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Recap / Breaking Bad S 3 E 12 Half Measures

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As Jesse keeps his eye on the dealers responsible for Combo's death, Walt, teaching his son how to drive, is pressed by Skyler about buying the car wash. Walt uses the opportunity to bargain time at home with his family: even though the two of them are not even close to being a loving couple now, they agree on letting Walt stay over for dinner four nights a week, in order to create a facade that they are a loving family.

Afterwards, Jesse and Walt meet at a bar. Jesse reveals to Walt that he had purchased their meth from dealers working for Gus, the same ones that had Combo killed. He asks Walt for some ricin, the self-same poison they originally planned to kill Tuco with. Walt refuses, calling Jesse's desire for vengeance "ridiculous" and stating that killing the dealers would accomplish nothing. Jesse, however, is deaf to reason: he plans to kill the dealers, with or without Walt's help.


As Hank continues to refuse to go home until he can walk, and Walt and Saul discuss what to do with Jesse: Jesse prepares his own ricin, and instructs Wendy, whom he saw giving lunch to the dealers in exchange for meth, to give the dealers his ricin-laced burgers, playing to Wendy's maternal instincts and asking her what she'd do if she found out her own son was working for drug dealers.

Mike pays Walt a surprise visit that evening. Walt and Saul had discussed having Jesse arrested and put into community service to cool his head, but Mike states that he and Gus are ultimately against the idea, since Gus would consider Jesse's arrest problematic. To demonstrate his point, Mike tells Walt about a criminal he knew in his days as a cop: a notorious wife-beater. One day, Mike arrested the wife-beater, and pulled into a dark alley to kill him. He ultimately decided against it, but warned him not to hurt his wife again. For his act of mercy, Mike was "rewarded" with the wife being murdered not long after. He felt responsible for her death because he took a "half measure". Before he leaves, he gives Walt some parting advice: "no more half measures".


Before Jesse can carry out his plan to assassinate the dealers, Mike arrives, driving Wendy off and apprehending Jesse. They take Jesse to the Los Pollos Hermanos factory farm, where Walt, Gus, and the dealers are waiting.

Gus concedes that Combo's death was a rash act, but in the dealers' defense, Jesse had him selling on Gus's territory. Jesse calls Walt out on selling him out, but Gus tells him that he only has one friend in the room, and if not for Walt, things would turn out differently. He instructs Jesse to make peace with the dealers, but Jesse refuses, telling Gus they use kids. Although cross with Jesse, Gus decides to grant him this one indulgence: he states plainly, "No more children", and has Jesse shake hands with the dealers.

Back at the hospital, Marie, determined to bring Hank home, makes a deal with him: if she could get him to achieve an erection, he would have no choice but to come home. Hank reluctantly accepts, and warns Marie of the futility of her proposal. In the end, however, she manages to get a rise out of Hank: he leaves the hospital looking humiliated and defeated as Marie looks smugly triumphant.

That evening, Jesse is enjoying Andrea's company when she receives a phone call that leaves her distressed, and Jesse gobsmacked: Tomas has been murdered!

Walt tries to call Jesse the following day, but to no avail. When he hears of Tomas' death on the evening news, however, he realizes why he can't reach Jesse and storms out...

Jesse is at the street where Combo was killed. He takes a hit of meth to muster some courage, then makes his way to the dealers, prepared to kill them.

As they start to draw their guns, however, Walt suddenly appears, running over the dealers with his car. One is killed instantly, and Walt takes the other's gun and shoots him in the head before looking at Jesse and giving him a simple instruction:


This episode contains examples of:

