Breaking Bad – “Full Measure” – Review

Turns out that the world was not turned upside down by Walt’s double murder in last week’s episode, thanks mainly to Fring’s icy pragmatism.  Things are heating up between Fring and the Cartel, and meth production cannot stop if he wants to keep his place of power in the market, hence making Walt worth more alive than dead.  For now.  After a flashback to simpler times that shows that even nearly two decades ago Walt was uncompromisingly ambitious, we get Walt waiting for a meet up with Fring, the scene bringing to mind the opening scene of Once Upon a Time in the West, where a band of bad motherfuckers are all waiting for a train to arrive.

But instead of a shootout, Walt makes some demands (he’s got his infamous Heisenberg Hat on to give him some heft in the ballsack) and, surprisingly, finds them met.  When faced with the option of either killing Walt immediately or regarding the incident as a “hiccup” in an otherwise fruitful relationship, Gus seems to accept the hiccup.  Walt also assures Gus that Jesse is “time zones” away, so why waste energy trying to find him?  Walt returns to work and is paired off again with the super-accomodating Gale, a welcome surprise indeed.  Less welcome is his new constant tail and lab babysitter, not to mention the fact that his key no longer works in the lab either.

We soon learn that Gus is not just leery of Walt, but planning on replacing him toot-fucking-sweet.  Fring approaches Gale and asks him how long it will take for him to have Walt’s methods down cold, to be able to continue production without him.  Then Mike goes and threatens a beatdown on Saul unless he tells him where Jesse is hiding out.  Saul at first plays it tough, but then with just the tiniest threat of violence, Mike gets him to squeal like a pig in a typically Saul-like manner.  But Saul surprises us by actually misleading Mike, covering for Jesse, who is hiding out in the abandoned lazer tag storefront Saul earlier wanted Walt to embezzle through (whether Saul will be retaliated against for fucking around with Mike remains to be seen).  Jesse and Walt discuss their options and decide that Jesse will find out where Gale lives and that Walt will break away from his tail and kill him, making it look like an accident – a move that will no doubt be the hugest (completely direct, anyway) trangression Walt has made to date.

But when Walt goes to make that shit happen he gets picked up and brought to the lab where he will most definitely get killed by Mike.  In a move that echoes Saul’s earlier surprising scene, Walter begs for his life and says he’ll give up Jesse right now if they let him live.  Mike agrees and tells Walt to call and set up a meet, but instead Walt tells Jesse to kill Gale fucking immediately for the sake of both their lives before being cut-off by a very pissed Mike.  The final scene shows Jesse blowing away Gale – cut to black.

Last week Walt saved Jesse’s life and now Jesse has returned the favor, but all is clearly not fucking well.  The boys are gonna have to figure out a way next season to keep themselves useful to Fring, as his only motivation for not killing them at this point is his lack of skilled chemists and the amount of territory he is currently trying to provide meth for.  If Fring ever gets ahead in the trade, Walt and Jesse are no doubt dead.  How they will maneuver their way into relative stability remains to be seen.

Whereas last season ended on a pointedly definitive note with the revelation of just what all those flash-forwards with the pink teddy bear were all about, this season has a pretty big cliffhanger to cap shit off.  The early episodes of this season were excellent slow burn character episodes where Walt and Jesse were dealing with their grief, but I’m guessing in season four we’re gonna get be pretty plot-heavy in the beginning.  What is going to happen in terms of plot to keep these guys alive I have no fucking clue, but that’s the beauty of Breaking Bad, ain’t it?

While the new lows reached by Jesse and Walt were the darkest the show’s gone to date, and the situation they find themselves in presently is especially intense, it still doesn’t beat the airplane finale of season two.  The teddy bear revelation was the most shocking, out-of-the-blue and totally fucked thing I can remember seeing on television, and I doubt the show can ever top it.  That said, I think season three is easily their best season to date.  The plot just kept getting more ingeniously twisted and the character work more complex and Sopranistic, if you will.  Here’s hoping next year gets only more bleak, more challenging.

Speaking of bleak, it’s kind of depressing to see the show go, to know that it’ll be most likely another nine months until the next chapter is revealed to us.  I mean, say what you will about network television (I’ll say this: their dramas all suck), but at least your shows are only on hiatus for the summer.  Then again, I wouldn’t get to see Mike blow away motherfucker after motherfucker with blood flying everywhere if this shit were on CBS, much less get to watch the second lead in the series blow away a nice guy (for a meth cook, anyway) like Gale in the last scene of the season.

