Mike Ehrmantraut

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Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul character
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut.jpg
First appearance Breaking Bad: "ABQ"
Better Call Saul: "Uno"
Last appearance Breaking Bad: "Say My Name"
Created by Vince Gilligan
Portrayed by Jonathan Banks
Information
Occupation Private Investigator, former Philadelphia beat cop, former parking lot attendant, Head of Los Pollos Hermanos Corporate Security, hitman, cleaner, Marine sniper in Vietnam
Children Matthew "Matty" Ehrmantraut (son, deceased)
Relatives
  • Kaylee Ehrmantraut (granddaughter)
  • Stacey Ehrmantraut (daughter-in-law)

Michael "Mike" Ehrmantraut is a fictional character in Breaking Bad and its prequel spin-off series Better Call Saul. He is portrayed by Jonathan Banks in both series.

Mike is a former Philadelphia police officer who, publicly, works for Los Pollos Hermanos as the head of corporate security; in reality, he is an assassin and enforcer in Gus Fring's crystal meth operation. On occasion, he works for Saul Goodman as a private investigator, cleaner, and fixer. For his portrayal, Banks was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series; first for season 5 of Breaking Bad,[1] second for season 1 of Better Call Saul,[2] and third for season 2 of Better Call Saul.

Background[edit]

Mike's surname is an Americanized spelling of the German name "Ehrmanntraut", coming from a distant German ancestor, though most of his recent ancestry is Irish. He was a beat cop in the Philadelphia Police Department for over 30 years before he retired following his son's death.

It is implied that Mike may have served in the military, possibly the U.S. Special Forces and may have served in Vietnam. In "Cornered," Mike refers to men he once hired as soldiers as "operators", the official designation used for Tier 1 Special Forces soldiers.[3] Additionally, one of his main sidearms is a Heckler & Koch Mark 23 pistol, which is used by the U.S. Special Forces. In "Gloves Off," he displays a familiarity with the workings of an M40 rifle, which is noticed by Lawson the arms dealer. When Lawson comments on this, Mike simply replies "Yeh.... You could say that". Both this, and his statement about the effect of the jungle on the wooden stock of the rifle, allude to the fact that Mike was most probably a sniper. In the episode "Klick", Mike attempts to assassinate Hector Salamanca, and although he is warned off from the attempt, his actions and planning again point to the fact that Mike was most likely a trained military marksman. [4]

Breaking Bad[edit]

Season 2[edit]

Mike's first onscreen appearance in Breaking Bad isn't until the final episode of the second season, after Jesse Pinkman's girlfriend Jane Margolis overdoses on heroin. Mike is sent by the corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman to destroy all evidence that could link Jane to either Jesse or Walter White. Mike also instructs Jesse on what procedure to follow and what to tell paramedics and police when they show up: "I woke up, I found her. That's all I know." Shortly thereafter, an emotionally devastated Jesse runs off to a crack house. Concerned about Jesse's well-being, Walt has Mike drive him there to retrieve Jesse.[5]

Season 3[edit]

A few weeks later, Saul directs Mike to spy on Walt's wife Skyler, who they fear may tell the authorities about Walt's involvement in the drug trade. While Mike is installing pinhole microphones outside the White residence, Walt shows up unexpectedly and breaks into his own home. Mike then observes drug cartel hitmen Marco and Leonel Salamanca walk into the house. He saves Walt by relaying a warning to drug kingpin Gus Fring through his henchman, Victor.[6] Later, Mike goes to the hospital and kills Leonel after the failed assassination attempt on Walt's brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank Schrader.[7]

After Walt kills two dealers working for Gus, Mike sets out to find Jesse. He intimidates Saul into giving him information on Jesse's whereabouts, but Saul deftly slips him a fake address. The next day, Mike is suddenly told that he and Victor must kill Walt. Walt pleads for his life and offers up Jesse in exchange, revealing that he knows his whereabouts. They unwittingly allow Walt to give Jesse a call, but he uses this opportunity to give Jesse an order to kill Gale Boetticher, the man being groomed to be Walt's replacement in Gus' superlab.[8]

Season 4[edit]

After Victor returns with Jesse and admits he was seen by witnesses, Gus brutally slashes Victor's throat in front of Mike, Walt and Jesse.[9] Walt tails Mike to a bar and attempts to persuade him to help murder Gus, but Mike punches him in the face and leaves.[10]

