Breaking Bad
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Taking One for the Team

Credits. After which we don't get so much as a second's worth of mercy as we're thrust right back in front of the barrel of Jesse's gun as he fires. As I tried to explain last year, Jesse didn't shift the gun to his right; the camera just moved us right into Gale's shoes. BANG, we're dead. Jesse, with red eyes and tears on his face, tries to catch his breath at the sight of what he's done, and he stumbles back out the doorway. After a quick fade to black, the camera starts canvassing Gale's apartment -- remember all the knick-knacks? -- while a neighbor makes the call to the police. All the while, Gale's phone buzzes impotently, with Mike on the other end of the line, trying to warn him. We pan up from a puddle on the kitchen floor to find the tea kettle with a bullet hole in it. ...So did Jesse miss? Maybe grazed Gale and he's still alive? Wounded and out of commission -- certainly unable to serve as Gus's backup plan anymore -- but also unable to finger Jesse for the crime, les he incriminate himself for meth-cooking? Yeah, that would work out nicely for everybody, right? Jesse doesn't have murder on his conscience, Gale gets to keep his silly little life, and nobody gets punished! Come on, Breaking Bad, that season of relatively little soul-scarring horror just writes itself!

Nah, that shit isn't happening. A small crowd of horrified neighbors has gathered in Gale's doorway, and they're soon joined by Victor, whose rescue attempt is too late. Without really thinking about it -- and above Old Man 911's objections -- Victor strides into the apartment to make sure that Gale's really dead. Boy, is he! Shot right below the left eye, his brains blown out onto the carpet behind him. Goodnight, you insufferable brown-noser. Victor strides out into the night and stomps straight into the easiest hunting job he ever got. Because there's Jesse, sitting behind the wheel of his parked car, unable to move. Victor, enraged, puts the gun to Jesse's head and tells him to drive.

Back at the lab, Walt and Mike sit across from each other, impassive as usual. Remember how last season it seemed like Mike was warming up to Walt, even had a certain respect for him? Tonight, Walter's become such an ass-tear for him that even that's gone from his face. Victor shows up, leading Jesse in at gunpoint and sitting him down next to Walt. He them stomps over and angrily kicks over a table of cooking materials. Mike kind of pulls him to the side and asks if Gale's gone. At this, Walt turns to look at Jesse, but Jesse won't take his eyes off the floor. That's as good as answered, just as Victor finally confirms it with words. "Oh, Jesus! Oh, shit!" Mike exclaims, while Walt's face reads the same. Actually, Walt's face carries an appropriate mix of relief, horror, guilt, and the seed of whatever self-justifying anger he's going to conjure up to make sure everybody knows this was his only choice. Mike gets from Victor that while Jesse wasn't seen by the neighbors, Victor was, though he claims that he passed for a typical rubbernecking neighbor. Mike stands silent for a moment, then figures he'd better get this over with and goes to make the call to Gus. It's such an effective dramatic device to have a guy as fearsome as Mike be so intimidated by Gus.

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Breaking Bad

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