Breaking Bad, 3-13: “Full Measure”
We see the White home, empty and faintly sinister, a man in a black suit standing in the deserted living room writing in a small notebook. We realize it’s a flashback when we see Skyler, in a long pink maternity dress and a ’70s hairstyle, enter with a much younger-looking Walt. They greet the realtor, who mentions the lab Walt works at and says it makes him think of “giant space lasers.” He leaves the Whites alone, and Skyler tries to sell the house to a reluctant Walt, who doesn’t think three bedrooms are enough, since they want “three kids, eventually.” He also wants a spare room, “so I can work at home and you can write…I think we need to set our sights high…Why buy a starter house when we’ll have to move up in a year or two? Why be cautious when there’s nowhere to go but up?”
Scene 1: a dry mountain meadow
We see some deserted corrals and the Aztek with a damaged front end. Walt waits in the car, his windshield shattered for the third time. A cuckoo sings mournfully, and a light wind blows. Finally, Gus’s station wagon appears over the horizon, its lights on, and Walt’s cell phone buzzes. It’s Mike, telling Walt to exit his vehicle and “start walking toward us.”
“And then what? I’m going to need some kind of assurance.”
“I assure you I could kill you from over here, if it makes you feel any better.”
Walt gets out of the Aztek and puts his Heisenberg hat on as he walks to meet Mike, mountains in the background. “Walter, you’ve been busy,” Mike says, doing a frisk. “You know I haven’t slept since Thursday? I was out all night cleanin’ up after you.”
“You said ‘no half measures.'”
“Yeah. Funny how words can be so open to interpretation. You get your car fixed?”
“You’re going to want to get your car fixed.”
“Let’s see how this goes first.”
The two men walk toward Gus’s car. We see Victor’s reflection in the driver’s side mirror. He gets out, followed by Gus, who faces Walt and asks, “Has your medical condition worsened?”
“Not that I know of – no.”
“Is there a ringing in your ears? Are you seeing bright lights or hearing voices?”
“I’m quite well, thank you.”
“No – clearly, you are not. No rational person would do as you have done. Explain yourself.”
“My partner was about to get himself shot. I intervened.”
“For some worthless junkie you put everything at risk? Some contemptible junkie who couldn’t keep clean for eight hours?”
“That’s right, he couldn’t. He was angry, because those dealers of yours had just murdered an 11-year-old boy.”
“You should have let me take care of them.”
“Maybe. Then again, maybe he thought it was you who gave the order.”
“Are you asking me if I ordered the murder of a child?” Gus’s body is immobile, but his face is angry.
“I would never ask you that,” Walt says, calmly, talking to Gus as an equal.
“Where is Pinkman now?”
“I wouldn’t know. A couple of time zones away at least. Beyond that, I’d only be guessing. He has enough money to last forever. He knows he needs to keep moving. You’ll never find him.”
“I don’t know, Walt,” Mike says. “It’s what I do, after all.”
Walt continues, “He’s out of the picture. I saved his life – I owed him that. But now he and I are done. Which is exactly what you wanted, isn’t it? You’ve always struck me as a very pragmatic man, so, if I may, I’d like to review options with you, of which it seems to me you have two. Option A: you kill me here and now. B: I continue cooking. We forget this ever happened. I prefer Option B.”
“You’d need a new assistant,” Gus says.
“I could get right on that.”
“No. This time I choose.”
Scene 2: the laundry/lab; Mike with Kaylee, at Chao’s, and with Gus
Walt gets out of the fixed Aztek with his paper lunch sack. His key to the lab door doesn’t work; Victor lets him in and follows him downstairs, where a yellow-suited Gale waits. Walt says, “It’s good to see you,” and offers his hand.
Gale pauses slightly, then shakes, and says, “Thanks…It’s good to be back. Well, shall we?”
“By all means. Let’s cook.”
Mike drops his granddaughter Kaylee off at her mom’s, giving her three star-shaped Mylar balloons. “‘Bye, Pop-pop,” Kaylee says.
“‘Bye, baby.” Mike waves to his daughter-in-law.
When we see him next, it’s dark, and he’s headed toward an isolated, lighted building with a huge bunch of Mylar balloons. He allows the balloons to drift upward toward the building’s power lines, and they crackle and spark. The power goes out.
Two men speaking to each other in Spanish come out cautiously, guns out. Mike, around the corner of the building, steps out and shoots them with a sawed-off shotgun. He goes inside, passing an Asian shrine. Holding his gun on the Chinese secretary, he removes one of her shoes and throws it down the hall, flushing another gunman, who meets his fate. Mike then comes to the end of the hall wall, where a frightened Chao sits at his desk, eyes on Mike and another man Mike can’t see on the other side of the wall. Chao indicates how high with his eyes, and Mike shoots through the wall, a clean head-shot. “They keep me prisoner,” Chao says.
