How Mike Ehrmantraut of ‘Breaking Bad’ Believed He Could Hang Onto Integrity by Adhering to a Code

As part of their ongoing series of deconstructing the complex character development within the sublime AMC series Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul by association, Debra Minoff and Susannah McCullough take a look at the decomposition and decompensation of Mike Ehrmantraut between the two shows.

Mike starts off as a relatively good guy who, like Omar of ‘The Wire’, lived by a strict moral code, which allowed to hang on to his integrity. Despite his best efforts, however, Mike Ehrmantraut eventually stifled his emotional self to become Gus Fring’s on-call automaton.

He takes responsibility and holds himself to high standards, and this allows him to retain some integrity, some decency, in a world of necessary evils. …He takes comfort in his self-discipline, his pragmatism, the idea that he can still be a relatively good version of a bad man. …This is a fallacy, though. A moral code isn’t the same as morality if that code accepts immoral behavior.