Tonight’s game-changing craziness episode was all about compromise, or, as PI Mike (and the title of tonight’s episode) would put it, it was all about half measures. As The Sopranos was a show about people taking the easy way out just because it’s, you know, fucking easy, tonight’s episode spelled out that everyone is doing the horrible things they do because it’s easier than doing the right thing. Everyone, that is, except for apparently Jesse.
After the fantastic blow job montage that was the cold open, we got Walt riding along with his son in the days before his driver’s test. Walter Jr. points out to his dad that he is driving well but undoubtedly incorrectly, his CP forcing him to drive with two feet. Walt, realizing that he has no call to judge his son for doing things the easy way, tells him, “As long as it gets you from point A to point B, who am I to argue?” Such a line spells out what “Half Measures” was all about.
Skyler figures that as long as she’s been thrust into guilt by association due to her husband’s activities, she may as well meet him half way and ensure a safer future for herself and her family by being ridiculously fucking culpable in the money laundering aspects of the operation. She isn’t just willing to put the car wash scam together, she wants a full-time position there cooking the books. When in fucking Rome, right?
Walt tries to use her interest in being part of his lawlessness to leverage his way back into the family. He argues that if Skyler wants so badly for their embezzlement story to make sense it needs to look like there was a reason for Walt to keep showering his ex with cold hard fucking cash, hence they should be back together. Skyler counters that he can eat shit, but they compromise until it looks, on the surface level anyway, like Skyler was giving Walt second chances, letting him have dinner with them four times a week and the privilege of babysitting now and again.
Jesse however is lately showing himself unwilling to compromise in any fashion, though, when you look at what his mission is, you realize that it is kind of the ultimate half measure. He wants the guys who got Tomas to kill Combo to pay in blood, going so far as to ask Walt (before going it alone – well, with the hooker alone, anyway) to help him poison them. The sentiment is kind of honorable, but really the guys work for Gus, which really makes Jesse and Walt a greater part of the problem in the grand scheme than any of the street squabbles. If he really wanted to change the game he’d kill Gus and put himself out of work – not a couple of gangbangers. But since Jesse got off meth he has needed some sort of misguided mission to occupy his time and this half-assed poisoning scheme is the drug of choice for the moment.
When Walt gets wind of it he tells Saul to get Mike take care of shit by putting Jesse in jail for a few months, let him cool his heels over some minor offense for a little bit. Mike comes to Walt and tells him the story of his half measure blunder that he let go down back when he was a cop, lets Walt know that such a non-definitive plan will never work with Jesse. Interestingly, the seemingly uber-wise Mike basically sets in motion the ultimate half measure by putting the bangers and Jesse in a room with Gus and having them reach an uneasy compromsise: Jesse will leave them alone if they stop using kids to kill the competition. Of course, Gus being careful as all hell, the bangers can’t just let an employee go. Tomas is murdered and Jesse’s agreement is broken once again.
The final moments of “Half Measures” were fucking classic Breaking Bad, chockful of suspense and shocking surprises. Jesse snorts up some crank and busts out the artillery, squaring off on the street like he’s in a fucking western against the two bangers. Walt and his trusty ugly-ass Aztek come to save the day, gloriously mowing down the motherfuckers and then putting one in the surviving banger’s brain before telling Jesse to “Run” – cut to credits. Who the fuck knows what happens next week when the season wraps up, but you better believe my ass can’t fucking wait. This shit was game-changing and possibly series-altering in ways we’ve yet seen on the show. Bring that shit on.
But before I run we should probably quick talk about Hank. Hank’s storyline had the only positive compromise in “Half Measures.” He was dead-set on not leaving the hospital until his legs were back to normal, end of discussion (not even Walter Jr. throwing his CP in Hank’s face could dissuade him). But Marie’s mastery of the handjob ended up being the bargaining chip she needed to get him to be reasonable, Hank saying that if she could give him a boner in one minute he’d go home in a wheelchair with her (there’s that “one minute” situation with Hank again). Speaking of handies, between the blowjob montage and the handjob this was certainly the most hilariously sexually explicit Breaking Bad we’ve yet seen. But despite those solid laughs, “Half Measures” was mainly a fantastic mix of unflinching character shit and unbearable tension, and good fucking god did it kick my ass. It’ll be hard for the next episode to live up to last season’s finale (one of the most amazing hours of TV ever aired), but all the same I’m piddling my fucking jockeys in excitement.