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Mike Ehrmantraut: You need 5 stickers

He was very funny when commenting on BB episodes.  (Not talking about BB, just his commenting)

 

He was almost like the same guy, but a bit more profanity, but one thing I remember is how much he loved the role of Mike.  He specifically thanked Vince for creating it, and giving him a chance, after many years of acting, to play a character that not only fit him like a glove, but wasn't some stereotypical old guy role.  He was actually quite charming during that moment of sincerity.  I'm so glad he gets to revisit one of his favorite (if not the favorite) role he's ever played.

 

I can't wait to see more of him on the show.

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Jonathan Banks was meh on Community, so I was glad to see him back as Mike.

Mike's grandaughter Kaylee was about ten in Breaking Bad. Maybe we'll find out about her parents and grandmother.

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Banks had a take on that, during a BB commentary, and I'm going to spoiler tag it.

 

He always felt that his son was the father of the little girl, and that's why her mother never came out and greeted Mike, they were either divorced, or son was dead, and Mike and the granddaughters mother either never got along, or had a beef about the son. 

 

Vince thought that was a very interesting take at the time, so I tagged it, because it may come into play on this show.

Edited by Umbelina.
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From the "Alpine Shepherd Boy" thread (season 1, episode 5):

I enjoyed the transition from following Jimmy's story to following Mike's. Does Mike ever sleep?

 

That beautiful time-lapse shot showed Mike working the overnight shift, so when does he conduct his illicit activities? From the previews, I think we learn more of Mike's backstory next episode.

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From the "Alpine Shepherd Boy" thread (season 1, episode 5):

 

That beautiful time-lapse shot showed Mike working the overnight shift, so when does he conduct his illicit activities? From the previews, I think we learn more of Mike's backstory next episode.

 

At first, it felt very film school. Mike, sitting at a gate. Time passes. Then the exchange with the daughter in law, and the recliner. It crashes together that Mike is waiting, always waiting, always perfectly aware of who he is and what his life means. The sunrise against the glass reflecting back to the camera was beautiful.

 

The last 5 seconds when he put on his iron face was so satisfying. He's not waiting in penance. He's waiting because he can and because he has to wait.

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From the "Five-O" thread:

Part of me want to say Mike is terminally sick, but I think that's an emotionally easy way out from accepting that Mike is a lovable asshole. He sucks in the best possible kind of way.

This sums up Mike perfectly. Banks was on episode 106 of the "Better Call Saul" Insider podcast, and I was struck by how different he is than Mike—warm, funny, romantic. (To quote Jimmy, he's a "bubbly bon vivant.")

Bob Odenkirk loves hairpieces, but TPTB didn't have Banks stop shaving his face &/or hair for the flashback scenes. Mike Ehrmantraut is a no-nonsense kinda guy.

Is Mike a recovering alcoholic? I thought he was drinking a beer last episode whilst watching an old movie.

Edited by editorgrrl.
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My guess is that he drank to excess while grieving Mattie, then incorporated it into his plan. I'm sure at some point he was alcoholic, but he's not the kind to seek help. Mike's character strikes me as the kind of guy who cleaned-up when he needed and was able to go back to light drinking after the clouds had passed. All on his own.

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I think Mike might have the highest percentage of screen time with some kind of bullet wound on a tv series.

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I think Mike might have the highest percentage of screen time with some kind of bullet wound on a tv series.

Best piece of insight in this thread so far. ;)

Also, it's spelled EhrMANtraut, ain't it?

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...I'm sure at some point he was alcoholic, but he's not the kind to seek help....

I suppose he could be an alcoholic, but nothing I've ever seen on screen gave me that impression. We aren't even sure he really did some binge drinking after the murder of his son and his murdering of his son's killers, or if he was just faking it as part of a long con.
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I really want to know more about why Mike has been staking out Stacy's house.  I assume he's been doing it pretty much the whole time he's been in Albuquerque, when he's not in the parking booth.

 

I don't want to think Mike is dumb enough to believe that if he just stalks Stacy long enough, she will relent and allow him to have a relationship with Kaylee.  Could he be there because he suspects Stacy and Kaylee might be in danger from someone else?  I hope he hasn't been waiting to see if the cops try to haul Stacy in for avenging her husband...

 

I have to think that after 106 Mike and Stacy are on the road to a better relationship, but it will be interesting to see whether the stakeouts continue.

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I really want to know more about why Mike has been staking out Stacy's house. I assume he's been doing it pretty much the whole time he's been in Albuquerque, when he's not in the parking booth....

