Monday, August 27, 2012

Breaking Bad - "Say My Name" Review

Well, so much for that, huh?

I was really hoping for some sort of reconciliation, however strained, of the Heisenberg Trio, but alas, it all just fell apart even further.

I'll say nothing of the opening scene, other than, "the badassery... oh, the badassery".  I have to say that I thought the title would allude to some forcible sex that Walt would provide to Skyler. That would've been nuts, but I have to say, this worked equally well.

Walt has really inhaled Gus' soul.  For so long, he worked under Fring's iron fist, sometimes jaded, sometimes terrified, but at the end of the day it was a deep seeded feeling of jealousy that drove Walt.  He wanted what Gus had.  The perfect home, the perfect reputation, the perfect business, the perfect crime, the perfect life.  And when he bested him, it was clear that Walt immediately assumed the position of his fallen rival.  I can even see myself how Walt would exercise the Transitive Property:

Gus > Walt
Gus > Everyone Else
Walt - Gus, therefore
Walt > Everyone Else

Similar to what we saw in "Salud" and "Hermanos", we are watching as that essence once again corrodes everything that is good and pure inside the heart of an honest man.

When I said last week that this was the moment when Walt officially became the bad guy, I wasn't lying.  Not only do we know it, he knows it too.  Sure in this episode, he had his heavy-headed philosophizing about being the best, but now it just enforces his three-dimensionality as a character rather than any sympathetic qualities.  Seriously, you'd have to be some kind of sociopath to still be on board with this guy.  Watching him get so upset that Jesse was leaving, I thought about how Jesse acted as a sort of cipher for Walt through which he rationalized and risked losing everything else around him, because he looked at Jesse as a surrogate son.  I was all set to watch Walt bask in his sorrow and loneliness as he undergoes a one man cook.  Then, after seeing him work with Todd and become optimistic fairly quickly, it became clear that he just needs someone to assist him and in the end, he could give a fuck who it is.  Grosse.

How can you still rationalize with a man like this?  He fucking killed Mike!!

Seriously, I threw my hands up in a WTF moment when I saw that.  I knew they wouldn't show us that gun in the bag for nothing, but come on... they couldn't possibly... who could possibly gain? And then it happened.  Walt's last desperate plea for respect went unanswered so he power walked a bullet right into Mr. Ehrmendtraut's belly.

I mean, I get that it was an impulse, but it was an impulse for which a guy with as rational of a head as Walt wouldn't normally succumb to.  I understand that Mike was hitting him where it hurts - his pride - but still, whether remorseful or not, that was just unnecessary.

Having Mike on the lamb was adding a new wrinkle of immediacy to the storyline, which I was very much enjoying, while also forcing him to get back in the meth game as a result of the DEA freezing his assets for the second time.  So much promise only to have it cut short way too soon.  It was quite a leap, indeed, and I can't help but be disappointed that this is it for what became my favorite character in the series. Mike was so awesome that I just assumed he was going to play such a vital role in the endgame.  There was so much more untapped potential for his character.  It just didn't need to happen, and it doesn't do much to raise the stakes, it just reinforces how far Walt has fallen, something which we already know.  It's not a bad development, it makes sense narratively and thematically, and maybe I'm just going through the grief process, but I can't help but think there was a better way to go.  Or, if you were going to have Walt do it, which is an idea I do approve of, hold off until a little further down the road, where his death can really mean more.  There could've been more build-up there.  More character work.  I still hold out hope that he may pull through after all.

The death of Mike will most likely be a major factor in the Jesse vs. Walt Shakespearean Super Star Death Match that I anticipate seeing in the show's final act, but we'll have to wait and see.

Hank continues to be Hank, the uber-intuitive super cop who always gets his man.  This is good characterization, though if taken too far I worry it'll be a little hard to suspend one's disbelief that this guy can hit every mark except the one sitting right in front of him.  Good thing we're at the home stretch.


80% = ***1/2 = "Amazing"

-VMA

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