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This article concludes /Film’s recaps and discussions for the third season of Breaking Bad. A spoiler warning applies after the jump for the recap and for the comments section. Meth heads welcome. For previous recaps, click here.

The season three finale, “Full Measures,” differed from those of previous seasons with a grisly cliffhanger that incidentally and tragically pushed one main character over the point of no return. Or did it? In recent days, the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, has given three candid and revealing interviews wherein he’s cleared up a number of viewers’ apparent confusion over the very last scene. He’s done so in good humor, but I can’t recall a previous highly anticipated finale that needed the showmaker to later vouch his intent—and in Gilligan’s case he helmed the episode (his sole directorial effort of the season.) The initial confusion was due to the aim of a gun, which appeared to tilt to the right of the target before the trigger went off. And I’m guessing the immediate cut to black that followed only amplified some viewers’ doubts. “SMDH.” – David Chase.

Gilligan, who is refreshingly and perhaps too open about Breaking Bad‘s creative process, also stated that the writing team didn’t map the season’s arc at start, unlike they’ve done in the past. This revelation confirmed observations about the season’s touch-and-go feel cited in the previous recap with guest Sven Barth. After the jump, I address personal questions about the finale, where the show and characters are possibly headed, and analyze Gilligan’s post-ep comments. Thanks to the /Film commenters who left insightful and spirited opinions over the past dozen BB posts. Let us know what you thought of the finale and of the questions posed below.

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/Film will be recapping and discussing each episode of the third season of Breaking Bad. A spoiler warning applies after the jump for the recaps and for the comments section. For previous recaps, click here. Note: I skipped over episodes “Fly” and “Abiquiu” due to traveling (one leg of which sent me to Puerto Rico for the return of Kenny Powers).

This week, we discuss the shocking semi-finale “Half Measures” and the season’s flaws with the culture writer, white rapper, and L.A. personality known as Sven Barth. A discerning barbarian of boob tube and skateboard culture, Barth’s creative endeavors span the single “Baby I’m Black” and the cooking series The Shredding Chef on Fuel TV.

Hunter Stephenson: Okay Sven. I think we both agree Breaking Bad is superior to most TV series currently going. But I want to ask you: is the third season where the show went from being a great series to a good if uneven one? When the Cousins exited—empty characters hyped as a death rattle but comparable to a violent psych-out—I was hopeful the season would upswing. Instead, we got Rian Johnson‘s episode “Fly,” which was the best ep of the season but it also inadvertently juxtaposed how little time and writing was spent in other eps, before and after, on rewarding character development. The writers focused so intently this season on viewers’ anticipation of bad shit happening and murderous voodoo tension that Walt and Jesse often registered more like pawns of doom than people. “Fly” explored and deepened their individual personalities and psyches, and reexamined their flesh and blood bond. Nevermind that it was executed, due to sheer genius or budget restraints, in a one-room setting. Am I being too critical, or do you agree?

Sven Barth: I’ll start by saying Breaking Bad is, without a doubt, one of the best cable shows of the past few years. But to me, this season continues to have several problems not present in one and two. I was still excited to watch each episode but Jesse in particular became closer and closer to a mall-type caricature as the season marched on. And yeah, “Fly” was excellent. It hearkened back to the season two episode, “4 Days Out” about the RV battery. “Fly” exemplified why I got addicted to this show from day one, back when I was tuning in because I was invested in the characters foremost, sudden thrills second. Walt’s and Jesse’s day-to-day was more tangible, convincing. Now that they’re certified bad guys, that’s missing.

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