Mike shoots Chao in the hand, saying, “The trucks will be here in the morning. I strongly advise you to return our calls in the future.” Chao is whimpering. “So have her drive you to a hospital…She’s gonna need her shoe…”
Later, Gus asks Mike, “Where’d they cross?”
“Laredo, it looks like…They didn’t exactly send their A-players. But, like you said, it’s cartel all right.”
“Probing for weakness.”
“Well, they didn’t find any.”
“What about Pinkman?”
“I’m making inquiries.”
Scene 3: the lab, Gale’s apartment
Walt and Gale seem to be working together well, closely watched by Victor. Walt tells Gale, “We had a little drama with the person you replaced.”
Gale tells Walt, “Whatever my shortcomings were last time, I intend for things to go perfectly now. However you like things to be done is exactly how we’re gonna do them. So…teach me.” Walt looks a bit suspicious, but pats Gale on the shoulder.
We see Gale at home that night, listening to opera, watering his plants, and singing falsetto along with the music. He has Oriental rugs on the floor and all sorts of esoteric objects, including a large telescope pointing out the window. Suddenly, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Gus, who, after being greeted and seated, says, “If push comes to shove, I was wondering how soon you might be able to take over the lab by yourself – you and an assistant.”
Gale smiles innocently. “Why would push come to shove?”
Gus tells Gale that Walt, dying of cancer, doesn’t want to tell anyone how long he has left. He adds that he can’t afford to shut down the lab, “even for a week, so we must prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
Gale says, “I suppose if we had a few more cooks together…”
“You don’t think you’re ready now?”
“Well, uh – he’s such a master…There’s always more for me to learn. One or two more cooks?” Gale pauses. “One more, I guess would do it.”
Scene 4: Saul’s office, the laser tag place
Mike comes to Saul’s office and demands to know Jesse’s “current whereabouts.” Saul hems and haws, and finally writes down the address of a Virginia trailer court.
When Saul leaves in his big white car with LWYRUP on the license plate, Victor is following him. But he doesn’t make it to the laser tag place, where Saul meets with Walt. “What the hell have you gotten me into?” Saul frets. “I’m being followed, my own P.I. is threatening to break my legs! This is over and above. We survive this, I’m seriously rethinking my pricing. And that goes double for you, hip hop!”
Jesse’s standing in the doorway. Walt asks how he is and he asks Walt the same.
“I got my old job back. At least until they kill me and Gale takes over.”
“He’s their boy, huh?”
“He’s their boy.”
“How long do you think you’ve got?”
“He asks a lot of questions about the cooking process. I try to be as vague as possible, but they have that guy Victor there listening to everything I say.”
“So, what’ll we do?”
“You know what we do.”
Jesse looks down. “There’s got to be some other way…We could just go to the cops – for your family. The DEA would love you – all the shit you could tell them. Federal witness protection – that’s a good deal. As for me, I’ll hit the road. I’ll make it. We had a good run, but it’s over.” Sensible advice.
But Walt, still trying to prove his manhood against Hank, Mike, Gus, or whoever, says, “Never the DEA. Gus has to keep cooking, so if I’m the only cook he’s got, it gives me leverage. It keeps me alive. It keeps you alive, too.”
“I can’t do it, Mr. White. Like you said, I’m not a – ”
“I’ll do it. But I’m going to need your help. I mean, they’re watching me day and night. They never leave me alone with Gale, not for a moment. Hell, I don’t even know where the man lives. If I could just shake Victor for even an hour, I might be able to make it look like an accident.”
“There’s gotta be some other way!”
“Get me his address, and I’ll do the rest…I saved your life, Jesse.” Jesse looks up. “Are you gonna save mine?”
Scene 5: the Whites’, the laundromat, the laser tag place, Gale’s
At the Whites’, Walt holds baby Holly, who plays with his nose and takes his glasses off. His phone vibrates, and he goes to the bedroom. Jesse says, “6353 Juan Tabo Boulevard, apartment 6.”
“Anyone watching the place?”
“It’s pretty much wide open. When you gonna do it?”
“Tonight…when it gets dark.”
“Don’t do it, Mr. White! Please! Go to the cops!”
Walt snaps his phone shut.
After night has fallen, Walt comes out of the house. He’s about to get in his car when Victor glides up, saying, “We got a problem. Some kind of chemical leak in the lab. Better come with me.”
“I’ll follow you.”
“They tell me to bring you, I bring you. Come on – get in the car.”
At the laundromat, Mike’s starting to open the door to the lab. “I don’t know if it’s a barrel leak or what, but you got something mighty stinky down there. After you…Walt, the sooner you figure out what this is, the sooner we all go home.”
Walt, scared now, says, “Please don’t do this, Mike. You don’t have to do this!”
“Yeah, unfortunately, I do, Walter. Downstairs.”
