Liam here again! We've come to the end of another red-eyed, white-knuckled, and blue-meth'd season of Breaking Bad, but there's no telling what's in store for the Fring drug empire, or the White family (Jesse included as honorary son).
To recap: The episode opens with a day in the life of Wendy the meth hooker. She smokes, she eats Chinese food, she provides oral pleasure, and she brings burgers to Tomas' thug wranglers, from whom she scores her meth. And Jesse, observing these proceedings, begins to form an idea. Cue the opening titles! Forget Lost, forget Fringe, the best cold opens on TV are on AMC.
Of course, the ending of last week's episode was no red herring; Jesse's intent to exact revenge on the thugs, for Combo's death and Tomas' indoctrination, has left him on a hair trigger. Though Walt refuses to provide Jesse with ricin (remember the ricin?) for his genius plan to poison the thugs' burgers, and warns Jesse in no uncertain terms against any rash or violent action, there's no reasoning with the man who has seen more than he can take. He's learned that Combo's killers are slinging that blue magic, meaning they work for Gus as well. At this point, revenge is the only solid ground Jesse feels he can stand on. Walt, desperate to contain his partner, suggest to Saul that they get Jesse arrested and jailed until he can "cool down". Which, of course, is a service Saul provides; premium service indeed! Such a good lawyer he can do it in reverse.
In the world of Marie and Hank, we get a sweet morsel of love, sex, and progress. During his sponge bath, in an attempt to shake Hank out of his self-pitying refusal to leave the hospital, Marie proposes a wager. If she can bring Little Hank to full-staff in under a minute, he has to swallow his pride and get his ass wheeled out. Never has a hospital handjob left a man looking so unsatisfied. (Insert "discharge" jokes here.) The White family, too, seems to be showing signs of reformation; Walter Jr. has his dream of a provisional license, Skyler her dream of buying the car wash and becoming Walt's money launderer (although if you're Wikipedia-ing money laundering as she is, you have to wonder how qualified you are), and even Walt's dream of turning his fake marital reconciliation into a real one may me inching forward. But once Mike the Cleaner drops in on Walt, and drops some revealing backstory about his own former career in law enforcement, the episode begins shifting gears and moving steadily towards the holy-shit final moments. The episode's title, "Half Measures", comes from Mike's advice to Walt to refrain from half-assed action. Walt's arrest scheme, he points out, doesn't solve anything. It just delays the inevitable.
Would that Mike had given his boss the same advice. Though Jesse's ricin-burger scheme gets knocked off the rails, and Gus leaves him with no choice but to accept an uneasy peace with the thugs, Fring's strategy of looking very serious and ordering the thugs to quit using kids as mules soon leaves Tomas dead, and soon Jesse's bent over a line of meth, ready to confront the thugs and go down guns blazing. Which he almost does…until Walt appears out of left field and mows down the two thugs with his car in a one-take sequence that left me breathless. And then he exits the car and coldly shoots the one thug left alive in the head. "Run," he intones. It's a rare TV show these days that can depict cold-blooded murder with such an unflinching gaze, and it's devastating.
Will Jesse run, and if so where? Will the innocent Whites/Schraders get caught in the inevitable retaliation for the thugs' murder? What in the hell is going to happen? I'm happy just to let the show take me wherever it wants in this finale. Bring on the scorched sky bears.