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'Breaking Bad' - 'Full Measure' Recap (Season Finale)

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 14th 2010 12:02AM
Bryan Cranston and Giancarlo Esposito in 'Breaking Bad' - 'Full Measure'(S03E13) Earlier this week, when I talked to Aaron Paul about the season in general and the finale in particular, we both agreed that this episode felt like a breather after the vein-pulsating insanity of 'Half Measures.' And, after a season full of vein-pulsating insanity, it feels weird to have the season end with an episode like that.

But here's the funny thing about that notion: If this was the finale of just about any other show on TV right now, people would have considered 'Full Measure' a hyper-intense, eventful, suspenseful season-ender. But 'Breaking Bad' fans are so used to being taken on so many episode-ending roller coaster rides this season, we've gotten spoiled.

Which is why this has been the best season of a dramatic series that I've seen in the last ten years.

Yes, I know, that's a loaded statement. That time incorporates 'Lost' and 'The Wire' and 'Mad Men' and 'The Sopranos,' among a ton of other classic shows. But the third season of 'Breaking Bad' has shown a consistency that has been astonishing to me. Between the dramatic "holy crap" moments that Allison talked about last week to the smaller, more introspective episodes -- I don't care whether it was made for budgetary reasons or not, 'Fly' turned out to be one of my favorite episodes of the year -- the show has had just a standout season from start to finish.

And the cliffhanger to the season brings all of it to a head. Did Jesse really shoot Gale or did he chicken out? You can't really tell, to be honest. At first glance, it looks like Jesse killed him. But we really won't know until next season.

If Jesse did kill Gale, then he and Walt are starting to go down that dark rabbit hole where they're not just drug dealers, but murderers as well. Walt's already crossed that barrier, gunning down those guys at the corner with the Aztek then coldly blowing away the one still alive. Seeing Walt meet his fate with Mike and Gus in his Heisenberg uniform -- the hat and dark jacket -- tells us that his alter ego is starting to take over from the meek scientist / family man we met three years ago.

But what about Jesse? Sure, he was willing to kill the corner guys in order to avenge the death of his friend Combo. But killing Gale in order to save his and Walt's bacon was a whole other matter. Jesse doesn't want to be a cold-blooded killer, shooting seemingly innocent parties merely because they're in the way or their existence makes his more precarious. This wasn't what he wanted when he was just a meth-dealing punk, and it's certainly not what he wants now, after his "chemical romance with Jane," as Paul phrased it in our interview.

It's really too late for Walt at this point. It's funny; every time we think Sky has caught up to Walt and his lies, we see that no matter where she is in the process, she still has no clue what's going on in the background. While she's looking up "money laundering" on Wikipedia, Walt and Jesse are busy trying to stay one step ahead of Gus, who Walt respects but doesn't trust.

Think about it: he pegged from day one that Gale was being groomed as his replacement. As much as getting rid of Gale the first time was about getting Jesse back in the fold (and off Hank's case), it was also about keeping him necessary -- and alive. When he saw that Gus brought Gale back, he knew right then and there that Gus was out of patience and he needed to get Gale out of the way permanently.

Gus is a smart businessman, but Walt is one step ahead of him. And the evil satisfaction in his face as he said to Mike, with two guns pointed at his face, "your boss is going to need me," made that clear. Heck, by begging Mike not to shoot him and seemingly throwing Jesse under the bus, he bought enough time to call Jesse and tell him to go do the deed to Gale himself. Wow. Even Gus isn't that calculated, and he's killed members of the cartel.

Some of the more subtle and not-so-subtle moments:

-- The extended scene that showed how good Mike was at his job. He's a doting grandfather, but isn't afraid to buy a couple of extra Mylar balloons to help him infiltrate a drug factory and kill a bunch of thugs.

-- Jesse coming oh so close to hitting the pipe right before Walt called from the laundry. If he had taken that hit, he wouldn't have been able to even get to the point of firing the gun.

-- Jesse and Walt using Saul's money laundering location -- the laser tag joint -- as the place to rendezvous. At least Walt uses it for something. Interesting that Saul continues to be on Walt's side. Maybe he doesn't know what he's up against because he's never met Gus.

