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Vinny Ginardi: Looking back to the beginning of this season, Mike never wanted to be a part of Walt’s plans for the future.
The operation and leader of the operation he had just been highly involved with was just blown to pieces (literally). He was old, tired, and had a granddaughter whom he loved and wanted to spend time with. But most of all, Mike saw Walt as a “ticking time bomb” and didn’t want to be around when it went off. Unfortunately, he stuck around just long enough to see what happens when it does.
Just like with Gus Fring, Walt viewed his relationship with Mike as a competition where only one could win. And that’s why their deaths were so different. With Gus, Walt did have a war for power and even for life. If Walt didn’t kill Gus, Gus might have killed Walt. Because of this, because there was so much at stake, Gus’ death needed to be epic, and it was.
But with Mike there was no struggle for power, even if Walt thought there might be. Mike knew his role and did his part. He saw Walt as the arrogant beast that he had become and wasn’t shy about saying it. And that’s what really got to Walt. As we saw in the beginning of this episode, where Walt demands the buyers to say his name after he continuously praises the high quality of his product, he wants to be glorified by all. He wants to be seen as “The Man” and thought of as the best in the business. It didn’t sit well with Walt that Mike viewed him in a completely different light, called him out on his arrogance, and even blamed him for putting him and everyone else into a bad position. Mike just wanted to leave, but Walt wouldn’t let him, so he shot him.
This death didn’t give Walt the same satisfaction that Gus’ did. The execution was sloppy, and in the end, did he really win? After shooting Mike he realizes that maybe he shouldn’t have killed him because other than wanting him dead, there was no reason to. But Mike didn’t even let Walt have that moment of possible regret. Instead he put Walt in his place one last time: “Shut the f**k up, and let me die in peace.”
Mike Aurigemma: This was the way it had to end with these two characters. You knew there was going to come a time when they had a face-off. I expected it in the last episode when Mike was tying Walt up. I thought for sure Walt was going to find a way to kill him then, but their relationship continued for another week. Mike was not a big enough character to be the one to kill Walt so it seemed perfectly logical that Mike was going to be another victim of Walt’s power-hungry surge.
The way that it happened really was a great example of the kind of relationship they had. As Vinny mentioned the last line by Mike before dying still showed that he did not have that much respect for someone like Walt. Could you ever see him doing that to Gus? No way.
What will be interesting is where it goes from here. This has to be the start of the downfall for Walt . As much as he may have had a rough going with Mike, there was a reason he still needed Mike. He had all the connections and was the one that put his neck on the line in most situations and now all the attention will go toward Walt. I am intrigued to see where this leaves Walt and Jesse, but more importantly where this will leave Hank.
Michael Cresci: Vinny hit on something about Mike’s heartbreaking end that I found intriguing. Walt’s reaction wasn’t exactly regret or sorrow but more confusion. Even he didn’t seem to understand why exactly he’d done it. He even starts explaining to Mike that it was a strange choice before Mike says what needs to be said: “Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace.” All he wants is for a peaceful final moment and Walt is still able to find a way to make it about himself. The world revolves around Heisenberg and when it doesn’t people die. I was wondering what you guys thought about Walt’s reaction to what he did. I don’t think it’s going to change his ways but I do think we’re starting to see either the beginning of Walt’s undoing or the final proof that Walter White is dead and has been replaced by someone else(as now he is full on capable of direct murder in response to someone not saying “Thank you”).
I’d also like to spend a quick moment commending Jonathan Banks on his performance as Mike. He elevated the show to such another level and his stoic professionalism was always an amazing counterpoint to “The Brain Trust’s” chaotic, amateurish brand of meth related crime. He conveyed such depth, humor and sadness and, like the show, only grew in quality every season. He signed his death warrant the moment he called Walt and said “I’m in” but at least he did it for family. That’s more than Walt can say.
VG: Walt’s reaction was very peculiar. His voice and overall demeanor portrayed some sort of regret, and even though he was apologizing, he wasn’t actually sorry. He didn’t feel guilty about killing Mike, just that he killed him when he really didn’t have to. Alan Sepinwall made an interesting point in his review, noting that in those moments after shooting Mike, Walter White came to the surface. Even though he had just killed Mike, was apologizing for all the wrong reasons, and was still thinking of just himself, for the first time in a long time he seemed almost human as he stammered through his thoughts. But just the fact that its noteworty when Walter White appears and overtakes Heisenberg shows just how rare it has become.
As for Mike’s death, I’m curious to see if Jesse will ever find out about it. If he does (I’m guessing it would be sometime in the second half of season five), it could be something that completely turns him against Walt. Jesse had a good relationship with Mike and he’s only now starting to realize that Walt is no longer the same person he starting cooking meth with a year ago. If Jesse ever finds out that Walt killed Mike, or that Walt let Jane die, or both, then it’s likely that he would try to put an end to Heisenberg.
Anyway, what are you expecting from the midseason finale, Cresci?
MC: I learned a long time ago that this is the most unpredictable show ever made. The joy of it is that week to week there is no way to know what the hell is going to happen next. Every time you have an expectation Vince Gilligan turns it against you or flat out turns the other way. This season’s been deeply satisfying and it’s wonderful to trust a show so completely. I don’t worry that things won’t keep getting crazier and more brilliant, the writers have proved that they are at the pinnacle of television and something special is happening.
Walt is truly alone and he may be starting to realize it. Mike once told him, “Just because you killed Jesse James, it doesn’t make you Jesse James.” Maybe Walt proved Mike wrong, but in the end Jesse James was shot in the back by a member of his gang. Walt warned us about all of this while watching Scarface: ”Everybody dies in this movie,” he said. And once again he’s closer to being right.