In my opinion, Breaking Bad was boring throughout most parts of season three and the first half of "Half Measures" doesn't significantly deviate from that. However, after a certain point, as the mood goes down and the intensity goes up, the season's penultimate episode started to really impress me, just to then throw me for a loop with one of the best cliffhangers in all of the series' episodes.
First things first, "Half Measures" commences with a montage of the dull routine that Breaking Bad's most prominently featured crack addict, Wendy, faces every day. As it wasn't just done for kicks, but to establish Jesse's situation in this episode, these amusing one and a half minutes are well done in every way and once again show Vince Gilligan's weird but great way of telling stories. Jesse then illustrates what fatal plan he has in mind for the two drug dealers that killed Combo one season earlier both to Walt and the audience, which makes for some very good conversation time between the series' two protagonists. While the Jesse scenes are generally way more entertaining than the Walt scenes in this episode, there are also some nice debates to be experienced as the camera turns to the White household. Nevertheless, Jesse is the man this time around and Aaron Paul advances to hitherto unforeseen acting magnitude in this and the succeeding episode.
The previously mentioned turning point somewhere in the middle of "Half Measures" comes when Jesse is abducted by the unamused Mike and Victor and ends up encountering his boss, Gus Frings, for the very first time. With Breaking Bad's most talented cast members in one room, Mr. Paul is again the one standing out as the goosebumps have already kicked in. They wouldn't have stopped until the episode's final shot, had the writers not had the awkward idea to put a prolonged scene of Marie "getting [Hank's] groundhog to see his shadow" right in the middle of it. After these misplaced but decent minutes and some Jeopardy! on the White's TV, time is also ripe for real life jeopardy and, I can only repeat it, an incredibly awesome cliffhanger that prompts you to continue watching. Not only is it the most unexpected and thrilling, it also serves as the perfect premise for an outstanding season finale that is sure to follow.
All in all, "Half Measures" does a precise job at boosting the stakes for "Full Measures" in its final moments and entertains in the rest of the 47 minutes. It may not be flawless, but definitely the best season three got up to that point.