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

[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?

Comments (33)
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this season didn't do it for me. i was totally put off by skyler's story arc with the affair as well as her and walt's new "partnership." this is becoming more of a soap and this season has made me realized that. i hope gilligan does something to bring me back into the show. for example, someone from walt's "camp" has to die. that may be a bit harsh, but there's just too much going for walt and his family right now, it seems just too unbelievable.
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I am almost absolutely positive that Mike and Victor die while they are on their way to get Jesse to prevent him from killing Gale but my gut feeling is that while they drive over there with Walt in the car something goes terribly wrong for those two. This is going to be an amazing start to a season 4 I believe it will go that way. :)
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Jesse doesn't shoot Gail, the bullet goes into the stove/oven and explodes. The explosion kills Gail and possible Jesse. The camera view from the stove to the door before Gail opens it is very important. Jesse will try and make it look accidental or possible try to end his own life too, two birds with one stone. The gun angle is down and to Gails left right where the stove is...can't wait for the next season :)
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Hehe. *_0 I empathize with your "scream-at-the-screen" moment - not that I've done it, but I know the feeling. Skyler and Hank's absence in the finale was unexpected, yet, the cool thing about this show is that I don't feel cheated, unlike certain other finales... {coughs} Sopranos {coughs} Lost {coughs}... And it looks like the unresolved threads will be explored next season. What I find interesting is how those plot lines will be effected by Walt and Jesse's actions.
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Certainly the best moment for me was the face of the problem-solver guy when he heard the address. This change from mr. white to heisenberg was ment to happen sometime, and it ended up happening beautifully at the end of a perfect and brilliant season.
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Season 3 of Breaking Bad definitely set the bar for TV entertainment. You feel that most other shows need to do better...
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Its a shame it was only 13 episodes. With such a good and popular show, there should be 22-24 episodes.
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I personally thought the season finale was underwhelming compared to the previous episode. Like it didn't have the surprise, the shock that the previous episode had. It also didn't have the drama and the suspense that the season was showing. To me, especially the first part, it felt like watching an action show. Like I was watching Jack Bauer or something. It was also pointless putting Walter in a life and death situation because we all know he isn't going to die anytime soon. The episode was just okay. It sucks that we have to wait next year for the next season, but I wasn't impressed with this episode. Although there were a lot of great episode this season, just not this one.
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amazing show
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it was nice
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Breaking Bad fills a space of drama with unexpected black comedy. I don't know how many times I have laughed out loud as Jesse and Walt realise they have just dug themselves in deeper and then somehow scrabble their way out it. I think this is by far one the best shows in 10 years.
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Season 3 was AMAZING. Breaking Bad has become one of the best shows ever.
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Season 3 was AMAZING. Breaking Bad has become one of the best shows ever.
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I think that Gale was Mikes brother. The look on Mikes face and how he made a call says it so.
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I watched the season premiere of True Blood after the Breaking Blood finale and it just felt so very average by comparison. Breaking Bad is a show that has shattered most TV conventions if not all and offers qualities very rare in the US schedule;intensity, wit and overall a respect for those viewing it. But in regard to the article above, I too thought Jesse flunked the shot although with hindsight he was wavering then presumably moved the arm back to focus...
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utterly amazing finale to an incredible season.
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This is the kind of television that needs 24-episode seasons.
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why does that show start out with such a particular flashback that didn't seem to connect with the plot of the episode?
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Best season of one of the best shows on TV.
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incredible season. epic. just epic. indeed, heisenberg has arrived!
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I never thought jesse would pull the trigger, but what an awesome surprise. Can't wait for season 4!!!
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Unforgettable season. Hopefully it will get the recognition it deserves; it was definitely the best drama on TV this season. I predict multiple Emmy's. Season 4 can't come quick enough.
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Great season.
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I was practically screaming at Jesse to kill Gale. He was such a douche and I think he knew that Walt was gonna get killed so he could take over.
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Amazing series. So sad to see this season end. I don't want to wait until next year to watch season 4!!
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Awesome show!
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Gale's crappy music killed him... not Jesse ;)
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Just plain awesomeness. The last moments of the episode, we feel as bad for Gale as Jesse does, and yet we understand why he has to die. The episode had two scenes where we got to see Gale watering his plants, and singing and moving about his house in such an innocent way it made it even harder to allow him to die.
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Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!!!
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I was so pissed that Walt seemed willing to give up Jesse when push came to shove, but then after everything came together it was brilliant. Once again Breaking Bad is unmatched by anything on television.
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i would have liked to see more also, but it was still epic, that scene where their gonna kill walt and then walt pulls the rug from beneath them and becomes the mastermind, awesome.
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You summed up the season when you said: "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." - When you have a show that breaks away from television conventions like Breaking Bad did this season, all you can do is stand up and applaud.
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simply .... brilliant!
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