Breaking Bad Blog: Full Measure
By Andrew Voerman
In the season finale of Breaking Bad, it is very much a case of kill or be killed. Walt and Jesse have got themselves into a mess so deep, that another murder is their only chance of escape.
We begin with Walt and Skyler in rosier times, viewing the house that they now live in, as Walt claims they've "got nowhere to go but up." Now that's he just murdered two people, he's no longer feeling quite so optimistic. That little act has earned him a meeting with Gus, in the the desert at dusk. As he walks toward Gus's car, Walt prepares himself for the worst.
He is lucky, for all Gus has to offer are some harsh words. Walt presents him with two options: option A, wherein Gus has Walter and Jesse killed for their insolence, or option B, where Walt continues cooking, but without Jesse's help. Gus chooses option B, but insists that he, not Walt, will choose who his new assistant will be. When Walt arrives at the lab next day, he finds that Gus has chosen Gael.
A night out with Mike shows us that Gus has bigger problems to deal with than Walt. Four cartel guys have crossed the border, armed and looking to harass those close to Gus, trying to find any weakness they can. Mike manages to take care of them this time, but as he says, they weren't exactly the best. At the lab, Gus has someone keeping an eye on Walt and Gael as they work, a new but not unexpected development.
Even so, Gus is already looking past Walt and into the future. He pays Gael a visit at home, to find out whether he'd be capable of stepping up should Walt not continue to be available. When Gael wonders why that might happen, Gus tells him about Walt's cancer, suggesting it could cripple him any day now. As Gael tells Gus that he'll be ready to cook by himself after one more cook with Walt, Gus's true intent is made clear - he's going to have Walt killed.
In the meantime, Mike is looking for Jesse. He starts with Saul Goodman, who, after some persuasion, gives him a possible location. Saul may not have been entirely helpful though, as we next see him setting up a meet between Walt and Jesse. Walt reveals that he's aware of what Gus is planning, having noticed that Gael is suddenly asking a lot of questions, and makes it clear that they only have one move. Gus needs a chemist, and if Walt's the only chemist available, Gus can't kill Walt and Walt won't let him kill Jesse.
In this discussion, where Walt resolves that he will be responsible for a premeditated act of murder, the pair have well and truly crossed a line. They are no longer relative innocents, merely caught up in a larger criminal world and surviving by the skin of their pants, they are fully conscious participants in it. That line might be fine, but it does exist.
Walt plans to do the deed that night, after Jesse finds out where Gael lives, but his plans are interrupted when Gus's assistant comes by the house, with orders to pick him up. He is delivered to the lab, where Mike is waiting, and realises what's about to happen. He improvises and manages to get Jesse on the phone, telling him to do it now - to kill Gael.
When they discussed it, Jesse had been the one with reservations about committing cold-blooded murder, and so Walt had stepped in and offered to do it. Now, with no option but to do it himself, we can see how hard it is for him. Faced with a confused, begging Gael, Jesse breaks into tears, hesitates for a moment, but then eventually pulls the trigger.
Will this plan work, and keep both Walt and Jesse alive? Or will Gus have had enough and end it with both of them? Whatever happens, the events of the last two episodes have changed Walt and Jesse forever. As they descend deeper and deeper into the criminal world, what will that mean for the likes of Hank, Skyler, Flynn and baby Holly? Walt started all this to provide for his family, but now he has put them more at risk than ever. For all of them, Season Four promises to be the most dangerous season yet.