Breaking Bad's Riveting Season 3 Finale Did What It Had To Do

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[Spoilers ahead, obviously]

First thing's first: Jesse shot Gale. Like most of you probably, I was pretty confused as to what happened near the end. I watched that final moment, in all its heartbreaking glory, at least a dozen times. Jesse, Mr. Tough Guy on the exterior, turns into a blubbering marshmallow as Gale begs for his life as only the most desperate man would: Quietly, calmly, and on the verge of tears himself. Camera pans. Gunshot. Credits. What just happened? Did Jesse do it? Did he intentionally turn the gun to miss?

Then I read a bunch of interviews with showrunner Vince Gilligan, and it cleared right up. The moment was not meant to be vague. Pinkman did what he had to do, even though a part of me didn't want him to do it. He broke down, for chrissake. He's a good person, or so I want to believe.

That's the beauty of Breaking Bad in this third season, which will surely go down as one of the best seasons of TV ever: It plays to your expectations for a while (at least whatever expectations you might have regarding a guy who makes crystal meth for a living), then promptly shatters them. Jesse's vulnerable side has been on full display this entire season—the way he pines after Jane—so naturally I'd expect him to wuss out. I want him to. TV law dictates that he would. But he doesn't.

Same goes with Walt in last week's excellent "Half Measures": It's already been established that he will do whatever it takes to take care of his family—hence crystal meth. It's been established now that he's in way over his head, he'll do whatever it takes to keep his business going—hence letting Jane die—but that was a matter of bad timing and a split-second decision. He went out of his way to kill the dealers last week, did it in an utterly gruesome way, and still found a way to keep his job.

Heisenberg was a facade, a front, a whisper. But who else would think so rationally with a gun in his face, covertly setting a plan in motion and calmly, simply, recite the address that would save his life? The look on Mike the clean-up guy's face was enough. He was terrified. For the first time in the show's history, he wasn't looking down on Walt as a n00b. This man was an equal.

What I also find beautiful about Breaking Bad is even amidst the chaos, the show is shockingly simple. Skyler was barely in this episode, even though the last few episodes built to her having a much larger role in the proceedings. Hank wasn't around either, despite talk of the DEA. Breaking Bad has become a show that's alright with loose ends, morally ambiguous ground, and playing to the top of its audience's intelligence. I was shouting at the TV last night, alone in my apartment, unable to cope with the show ending the way it did. But all the best shows on TV tell only the stories they want to, and nothing more. And all I need to know is right there on the screen: Heisenberg has arrived.

What did you think of the episode? Of Season 3 overall?

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