Sometime later, Mike is dispatched by Gus to stow away in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos refrigerator truck that is transporting food supplies and methamphetamine. The truck is attacked by cartel gunmen. The driver is killed and the truck is shot up, but Mike, knowing the M.O. of previous hijackings, is able to survive the shooting and kills the hijackers when they break into the truck. In spite of all this, a small piece of his right ear is grazed by a bullet. Mike later catches a meth addict who has stolen money from Jesse and threatens to kill him in front of Jesse, but is surprised when Jesse calls the play as a bluff.[11]

At Gus' behest, Mike and Jesse drive around New Mexico going to dead drop sites, to pick up cash payments. At their last pickup site, a man with a shotgun appears and seems intent on robbing them. Jesse, unaware the incident has been orchestrated by Gus, prevents the "robbery", earning the kingpin's trust.[12] Later, when Mike leads an operation to clean up the Los Pollos Hermanos farm before Hank can investigate it, one of Mike's men is gunned down by a cartel assassin. However, Mike manages to save Jesse's life.[13]

Mike and Jesse accompany Gus to Mexico, where Jesse will supposedly teach the cartel chemist how to cook the "Blue Sky" meth that he and Walt have made their signature. At a party afterward, however, Gus poisons the entire cartel, and Mike garrotes cartel boss Don Eladio's right-hand man, Gaff. As the trio hobble to a car with Gus when attempting to escape, Mike is shot by one of the cartel members, Joaquin Salamanca. Jesse kills Joaquin and flees in a stolen car with Mike and Gus.[14]

Mike tells Jesse to drive to a warehouse where there is a doctor waiting for them. At first the doctors only seem concerned about Gus, but eventually they get around to treating Mike. Mike is given ample blood transfusions and is stitched up, but has to stay in Mexico for at least a week to recuperate while Gus and Jesse return to the U.S. Gus indicates to Jesse that he will send for him when he is well enough to travel.[15]

Season 5[edit]

Season five opens with Mike in Mexico, recuperating at the temporary medical facility following the shootout with the cartel. Gus' physician Dr. Barry Goodman informs Mike of Gus' death; Mike deduces that Walt is responsible, and returns to New Mexico to murder him. Instead, Walt and Jesse convince him to help them destroy Gus' laptop, which contains evidence of their crimes. Mike grudgingly agrees to help them break into the police station parking lot to use a giant magnet to destroy the laptop through the wall. However, a photograph of Gus that was also in the evidence room is damaged, revealing a hidden list of the bank accounts of his men, including Mike, who has his under his granddaughter's name.[16]

Mike later meets Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, an executive with Madrigal Electromotive, Los Pollos Hermanos' parent company, who secretly oversees the international distribution of Blue Sky meth. Lydia wants Mike to kill nine of his men, all of whom were involved in Gus' meth operation in some way. Mike refuses, stating that his men won't inform on them so long as they receive their hazard pay.[17]

When Mike is called in to the DEA headquarters to be questioned by Hank and Gomez, they inform him of the discovery of the bank accounts, which have all been frozen. Hank and Gomez try to use this to intimidate Mike into revealing information about his role in Gus' operation, but Mike keeps quiet. Mike is later called by Duane Chow, the owner of Golden Moth (a chemical company that supplied chemicals to Gus' lab), who was also questioned, and was offered a deal. He tells Mike to meet him at his house. Unknown to Mike, Chow is being held at gunpoint by Chris Mara, another former Fring employee; before Mike arrives, Mara kills Chow by shooting him in the head. Mike arrives, but sees Mara's car parked in the driveway and deduces that he is walking into a trap. He holds Mara at gunpoint and questions him, learning that Lydia offered him $10,000 per person he killed on the list of nine men, $30,000 for Mike himself. Mike then kills Mara and leaves. He later breaks into Lydia's home, planning to kill her. Lydia is able to strike a deal to supply Mike, Walt, and Jesse with methylamine necessary to produce meth, as Mike realizes he must now somehow come up with his nine men's hazard pay. He calls Walt and lets him know he wants to take him up on his offer to join in their new meth venture.[18]

