The Real Reason Mike Had The Postcard Taken Down In Better Call Saul Season 5

He's everybody's favorite geriatric anti-hero, and although we love to root for Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), sometimes his motivations can be a bit inscrutable. Take one interesting moment from a recent episode of Better Call Saul, wherein an inebriated Ehrmantraut demands that a bartender take down a postcard featuring an inoffensive image of the Sydney Opera House. It's commonly understood that the Sydney Opera House is a marvel of modern architecture. As far as bar decorations go, you could do a lot worse. So why on Earth does Mike find this postcard so provocative?

The answer lies in the complicated inner life of a stone cold killer. The origins of Mike's emotional arc date back to his introduction in Breaking Bad, a character story over a decade in the making that has only added dimensions over the course of Better Call Saul's five seasons. The driving force in Mike's life throughout both shows has always been guilt: over some of the evil deeds he's performed in the service of Gus Fring; over his time as a dirty cop with the Philadelphia PD; over the fact that he encouraged his son to follow in the same dirty footsteps. Most of all, guilt that his behavior cost his son his life, and his granddaughter her father.

In the Better Call Saul season 5 episode "The Guy For This," Mike turns to his favorite self-medication: booze. The bartender attempts to cut him off, but Mike buys himself one last cocktail by surrendering his car keys to be kept behind the register.

Mike's guilt bubbles to the surface on Better Call Saul

As ScreenRant astutely points out, the episode never directly addresses this moment of tension when Mike calls for the postcard's removal, but his violent reaction appears to be a response to a painful remembrance of Werner Ziegler. Careful viewers will remember that Ziegler was the engineer who Mike offed back in Season 4. The image of the opera house is a visual callback to a conversation that Mike had with Ziegler before the hit — one in which Ziegler revealed that his father was one of the engineers behind the famous landmark's construction.

The sight of the postcard stirs Mike's guilt over the assassination. Given his drunken state, the melancholy hitman is unable to prevent himself from lashing out. Once the postcard comes down, we can almost feel the tension leave Mike's body. This is one killer with some deep-seated issues, and — given what we know about the character's arc later on, during the events of Breaking Bad — they're issues that aren't going away any time soon.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on AMC.