Breaking Bad
Full Measure

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admin: A | 7 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Leverage
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Previously on Breaking Bad, Jesse was about to kill some drug dealers, but got brought in before Gus, who made him promise to keep the peace. But when the dealers then killed the eleven-year-old Jesse was trying to keep safe, he got high and decided to confront them with his gun. Before their two guns were able to blow him and his one gun away, though, Walt and his Aztek came screaming in, running them over. And then Walt shot a guy! And then he told Jesse to run.

As ever, the opening scene is a perfect little short film that is both an exquisite little piece of filmmaking and also completely unnerving. This week, we see younger versions of Walter and Skyler as they prepare to purchase the house they'll still be (tenuously) living in today. Skyler is pregnant with Walter Jr., which would place this in about 1994, which freaks me out in the same way that Simpsons flashbacks continue to creep further and further forward, until it's like "a little show called Futurama taught us all how to love." Point being: I remember 1994. Freaks me out to see it in flashback like this. Also, I have to give credit to the show here for making Walt look credibly 16 years younger. Anna Gunn is gorgeous regardless, but given how weathered and worn Walt appears, always but especially this week, they really shellac some youth into his face right here.

Anyway, so Walt and Skyler look at the place and talk about whether it's big enough to house all their oversized dreams. Walt wants five bedrooms, three for their future children, one for an office (Walt talks about working from home and Skyler working on her writing). Skyler tries to sell Walt on the home, and the neighborhood, and says it's a great place for their price range. Walt's argument is to forget their price range. They've got their whole futures ahead of them and nowhere to go but up. Clearly, Skyler prevailed in this one, since they ended up buying the house. And I know I'm supposed to linger on the sad irony of Walt's hopes and dreams and what became of them, but honestly, I was too busy figuring out whether or not this teaser meant that by episode's end, this house would be burned to the ground. Oh like Breaking Bad wouldn't do that.

Back in the present, Walt's out in the middle of nowhere, sitting in the driver's seat of his man-killing Aztek. And yes, once again that damned windshield is cracked. At this point, if Hank doesn't end up busting Walt for criminal activity, his guy at the body shop just might. Walt's waiting anxiously, with his eyes on the horizon, but for what? A car approaches and stops in clear view of Walt's car but too far away to see who's inside. Lucky, we live in the cellular age. Walt picks up his ringing phone, and it's Mike, which might be enough to make me pass out, but Walt's made of sterner stuff. We hope. (That said, he did kind of have a heart attack when the phone rang.) Mike asks Walt to exit the vehicle and start walking towards the other car. Walt plays a strong hand, saying he wants some assurances first. Striking the exact perfect tone of half-amused exasperation, Mike says, "I assure you I can kill you from here, if it makes you feel any better."

So Walt steps out of the car, as sparse high-noon music starts playing. And what does he grab from the dash but his old Heisenberg porkpie hat. Heisenberg's last ride! And a more uncertain ride it could not be. When he's almost there, Mike walks out to meet him, greeting him with a "You've been busy." You get the feeling Mike doesn't hate Walt the way he did back when he was removing the bugs from his house. Maybe Walt going the extra mile to protect Jesse let Mike see the side of Walt we all want to like if he weren't such a self-justifying a-hole the rest of the time. But Mike's annoyed too -- he lost a whole night's sleep having to clean up the "mess" Walt made last night. "You said no half-measures," Walt retorts, and Mike once again has to ... not smile, I guess, but at least get a glint in his eye over Walt using his own words against him. He then tells Walt he's gonna want to get his car fixed. Which, if I'm Walt, I take as a big check mark in the "I'm NOT gonna die today" column.

As Walt and Mike trudge the rest of the way to the car, we see Victor in the driver's seat. And then, we see Gus in the back seat, though at first the only part visible are the wire frames of his glasses. Amazing shot. But even just from seeing the glasses, you know Gus is seething. Out of the car, Gus starts softly, as always. He facetiously wonders if Walt's health problems have returned, if maybe there's a ringing in his ears? Because no sane, rational person does what Walt did last night. "Explain yourself!" he demands.

Walt takes his best shot at it, stating Jesse was about to get shot. "Some worthless junkie," Gus dismisses. And we've reached the major crossroads for Gus and Walt, and not for the first time. Walt justifies Jesse's anger, reminding Gus his two dealers had just murdered an 11-year-old boy. Gus can't answer to that, and Walt takes the rhetoric up even further, suggesting Jesse didn't come to Gus about it because he thought Gus may have given the order. Which is half-bullshit (Jesse goes to Gus under ZERO circumstances) and half-truth (Gus has thus far behaved like the kind of person who would do that). But Gus puts on the indignant face about this new accusation just the same. He demands to know where Jesse is now, and Walt says he's on the run. He's got all the money he'll need and he knows to never stop running -- he's going to be a bitch to catch, if they ever do at all. And Walt's pitch is that they leave well enough alone. Jesse's out of the picture, which is what Gus wanted, no matter how they all arrived at it. Walt appeals to Gus's pragmatism: either kill Walt now, then waste time and resources trying to track down and kill an insignificant junkie like Jesse; or they all forget about Jesse, Walt goes back to cooking, and they all get rich off the blue stuff. Gus pauses, considers, then says: "You'd need a new assistant." One of Gus's choosing. Walt can live with that. And with that, Walt doesn't get killed and Gus has to live with the fact that he just got stared down. Can't imagine he's going to take to that feeling all that well.

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Breaking Bad

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