Lydia spots a police bug on a barrel of methylamine in a Madrigal warehouse, meaning that all of the barrels in the warehouse are now unusable. Mike believes Lydia planted it to get out of her end of the deal, as she is paranoid about the DEA investigation. Mike, Walt and Jesse take Lydia prisoner in a warehouse in Houston, Texas, and force her to call Hank and ask about the police bug, to see if they really planted it. After the call, they listen in on Hank in his office, through a wire Walt had installed earlier. After a subordinate denies planting the bug, Mike prepares to kill Lydia, but as he is about to do so, Hank calls the Houston police and they confirm that they in fact planted the bug. She informs them of a train that is carrying the methylamine that they can rob.[19] The heist is successful, but Todd Alquist, an employee of Vamanos Pest, the front for their meth operation and accomplice in the train robbery, shoots and kills a young boy named Drew Sharp, who witnessed the robbery.[20] This is the last straw for Mike and Jesse, who then strike a deal to sell their share of the methylamine for $5 million to a meth distributor from Arizona named Declan.[21]

Walt is adamantly against this buyout, and refuses to sell his share, or even let Mike and Jesse sell theirs. Angered, Mike ties Walt to a radiator in Vamanos Pest, while he prepares for the deal. Walt escapes, however, and steals all of the methylamine. Mike barges into the Vamanos office and puts a 9mm Beretta 92FS Inox pistol to Walt's head. Jesse talks Mike out of killing Walt, however, reasoning that Walt has a way they can get their money while he keeps the methylamine.[21] Mike drives them all out to the desert to meet Declan, where Walt offers him a share in Walt's meth organization by distributing his superior product. Declan agrees to the deal, including giving Mike his $5 million buyout. Mike works with a lawyer, Dan Waschberger, to deliver his nine men's hazard pay through safety deposit boxes, but the transaction goes wrong when Steven Gomez catches Waschberger in the act and arrests him. Waschberger makes a deal and tells the police about the meth operation. Mike is informed of this through Walt, who hears about it when he visits Hank in his office to remove the wire he planted. [22]

Mike is forced to abandon his granddaughter at the park when police arrive to arrest him. Mike stashes his money and a .357 Taurus Model 66 revolver in the trunk of a car at the airport, and asks Saul to get it for him while he waits at a spot in the wilderness. Walt, who is at Saul's office with Jesse, offers to go instead. After arriving and giving Mike his bag, Walt demands that Mike give him the names of his nine men, who will now go unpaid, but Mike refuses. Returning to his car, Mike realizes his revolver is missing, just as Walt shoots him in a fit of rage through his car window. Mortally wounded, Mike gets out of the car and staggers to a nearby bench. Walt realizes too late that he could have procured the names from Lydia, and apologizes to Mike; in response, Mike tells him to let him die in peace. After a few moments, he succumbs to his wounds and dies.[22]

Better Call Saul[edit]

Main article: Better Call Saul

Season 1[edit]

Better Call Saul, which is set six years before the events of Breaking Bad, details Mike's life before going to work for Gus.

For over thirty years, Mike served in the Philadelphia Police Department as a beat cop. Every officer in Mike's precinct, including Mike himself, was involved in police corruption. His son, Matty, followed him onto the force, but was reluctant when his partner, Troy Hoffman, offered to cut him in on a bribe he accepted from a gang. When Matty sought his father for advice, Mike told him to "go along to get along" or else risk getting killed by other cops. Matty accepted the bribes, but Hoffman and another corrupt cop, Jack Fenske, set Matty up to be killed for fear that he would go to Internal Affairs. Matty's death was blamed on a drug dealer whom Hoffman and Fenske also murdered, but Mike figured out what really happened.[23]

A few months after Matty's death, Mike goes to a bar that Hoffman and Fenske frequent. Feigning drunkenness, he accepts a ride from the pair and accuses them of killing Matty. As Mike had anticipated, they take him to a remote parking lot to be executed. However, Mike kills them with a gun he had planted in the car hours earlier. He then took a train to Albuquerque, New Mexico to live near Matty's widow Stacey and his granddaughter Kaylee. When Stacey asks for the truth about Matty's death, Mike confesses his role in the tragedy and laments that he corrupted his son for nothing.[23]

Between that time and the start of Better Call Saul, Mike takes up work as a parking lot attendant at the Albuquerque courthouse, where he first meets and repeatedly argues with a lawyer named Jimmy McGill - who would eventually become Saul Goodman - about parking validation. When Philadelphia detectives arrive in Albuquerque to question Mike about the murder of Hoffman and Fenske, Mike names Jimmy as his lawyer, correctly sensing that Jimmy will follow his illicit instructions on retrieving the detectives' notes. [23] Mike later repays Jimmy by breaking into the home of the Kettlemans to retrieve stolen money.[24]