I had assumed he was doing it to make sure they were safe, but then what about when he was at work? After the Five-O episode, I'm guessing he just wants to be close to them, and maybe he's torturing himself with guilt over his son (and their husband/father)'s death, and it's easier to dwell on his feelings of guilt when he sees them.

BTW, I don't see him as guilty, but rather more of in a between-a-rock-and-hard-place situation.

ETA: This post was influenced by my reaction to a news piece reporting that a congressman from Utah has introduced a bill to bring back the firing squad for the death penalty, ostensibly because nobody wants to manufacture the drugs for lethal injection (ostensibly because of legal liabilities when they fail to perform "correctly"). I think it was a sound bite from the congressman in which it was stated that the condemned person would die within 3 seconds due to "bleeding out." I don't think there was any sarcasm behind the remarks. Anyway. It made me think of the scene of Mike killing Frick and Frack. Of course, Mike didn't kill the second one too quickly when the first bullet encountered a bullet proof vest.

Anyway, I questioned what executing people does to those who carry out the execution.

What did it do to Mike?

Edited by shapeshifter.
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I don't think he was worried about their safety, since he took care of the two cops that might be a problem. I could see it as he goes every morning after work, and parks where she'll drive by and see him, waiting for the day she finally stops and talks with him. He's letting her know he's there when/if she's ready to move past what he coldly said about letting Mattie go (that scene in the backyard before he got his wound attended to), but doing so without being intrusive.

That's why he leaves after she drives by. Today isn't the day.

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BTW, I don't see him as guilty, but rather more of in a between-a-rock-and-hard-place situation.

 

He deliberately planned the death of two people. He executed them when he could have sought other forms of justice. He was driven, imo, equally by vengeance and a desire to hide his own guilt. Mike isn't a hero. He's lovable. He's a flawed human we can identify with and understand. He's guilty.  He tells us that.

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He deliberately planned the death of two people. He executed them when he could have sought other forms of justice. He was driven, imo, equally by vengeance and a desire to hide his own guilt. Mike isn't a hero. He's lovable. He's a flawed human we can identify with and understand. He's guilty.  He tells us that.

Yes, but before this episode I never would have suspected it was the case.  I always assumed his faults as a police officer were "heroics" like he described in Half Measures.  He threatened to execute someone, and believed he was at fault for not following through on his threat.  He did it because he thought he could keep someone from being harmed, but he couldn't.  Up until this past Monday, that one speech was the only thing we had to characterize his entire experience as a Philadelphia police officer.  What a difference an hour makes!

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I'll probably need to clean up some details here. I recall Mike being introduced as a cleaner by Saul. He knows a guy. (Later, Saul will know a guy that knows a guy, who turns out to be Gus.) This always evoked a sinister type to me, someone already corrupted somehow. I suppose that fits into the broken down cop angle.

 

Guilt and Kaylee are Mike's only vulnerabilities. I can't really tell if I'm retconning to fit how I feel about the character now or my read is good, that Mike is never anything other than guilty, or presumed to be guilty.

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One of the very best things about Five-O for me is that the question as to Mike's true nature became real.  On BrBa he was a baaaaaad, baaaaaaaaaaad, man.  Was that Mike's essential self, or had he slipped further than Slippin' Jimmy ever dared consider?   

 

This morning, I think Mike was super dirty for many years.  He justified it by raising a wonderful boy.  It's the same thing he hung his hat on as we will see with his granddaughter  But, with that small mitigation to the contrary, my take is that Mike honed his dark arts over a long period of time in Philly.  I am sure he was taught by the best and that he freely made that choice to be irredeemably bad.  He broke that way long, long before Walt and co.

 

What do y'all think?

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I think I agree with you, Lonesome Rhodes.  The line that kind of cinched it for me was when he explained to Stacey that as a cop in that precinct, you go along to get along.  That told me he went along with other things than taking protection money.  He never anticipated that his advice to his son to do the same would get him killed.  The way they've written it, Mike thinks Mattie would have been in danger if he didn't take the money, and the fact that he hesitated got him killed anyway, so it was a doubly torturous for him when it went bad.  Even without seeing BrBa, I would feel this way, but we certainly saw him be a brutal enforcer there and that did not develop overnight or just as a result of his guilt, that was there for a long time. 

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I think I'd like to hear from Matty's mother.

 

Since she was never mentioned even in passing "look what it did to Matty's mother," or anything like that, I assumed that she is most likely dead, or divorced a long time ago.  

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He deliberately planned the death of two people. He executed them when he could have sought other forms of justice.

 

To be fair, given how corrupt he painted the whole of the department to be, I don't know if seeking other forms of justice would have worked. It sounded like Matty was the only "clean" guy around. 