-- Gale's love of old Mexican big band music. (I've been told in the comments that the song was Italian, not Mexican. For some reason, my Italian vs. Spanish ear was off when I watched it.) Made me think he was more cartel involved than originally thought. Maybe he just spent a lot of time in Mexico. Either way, he may not be quite as innocent a victim in this whole scenario as we think. Just sayin'. Also loved how he used an infra-red sensor to make sure the water was at the right temperature for his tea. If only the man would answer his cell phone.

-- The opening scene, where we flash back to when Walt and Sky bought the house 17 years ago, when Walt Jr. was just a fetus. Then, Walt had an up-and-coming career at the company he started with his friend, and he was afraid that the house was just a "starter" home. Now he's on the verge of becoming the head of a meth empire.

Yes, I just said that. If Walt doesn't start gunning for Gus next year, I'll be shocked.

What are you folks looking forward to next season (almost an entire year away, for heaven's sake)? Let me know in the comments.

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So far, Walt has done all of the killing that Jesse had needed / should've done. I see Jesse not shooting Gale, but somehow getting away. Walt talking to Mike about he should do, only to survive the night. Maybe Walt will join the cartels since the only people wanting Walt dead are dead themselves. Walt has only been getting farther and farther up the tree of the meth empire, no reason for the season to show how much farther he can get without Gus. Hurry up AMC, I am bored at night...

June 25 2011 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a brilliant episode. My favorite episode was "One Minute," but "Fly" is right up there. Its hard to rank them, since they're all so good. I don't think Jesse killed Gayle. I don't even think he would have gotten the nerve to kill the drug dealers, before Walt hit them with his car. I'd love it if Mike somehow joined Walt's side for next season. The scene at the beginning when Walt says "I prefer option B" and Mike gives a little smirk, so clever, and so great. I don't know if I can see Walt taking over the drug Empire, but I definitely see the cartel moving in more and more, especially if Gus is gone. Hoping Hank will walk again, I miss him. XD

April 15 2011 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to seindsfeld's comment

Also this episode was the first time Gus seemed nervous. I wonder if HIS boss will come out of the wood works next season. Everyone has a boss right? :o

April 15 2011 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone knows the music that plays in the spectacular Mike sequence? The whole sequence was edited to that tune, it's 3:34 min. long and it seems a mix of a tibetan chorus and electronic music.
If breaking BAd doesn;t win the Emmy this year I'll necer watch TV anymore. Best show since the Sopranos.

June 24 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think Gayle is dead - hes too good of an interesting character and good actor just to kill off.

Will make for an interesting story line if him and Jesse have to run and hide in Mexico beginning of Season 4.

June 22 2010 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The scene where Mike kills the cartel thugs intrigues me. It may mean that the Mexicans want their territory back and are coming after Gus. The cartel may get in the way of gus trying to kill Walt and Jesse. I also wonder about Saul's future. He did give Mike a bogus address for Jesse.

June 15 2010 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BigW's comment

Maybe Gus was there to tell Gale he had to take over and Jesse shot him.

June 23 2010 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OMFG, I love this show!!!!!

Great scenes! The most shocking was when Walter hit those 2 drug dealers and shot the one in the head! Holy crap!

Loved the dialogue where Mike is talking to Walt about the abusive boyfriend. Wow, so intense! Theres something about Mike though....gotta love him!

I highly doubt Jesse killed Gale...prob more than likey injured him.

I love when Walt was trying to save his life...loved how the tables were turned when he told Mike Gale's address.

Loved all the scenes and sorry to have to wait another year!

June 15 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

About that song... Sure is italian but the refrain "crapa pelada" isn't italian. It's "milanese" (the language spoken in Milan) a mix of italian, french, german and spanish words.

"Crapa pelada" means "testa pelata" in italian or "bald head" in eglish. It was a funny rhyme used by milanese kids in their games.

June 15 2010 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think Jesse killed Gale. Jesse showed numerous times that he just doesn't have the ability to kill an innocent person. I think Jesse wounded Gale, I dunno how bad exactly, but just bad enough that Gale will be out of commission for a few weeks.

Gus and Walt both mentioned numerous times that production had to continue on schedule no matter what due to such a high overhead. Taking Gale out of the game even if it's only for 2 weeks will still be enough to force Gus to reconcile with Walt. Or at least it'll buy Walt some more time next season to figure out what to do to get out of this situation.

This scenario sounds like the best way to start off next season.

June 14 2010 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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