How Breaking Bad’s Mike Broke Bad

Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Last night's Breaking Bad shined a brighter spotlight than ever on Jonathan Banks's mysterious, hilarious, dangerous Mike. If Gus was the locus of our evildoer fascination and affection last season, it seems like Mike is poised to fill that role this season. Not that Mike is all bad, though. "Mike knows he's bad," Banks explains to Rolling Stone. "Unfortunately there's good in him and that's hard for him to live with, because he know he could have been good. Whatever good means," he says.

BB might never reveal Mike's central emotional wound, but Banks says he has an idea of where his character's dark side started creeping in. In season three's "Full Measure," there's a scene with Mike and his granddaughter, where he hands her some balloons while he's on his way to kill two people. (He saves some of the balloons for his own purposes, and later uses them to interfere with powerlines.) "I say, 'Run to your mom. She's waiting for you,'" Banks says. "And I said to Vince Gilligan, who was directing that episode, I said, 'That may be my granddaughter's mother. But that's not my daughter.' I think the dark path that Mike has taken has to do with whatever happened to his son." Banks says that this is "just an actor's opinion," so it's possible that Gilligan et al. have a different idea. But still: Mike as sad dad! No wonder he has such a soft spot for Jesse.