|Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul character|
|Created by||Vince Gilligan|
|Portrayed by||Jonathan Banks|
Mike Ehrmantraut is a fictional character in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, played by Jonathan Banks. Mike is a former Philadelphia police officer who works for Gus—and, on occasion, Saul—as a private investigator, head of security, cleaner, and hit man. His reasons for leaving the force in Philadelphia are never specified during the Breaking Bad series.
Character biography[edit | edit source]
Given his "half measures" story to Walt about missing a chance to kill an abusive perp who eventually murdered a victim Mike was trying to help, and Hank's refusal to bring up the reason of Mike's discharge from the police force during an interrogation, it is implied that Mike decided to take revenge against the abusive perp which resulted in his departure from law enforcement. As such, one of the lessons Mike employed in his day-to-day business activities was to not take "half measures." However, the prequel series Better Call Saul revealed that Mike, a crooked cop himself, murdered two other crooked cops who had killed his honest police officer son Matt, who had hesitated to involve himself in any corrupt activities. The next day he fled to Albuquerque to work as a parking attendant at the Albuquerque Courthouse circa 2002 and to be close to his beloved granddaughter Kaylee (played by Kaija Roze Bales), who had been previously relocated there by her widowed mother Stacy. Mike is a calm and calculating individual who efficiently performed his duties for Gus, using his extensive knowledge to do so without detection. He is never shown to target or involve any innocent bystanders in his duties.
Breaking Bad[edit | edit source]
Season 2[edit | edit source]
Mike first appears after he is sent to remove all evidence of drugs from Jesse's apartment and to coach him on how to interact with authorities after Jesse wakes from his heroin-induced sleep to find his girlfriend Jane dead, having choked on her own vomit.
Season 3[edit | edit source]
Mike is hired by Saul to spy on Skyler White, when two dangerous looking cousins of Tuco Salamanca show up to murder Walt. Mike immediately calls Gus to get him to stop the cousins from murdering Walt. As the cousins are ready to murder Walt, Gus sends them a message saying; Pollos. Mike is later hired by Gus to protect Gale from Walt after Gus wants Walt dead since Gale knew Walt's meth formula. However, this is unsuccessful as Jesse shoots Gale dead at Walt's orders in order to save Walt.
Season 4[edit | edit source]
In the aftermath of Gale's murder, Victor finds Jesse in shock sitting in his car but, while Jesse was unobserved at the crime scene by neighbors, Victor was seen and acted very suspiciously to many of the onlookers. Forcing Jesse back to the lab at gunpoint, an enraged Victor informs Mike of Gale's death and of his being noticed at the crime scene. Walt asks Mike to allow him to cook, since Gus will be even angrier if they fall further behind on production. Victor dons a gas mask and informs Walt that he knows Walt's exact cooking method from watching him at the lab and Walt had only made his and Jesse's fate worse by murdering Gale. Victor seemingly knows Walt's method, a fact that Walt had never foreseen and is busy cooking when Gustavo Fring enters the lab. Gus calmly and silently descends the stairs and begins to change into a hazmat suit as Walt becomes increasing frantic trying to justify his actions and argue that Victor may know the steps but could never operate such a large and complex lab, problems would invariably arise that only Walt would be able to recognize and cope with. Gus all the while silently changes and now stands directly in front of both Walt and Jesse holding a razor sharp box cutter and, in a gruesome show of force, suddenly grabs and fatally slashes Victor's throat with a box cutter and spraying Walter and Jesse with Victor's blood, staring unemotionally into their eyes as Victor struggles and bleeds to death. Gustavo then redresses in the same manner speaking only once before leaving, saying "get back to work". Walter knows that he has fallen out of favor with Gus and fears that he will eventually be killed. Walter decides to pre-emptively strike against Gus, illegally purchasing from Lawson (Jim Beaver) an untraceable .38 Ruger LCR revolver for the task.
In response to Mike's concerns that Jesse's guilt-ridden recklessness could attract unwanted attention, Gus instructs Mike to take Jesse along as a passenger on a series of seemingly mundane pick-up runs around New Mexico. Aware that Jesse can't be scared into behaving, Gus instead orchestrates a fake robbery for Jesse to foil, thereby boosting his loyalty and self-esteem. Later, Jesse helps Mike retrieve stolen meth from a pair of junkies. Impressed with Jesse's mettle, Gus deems him ready to take on a greater role in the operation.
