Breaking Bad wasn’t just a TV show
It was appointment viewing, a truly engaging experience. It redefined water cooler talk. You couldn’t wait to go into work the next day and talk about the previous night’s episode. Walter White, Bryan Cranston, and Jesse Pinkman, Aaron Paul, became household names. But ask any fan of the show, and they’ll say how much they loved Mike Ehrmantraut.
Why We Love Mike Ehrmantraut
When AMC announced they were doing a Breaking Bad spin-off featuring Saul Goodman, everyone was intrigued. When we found out everyone’s favorite cleaner, private investigator, ex-cop, and fixer Mike Ehrmantraut, played by the incredible Jonathan Banks, was on board, we pumped our fists in excitement. When Better Call Saul premiered and we saw Mike working as a parking lot attendant, we waited patiently for him to become more involved. And boy were we rewarded. Just a heads up, we’re going to get into some spoilers for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
We first met Mike in season two of Breaking Bad when he was working with Saul Goodman. Jesse’s girlfriend Jane overdosed on heroin and Saul needed someone to come in and take care of it. He “knows a guy who knows a guy.” Enter Mike. He took care of the scene and told Jesse what to do with the cops, which was to basically know nothing about what happened.
In season three, Mike was hired to keep an eye on Skyler White, Walter’s wife. Saul was concerned with Skyler potentially going to the police. So Mike bugged the White household and kept her under surveillance. Walt almost caught Mike installing the bugs, but Mike is a professional after all, so he snuck out the back.
While keeping the house under his watch, exactly as you’d think a private investigator would, he noticed Walt was in danger. So he made sure Walt was alerted, but Walt became angry about the surveillance. However, Mike told Walt “it’s not so bad having someone watch your back.”
Breaking Bad? More Like Breaking Out!
Like Boba Fett and McLovin’, Mike Ehrmantraut quickly became the side character that every viewer wanted more of. As Breaking Bad went on, Mike became a bigger part of the story. He got assigned to pick-ups with Jesse, eventually leading to a sort of fatherly bond forming (we eventually learn in Better Call Saul where that brews from). An apparent robbery, which was really set up by drug boss Gus Fring to prove Jesse’s loyalty, led to an another operation where things went wrong. Mike wound up saving Jesse’s life.
Mike also got important moments with Walt, like the famous “No more half measures” scene where Mike talked about how he threatened a guy who beat his wife instead of “handling” the situation. But things weren’t always friendly between Mike and Walt.
Walt realized he had to kill Gus, but Mike found this out and set out to kill Walt. As these things usually work out, Mike instead started working with Walt and Jesse in their new drug ring. But Mike had nine associates that needed to get a cut of the money, which Walt had a big problem with, leading to many arguments. But this also brought us to two of the biggest moments in the series; the first being when Walt and Jesse robbed a train full of methylamine. The second being when Walt eliminated all of the nine associates, all at once even though they were in jail, in a scene that echoes the ending of the first Godfather movie. The later seasons of Breaking Bad are something you could jump into at any point if it’s on TV.
Let’s be serious. Any episode of Breaking Bad is worth watching if you notice it’s on TV.
Mike and Walt eventually had their final falling out, and Walt shot Mike out of anger. Mike’s final words were to just leave him alone so he could die in peace.
Better Call Saul Shows Us Why Mike Became a Private Investigator
So now, with Better Call Saul, we already know what happens to Mike. But in the episode “Five-O” we get 50 plus minutes of Mike Ehrmantraut goodness. We learn about his son, Matt, and how he followed in his dad’s footsteps in law enforcement. But Mike was a crooked cop and told Matt to be the same. But when Matt got killed by other officers, out of fear he would rat on them, Mike understood what he needed to do.
Incredible storytelling follows, as Mike found the officers who killed his son at a bar and as they gave him a ride, it turned into him looking to exact vengeance – it’s something you really need to see to believe. Since this episode is more recent, I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the shocking conversation that happens between Mike and his son’s wife Stacey. It’s an hour of TV you don’t want to miss and it’s another “I can’t wait to get to work and talk about this” moment.Exactly how we are used to doing it when it comes to Vince Gilligan TV shows. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.