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To be fair, given how corrupt he painted the whole of the department to be, I don't know if seeking other forms of justice would have worked. It sounded like Matty was the only "clean" guy around. 

 

I don't think what we think of as justice would have ever happened.  Mike could have maybe devised some way to ruin the two of them short of killing them, but he wanted them dead.  However, once his trap worked, and they were at the abandoned site, we can view his actions as self-defense, inasmuch as they said out loud they were going to stage a suicide, and they fired first (I think).

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Yeah, had Mike stood up to them back when he was hired?  He'd be dead, just like Matty.

 

The only WTF I have about any of that is, why didn't he try to discourage Matty from joining?  Maybe he did.  Maybe he didn't try hard enough?  That would just be another layer of guilt.

 

Mike's only choice would have been to leave, and that always seems so easy from afar.  Would they have ended him anyway?  Maybe so.  Also, it's not always that easy for "real" people to cut all ties and simply take off.  Money, for one thing, really influences a lot of things.  Wife possibly pregnant, mortgage, sick or aging parents and a million other things tie people to places and situations even if they would like to leave.  I'm watching it now with someone close to me in a job they hate, with a car that died, and over their head with a mortgage, aging parent, sick sister, as well as positive things that tie you to the life you know, a lifetime of friends etc.

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He deliberately planned the death of two people. He executed them when he could have sought other forms of justice. He was driven, imo, equally by vengeance and a desire to hide his own guilt. Mike isn't a hero. He's lovable. He's a flawed human we can identify with and understand. He's guilty.  He tells us that.

 

 

Yes, but before this episode I never would have suspected it was the case.  I always assumed his faults as a police officer were "heroics" like he described in Half Measures.  He threatened to execute someone, and believed he was at fault for not following through on his threat.  He did it because he thought he could keep someone from being harmed, but he couldn't.  Up until this past Monday, that one speech was the only thing we had to characterize his entire experience as a Philadelphia police officer.  What a difference an hour makes!

I think Mike was retired by the time he shot his son's partner and his son's sergeant. Therefore, technically, Mike's faults as a police officer didn't include murdering two other police officers.

That being said, if before this episode I knew that Mike's son had been murdered, I totally would have believed that Mike would kill the people he thought responsible for his son's death, regardless of who they were. Mike's not going to choose a half measure.

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ostensibly because nobody wants to manufacture the drugs for lethal injection (ostensibly because of legal liabilities when they fail to perform "correctly"

It's my understanding that it's not legal liability (although that may certainly be part of it) as much as the fact that the drugs were made by European manufacturers in countries that are opposed to the death penalty.

 

I think it's easy for policemen to become hard drinkers and edge into becoming alcoholics later in life. They see a lot of shit that most of society doesn't have to see, and it's hard to deal with. Anyone remember when Woody Harrelson's character in True Detective said the last straw for him was having to deal with a meth head who put his baby in a microwave?

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This is either a little-known fact or I am the last to the party: Jonathan Banks was the mental hospital orderly in 'Buckaroo Banzai'! He was every bit as world-weary as a young guy as he is as Mike.

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This is either a little-known fact or I am the last to the party: Jonathan Banks was the mental hospital orderly in 'Buckaroo Banzai'! He was every bit as world-weary as a young guy as he is as Mike.

He was also in the first "Beverly Hills Cop"! Even though that was three decades ago, he still looked like an old man in that movie.

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In the "Bingo" thread, I asked:

 

Another question about Mike I had after last week was, when did he leave the Philly police department?  Was it before or after his son died?  Do we have any concrete information about that?  And how corrupt was he?  We know he was taking dirty money, but was he already engaging in the likes of hired killing?

 

But I see you've been speculating about it here, and it sounds like we don't know much.  I haven't seen every Breaking Bad episode (and the ones I did I don't remember completely); I'd appreciate it if someone could summarize what we found out about his past on that show.

 

I'm with Umbelina in wondering why he didn't convince his son not to become a policeman.

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In "Five-O," Detective Abbasi's notebook* said Mike retired one week after Matt's death.

I've learned that whenever there's writing on screen, one should always read it. Edited to add I mean Gilligan/Gould shows—others mostly use greeked (aka dummy) text.

*Someone with more patience than I can read 16 pages of said notebook at http://www.amctv.com/shows/better-call-saul/abbasi-case-notes. Anybody especially good at deciphering handwriting?

 

Edited again to add that page 15 says:

Matt Ehrmantraut killed.

1 week later, Mike E. retires

3 months later Stacey E. moves to ABQ.

