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Breaking Bad Review: “Say My Name” (Season 5, Episode 7)

There's only one episode left of the first part of Breaking Bad season five but only now does Vince Gilligan and his writers finally give us some sense of direction toward Walter White's final destination. We can now feel the walls really closing in around Walt, he is a king desperately holding onto his throne as his empire crumbles around him.

Whether Walt will feel any guilt at all is something we will have to wait till next week’s season finale to see. In the end, guilt may be something he doesn’t have time for. After all, Mike’s death means he has a lot of loose ends to tie up, including dealing with the likes of Lydia to make sure she doesn’t squeal. I have a feeling that this event could very likely lead to Walt’s undoing with the DEA too. Now that Mike is dead Hank will most likely increase the strength of his investigation to finally hunt down the elusive Heisenberg, despite his orders to desist.

On the other hand, Mike’s death was an inevitability to begin with. Breaking Bad is a show that has a very strict rule of morals and is beholden to the eye for an eye principle. The characters in Breaking Bad reap what they sew and eventually all those on the wrong side of the law are punished. Mike knew this (despite his best attempts to avoid it) and in his final moments he acknowledges his own retribution.

It is a beautiful scene which sees him calmly pass away by the side of a river while the sun sets over the mountains. When Walt begins blathering, Mike instructs him to “shut the f**k up and let me die in peace”.

Mike’s moment of redemption is allowing himself that final moment of peace and reflection before his death. Mike has had the best intentions for going into this business but it has led him to some very messed up places, places he has gone to without question. For protecting the interests of his granddaughter though, a peaceful death is something he has in the end earned and it is a hauntingly resonant and beautiful scene.

Outside of Mike’s storyline, this episode of Breaking Bad had an awful lot to deliver elsewhere. The cold openings, which Breaking Bad has become famous for, remain terrific. It is a wonderful storytelling device that they have honed to perfection, allowing for 3 to 7 minute scenes to set the tone of the following 40 minutes.

With this opening, which sees Walt making a deal with the other meth dealer we were introduced to last week, the writers are finally, definitively telling and reminding us that Walt has now become a seriously dangerous man. His Heisenberg persona has seeped into his mind and taken control, Walt’s initial want for people to fear him has been blown totally out of proportion. They do fear him but they are simultaneously cautious around him and this has affected his family life, which is the only thing he initially wanted to protect.

The relationship between Walt and Jesse becomes fractured once again this week too. Jesse is insistent on leaving but this is something Walt cannot see. Jesse has earned his moral purity enough to know that now is the time to walk away. He even refuses the $5 million that is owed to him and the further money that Walt promises him through being a part of the operation. Money doesn’t matter to Jesse anymore, all he wants is to be free and away from this life which has cost him so much.

“Say My Name” is a thematically dense and emotionally resonant episode of Breaking Bad that will have a lasting effect on the show and only shows signs of darker, more violent events to come. With only 9 episodes left, and one episode left of this first half, there are some serious blues setting in.

Breaking Bad is a show that will be missed, folks. Cherish it while it is still with us.

About the author

Will Chadwick

Will has written for the site since October 2010, he currently studies English Literature and American Studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His favourite films include Goodfellas, The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather and his favourite TV shows are Mad Men, Six Feet Under, The Simpsons and Breaking Bad.