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Recap / Breaking Bad S 3 E 12 Half Measures

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"You got a good thing going here. We all do. Do you wanna risk it all on one junkie?"

Jesse keeps his eye on the dealers responsible for Combo's death and realizes that Wendy, a prostitute who's helped Jesse in the past, regularly delivers them hamburgers as they sit on their corner in exchange for meth.

Walt, teaching his son how to drive, is pressed by Skyler about buying Bogdan's car wash as a money laundering front. Walt uses the opportunity to bargain for 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.

Afterwards, Jesse and Walt meet at a bar. Jesse reveals to Walt that he had purchased their own blue meth from dealers working for Gus, the same ones that had Combo killed. He tells Walt that the dealers are using Andrea's 11-year-old brother Tomás to sell and kill for them. He asks Walt for some ricin, the same poison they originally planned to kill Tuco with, so that he can poison the burgers Wendy brings to the dealers everyday. 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 leave the hospital until he can walk, following his injury after the cartel's attack, Walt and Saul discuss what to do with Jesse. Walt wants Saul to get Jesse arrested so that he can "cool off" in jail for a few months, and Saul agrees to put his guy Mike on it. Jesse buys his own ricin off the internet and instructs Wendy to give the dealers 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. Mike reveals that he works for Gus and is firmly against Walt's plan to get Jesse arrested, since he knows Gus would consider it a threat to their business. To demonstrate his point, Mike tells Walt about a criminal he knew in his days as a cop: a notorious wife-beater whose wife never pressed charges so they could never hold him for more than a day. One day, when his partner was out, Mike arrested the wife-beater, drove off into the desert, and held him at gunpoint, ready to kill him. He ultimately decided against it, but threatened him not to hurt his wife again or he would finish the job. Tragically, the wife was killed a fortnight later, and Mike felt responsible for her death because he took a "half measure" when he should have "gone all the way". 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 and Victor arrive, 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 their territory. Jesse calls Walt out on telling Gus about his plan, but Gus tells him that Walt is his only friend in the room, and that if not for Walt, things would turn out very differently for Jesse. He instructs Jesse to make peace with the dealers, but Jesse refuses, telling Gus they use kids to do their killing. Although cross with Jesse, Gus decides to grant him this one indulgence: he tells the dealers 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 with Andrea when she receives a phone call that leaves her distraught, and Jesse shocked: Tomás has been murdered.

Walt tries to call Jesse the following day, but to no avail. When he hears of Tomás' death on the evening news, however, he realizes why he can't reach Jesse. He tries to return to dinner with his family, but ultimately can't take it and rushes out the door.

Jesse is at the corner where Combo was killed. He takes a hit of meth for the first time since getting clean, then makes his way to the dealers, prepared to shoot 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 as he struggles to move 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jesse tried his hardest to get Andrea's kid brother, Tomas, out of Gus's business. The result: Tomas is found dead, and Andrea is left grieving, leaving Jesse in shock and horror.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Coup de Grâce: One of the dealers that Walt runs over survives the hit from the car. Walt finishes him off by shooting him in the head.
  • 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]
  • Insult Friendly Fire: Hank maintains he's not ready to leave hospital because he's still in a wheelchair...while Walt Jr is in the room with him. Junior tries to play it up, to no avail.
    Walter White Jr: What about people on crutches? Is that what you're saying?
    Hank Schrader: Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. Deal, you little prick.
  • Internal Reveal: Walt discovers for the first time that Saul's PI Mike Ehrmantraut also answers to Gus.
  • Off the Wagon: Over ten episodes of staying clean ends when Jesse returns to meth after Tomas's murder.
  • Pet the Dog: Walter knew that killing Gus's dealers to save Jesse could have disastrous results for him and did it anyway.
  • 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.
  • 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 comes at them gun in hand, despite being vastly outmatched. Just before they gun him down, Walt bursts onto the scene in his Aztek and runs over the dealers, then cold-bloodedly 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.