Mike Ehrmantraut’s early life has been put in focus during Better Call Saul, and in turn, more details about his son, Matty, were revealed. Mike, played by Jonathan Banks, first appeared in Breaking Bad before the character became a crucial figure in the prequel series. Much of Mike’s tragic past shaped who he became by the time he first encountered Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Sadly, much of Mike’s past traumas centered around the fate of Matty. Better Call Saul concluded with season 6 in 2022, and here’s everything it revealed about Mike’s son, Matty.
When he made his Breaking Bad debut in season 2, the grizzled Mike Ehrmantraut was a private investigator connected to Saul Goodman while also serving as a skilled hitman. It was clear that he had a connection to Gus Fring, but that wouldn’t be fully explained until Better Call Saul. The same went for Mike’s family. It was known that Mike assisted in supporting his daughter-in-law, Stacey, and his young granddaughter, Kaylee, following the death of his only son. However, the details behind the event were much more heart-wrenching than first thought.
By putting Mike back in the spotlight with Better Call Saul, there was an opportunity to look deeper into the complicated man’s past. The prequel unearthed the fact that Mike was a Vietnam War vet and shed more light on his time as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department. Though the latter part of Mike’s Breaking Bad backstory wasn’t a new revelation, the reason why he left his career behind was finally answered. It turned out that Mike was a corrupt cop that took bribes in exchange for protection. Unfortunately, Matty followed in his footsteps, but it didn’t end so well for him.
Matty Was Killed By Corrupt Cops Before Better Call Saul
Well before the events of Better Call Saul, Matty decided to become a police officer just like his father. He joined the Philadelphia Police Department where he was quickly pressured into taking dirty money. Before accepting, he asked for advice from Mike, who worried that if Matty took a moral stand, he might be viewed as a liability. His worry was justified because fellow cops ambushed Matty. They believed he could become a whistleblower, so they killed him. The ambush was staged, and there was no evidence that police officers were involved, but Mike knew better. He eventually tracked down the cops who killed his son and murdered them in the same fashion.
Mike, now a callous killer himself, then relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be with Stacey and Kaylee, the only family he had left. Detectives from Philadelphia eventually caught up with him but Saul (who still went by Jimmy McGill at that point), helped him out of the situation. It was no question that the death of Matty hardened Mike until his dying day. His son was put in a difficult decision and Mike couldn’t save him. This was probably why he took a liking to Jesse, another young man trapped in a lose-lose predicament.
Better Call Saul Could Have Used Matty More
As Mike’s backstory continued to unfold in earlier seasons Better Call Saul, it was expected that the series would provide more insight into his past with Matty, including more flashbacks of Matty as a child, before it concluded. Mike always carried Matty’s death in Breaking Bad, but it’s a fresher wound in the prequel. By the time Better Call Saul concluded with season 6 in 2022, however, Matty had only appeared twice. After the season 1 exposition flashbacks, Matty only appeared once more, in season 4, episode 4, “Talk.” The scene shows Mike, much younger, allowing Matty to write his name in wet cement on the driveway he’d just filled. It’s a touching moment, but one that serves to remind the audience how much more could have been done with Matty’s story.
That’s not to detract from Better Call Saul or how it’s fleshed out Mike Ehrmantraut’s character – he’s received unanimous acclaim across both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul for good reason. However, it does feel like an opportunity was missed by not showing more of Matty, especially his early days as a cop. Giving hints at the man Matty was on his way to becoming would have made Mike’s sense of loss, and guilt more tangible to audiences. As it stands though, the brief glimpse of Matty given in Better Call Saul was still a huge moment for Mike’s character — just not quite as impactful for the rest of the show as expected.