I’m beginning to worry what my neighbours must think of me. For the past seven weeks, almost without fail, I scream at my TV every Sunday night at exactly 10:55 p.m. And this week, my screams must have been deafening. Even though the scenes leading up to this episode’s jaw-dropping final moments hinted at what was about to happen (when Walter eyed the ‘go bag’ full of money and passports, I actually scribbled in my notepad Walter, don’t you dare hurt Mike!), the death of one of this show’s most compelling characters still sent my vocal chords into overdrive.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The episode opens with Walter, Mike and Jesse meeting Declan and his gang in the desert to work out a new deal. Walter convinces Declan to fire his cook and sell his meth instead based on its 99.1% purity (“Yours is just some tepid, off-brand, generic cola; what I’m making is Classic Coke”).
With the deal done and his $5 million share secured, Mike leaves the team and hands his haul to his lawyer, who divvies it up between Mike’s nine men in prison and his granddaughter. Jesse tries to leave as well, but Walter’s not letting him off the hook that easily. First, he makes him endure yet another awkward encounter with Skyler as they retrieve the hidden methylamine from the carwash. He then launches into a desperate pitch to get Jesse to reconsider, first plying him with flattery (“Start a new lab that you’ll run; a cook all on your own. Why not? You deserve it”), then deriding his life choices (“What have you got in your life? Nothing, nobody. Video games and go-carts”), and finally trying to poke holes in his sanctimony (“Isn’t it filthy blood money? You’re so pure and have such emotional depth”). But Jesse is disgusted by Walter’s increasingly transparent manipulations and is determined to walk away, even if it means walking away from his $5 million cut.
Walter loses no time replacing Jesse with the always eager Todd, who can’t wait to learn the cooking process and even refuses payment until he “gets it right.” But there’s trouble brewing: Walter overhears Hank and Gomez talk about closing in on Mike. He is able to warn Mike, who evades arrest but he can’t grab his escape bag without being spotted. Saul can’t sneak off and Mike refuses to put Jesse in danger, so Walter is stuck grabbing it and bringing it to Mike. But nothing’s simple with Walter. He can’t just hand off the bag and be on his way; he badgers Mike about the identities of his nine men, the two argue, and when Mike gets into his car to drive away, Walter runs up to his window and shoots him.
Unlike Gus’s explosive death last season, Mike’s is fittingly quiet, contemplative and resigned. Bleeding from the stomach, he crawls out of his car and sits by a lake to watch the sunset. “I’m sorry, Mike,” Walter stammers in the world’s worst apology. “I just realized that Lydia has the names. This whole thing could have been avoided.” But Mike refuses to have the last words he ever hears come from Walter White. “Shut the f**k up,” he barks through clenched teeth. “Let me die in peace.” The camera pans out; we don’t even see Mike die; we just hear the thud of his body hitting the ground. And with that, the first of our gang meets an untimely end. I’m betting he won’t be the last.
This Week’s ‘Who’s Bad?’ Index:
Walter: Why did Walter kill Mike? It wasn’t to get the names of his nine men. It wasn’t even to steal Mike’s money and passport and create a new identity. Walter shot Mike because he pissed him off and hurt his pride. That’s the kind of man he’s become. 9 blue crystals out of 10
Mike: He may have died at the hand of his most hated adversary, but at least he went out like the stoic, straight-up badass we’ve always known him to be. He even managed to call out Walter for who he really is: “All of this falling apart like this is on you…you and your pride and your ego. You just had to be the man. If you’d done your job and known your place, we’d all be fine right now.” 8 blue crystals out of 10
Hank: There’s only one episode left this year, and I’m betting that Hank and his inevitable discovery of Heisenberg’s true identity is going to play into next week’s cliff-hanger. Now that Mike isn’t around to pay his nine incarcerated men, one of them is sure to turn. And did anyone else notice that part of the scene in Hank’s office looked like it was shot by a surveillance camera? Perhaps Walter’s bug planting was caught on tape? 2 blue crystals out of 10
Meanwhile, AMC’s behind-the-scenes video on the episode is just as heartbreaking as the show’s closing moments. How can you not tear up a little when Jonathan Banks says “I asked Bryan to come and hold my hand with me ’cause it’s a mother****ing tough day.” And the crew members wearing black armbands in his honour? Sob!