turned back. He opened fire. But, naturally, that didn't go according to plan, either.
The car crash. Mike's stumble. The gorgeous sunset. Walt's panic, his look of disbelief at what he actually did, his rambling over Lydia and finally the only fitting way for Mike to leave this Earth: in peace, resigned to the fate he had to have figured would eventually come his way.
It was impossible not to be moved by his passing, which is astounding considering the way we met Mike, as the right hand man of the area's most dangerous drug pin. He may care a lot about his granddaughter, but Mike Ehrmantraut is not a good man. He's done horrible things in his life. We've seen him do horrible things as recently as a couple days ago in the show's timeline.
But Breaking Bad centers around a truly horrific individual, yet is takes us so inside the world of Walter White and the performances by Bryan Cranston and company are so compelling, that we don't simply watch. We aren't simply invested. In many ways, we root for the bad guys.
A five-star, tremendous episode all around. Hank took a major step in the case, Jesse stood his ground against his mentor, Todd was brought in to the cooking fold, Walt struck a new alliance, there was another cooking montage and our first-ever Safety Deposit Box Cam.
And we were treated to mesmerizing exchange after mesmerizing, from Walt's demand that his new partners say his name, to Jesse and Walt having it out to the final couple minutes of Mike's life.
Walt seemed sincerely moved to confusion and possibly even fear over his own actions as that sun set on the installment. But he'll likely be over it by the time Breaking Bad airs its summer finale next Sunday. He'll have compartmentalized it. He'll have rationalized it away. Or, to be most accurate, he'll have blamed it on someone else.
What did everyone else think of "Say My Name?"