Full Measure - Breaking Bad [Season 3, Episode 13]
So much great television these days is obsessed with subverting audience expectations. (I’m reminded specifically of how many scenes on The Wire were deliberately constructed to be the opposite of what one would expect from a traditional cop procedural.) And while Breaking Bad obsesses just as much as the others, I truly appreciate how the writers can incorporate and embrace conventional television tropes as well. Sure, this episode was spectacular as ever in maintaining suspense through its unpredictability, but it also managed to include a shooting spree accompanied by slightly cheesy black humor, not to mention one of my favorite audiovisual jokes during the scene in Gale’s apartment: encapsulating someone’s ridiculous or idiosyncratic life in the space of a few minutes by observing what they do in the privacy of their home before someone knocks on the door. That Vince Gilligan is fearless enough to include the familar clichés and incredibly suspenseful subversions of them within a single episode is what’s going to keep Breaking Bad critically acclaimed for decades to come.
ESSENTIAL READING: Three interviews with creator Vince Gilligan on THR, with Alan Sepinwall at HitFix, and at the A.V. Club (which also has an excellent review of the finale).