Monday, 3 September 2012

TV Review: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 7 'Say My Name'

‘Breaking Bad’ tightens its stranglehold on its viewers’ attention with this tensely paced penultimate episode to the show's second to last season.

Walt lays out his plan to Mike’s mysterious methylamine buyers; that they will distribute what he cooks using the methylamine, he declares that Mike is firmly out of the group but neglects to also mention Jesse’s exit leading to a conflict between the two. Meanwhile Hank is reprimanded for his obsessive behavior concerning the Fring case and considers abandoning the case until he spots something that he missed.

I couldn’t have been any more pleased with this week’s episode, the tension and momentum that has been building up over the course of the season has reached its limit and now chaos is going to break loose. Whilst it is an excellent episode it is still ultimately a set-up for the events of the season 5 finale which should thoroughly impress. Season 5 spent a lot of time focusing on Mike and letting the audience know more about the man and why he did what he did so I was very glad that this episode gave the great character such a fitting end.

Jonathan Banks’ terrifically nuanced performance of Mike Ehrmantraut unfortunately comes to a close with this episode due to the sudden demise of the no-nonsense heavy at the hands of a desperate Walter White. Mike’s role has evolved in the show since his first appearance in the second season finale where he was called upon to instruct Jesse on how to remain innocent when alerting the authorities to the death of Jane Margolis. What initially seemed like the role of the simple “Goon” stereotype soon became a fan favourite thanks to Banks’ dry delivery of Mike’s unapologetic honesty, when revealed to be so much more than a mere lower level enforcer, Mike Ehrmantraut became the voice of warning to Walter when he began to step out of line and a conduit through which Jesse could find his own independence. Ehrmantraut never professed to be anything resembling a figure of good but his code of respect and true dedication to his granddaughter proved that he was a man of greater integrity than those he surrounded himself with.

The two greatest bald men in television.

Walt’s continuing slip into utter villainy reaches new depths in this episode as he brashly murders Mike before even properly assessing the situation. The infamy of Heisenberg has overcome whatever good intentions Walt once possessed, now his own inflated and fragile ego controls his day to day life and is directly responsible for the reprehensible crimes he has committed over the course of his moral decline. Bryan Cranston has played Walt with such humanity and depth that any viewer can relate to him even despite his horrible deeds, because at his core Walt possess the human flaws present in all of us that spread the seed for terrible actions to occur. Cranston has correctly been recognised for his tremendous work on this series and even after 5 years as Walter White he still manages to deliver a stunningly well-crafted and even more engrossing portrayal of Walt with each passing season.

As I mentioned before this episode sets up quite a number of events in the future of the show, as a viewer you are very much aware that a tipping point has been reached in the show’s narrative and that things have changed forever as the net surrounding Walt’s secret life begins to quickly close in around him. Just as law enforcement is becoming wise to Walt’s secrets so too it seems will Jesse as with the discovery of Mike’s death Jesse’s remaining loyalty to Walt will dissipate and the two will finally truly become enemies.

Walt offers a new deal to Mike's methylamine buyers.

The stellar supporting cast of ‘Breaking Bad’ including Dean Norris and Bob Odenkirk help propel season 5 ahead as the best season of the show yet. Norris is an understated genius in how he has crafted and evolved the role of Hank so beautifully to show the audience that the first impression of a character is by no means enough to comprehend the person as a whole. Dean Norris’ slow reveal of the true Hank Schrader throughout the series is amazing to behold and shows how multi-faceted a character can become in the hands of a great actor. Bob Odenkirk was simply born to play the role of the sleazy but brilliant lawyer Saul Goodman. Saul has consistently been one of the best written characters to appear on the show and the marriage of character and actor has never been more perfect than in this case, Odenkirk employs his masterful comedic wit and sarcastic humour to make Saul the scumbag everyone loves to love.

I have absolutely no idea how Vince Gilligan is going to bring this show together with such great writing, superb directing and unparalleled acting for a final season of 8 episodes next year but I absolutely know he will.

Breaking Bad is unmissable television there is no excuse not to watch it, so why drink some tepid off-brand generic cola when you could have classic coke.

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