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'Breaking Bad' - 'Half Measures' Recap

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 7th 2010 10:40AM
There is no more "Holy Crap!" show on television than 'Breaking Bad'! Vince Gilligan has done it again, delivering a knock-out penultimate episode that qualifies as a mind-blower. If any of you saw this one coming, you're smarter than I am because I was literally thrown off my chair by the events in the last minute of 'Half Measures.'

And, oh, if you wonder whether or not Walter was listening when Mike gave him a sermon about the subject of half measures, the answer is yes. He not only listened, he heard and got the message. More on that and Marie's hidden talents after the jump.

Maddening is the only word to describe Jesse Pinkman. Walter's partner showed himself to be a dangerous commodity again, but there was also that amazing confrontation with Gus. Jesse has a pair of brass balls on him, you have to admit that. Standing up to Gus when Mike and Walt were sitting there like obedient observers, Jesse was impressive. Crazy, but impressive.

But as it always is with Jesse, the volatile reaction, the righteous indignation, never turns out right. Walt admonished Jesse about his actions affecting others, and Mr. White was prescient. Because of what Jesse did, Tomas was killed, presumably by the gangstas because the kid knew too much. He was also no longer necessary. In a twisted way, Jesse got the revenge he sought. After all, it was Tomas who'd killed Combo.

Peace was never going to stand once Tomas was killed, which in some way was justice to Jesse. He negotiated to save the kids from being recruited to push drugs, but it was implied -- in Jesse's mind -- that Tomas not become a casualty. But even if Jesse was freaked out by Andrea's little brother being killed to the point of having to respond, his old west gunfighter mentality was insane. If Walt's Aztec had not run down the dealers, Jesse was a dead man.

Walter's shooting the one dealer with the guy's gun was pure Mike. No half-measures. He pulled the trigger without equivocation, then told Jesse to run. It was Walter's solution to a complicated problem -- the Jesse situation. Jesse gave him the out by choosing to go after the dealers. If Walt had arrived two minutes later, Jesse would have been dead ... if not by the dealers than by Gus ordering him killed for breaking the peace. So, Walt took the shot and saved Jesse's ass for the time being.

Perhaps he also settled the score in a way. Walter felt indebted to Jesse because it was Walt who had let Jane die. That guilt has haunted him and forced Walt to protect Jesse even though he's the world's worst partner. By pulling the trigger, Walter shed the burden of owing Jesse. At that moment, they were even.

Next week is the season finale. From the preview, it appears that Walter has his black hat back on, signaling that he's taking over ... and that would mean going toe to toe with Gus. It looks deadly dangerous. I can't wait.

Other points of interest

-- To the tune of The Association singing 'Windy' we saw a day in the life of Wendy, a crack-addicted hooker. I think she was the same whore Jesse used before Jane entered his life. His surveillance was all part of an insane plan to poison the drug dealers with ricin. Ironically, that had been the way Walt was going to kill Tuco, so at least Jesse has been paying attention to Mr. White's instructions.

-- Interesting conversation between Walter and Sky about plausible deniability. Skyler would rather be Bonnie Parker than an idiot who didn't know what her estranged husband was doing since losing his $43,000 a year job as a science teacher.

-- Walter and Skyler's conversation turned from creating a story to negotiating a semi-return for him in the house. Walt wants back in and he's using Sky's wanting to do the money laundering as a bargaining chip.

-- At the bar, how ridiculous did Walter sound when he said to Jesse, "Murder is not part of your 12-step program." Right, but making meth is perfectly okay.

-- Saul's comment when Walt asked him to get Jesse locked up for 30-days. "It falls under by premium services package, but you can afford it."

-- Jonathan Banks was given an amazing scene when Mike told Walter why his plan for Jesse was moronic. That was worthy of an Emmy nomination.

-- Marie tried sexual healing with cranky Hank. She got him to respond with a boner after betting him that if she succeeded, he'd go home. The sight if him being wheeled out of the hospital and the smile on her face said it all.

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Walt ran over the drug dealers and shot one -- point blank, through the head, in cold blood -- because of guilt toward Jesse? I don't buy it. Jesse is expendable, and Walt's "not a murderer." I hope there is a satisfying explanation in the finale.

The last scene was surprising but not as utterly shocking -- and beautifully filmed -- as Hank's parking lot shoot-out with the cousins. THAT blew me away.

June 08 2010 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment

Jesse's never been expendable, really. Walt's always had that father-figure protection towards him. God knows Walt pulled Jesse's a** out of the fire enough times already.

Funny thing is how the season kicked off with Jesse saying "I'm the bad guy" and yet he blatently draws the line of how far he'll fall. Seems to have woken Walt up from his catharsis.

June 12 2010 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Walt didnt make any mistakes..Because thats not Walt, Its Heisenberg!:)
Jesse would have hesitated and probably got himself dead if it wasnt for that funky green Pontiac.
Heisenberg show down with Gus next week? Ive grown to really like the characters like Saul and Gus, but Walt needs Heisenberg to take some control back in his life.. as for Jesse well hopefully he has woken up to the fact he is well beyone half measures.

June 08 2010 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One thing that I always find riveting about Breaking Bad is it's lack of musical score. Or, more accurately, minimalist. It makes things way more intense. There is no background music in the real world. Slow, quiet scenes (like the entirety of this episode) are really tense, dramatic, and mindblowing in their pacing. It's perfect. And when they use a bit of music, it fits. Listen to the strings as Walt is eating dinner, right before he goes to the door. It comes out of nowhere, but it works so well.

June 08 2010 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great episode, great show...but there was something that really rang false for me. Gus had a talk earlier this season with Walter about hiding in plain sight. But associating with a couple of lowlife street dealers, bringing them to his desert headquarters, negotiating a peace between Jesse and the street dealers? How does he get to be a successful drug kingpin when making himself available to exactly the individuals most likely to be arrested and squeezed by police?

This whole scene rang false. It would have been one thing for Gus to bring Jesse, one of his two cooks, to his headquarters and threaten him. But for Gus to invite some of his (presumably) dozens or hundreds of street dealers to his headquarters? Way too risky and out of character for him.

But it didn't ruin the episode for me. Still a great show, still a great episode, despite this rare misstep.

June 08 2010 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

With this episode they have crossed the line from entertainment into some other realm. My heart was pounding so hard in the last 5 minutes that I thought I was having heart attack.

June 07 2010 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't normally leave comments like this but I just have to let it out! That was amazing! I've loved this series and was starting to think 'surely it's about that time someone did some killing again?' and I wasn't dissapointed. Painfully addictive cliff-hanger!

June 07 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the best show on TV. Bar none.

June 07 2010 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First off WOW!!! That was an amazing episode. I may be in the few hear but I think Walt made a huge mistake here. I don't understand the logic of his choices. His agreement with Gus was like living in paradise, yet he is willing to throw it all away for some sort of guilt ridden obligation to Jessie? I guess it's just me but I would have paid for Jessie's funeral and kept it moving, but that wouldn't make for good TV though.

June 07 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

Jesse had me on the edge of my seat Aaron Paul really deserves an emmy now

June 07 2010 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I heard the motor gunning, I thought I knew what was coming next. I did not! I think I stopped breathing, slack-jawed and wide eyed, for about two minutes after Walt "intervened!" Amazing.

And next week, the hat. Can't wait!

The Pontiac Aztec windshields with their blue tape are becoming the best running gag on TV...

June 07 2010 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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