[Review] Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 7, "Say My Name"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
When Walt says "everybody wins", he doesn't mean everybody else.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that acted rashly, and will come to regret it.

Until the final scene, I thought this episode was out of order. The playful way the money delivery scene in the bank was filmed, I thought for certain it was meant to have been the cold open. Connected to the episode, important to the final act, but divorced from the main play in a way. The open they went with was too steeped in the plot of the episode. It was direct, and loud, and in a way, it was showing off. It was a hot open.

Then the final scene arrived, and Walt and Mike had their words, and I realised that the cold open as is could only have come at the beginning. It mirrored the final scene. Everything that Mike calls Walt out on, is on full show in that cold open. His ego, his arrogance. The first scene is Walt in full control, and the final scene is Walt falling apart.

I've said it before in these reviews, Walter is only effective when he has time to plan. He never flinches, never backs down when 'negotiating' with the drug dealers. He knows what will happen before he arrives, because he's run it through in his mind. He's seen all the angles. The last scene is Walter being rash. He even admits it. After he has acted, and has a moment to think, he clearly sees another way. More then that, his action wouldn't have furthered his cause. He lashed out, and things fell apart. And I am at a loss as to which will be Walt's downfall. His tendency to lash out, or his growing belief that he is the smartest man in any room.

And a word about that first scene: brilliant. Sometimes, when a show knows it has a characters like this, they can get a little hammy in trying to play that aspect up. Making him look like a badass intentionally, rather then letting it happen naturally. Not so here, which I give to Cranston. He underplays the oversell. And to watch the slow way he is able to turn the meeting, from being submissive, to making the hardened drug thugs all tremble. Points too, to Louis Ferreira, for the magnificent way he played the top dog who in the course of a couple lines suddenly wants to mess his pants, and get the hell out.

In a way, nothing that happened between those two scenes matters, and thinking back now, they blur together under the illumination of the start and finish. One thing that did stand out, and something I haven't mentioned, and need to before the show disappears next week, is how much Dean Norris has been killing it with the constantly dejected Hank. He's been no better then in the pair of scenes where Walt has poured his heart out in the DEA office, and Hank is awkwardly completely unable to help. The rest of the cast has all but disappeared this season, but Hank is still right there, front and centre. And I'll admit to not seeing much of a point to the character in the early days, but now, I'm disappointed when Hank doesn't show up. Norris deserves as much praise as Cranston gets, in my book.

Vince Gilligan has been teasing us that Walter will do something so terrible we, as viewers, will never be able to forgive him. I don't think this was it. This was just an example of how much he still fails to understand himself, if not his footing. It undercuts everything he says to Jesse during this episode. Death is inexorably linked to Walt now, there is no separating them. I think something bigger is coming, something worse. Because, let's be honest, that bullet was a long time coming, no matter who shot it.

I will miss the way Mike said "Walter" though. Very much.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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