“I’ll cook – I’ll cook for free, and there won’t be any more trouble, I promise you!”
“If I could just talk to Gus! Please, let me talk to him!”
“Shut up. I can’t do it. I’m sorry.”
“I’ll give you Jesse Pinkman! Okay? Like you said, he’s a problem. He’s always been a problem. And he’s in town – I could take you to him!”
“Where is he? Give me an address.”
“He moves around, but if you’ll let me call him, I’ll have him meet me.”
Jesse’s at the laser tag place about to get high when his phone vibrates. “Did you do it?”
“No, I can’t now. It’s gonna have to be you. You’re closer than we are. You’ve got about a twenty-minute lead. They’ve got me at the laundry and they’re gonna kill me!” Mike grabs for Walt’s phone, and Victor has his gun on Walt as he shouts, “Jesse! Do it now! Do it!”
Jesse grabs his gun and runs.
Back at the laundry, Mike has his gun out, too, but Walt says, “You might want to hold off.”
“Because your boss is gonna need me.” Walt recites Gale’s address, and Mike’s face falls. He gets out his phone as Victor races for his car.
Gale, playing happy Asian music, tea kettle whistling, doesn’t hear his phone vibrating on the counter. There’s a knock at the door, and he turns the music off. It’s Jesse, in a red T-shirt decorated with a white skull and black radiating lines. He holds his gun up.
“Take whatever you want,” Gale says. “I have money – I have a lot of money. Don’t do it – you don’t have to do this!”Jesse’s hand is shaking, his face is twisted, and tears are in his eyes. The gun goes off.
Kelly’s comments from TheTVCritic.org rewatch (slightly edited)
“Gus was plotting to kill Jesse from the start. He was just attempting to kill him in a way that wouldn’t upset his working relationship with Walt. Remember that Jesse hadn’t even met Gus before the last episode – Gus was been careful not to let Jesse see his face because he didn’t see him as trustworthy. The only reason Gus allowed Jesse to meet him in “Half Measures” was because he was already planning to get rid of him. I think Gus engineered a shootout between Jesse and the two dealers, the same as he engineered the shootout between Hank and the cousins. When Jesse revealed his moral outrage over the dealers using kids he gave Gus the perfect method for provoking him into a suicide mission. It’s my belief that Gus gave the order for the dealers to kill Tomás, hoping that Jesse and the dealers would kill each other. If the dealers survived, Gus would’ve had Mike kill them to show Walt he wouldn’t let his partner’s killing go unpunished. Gus could easily claim not to be responsible for Jesse’s death, as Jesse had disobeyed his orders and acted on his own.
The mistake Gus and Mike made was underestimating Walt. Not having seen Walt in Heisenberg mode before, they probably perceived him as a nerdy old chemist whom they could easily control. All through Season 3 Walt has been struggling to regain control, still wanting to see himself as the provider and protector of his family, including Jesse. In his half measures speech, Mike tried to get Walt to see Jesse as a dangerous addict needing to be put down before he can do any more damage. But when Walt hears Mike’s story he associates Jesse more with the battered wife, the person in danger of being murdered unless Walt takes a full measure to save him.
As for the recent criticism of Skyler, I disagree that Skyler suddenly changed her mind and decided Walt cooking meth to make money was a good idea. I think the worst-case scenario in Skyler’s mind is that Walt going to jail will result in her son’s innocence being destroyed, Hank’s career being ruined, and her family being left shamed and destitute. The only way Skyler can stop this from happening is by keeping Walt’s secret, creating a cover story, and laundering the drug money. While it is Walt’s favorite justification to say ‘I’m doing this for my family,’ in Skyler’s case I actually believe that her crimes and her collaboration with Walt are largely for the sake of protecting her family from the terrible truth.”
As Robin Pierson, creator of TheTVCritic.org often says, “Bravo, Kelly!” Her belief that Gus ordered Tomás’s killing to provoke Jesse can’t be proven, but neither can it be disproven. And it makes sense, given that, at this stage, Gus and Mike have nothing but bad things to say about Jesse and his drug addiction and consequent flakiness/untrustworthiness. Maybe Mike knew about this plan – if it was a plan – when he refused to engineer Jesse’s arrest on a minor charge.
Robin Pierson also makes a good point – that every time Walt thinks he’s rescuing Jesse – from Jane or from the thugs – he actually puts him in further danger. In the case of Jane, Jesse was saved from heroin addiction, but his heart was broken, leading him to challenge fate (and Gus) by stealing meth and selling it and not pursuing real healing through NA. And in the case of the thugs, Walt puts both himself and Jesse in danger of being killed by Gus’s hirelings, and has to ask for a return favor – that Jesse kill Gale to make Walt indispensable to Gus. Killing Gale puts Jesse into an even greater downward spiral – including lots of drug use – in Season 4.