Dear Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould,
For some time now, I have enjoyed the work done on the Breaking Bad universe. Of course, the original Breaking Bad series was a piece of brilliance from beginning to end and paid off in remarkable ways. From well-developed characters who seemed more human than those of any other series I can think of on television in the last three decades, to a plot that developed organically and logically while still offering unexpected twists and turns, the show redefined what television could be.
The follow-up, Better Call Saul, has already added so much to the mythology, in the short time it has been airing. Between discovering more about Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill’s intriguing history and catching glimpses of those settings that would be key to Breaking Bad, Saul is what every fan could ask for.
Now, anyone who knows me could tell you, both of you, that I tend to navigate towards the minutia of a given thing when I become a fan.
Talk to me about Batman and I’ll talk about how cool the two versions of the Outsider were (the first was Alfred and the second was from Flashpoint) and how it’s weird that the whole story was never tied to the team of Outsiders. Mention Thor and I’ll regale the history of Beta Ray Bill, my favorite comic book character of all time. Star Trek? Animated series. Star Wars? Expanded Universe. Of course, when it comes to sci-fi, I consider myself more of a Buckaroo Banzai/Tron fan.
There was not turning me into a fan of the formerly unknown Guardians of the Galaxy as I had been a fan of all those characters since long before they had even been together on a team.
If someone thinks it should be thrown away, I will treasure it (I believe that Penguin had a not dissimilar sentiment in Batman Returns… which was based on an episode of the 1960s TV show, by the way).
The first moment Jonathan Banks showed up in Breaking Bad, I immediately said that his was my favorite character of he series. It was maybe a handful of lines or an exasperated sigh, but Banks has always been one of those character actors who’s appealed to me and it was clear that his character could care less as to what was actually going on as long as no one messed up his day.
We would eventually find out his name was Mike Ehrmantraut. We would discover that he had once been an officer of the law and that he had a granddaughter for whom he was willing to do anything. We learned that he lived by a code of “honor among thieves” and that he could really kick some ass, when the need arose. We learned that he didn’t like Walter White.
Throughout Breaking Bad, Mike evolved from an an intriguing secondary character to a nigh-antagonist to a seminal ally to the main characters to a true obstacle to be overcome. Throughout it, he never seemed anything more than bothered. When I refer to Breaking Bad as the perfect series, I generally follow up with Mike Ehrmantraut as the perfect character for the perfect series.
I posted on Facebook the moment I heard Mike’s first words in Better Call Saul. There was much confusion and speculation as to what, exactly, I was talking about, but, to be honest, I’m guessing that most people just thought it was another random, geeky thought like so many others I have placed on that social forum.
Nonetheless: there it was.
I knew Mike would arrive on Better Call Saul, but I was excited to see that he showed up in the very first episode with the signature level of annoyance I had been anticipating. In point of fact, Mike was as much an adversary to Saul as any other character (with, of course, a slightly greater nod to Tuco, of course).
This past Monday, after another fine installment of Saul’s origin tale, the preview for the next episode indicated that it will be focusing on the good Mr. Ehrmantraut. At last, we, the audience, shall know the background of this perpetually-bothered enigma. My joy, at seeing this, is something I needed to share; something I needed to talk about.
So, I decided to write a heartfelt thank you letter to the two gentlemen who enabled it to occur. Certainly, there were others involved (not the least of which being Mr. Banks, himself), but I thought it most appropriate to thank you, Mister Gilligan and Mr. Gould.
Thank you for returning to a world that seemed closed for good. Thank you for making that return logical and thoughtful. Thank you for embracing the minutia. Thank you for giving Jonathan Banks that fantastic role; one for which he seems to have been forged out of ray chagrin.
I tip my hat to you, gentlemen. Now tell me the tale of Tortuga.