“Better Call Saul” proves that Mike Ehrmantraut completely, completely, strikingly misjudged Walter White in Breaking Bad. You don’t become Gustavo Fring’s right-hand man by accident, and it’s a testament to the skills and experience of Mike Ehrmantraut Jonathan Banks that the Chicken Man trusts him so implicitly. Mike’s particular skill set is enough to make Liam Neeson think twice, and the criminal handyman is particularly well versed in character assessment. Mike recognizes the kindness inside Nacho Varga and Jesse Pinkman, considers Gus Fring a worthy employer and understands that Kim Wexler is stronger than Jimmy McGill at their first meeting.
The 11th episode of Season 6, “Better Call Saul,” shows the desert abduction scene from season 2 of Breaking Bad from a whole new perspective, showing that Saul Goodman forced Mike to investigate Walt and Jesse after a rough encounter. In the report, Mike tells all about Walt’s teaching career and cancer diagnosis, and then advises: “I wouldn’t go near him” due to the fact that Walter was a “complete amateur”. Mike predicts, “If the cancer doesn’t get him, it’s either the cops or a bullet in the head,” and then doubles down, describing Walt as a “little potato” that Gus Fring shouldn’t be bothered with. In conclusion, Mike compares Bryan Cranston’s “Heisenberg” with betamax — a withering insult to representatives of a certain generation.
The vision of the past here does not favor Mr. Ermantraut. Saul’s warning to avoid Walt doesn’t make money—after all, the chemistry teacher turns out to be responsible for their failures—but Mike should have stopped there. Walt may be an inexperienced criminal, but the “complete amateur” is insincere, given the reputation Heisenberg has already earned in the second season of the TV series “Breaking Bad.” Mike’s comment about “small potatoes” is even more outdated, as Heisenberg has dominated the American methamphetamine industry for one year. Dismissing Walt as a trifle is like the Boston Globe review, in which the Beatles’ early music is infamously “terrible.” Even stranger is that Mike didn’t even consider Walt worthy of Gus Fring’s attention when Heisenberg actually earned Gus a lot of money before finally usurping him. And, debunking Mike’s prediction, Walter White’s death was not cancer, cops, or a bullet to the head, but rather a sacrifice for someone he cared about.
Does Mike Walter White’s mistake explain his death?
Mike Ehrmantraut is very careful, always ready and a natural survivor, so it’s strange how easily Walter White manages to kill him in season 5 of Breaking Bad. Does Mike, who has woefully underestimated his killer from the start, explain how Walt caught him off guard?
Probably not. Mike may have underestimated Walt more initially than Ted Beneke underestimated his carpet, but by the time the fifth season of Breaking Bad begins, Heisenberg’s strength will be obvious to everyone. He is the leading force behind methamphetamine in the United States, an undisputed kingpin and a recognized tactical genius. At that moment, Mike would look back at his first impression of Walter White with deep embarrassment, realizing how terribly wrong he was. Consequently, Mike’s death cannot be blamed on Walt’s underestimation of his abilities.
Instead, Mike Ehrmantraut’s epic failure can be explained by the episode “Better Call Saul” of season 6, “Plan and Execution”. In the midst of Gustavo Fring’s war against Lalo, slippery Salamanca used a fake phone call to trick Mike into taking the guards away from Jimmy and Kim’s apartment. After sneaking inside and forcing Kim to take the gun to Gus’ house, Mike sent all his muscles back to the apartment when a real fight was actually taking place in the super lab. Lalo played Mike like a bald fiddle, proving that even a famously grumpy ex-cop is prone to tactical mistakes every few years. Not noticing the potential (and danger) of Walter White in Breaking Bad was another of Mike Ehrmantraut’s rare days off.