Breaking Bad viewers were excited to see Mike Ehrmantraut return for Better Call Saul, because not only did he get more screentime, but he also received a proper backstory. The character, played by Jonathan Banks, made his Breaking Bad debut in season 2 as the middleman between Saul Goodman and Gus Fring. Mike, then, quickly got caught up in the tension between Gus and Walter White.
Mike was portrayed as a private investigator when he was first introduced in Breaking Bad. He was sent by Saul to clean up Jane's death after Walt let the woman overdose. Mike also spied on Skyler when she and Walt were going through a divorce. Mike was a thorn in Walt's side since the pair met, even after the meth chemist aligned with Gus. Despite his rocky relationship with Walt, Mike took a liking to Jesse Pinkman. He served as a mentor to Jesse after the young man saved him from an ambush.
After Walt killed Gus, Mike wanted instant revenge. He later changed his mind and reluctantly joined Walt and Jesse's new meth lab operation. Lydia then got involved to assist in the organization but she only made matters more dangerous. Mike was eventually identified by the DEA through his connection to Gus. The DEA even found the money that Mike had been keeping for Stacey and Kaylee. Mike had no choice but to flee, though Walt caught up to him. After Mike refused to reveal the name of his associates, Walt shot and killed him. But that wouldn't be the last time Banks portrayed Mike Ehrmantraut.
Mike Ehrmantraut's Early Life
Mike was one of the most polarizing characters in Breaking Bad, but most of his early years were shrouded in mystery. Better Call Saul filled in many of those blanks which gave the audience a better understanding of the character's motivations. It was revealed that Mike was a Vietnam War veteran who served as a sniper in the Marine Corps. This would also explain Mike's hardened demeanor which was common with those who experienced the trauma of Vietnam. It was also implied that Mike had special ops training, especially with his innate understanding of surveillance and tracking people.
Following his time as a Marine, Mike spent 30 years as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department. During his career as a cop, he fell into corruption after being pressured from fellow officers. Mike accepted bribes and kept quiet about the protection agreements. Those decisions would go on to immensely affect Mike's future and the fate of his family.
The Ehrmantraut Family
Mike's son, Matt, eventually joined the police force to follow in his father's footsteps. Matt was also pressured into becoming a crooked cop, but before he agreed, he asked Mike for advice. Mike was worried that if he refused to take the bribes, then the other corrupt cops would consider Matt a liability. Matt took the offer but his partners were worried about his hesitation. The partners then staged a gang shooting to kill Matt. Matt left behind a wife, Stacey, and a daughter, Kaylee.
Following his son's death, Mike fell into a depression and became an alcoholic. He officially retired from the police force before ambushing and killing the men who orchestrated Matt's murder. Mike then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be closer to Stacey and Kaylee, the only family he had left. In Better Call Saul season 1, Mike worked as the parking lot attendant at the courthouse, which was where he often encountered Saul, who still went by Jimmy McGill at the time. Mike also accepted secret side jobs to help support Stacey and Kaylee. At one point, the Philadelphia police investigated Mike for his connection to murdered officers. Mike hired Jimmy to represent him as his lawyer during the interrogation. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing, but he still came clean with Stacey, revealing the whole truth.
Mike repaid Jimmy by offering his services for odd jobs. He was also hired as a bodyguard for a drug-dealer who was connected to Nacho Varga. Mike's work for the drug dealer caught the attention of Nacho, who wanted help killing Tuco Salamanca, the nephew of the drug kingpin, Hector Salamanca. Mike was 4worried that the assassination would catch the attention of the drug cartel so he decided to get Tuco arrested for assault instead. Hector then threatened Mike and his family if he didn't drop the charges on Tuco. Mike agreed to the deal but later cooked up a plan to kill Hector but he was stopped by Gus Fring.
Mike Ehrmantraut's Partnership With Gus Fring
During Hector's assassination attempt, Mike was being tracked by Gus. The owner of Los Pollos Hermanos later explained that he, too, wanted Hector dead, but the timing wasn't right. Gus and Hector had a long history as rivals in the drug trade and it came into focus in Better Call Saul season 3. Gus encouraged Mike to continue derailing Hector's drug deliveries and even offered to pay for his services. Mike refused to accept payment since he had something else in mind.
Mike continued working with Jimmy on various missions but much of his focus turned to Gus' operations. As a way to launder the money that Mike previously stole, Gus had Madrigal Electromotive hire Mike as a security consultant. To make the gig look more plausible, Mike actually provided security for Madrigal despite the complaints by Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, the Head of Logistics. By this point, Mike was seeing Kaylee more regularly due to his flexible hours working for Gus.
In Better Call Saul season 4, Gus explored a new endeavor by opening a secret meth lab under an industrial laundry warehouse. Mike was in charge of overseeing the work of the structural engineers tasked with constructing the underground lab. Werner Ziegler was selected to lead the project, but his team fell behind schedule. The man later escaped but Mike tracked him down and found out that Werner revealed details about the project to Lalo Salamanca, one of Hector's cousins. Gus then ordered Mike to kill Werner.
Mike will continue working for Gus when Better Call Saul returns for season 5 in 2020. Considering the character was still partnered with Gus during Breaking Bad, it seems likely that their working relationship will remain on good terms. Mike's protection over Kaylee and his daughter-in-law will also continue to be a focus of the prequel series.