Hope you all have enjoyed the coverage this season.  Personally, I found writing about BB some of the most rewarding review work I’ve done to date.  Your input in the comments has made it even more so.  Thanks all (the Nerd apologizes for being a sappy-as-fuck lame-ass in the previous passage).

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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9 comments for “Breaking Bad – “Full Measure” – Review

  1. June 14, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Terrific interview with BB creator Vince Gilligan regarding the season finale is up at the AV Club.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/vince-gilligan,42064/

  2. John
    June 14, 2010 at 7:05 am

    I have read that BB may not return until next summer. Maybe that’s a good thing. These shows are so tense that I can only stand so much. Your reviews have been spot on and I have enjoyed them.

  3. Dado
    June 14, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I think Gale lives. Jesse was panning the gun to the side when it went off to close the show.

  4. June 14, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Great review. I’ve enjoyed reading them. Speaking “Sopranoistically,” I’m not sure Jesse killed Gale. We only saw a gun go off.

    As much as I’ve enjoyed this season and await the next, I’m getting a jumped the shark feeling. Walter went down this meth path for his family, which he alludes is still his primary concern. At least his kids are. This season, he made a leap to put Jesse ahead of his family and he’s also become a cold blooded murderer. The opening flashback was retrofitting to show the depth of Walt’s ambition to explain the leap. But Walt’s not blindly ambitious nor is he Tony Soprano cold. Walt was happy being a nerdy high school chemistry teacher. I liked him and understood his actions. This season, not so much. Jesse tells Walt that he should to into witness protection, because somebody has to say it. Walt’s dismissive reaction didn’t jibe for me. Leopards don’t change their spots.

  5. June 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Dado and Dianne – The interview I posted with Gilligan made it clear that ambiguity on whether or not Jesse killed Gale was not his intent. He said the pan was in restrospect a oonfusing choice. Of course they haven’t written the fourth season yet so he could use that debate and run with it, make Gale still live, but I don’t think the show would cheap out on us like that. At least I hope not, anyway.

    Dianne – I think Walt’s saving of Jesse was also his most humane act of the season and his most impulsive. He killed those guys under duress and clearly had no decent plan for it, therefore perhaps not thinking solely of himself and his family for once. This week he turned to cold-blooded murder not just to save himself but Jesse. I think it’s all costs of the same motivations and can still recognize Walt somewhere in there. They’ve also showed through his anger over losing his old chemist job that he was always resentful he didn’t make it huge like his friends whose names escape me. Walt has always had straight-up ambition in him.

  6. John
    June 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Just to add to what N.O.N. stated-Gale is deader than a doornail. We were getting Gale’s point of view.

    Walt’s character has changed from the beginning. This whole show is about his changing. Walt is now in dark territory and I can’t wait to see where he goes next year. Walt will pay for his actions though. He has to.

  7. June 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Nerd of Noir, I see your point. Underscores the brilliance of the show that it lends itself to many interpretations. In Gilligan’s interview, he says that Walt is becoming an antagonist. I think that move hollows out the heart of the show.

    Gilligan said he at first saw ending the series at three seasons. He speaks of now not wanting to put 200 people out of work. I’m all for steady paychecks for folks, but season three had a flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants feeling for me.

  8. William Wallace
    June 18, 2010 at 2:39 am

    OK. How about this….There is an elephant in the room that I have yet to see discussed in any BB blog. That is the fact that Walt has a secret…He let Jane die and Jesse doesn’t know it. I think Jesse doesn’t kill Gale but remains “pure” till the last season finale when he finds out that Walt let her die and he kills Walt…..end of Breaking Bad. Sorry to ruin for you all.

  9. June 18, 2010 at 3:09 am

    WW – Read the comments, man. Gilligan himself said that Gale is dead, that it was a mistake to make it even remotely ambiguous. Gale’s dead, done and done.
    Jesse finding out that Walt “killed” Jane could very well happen, but the “Fly” episode seemed like they put that to bed. Why bring it up again when they already milked the possibility of Jesse finding out for every drop of suspense it was worth? Of course, this being BB they could just have Jesse find out about out of nowhere somehow, just a big shocking scene with no warning or preamble then watch the fallout, but I kind of think that thread is done. Now that Jesse is a straight-up murderer he’s got bigger things to worry about than his dead ex.

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