  • Analogy Backfire: Mike explains his Start of Darkness to try to talk Walt out of a half-measure attempt to save Jesse from killing the two rival drug dealers after Tomas' death. In the following episode, "Full Measure," Walt references it again after killing the two men Jesse wanted dead, and Mike is less than pleased.
  • Body Horror: When Walt drives into the two dealers, one of them goes flying over the roof of the car and lands behind it with his left leg broken and bent the wrong way. He still reaches for his gun until Walt picks it up and shoots him.
  • Car Fu: Walt uses this on the rival dealers at the end of the episode.
    • Coup de Grâce: One of them survives the hit from the car, and Walt shoots him in the head.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Tomas is killed by the drug dealers he works for. An entire day passes. In the next evening, Jesse decides to go to their corner to kill them. Walt, after hearing of the murder on the evening news, realizes what Jesse might do and rushes out of the house, abandoning dinner with Skyler and Walt Jr. He gets to the corner just when Jesse is about to confront the dealers and runs both of them over, saving Jesse in the nick of time.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jesse's Big Brother Instinct kicks into overdrive when he finds out the dealers that had Combo killed are using a young boy to do much of their dirty work. Jesse's clear intent to exact revenge angers the dealers' boss: Gus. Things rapidly spiral out of control for Jesse and Walt as a result.
  • Exact Words: Gus stated "no more children". Whether he meant to dispose of the kids the dealers were using is up for debate, but that was the end result.
  • Gilligan Cut: Marie is giving a sponge bath to Hank, while he's recuperating from surgery after being shot. He's reluctant to leave the hospital, while Marie wants him home, so Marie strikes up a deal:
    Marie Schrader: I tell you what: if I can get the groundhog to see his shadownote -
    Hank Schrader: That’s not gonna happen. I’m sorry.
    Marie Schrader: I’m betting it will. And if he does, you check out of here.
    Hank Schrader: [laughs bitterly] I’m not gonna bet "when" on whether or not I can get a boner! There’s no bet, no bet here! No bet!
    Marie Schrader: You afraid you’ll lose?
    Hank Schrader: You know what? You’re just—-you’re just being foolish, you know? Come on. What’s the point?
    Marie Schrader: The point is you’re not completely hopeless. We have a bet?
    Hank Schrader: You know what? If it’ll get you outta here quicker. You’ve got one minute.
    Marie Schrader: One minute? Alright. That’s a cakewalk. [starts stroking Hank's junk]
    Hank Schrader: Yeah. This is just, this is just sad... I mean, I really feel sorry for you, Marie, you know, I really do. It’s just, uh... it’s pathetic.
    Marie Schrader: That’s good, keep talking. Protest. Struggle.
    Hank Schrader: Marie, give up. I mean, seriously. It’s... not...gonna happen.
    [Cuts to an annoyed Hank being wheeled out of the hospital, followed by a smirking Marie]
  • Not So Different: Skyler comments that, if Walt goes down, she'd rather be known to the police as Walt's accomplice than an idiot who never knew what he was up to.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Mike doesn't go through with Walt's plan to have Jesse thrown in jail because it would've upset Gus.
  • The Public Domain Channel: Averted, Walt and Walt Jr. are shown watching Jeopardy!note . Becomes a Plot Point when the show has a clue about Walt Whitman, which gets Walt thinking about Gale. Gale's return to the lab and asking lots of questions, plus Gus's assistant/watchdog Victor supervising all activity in the lab, helps Walt figure out that Gus is planning to kill him off.

  • Pet the Dog: Walter knew that killing Gus's dealers to save Jesse could have disastorous results for him and did it anyway.

  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jesse goes straight after the two dealers, gun in hand, for a nighttime showdown of vengeance for their role in Tomas' death. Walt comes out of nowhere and kills them instead.
  • Sex Montage: The Cold Open shows Wendy "at work".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The aforementioned montage of Wendy is set to The Association's "Windy," a cheery 60's pop song.
  • Wham Episode: Jesse finds out that two of Gus' dealers are using his girlfriend's kid brother to carry out their dirty work. The child was forced to shoot Combo and Jesse has been looking for revenge ever since. Walt tells Gus about this and Gus leads Jesse into a meeting with the dealers, where it is agreed that Jesse will cease his attacks so long as the dealers stop employing children. A few hours later, the child turns up dead and a drugged up Jesse points a gun at them before realising that he is vastly outmatched. Just before he can be killed, Walt runs over the dealers and calmly shoots one in the head before telling Jesse to "Run!" as the episode fades to black.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tomas is killed by the dealers, either on their own accord or on the orders of Gus, upon being told that they can't use child assassins.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gus orders his two dealers to cease using children... so they murder Tomas.

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