Wanting to provide for Stacey and Kaylee, Mike uses the connections of a shady veterinarian named Dr. Caldera to moonlight as an enforcer. His first job is acting as a bodyguard for Daniel "Pryce" Warmolt, a first-time criminal who sells stolen prescription pills to Ignacio "Nacho" Varga; Mike's time in law enforcement gives him experience in how to prepare for such a deal and makes him a valuable asset in the exchange.[25]

Season 2[edit]

Mike continues to do his enforcer work for Daniel, until Daniel lets his initial success go completely to his head and buys a Hummer H2. Mike, knowing full well that Daniel's carelessness will eventually attract police attention, refuses to go to the meeting in the Hummer and walks off when Daniel refuses to acquiesce to Mike's suggestion that they take his 1980s Chrysler instead. A few days later, Daniel's house is burglarized by Nacho, who had found his address in the Hummer's glove compartment. Daniel calls the police, upset that his valuable baseball card collection has been stolen. The responding officers are suspicious of Daniel's Hummer. Investigating further, the officers find a hidden compartment in the wall behind Daniel's couch, apparently found and emptied by the burglar.

Mike finds himself having to intervene when the police invite Daniel down to the station for questioning. Upon learning about the circumstances, Mike cautions Daniel about talking to the police, knowing full well that the police suspect Daniel is a criminal engaged in illicit activities. Daniel, however, is adamant about getting his baseball cards back. In order to prevent Daniel from possibly implicating him in the drug deals, Mike offers to find the baseball cards. To do so, he tracks down Nacho to his father's car restoration shop and asks for the return of the baseball cards. Mike negotiates a deal where Daniel trades his Hummer to Nacho in return for the baseball cards and $10,000. Nacho subsequently destroys the Hummer at a chop shop and he and Mike make $60,000 from reselling the parts.

The police are still calling Daniel to come in for an interview, so Mike calls Jimmy for assistance in clearing he and Daniel of any criminal charges. Jimmy accompanies Daniel to a police interview, where he gets the cops to drop the investigation by convincing them that the burglary was the result of a failed gay love affair and the stealing of the cards as revenge. To provide Daniel with an alibi, Jimmy "explains" that the space behind the couch contained fetish videos of Daniel sitting on various types of pies and crying. The detectives, taken off guard by the outrageous story, believe Jimmy.

Stacey voices her concerns to Mike about gunshots she has heard outside her house late at night. Mike does overnight surveillance without Stacey's knowledge to investigate the gunshots, but he does not hear any gunshots or witness anything suspect, only determining that the gunfire is actually the sound of the newspaper being delivered. With the case apparently closed, Mike decides to leave. At work the following morning, Mike is called back by Stacey, who still believes she heard gunfire, and points a hole in her siding that she tearfully insists is from a bullet. Despite knowing that there was no gunfire (and the hole in the siding is just wear and tear), Mike tells Stacey what she wants to hear - that he will help her get out of the neighborhood. Mike meets with the vet in order to get more jobs, but he refuses to do any violent work. The vet then points out to Mike that if he wants "next level pay", he must be willing to do "next level work."

Mike gets involved in the drug work once more when Nacho hires him to assassinate Tuco. Not only is Nacho fearful that Tuco will discover his secret deals, but he also distrusts Tuco's erratic behavior. Mike ultimately decides against doing the hit, as he realizes that Tuco's death would draw the attention of the cartel. Instead, Mike sets up Tuco into going to prison: he makes an advanced call to the police from a payphone across the street from a restaurant where Tuco does accounting with his dealers. After making the call, he drives over and deliberately swipes Tuco's car in plain view of Tuco, enraging him. Acting like a clueless fool, Mike goads Tuco to beat him senseless just as the police arrive. As a result, Tuco is arrested and is imprisoned for assault and robbery, putting him out of the picture for five years. Nacho asks Mike why he went through all the trouble to avoid killing Tuco, for half the payoff, but Mike refuses to answer.

Mike and Nacho's orchestrated takedown of Tuco does not come without consequences. Days later, Mike is approached by Tuco's uncle Hector, who offers Mike $5,000 to tell the police that Tuco's gun is actually his, thus getting Tuco off the hook for illegal gun possession and shortening his sentence. Mike refuses the offer. In response, Hector begins harassing Mike into reconsidering, first by having men break into his house to scare him. When this fails, Hector sends Leonel and Marco to threaten Kaylee while Mike is supervising her. Fed up, Mike confronts Hector, managing to get a better offer of $50,000 in exchange for taking the fall on the gun charge. After the meet, he splits the pay with Nacho, refunding him for the failure of their previous work on Tuco.

