“Half Measures” begins with a funny cold open of a methhead giving numerous passersby blowjobs, exemplifying the dark comedy of Breaking Bad, and ends with shocking and tragic twist. In between, there is talking and talking and talking, which is illuminating but not very exciting. On the whole, “Half Measures” was another strong episode in the third season’s already stacked repertoire, even if the tension could have been amped up earlier.
Halfway through the episode, Mike recounts his tale of “half measures” when he, instead of killing an abuser on the spot, allowed the abuser to go back to his wife and kill her 2 weeks later. He tells Walt, “I’ll never make that mistake again.” On the same token, Walt has never really taken full measures. Technically, he’s killed, mostly for his own defense. But he’s never, never killed someone in cold blood. Until now. Walt runs over the two drug mules working and with intent, shoots a defenseless man point blank and tells Jesse to run.
This season has seen Walt’s criminal actions pulled back as he attempts to turn the corner and becom Walter White again, not Heisenberg. He stays away from the drugs in the first half of the season, but is slowly dragged back into the drug trade. Now, Walt has embraced his criminality to the fullest, taking the final leap into the abyss and is beyond where he was in season two. This is the furthest he’s ever gone and Vince Gilligan showed for the hundredth time that he has, in my opinion, the biggest balls of any showrunner right now.
At the same time, we see Walt and Jesse tied at the hip. When Jesse gets a drink with Walt and explains his plan to kill the dealers with ricin, Walt does everything in his power–except the fullest measure–to stop Jesse from following through and is dragged down to bottom. In many ways, Jesse has a similar mindset to Walt. Walt started off trying to help his family and ended up being a drug lord. Jesse started off with extreme loyalty to his friends and took revenge to another level, almost shooting the dealers himself. The title, Breaking Bad, is constantly relevant
Skyler continues to push the money laundering issue and does some research on the internet (Wikipedia FTW!). Of course Walt spots a flaw in her plan to buy a car wash and make Skyler the bookie. They’re divorced! Walt’s not-so-veiled attempts to finagle his way into her life is both sad because Walt still doesn’t get it and kind of funny for his almost childlike behavior.
Off in their own world, Hank and Marie continue to struggle through their problems. Finally Hank decides to leave the hospital after losing a rather smutty bet to Marie. For now, it doesn’t look like they’ll be a major part of the storyline, especially with the other stuff going on, although Marie does toss out a few hints about the financial situation. Hank has an image problem, both with himself and the outside world and refuses to leave the hospital in his current condition, because it would signify that his disabled condition is in some part fine. Marie, however, is a stabilizing force in his life who can pull him out of this kind of thinking and at least get Hank out of the hospital. I hope nothing happens to her.
The triggering incident in the episode is the death of Tomas and there are questions swirling around his murder. I doubt Gus did it, because it would exacerbate the situation, but I also don’t think the two dealers would do it, because Gus told them not to. In the end, I think it’s just part of the drug life: people get killed.
Last week, I made some speculation about Gus and whether his warning to Walt may have been for Walt’s benefit and not his own and this week, we see Gus keeping the situation under control in his own way. He doesn’t raise his voice, but he is firm And not wanting anything bad to happen is to his own–and everyone else’s–benefit. No one would profit from Jesse going after the dealers, so we still don’t know exactly why Gus does what he does. If we don’t get more of his backstory next week, I’d like to see his character explored and humanized more next season.
The season finale is next week and boy has this been a wild ride. What happens next? Walt and Jesse directly defied Gus and Walt murdered two people. Season 2 ended with the plane explosion in the air which didn’t directly affect Walt but came as a result of him letting Jane die. This time, he actively kills someone. Blind speculation: Jesse will die.
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Tags: breaking bad