3 months later Fensky-Hoffman killed

[Circled] 1 day later Ehrmantraut leaves Phil.

 

But I didn't read the rest, so somebody else should definitely look for Easter eggs.

Edited by editorgrrl.
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Another question about Mike I had after last week was, when did he leave the Philly police department?  Was it before or after his son died?  Do we have any concrete information about that?  And how corrupt was he?  We know he was taking dirty money, but was he already engaging in the likes of hired killing?

 

In the "Bingo" thread, I asked:

 

 

But I see you've been speculating about it here, and it sounds like we don't know much.  I haven't seen every Breaking Bad episode (and the ones I did I don't remember completely); I'd appreciate it if someone could summarize what we found out about his past on that show.

 

I'm with Umbelina in wondering why he didn't convince his son not to become a policeman.

I just saw this one, but I already answered it in the episode thread, so I don't really want to repeat it here.

 

On BB we didn't really learn much about Mike's background, and I have the DVDs (excellent by the way, and great commentaries!)  Unless I've forgotten something specific, it wasn't even confirmed that he had a son, or that his son was dead, let alone that cops did it, and they were both on a crooked police force.

 

From the notebook, Mike retired 1 week after Matty was killed.

 

http://www.amctv.com/shows/better-call-saul/abbasi-case-notes

Edited by Umbelina.
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Anyone else think Kaylee looks too old on this show?  She looks about the same age as she does on BB 6-7 years later, IIRC.

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Anyone else think Kaylee looks too old on this show? She looks about the same age as she does on BB 6-7 years later, IIRC.

They said on the podcast that the actor is four.

Also, here she is from BCS S01.E08 RICO, set sometime in summer 2002 (Uno had a check dated 5/19/02):

 

Vr0O13L.png?1

 

and from BB S03.E13 Full Measure, set probably in April 2010 but maybe April 2009 according to this timeline,

 

Y3aQIxh.png?1.

 

I can see thinking that Faith Healey (the actor in BCS) is older than 4, but side-by-side she's obviously much older in BB to my eyes.

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In "Five-O," Detective Abbasi's notebook* said Mike retired one week after Matt's death.

I've learned that whenever there's writing on screen, one should always read it. Edited to add I mean Gilligan/Gould shows—others mostly use greeked (aka dummy) text.

*Someone with more patience than I can read 16 pages of said notebook at http://www.amctv.com/shows/better-call-saul/abbasi-case-notes. Anybody especially good at deciphering handwriting?

 

Edited again to add that page 15 says:

 

But I didn't read the rest, so somebody else should definitely look for Easter eggs.

 

Finally got through reading and there aren't any Easter eggs or the like. What I can say, though, is that the Abbasi pretty much cracked the case - he seems to suspect Fenkse and the other cop could've killed Matt, probably related to the cash the found at their appartments, and Mike then took revenge on them, which as we know is exactly what happened. Of course, there's no mention of any proof whatsoever. Given that it's three month later already, it's safe to say he won't find any now - his only chance would be Mike's DIL, as Mike told the older cop between the lines. Oh wait - the younger guy probably showed up at her house with some questions and shortly thereafter, she's telling Mike she could use some money... maybe she's not just guilting him, but flat out blackmailing?

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Mike looks so small in the preview of episode 9, "Pimento":

 

Jonathan Banks told Entertainment Weekly:

"Well, you’re gonna have a lot of fun in one of them [an upcoming episode] with Mike. It’ll be a little lighter, but it’ll be a lot of fun. They wrote a scene for me that just cracks me up that I love. I will give you a spoiler—it has something to do with pimento cheese."

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They said on the podcast that the actor is four.

Also, here she is from BCS S01.E08 RICO, set sometime in summer 2002 (Uno had a check dated 5/19/02):

 

Vr0O13L.png?1

 

and from BB S03.E13 Full Measure, set probably in April 2010 but maybe April 2009 according to this timeline,

 

Y3aQIxh.png?1.

 

I can see thinking that Faith Healey (the actor in BCS) is older than 4, but side-by-side she's obviously much older in BB to my eyes.

 

Thanks.  But even though there are visual clues in the pictures of different ages -- the different clothing, and the fact that she's playing with preschooler toys in the first picture -- they still LOOK the same age to me.  Then again I don't hang out with children much.

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I'm terrible at judging ages, but that 4-year-old looks like a big 4-year-old to me. My daughter is almost 4 and looks so much tinier to my eye. Or maybe they used an older girl they thought could pass for 4, because she'd be easier to work with? 