In an attempt to defuse tensions with the Cartel, Gus agrees to share Walter's formula. Because he does not trust Walter, Gus and Mike take Jesse to Mexico, where Jesse cooks a batch of "blue sky" in the cartel's own superlab. To Jesse's alarm, Gus seemingly agrees to have Jesse work for the Cartel on a permanent basis. However, during a party celebrating the agreement, Gus kills Don Eladio and the rest of the Cartel's leadership with a poisoned bottle of tequila. To convince Don Eladio and his crew that the tequila is safe, Gus drinks the first shot, having taken capsules that delayed the poison and allowed him to purge. Gus, Jesse, and Mike shoot their way out of Don Eladio's compound. Mike is wounded in the shootout. Jesse drives himself, Gus and Mike to an elaborate medical tent that Gus arranged for in advance. There, Gus is treated by his private doctors and quickly recovers. Mike remains in the medical tent as he is unable to travel.
Season 5[edit | edit source]
Part 1[edit | edit source]
Mike, still recovering at Gus's makeshift clinic in Mexico, is told by a doctor that Gus has died. Furious, Mike attempts to drive across the border, and he comes across Walt and Jesse. Mike prepares to shoot Walt, but Jesse persuades him to stand down as Walt explains that the security footage collected from the lab stands to incriminate Mike as well as Jesse and himself. Mike discloses that the feed went to Gus's laptop computer in his office at Los Pollos Hermanos. He repeatedly urges Walt and Jesse to take their money and flee the area while they still can, but his pleas are ignored. The trio manages to acquire a truck fitted with an industrial electromagnet from junkyard owner Old Joe and drive it to the outpost. Once activated, the magnet destroys the evidence room and, presumably, the information on Gus's laptop. Despite being forced to abandon the truck, the three escape. Walt and Jesse offer Mike an equal, three-way partnership in a new meth operation. Mike refuses, explaining that Walt is a dangerous "time bomb." A Houston-based Madrigal executive named Lydia Rodarte-Quayle asks Mike to kill eleven men from Gus's operation in order to tie up loose ends. Mike refuses, as Gus paid them enough to keep quiet. However, when he is called in to meet with Hank and Gomez, Mike learns the authorities have seized all of the offshore accounts Gus had set up for key underlings in his meth. Mike is affected as well, since his account (set up in his 10-year-old granddaughter's name) was worth $2 million. Mike breaks into Lydia's house in Houston. As he is about to execute her, Lydia's panicked pleas about her daughter affect him. He decides to spare Lydia in exchange for her becoming Walt's new methylamine supplier. Mike calls Walt and accepts a partnership in the new meth operation. Mike meets with Walt, Jesse, and Saul, where he declares that he will handle the business end of their operation while Walt and Jesse remain cooks. Walt agrees, but still asserts himself as the leader. Saul shows them numerous potential locations for a meth lab, but none are good enough for the trio. Mike allocates the money earned from the first cook, but Walt becomes upset when so much of it is given to dealers, mules, Saul, and Vamonos Pest. Walt becomes further angered when he learns of the hazard pay to Mike's old henchmen, but eventually relents. Walt deduces that the final amount taken home by the partners was less than what he was making when he was working for Gus. Jesse, who reveals that he broke off the relationship with Andrea, tells Walt that he was "looking at it wrong." Jesse explains to Walt that under Gus, they were employees, but as owners they were actually making more considering the volume of the output. Walt, however, hints that they may need to get rid of some of the other members of the team. At Madrigal's Houston branch, Lydia receives a call from Mike, who warns her that the police are about to arrive. She escorts Hank, Gomez, and other officers to the Madrigal warehouse and points out foreman Ron, who was supplying her with methylamine. Mike reassures Lydia that Ron will not talk, adding that she will have a new guy in the warehouse soon. Walt presents Skyler with a stack of newly-earned drug money, saying they have to recoup the lost $600,000. After her suggestion of sending the kids to boarding school is struck down by Walter, he mentions that she should throw him a party for his 51st birthday. The next day at Vamonos Pest, Mike is skeptical that the tracker was planted by the DEA because of its crude placement on the bottom of the barrel. When informed by Jesse that it was Lydia who spotted it first, Mike concludes that Lydia planted it herself in order to get out of their deal and vows to kill her. Jesse pleads for Mike to show mercy and asks for Walt's opinion. Walt