Customer Review

391 of 450 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Ehrmentraut OWNS YOU., August 20, 2012
This review is from: Breaking Bad: Season 5 (DVD)
There's not much you can say about a show that you haven't seen the entire season of yet, but what I can say is that BREAKING BAD, under the very watchful eye of Vince Gilligan, has become such an incredibly superior hour of television that it's become the best straight-up crime drama alongside FX's current winner JUSTIFIED, and what has been elevating it beyond belief in its fifth season is not the star of the show Bryan Cranston, who is still brilliant in his portrayal of Walter White, and really knows how to play his cunning and his desperation. It's also not in Aaron Paul, who's been phenomenal since the first minutes of his performance as Jesse Pinkman, the moral compass of the show (basically, if Pinkman thinks you've gone too far, you REALLY have) and its resident guide through the world we've found ourselves navigating through. It's also not through Anna Gunn as the increasingly put-upon and disassociative Skyler White, whose own personal journey over this season has caused her character to become a powder-keg of potentially epic proportions. It's not in the revelatory performance of Dean Norris as DEA ASAC and forthright brother-in-law Hank Schrader, whose larger-than-life acting style has finally been given a good home after decades in the business. It's not in the delightfully flighty Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader, Hank's wife and Skyler's sis and Walt's surprise confidant.

No. This season belongs to one person, and that is Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut. Forget the young psychotics of the Tuco variety. Forget the ever-expansive reach of the Mexican Cartels and their inhuman killing machines. Forget Gus Fring and his straight-laced terror. Mike is the most frightening character on this show simply because he's the most experienced and most efficient problem-solver this show has ever had. Every subtle stone-faced glance he throws; every quiet moment of him just sitting in a room; every syllable he utters is dripping with menace. In this character, Walt has found a unique match; a master manipulator whose mind is always working overtime to figure an infinite amount of angles on not only the people he works with, but the people he must care for and especially the people he needs to "take care" of. He's the perfect foil for Walt in the sense that Mike, knowing what he knows already, feels that he knows or can expect what Walt will do and then Walt, not being your typical criminal, will ultimately try work out a way to out-manuever Mike. It's like a game of chess that in Walt's mind has to be a zero-sum game, but to Mike, there can be a way for everyone to win. The episode "Buyout" is the very best example of this dynamic as Mike finally finds a way out for everyone that can score himself, Jesse and Walt millions of dollars and walk away from the business forever. Walt doesn't want that, though, for reasons that are made all-too emotionally vital to his character. Ultimately Mike and Walt have to face off against each other, and Walt's way out of that volatile situation is also unexpected but totally in character and totally in line with where the show is heading toward.

There are many comparisons to the characters of Walter White and the character of Michael Corleone; neither of them wanted to be who they became, but how they get there is something that is not so much something that is forced, but rather simply an acceptance of who the person can be when all pretense is stripped away, and yet we watch in horror as Walt sinks deeper and deeper into this subtly evil alter-ego he's created of a 'kingpin'. From the first moment Walt donned the fedora and adopted the moniker of "Heisenberg", he was forever altered and destined to become the man he is now, and none of what Vince Gilligan and his fantastic staff of creators like George Mastras and Michelle MacLaren have navigated these characters through seems inorganic. It was troubling to me for a while how Walt seemed to balk so heavily at getting out of the meth business, and I should have trusted in the show to lead me to a place where it not only makes sense, but it's necessary for the character to stay.

It's further proof that BREAKING BAD is a gritty, dirty, and incredibly smart show that has no illusions about what it is, but what it is, is gold.
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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 27, 2012 11:05:22 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 29, 2013 10:20:23 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 30, 2012 7:55:33 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2012 5:31:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2012 5:31:28 PM PDT
And you're a troll, Dan. Your point being?

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 2:32:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 3:10:01 AM PST
I love this show but I don't agree that Mike E. was in any way "dripping with menace." He was really just an ordinary guy trying to make a buck doing what he did best. I think he was almost decent compared to Walt, who by season 5 had become completely evil. Everything else you said was right on.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 3:09:18 AM PST
To the show's protagonist, who is still Walt, and to several of the other assorted criminals on the show, Mike is deeply menacing. If the shoe was on the other foot, Mike would easily be the show's villain. That certainly doesn't make him a lesser character. He's certainly not the moral compass either. There are several moments of this season where Mike does some pretty horrible things, but that might not make a difference at the end of the day. But he truly is a great character, and the best foil for Walt that the show has seen.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 3:14:15 AM PST
For sure, I think Mike is fantastic. But one of the best things about him is his pragmatism, and the fact that we can watch him and consistently think "this guy knows what's up." He's very grounded, unlike most of the other characters on the show. I can imagine him being somebody I might actually meet in real life. One of the things that made him so real for me was the bit about his granddaughter (or grand-niece?), Kayla.

Posted on Nov 30, 2012 8:46:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2012 8:47:13 PM PST
It's not a fedora. It's a porkpie hat. Good review, otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 3:53:25 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 17, 2013 12:36:37 PM PST
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Posted on Mar 14, 2013 11:35:27 PM PDT
R. Miller says:
I'm happy to take a different view. I was glad to see Mike go. Clearly Walter is the star of the show, and Mike's constant dis-approval of Walter was tiresome to me. To each his own. I thought Mike was great at his role, but he was always confining, and had small thinking ex. his drab car, drab dress, drab disposition. Good bye Mike. Definitely one of the best shows I have seen.
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