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She looks much older than 4 to me, too, and my kids were giants when they were toddlers. I think it's mainly the length of her hair, but her size and features read as older to me, too. I've always heard it's standard Hollywood practice to cast children who can pass for younger than their chronological age, so I'm especially bothered that "little" Kaylee looks only a year or two younger than BB Kaylee. I'm totally in love with this show, but the lack of continuity with regard to her age continues to bug me a lot.

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While getting ready for work, I caught just bits and pieces of a rerun of Jonathan Banks guest starring on Modern Family, and he managed to make me tear up. I hope he does get an Emmy for BCS.

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From the "Pimento" episode thread:

I am in a bind, here. My husband is away tonight on business and we agreed that we would watch tonight's ep together tomorrow night. But I just couldn't wait and I watched Pimento by myself. Do I fess up or do I watch with him tomorrow night and pretend that I don't know what's coming?

Mike would say that I am already a criminal, I suppose. Now I just have to decide whether I'm a good guy or a bad guy.

 

If that's your takeaway from what Mike said, you missed his point. Your actions affect you on the bad guy/good guy metric, not the criminal one. Mike wouldn't say you are a criminal, because you aren't breaking any laws by watching an ep without your husband. You already are a "bad guy" though, because what you did is not honor your deal.

 

Here's the relevant dialogue:

Mike: The lesson is, if you're gonna be a criminal do your homework.
Pryce: Wait, I'm not a bad guy.
Mike: I didn't say you were a bad guy, I said you're a criminal.
Pryce: What's the difference?

Mike: I've known good criminals and bad cops, bad priests., honorable thieves. You can be on one side of the law or the other, but if you make a deal with somebody you keep your word. You can go home today with your money and never do this again. But you took something that wasn't yours, and you sold it for a profit. You're now a criminal. Good one, bad one? That's up to you.
Pryce: I can get more pills.
Mike: And I am sure that fella will keep buying. Why don't you get us home? You can sleep on it before you decide.

 

Yes, Mike's a criminal—but he has a moral code. And Saul Goodman's a criminal lawyer, but we've seen Jimmy work awfully hard for his clients. Mike worked hard for Pryce, too—he "put in a lot of legwork" researching Nacho. Does Nacho's disloyalty to Tuco make him a "bad guy" in Mike's book? Could Mike ever trust Nacho?

 

Also, Mike's speech might cause us (the audience) to rethink his reactions to Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Gus Fring.

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Jimmy is the heart of this show, and Mike is the conscience. He clearly explains the thesis of the show in Pimento when he outlines his worldview to Pryce. Someone can simultaneously be a criminal and a good person. A criminal breaks man-made laws but a good person follows an essential moral code. Jimmy 's essential goodness is what prompts Mike to do him a solid in BCS and what allows Mike to work steadily as Saul's enforcer in BrBa.

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I first saw Jonathan Banks in Wiseguy 25+ years ago as a world-weary agent, and he was fantastic. When it was over, I saw him in a short-lived comedy as a womanizing beach bum, and it was all wrong. I am glad he is playing to his strength and being rewarded for it now.

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I just saw Banks on an old episode of Deep Space Nine (S1E12). Even with a huge wig and some alien makeup, that voice is so recognizable. He played a world weary leader in an unending penal colony.

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I just saw Banks on an old episode of Deep Space Nine (S1E12). Even with a huge wig and some alien makeup, that voice is so recognizable. He played a world weary leader in an unending penal colony.

If you're interested he plays some sort of pimp/criminal underworld type in the Lizzie Borden Lifetime series.  I was like "hey!  I know that guy!"  He probably had more lines in a few episodes than he has ever had on BCS.  But I still like Mike better!

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I need help settling an argument about Mike's needy/greedy daughter-in-law (don't know her name).  Am I remembering this right?  In a previous episode, she told Mike that she hears gunshots around her house, that first house.  So Mike being Mike, he stakes out in front of her house all night long one night and nothing happens.  However, that morning his daughter-in-law calls him frantically, saying "it happened again last night" and showing him some tiny little chink in the corner of her house, "proof" that a bullet was shot at her house.  She then guilts Mike into moving her and Kaylee into a new, more expensive place with a pool.

 

I say that by her actions she totally blames Mike for her husband's death and is passive/aggressively sticking it to him, making him pay for a nicer home "for Kaylee's safety" but really for her.  And Mike goes along with it because he also believes he caused Matt's death and wants to atone for his sins.

 

Then the Salamanca twins show up at the new house and Mike freaks out and drags Kaylee out of the pool.  So now he has to buy her yet ANOTHER house because the Salamanca's know where they live.  That house with the beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows.  Did I get that right?  Sometimes I miss things.

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