votes to keep her alive so no time is lost finding a new precursor supplier. Jesse later gives Walt a TAG Heuer Monaco wristwatch as a birthday present, which pleases Walt. At home, Walt informs a chain-smoking Skyler that more money is coming. He shows off Jesse's gift as proof that Skyler will eventually accept him, as "the person who gave me this present wanted me dead, too. He changed his mind about me, Skyler, and so will you." Walt goes to bed with time on the watch ticking away. Walt and Mike understand that robbing the train necessitates killing the engineer and conductor, so no witnesses are left behind. Jesse, eager to avoid bloodshed, devises an alternate plan. The crew measures the track and buries two 1000-gallon tanks next to a trestle in preparation for the heist, leaving one of the tanks empty while filling the other with water. They enlist the help of Todd, a Vamonos Pest employee. Elsewhere, Walt Jr. and Holly remain with Hank and Marie. Walt Jr., who goes back to using the name "Flynn," tries to return home, only to be curtly persuaded to leave by Walt. Skyler emphasizes her desire to keep the kids out of the house, reminding Walt of his near-fatal encounter with Jesse before Gus's death; her argument seems to get through to him. Skyler also promises to continue laundering Walt's drug money as long as the children stay away. As Walt leaves, Skyler notices his dirty pants and asks if he was "out burying bodies," to which he candidly replies "robbing a train." Upon viewing the final manifest from her computer at home, Lydia informs Mike of the shipment information. On the day of the heist, Walt's crew manages to stop the train by blocking a railroad crossing with a "broken-down" dump truck driven by Kuby. When the engineer and conductor exit the locomotive to assist him, Mike acts as a lookout while Walt, Jesse, and Todd drain methylamine from the train into the empty buried tank, simultaneously pumping water back in to ensure its weight remains unchanged. The robbery is threatened when a good samaritan arrives on the scene and pushes the dump truck off the tracks earlier than expected. Despite being told by Mike to stop, Walt recklessly makes Jesse and Todd complete the job, putting them in danger; as the train rolls away, Jesse is forced to lie underneath it and Todd has to jump from on top of it. Upon returning from the train heist, Walt, Mike, and Todd dismantle the dirt bike belonging to the boy that Todd killed, dissolving the pieces in barrels filled with hydrofluoric acid. They prepare another barrel for the boy. While Todd and Jesse are smoking outside, Todd glibly dismisses the tragedy, leading an incensed Jesse to punch him. After a heated debate, Walt, Jesse, and Mike agree to spare Todd's life and keep him on the payroll with Vamonos Pest, in order to monitor him. While visiting a park with his granddaughter, Mike detects a DEA stakeout and taunts them by faking a dead drop and leaving a vulgar message placed under a garbage can. Mike, under pressure from the increased surveillance, and Jesse, still shaken over the boy's death, decide to leave Walt's meth operation and sell their shares of the stolen methylamine to Declan, a Phoenix-based competitor, for $5 million apiece. However, Declan insists on buying the entire lot — including Walt's share — and remove the competing blue meth from the market. Walt, Mike, and Jesse meet with Declan, their Phoenix-based competitor. Instead of agreeing to Declan's offer to purchase the heisted methylamine for $15 million in exchange for removing Walt's blue meth from the drug market, Walt offers a counterproposal: to sell his superior product through Declan's distribution network in exchange for a substantial share of the business and a one-time, $5 million payment to Mike for his share. Frustrated with having to negotiate with Walt, Declan demands to know who he is. Refusing to back down, Walt insists that Declan already knows his name and demands that he say it. When Walt informs him that it was he who killed Gus, Declan resignedly realizes and acknowledges Walt as Heisenberg. As Mike leaves with his $5 million, he informs Walt that he will continue making hazard payments to Gus's men out of his own money, but that Walt must remove the bugs planted earlier in Hank's office before a sweep is performed by the DEA. Walt avoids Jesse's attempts to leave with his share of the money. Meanwhile, Mike learns through the bugs that the DEA has a search warrant for his house. He stashes a go bag with cash, a passport, and a gun in an airport parking lot. When Hank and Gomez search his house, they find nothing. Later, Hank is told to end his surveillance of Mike due to budgetary considerations. Not being instructed otherwise, he decides to have Gomez follow Mike's attorney, Dan, who has been placing cash