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Breaking Bad – Mike tells a tale worthy of Jaws’ Quint

So was Walt's last act of this episode a "half measure" or a "full measure?" Seeing as the finale is titled "Full Measure," I can't even imagine now what that could be if this was only half.

- Season 3, Episode 12 - "Half Measures"

I had a brief interview with Aaron Paul (Jesse) last week, and he told me he thought this episode could have easily been used to cap off the season. As I was watching the time tick down to the last minutes of the episode, I wasn’t sure how that could be. With two minutes left, though, arguably the most intense moment in the series occurred.

Whatever happens from this point forward in Breaking Bad, this is the moment when the relationship between Walt and Jesse is — strangely enough — at its high point. It is at this moment when there should be no doubt in Jesse’s mind that Walter considers Jesse as close as family, and while his actions and methods may be irritating or appear against what’s right in Jesse’s mind, he really is looking out for him.

There is a question, though, as to what really did motivate Walt to be at the right place at the right time. Was he out there looking to help Jesse, or would he have taken those two men out on his own, with or without Jesse being around? That final, cold bullet Walter put in one man’s head was not a “you were about to kill my friend, you asshole” reason, it was a “you killed an 11-year-old kid, you sicko!”

Obviously, now, we’re going to see what Gus’s plans for Walter really are, because he’s going to find out about this and he’s going to eventually have to confront Walter. If he lets him just continue on like always, then he has bigger plans in mind. If he looks to take him out, though, then Walter was nothing more than a good cooker for him, and one he feels he can replace easily enough.

One of the highlights of the episode was that unannounced visit by Mike, Gus’s “muscle,” and the tale he told as though he was Jaws‘ Quint the shark hunter, telling the tale of USS Indianapolis. In fact, I liked it so much that I want to transcribe it here so we can look back at it later:

Mike: “I used to be a beat cop a long time ago. And I’d get called out on domestic disputes all the time. Hundreds, probably, over the years. But there was this one guy — this one piece of shit — that I will never forget. Gordy. He looked like Bo Svenson. You remember him? Walking Tall? You don’t remember? No. Anyway. Big boy — 270, 280. But his wife … or whatever she was, his lady … was real small. Like a bird. Wrists like branches. Anyway, my partner and I got called out there every weekend, and one of us would pull her aside and say ‘come on, tonight’s the night we press charges.’ And this wasn’t one of those deep-down he-loves-me set-ups — we get a lot of those — but not this. This girl was scared. She wasn’t going to cross him, no way, no how. Nothing we could do but pass her off to the EMT’s, put him in a car and drive him downtown, throw him in the drunk tank. He sleeps it off, next morning out he goes. Back home.

“But one night, my partner’s out sick, and it’s just me. And the call comes in and it’s the usual crap. Broke her nose in the shower kind of thing. So I cuff him, put him in the car and away we go. Only that night, we’re driving into town, and this sideways asshole is in my back seat humming ‘Danny Boy.’ And it just rubbed me wrong. So instead of left, I go right, out into nowhere. And I kneel him down, and I put my revolver in his mouth, and I told him, ‘This is it. This is how it ends.’ And he’s crying, going to the bathroom all over himself, swearing to God he’s going to leave her alone. Screaming … as much as you can with a gun in your mouth. And I told him to be quiet. I needed to think about what I was going to do here. And of course he got quiet. Goes still. And real quiet. Like a dog waiting for dinner scraps. And we just stood there for a while, me acting like I’m thinking things over, and Prince Charming kneeling in the dirt with shit in his pants.

“And after a few minutes I took the gun out of his mouth, and I say, ‘So help me if you touch her again I will such-and-such and such-and-such and blah blah blah blah blah.’

Walt: “So, just a warning?”

Mike: “Of course. Just trying to do the right thing. But two weeks later he killed her. Of course. Caved her head in with the base of a Waring blender. We got there, there was so much blood you could taste the metal.

“The moral of the story is: I chose a half measure, when I should have gone all the way. I’ll never make that mistake again.”

Al right, maybe it’s not all about sharks eating soldiers in the sea, but don’t tell me his speech didn’t keep you enthralled.

Photo Credit: AMC

One Response to “Breaking Bad – Mike tells a tale worthy of Jaws’ Quint”

June 7, 2010 at 7:11 PM

Man, this show is good.

My take is as follows. Walter, who so often takes the moral high ground with Jesse, who he sees as an impetuous youth was feeling guilty. Jesse is ultimately good at heart, and was pissed for all the right reasons at the two drug dealers. I think Walt was a little embarrassed at just sitting there in the meeting while Jesse stood up to Gus about the little kid. When Walt heard that the kid was dead, I don’t think he could take it anymore. He stopped the murders of the two guys who were responsible for it, and after the plane crash (which obviously had a huge impact on Walt), I don’t think he could sit back and not take action.

Next week is gonna be goooooood….

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