Mike hires Jimmy again, this time to help him provide an amended statement (as Hector had requested) to the district attorney, though the DAs clearly realize that Mike has been paid off by the Salamancas. He later helps Stacey with purchasing a new house.

Mike discreetly begins plotting retaliation against Hector. He starts by secretly surveilling the ice cream parlor where he had the meeting with Hector, and later watches from his car as Hector's crew receives an ice cream truck transporting goods up from Mexico. He comes to the conclusion that the truck is carrying contraband, either as drugs or cash.

A few days later, Mike attacks the truck on its way towards the El Paso border crossing. He parks a getaway car behind a billboard on the side of the road. When the truck comes along, Mike deploys a homemade spike strip made from nails and a garden hose. The truck hits the strip, and goes off the road. Mike disarms the driver, then ties him up and blindfolds him, and using a saw, extracts $250,000 stuffed inside the rear tires. Mike then loads the money and his equipment into his getaway car and flees the scene. Mike then spends his new gains on drinks at a bar.

The heist puts Mike in a jovial mood, even getting somewhat flirty with a waitress at the diner. This is short-lived when Nacho calls him to a meeting and confronts him about the attack, having deduced that Mike was behind it. Nacho asks Mike why he pulled it off and Mike asks why the hit isn't in the newspapers. Nacho is offended realizing that Mike was trying to draw police attention to Hector's operation. So in turn, he reveals that Hector killed a passing motorist that happened to stumble upon the scene and freed the driver. This greatly unsettles Mike.

Mike eventually procures a sniper rifle and follows Nacho into the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation, trying to get to Hector. He sets up on a hillside and watches as the Cousins kill the driver by shooting him in the head and burying him in an unmarked grave. However, his line of sight to Hector is blocked by Nacho. Mike is then drawn away from his position by the sound of his car horn going off. He finds a tree branch wedged into the driver's seat, and a handwritten note on the windshield reading "DON'T".

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Breaking Bad". Emmys.com. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 16, 2015). "Emmy Nominations 2015 – Full List". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Cornered". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 6. August 21, 2011. AMC. 
  4. ^ "Gloves Off". Better Call Saul. Season 2. Episode 4. March 7, 2016. AMC. 
  5. ^ "ABQ". Breaking Bad. Season 2. Episode 13. May 31, 2009. AMC. 
  6. ^ "I.F.T.". Breaking Bad. Season 3. Episode 3. April 4, 2010. AMC. 
  7. ^ "I See You". Breaking Bad. Season 3. Episode 8. May 9, 2010. AMC. 
  8. ^ "Full Measure". Breaking Bad. Season 3. Episode 13. June 13, 2010. AMC. 
  9. ^ "Box Cutter". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 1. July 17, 2011. AMC. 
  10. ^ "Thirty-Eight Snub". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 2. July 24, 2011. AMC. 
  11. ^ "Bullet Points". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 4. August 7, 2011. AMC. 
  12. ^ "Shotgun". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 6. August 14, 2011. AMC. 
  13. ^ "Problem Dog". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 7. August 28, 2011. AMC. 
  14. ^ "Salud". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 10. September 18, 2011. AMC. 
  15. ^ "Crawl Space". Breaking Bad. Season 4. Episode 11. September 25, 2011. AMC. 
  16. ^ "Live Free or Die". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 1. July 15, 2012. AMC. 
  17. ^ "Madrigal". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 2. July 22, 2012. AMC. 
  18. ^ "Hazard Pay". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 3. July 29, 2012. AMC. 
  19. ^ "Fifty-One". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 4. August 5, 2012. AMC. 
  20. ^ "Dead Freight". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 5. August 12, 2012. AMC. 
  21. ^ a b "Buyout". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 6. August 19, 2012. AMC. 
  22. ^ a b "Say My Name". Breaking Bad. Season 5. Episode 7. August 26, 2012. AMC. 
  23. ^ a b c "Five-O". Better Call Saul. Season 1. Episode 6. March 9, 2015. AMC. 
  24. ^ "Bingo". Better Call Saul. Season 1. Episode 7. March 16, 2015. AMC. 
  25. ^ "Pimento". Breaking Bad. Season 1. Episode 9. March 30, 2015. AMC. 

External links[edit]