in various safe deposit boxes to facilitate the transfer of the hazard payments and to set aside money for Mike's granddaughter Kaylee. Gomez catches Dan in the act and apprehends him. Jesse confronts Walt and demands his share of the money. Walt becomes hostile and accuses Jesse of having nothing in his life, but his attempts to manipulate Jesse fail and he ultimately leaves without his money, angering Walt further. Walt is forced to cook his next batch of meth with Todd, who proves to be much more subordinate and better at following orders than Jesse. Pretending to be distraught over Skyler, Walt visits Hank at his office and manages to remove the bugs, but overhears Gomez telling Hank that they have arrested Dan and that he plans on telling everything he knows about Mike. Walt frantically calls Mike, who is at a park with Kaylee, and tells him the DEA is coming for him. Upon the arrival of the police, Mike is forced to flee the park without saying goodbye to his granddaughter. Mike asks Saul to retrieve the go bag for his getaway, but Saul fears the DEA will follow him. When Jesse volunteers to help, Mike refuses his assistance out of concern that Jesse would be spotted, leaving Walt to retrieve the bag. When Walt meets with Mike, he refuses to hand over the bag unless Mike tells him the names of the nine men he is paying off. Mike refuses and, angered by Walt's insistence that Mike owes him gratitude, proceeds to attack Walt's ego, insisting the entire situation could have been avoided if he had continued to work for Gus and had not killed him. Walt storms off momentarily, but then approaches Mike's car. Mike realizes his gun is missing from the go bag, just as Walt uses it to shoot him through his car window. Mike tries to get away, but - mortally wounded - ultimately resigns himself to sitting on a log by the river. After Walt catches up to him, Walt realizes he could have just asked Lydia for the names and that shooting Mike was unnecessary. As Walt stammers an apology, Mike tells him to shut up and let him die in peace; after a moment of silence, he falls off the log, dead.
Reception[edit | edit source]
The fifth season episode "Say My Name" received highly positive reviews from critics with many critics singling out Jonathan Banks and Bryan Cranston for particular praise. The episode is recognized by many critics as one of the best in the series. TV Fanatic's Matt Richenthal gave "Say My Name" a five-star rating, calling it "one of the best in series history." Seth Amitin of IGN gave the episode a 9 out of 10 rating, calling it "mind-blowing", but stating that "I hate to see Mike go out like that. He deserved more. I literally can't give this higher than a 9.0, it was just too sad of an ending." Alan Sepinwall of HitFix thought the episode was "a mostly tremendous episode of a drama", adding the death of Mike "is just a gorgeous, devastating scene", but he was unimpressed by the plotting that led to Mike showing any trust for Walt in that situation, writing that it was a contrived way to ensure that Walt would be in a position to kill Mike per the requirements of the overall show story.
In 2012, He received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for his role in Breaking Bad. In 2013, he received a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad.
In 2015, he received a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Better Call Saul. In 2016, he received a Satellite Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. In 2017, he received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a Satellite Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
References[edit | edit source]
- "Better Call Saul reveals the tortured origin of Mike Ehrmantraut". March 10, 2015.
- Molloy, Tim. ""Breaking Bad" star Jonathan Banks: "The bad guy's gotta die"". Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
- Richenthal, Matt (August 27, 2012). "Breaking Bad Review: Simply the Best". TV Fanatic. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Amitin, Seth (August 26, 2012). "Breaking Bad: "Say My Name" Review". IGN. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
- Sepinwall, Alan (August 27, 2012). "Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Say My Name': I like Mike". HitFix. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Screen Actors Guild Awards 2012: Full list of nominees".
- Desk, Gold Derby News (May 22, 2013). "Critics' Choice TV Awards 2013: Complete list of nominees".
- Finke, Nikki (July 18, 2013). "2013 Primetime Emmy Nominations (LIVE)".
- "Saturn Awards 2013, nomination tv: Fringe e Dexter, più di The Walking Dead, Revolution e Breaking Bad".
- "Los Angeles Times - We are currently unavailable in your region". www.tronc.com.
[edit | edit source]
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