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Breaking Bad Recap: ‘Kafkaesque’

May 17, 2010
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Skylar and Walt step up and pay Hank's bills. (Photo AMC)

Kafkaesque: The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish style of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term’s meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.

In this 9th episode of the current season, we get a blessed reprieve from all the frenetic madness.  This episode was contemplative and character driven.  Ironically, despite its title, I found it to be one of the least bizarre shows of the season.

“Kafkaesque” delivers another great title sequence.  We get to see an awesome commercial for Pollos chicken, where we see images of  mouthwatering fried chicken set against the story of the “chicken robbers.”, the original founders of Pollos.  This advertisement is juxtaposed against scenes of Jesse and Walt churning out boxes of Meth.  Their Meth bags go into vats of “fry batter” that is distributed to Gus’s stores.

Jesse is starting to get greedy-apparently $1.5M for three months is not rocking his boat, and he wants a bigger piece of the action. Walt is shocked at his greed. They are making $1.5M each for three month’s work, but Jesse has figured that their employers are bound to make over $96M for the same amount of time.

Skylar takes Walt aside to ask if their family is truly safe, Walt seems to weakly assert that they are .  Sure seems that Skylar cares about Walt, because she inquires as to whether he is safe as well.

Jesse is in a therapy group at several times in the episode (I think AA but I’m not positive.)  He lies to his peers and says he has been working in a corporate laundromat with oppressive employers, which prompts his therapy leader to profess that it sounds “kind of Kafkaesque.”

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, it  appears that Hank might be semi-paralyzed.   Marie is taken aside by the doctors and told to manage her expectations. Breaking Bad seems to be making a strong political commentary regarding health care in America as Marie discovers that Hank’s insurance plan does not offer him the best chances of recovery.   Marie declares “to hell with the plan.”

Saul is enjoying a mani-pedi in a nail spa when Jesse enters.  Saul posits to Jesse that it is the perfect money laundering business.  Jesse is predictably resistant, and does not want to own a nail boutique.

Walt arranges to meet with Gus, and confesses that he knows that he was the target of the cousins, he believes Gus is the mastermind behind the shootout involving Hank, and he actually admires Gus’s strategy turning the Mexican and American government against the Cartel.

Did anyone else catch that Walt and Gus both were filmed with one half of their faces blacked out by shadows?   I am sure it was intentional, and made them each appear shady, literally and figuratively.

Back at the meth lab, Jesse asks some important questions, namely, “what happens when 3 months is up?”  I’ve been wondering that myself.  Later, Jesse starts skimming some product off the shipments.

Skylar steps up and offers to pay Hank’s bills.  She weaves a convincing tale about how Walt has been addicted to gambling, and that is why they have had trouble.  She also explains to Marie that this is why they have extra money.   It is truly fascinating how quickly Skylar comes up with this story,and she doesn’t miss a beat.  Walt appears to be amazed.

At any rate, it appears Walt will be paying Hank’s bills.  Oh, the delicious irony.

What do you suppose was up with that little suicide attempt by Walt, when he veered into the oncoming lane of traffic?  It seemed kind of out of random to me, how about you?

For previous recaps please click here.

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7 Responses to “ Breaking Bad Recap: ‘Kafkaesque’ ”

  1. Joe on May 17, 2010 at 4:57 am

    great reveiw.another riveting episode brought to you by the best show on telivision

  2. FlaFrank on May 17, 2010 at 5:39 am

    “Breaking Bad”, this season, is not working for me. The two previous seasons were fantastic and I enjoyed every episode. This season has lost everything that made me a fan of the show the past two seasons. It has now become more of a melodramatic soap opera that is boring me and many of my friends who have been fans of the show since it started. Where are the weird characters? No more mobile home meth lab, no more shoot outs, no more excitement. It has become more professional, lost it’s zing, and isn’t as exciting and entertaining as “Desperate Housewives” or “Brothers and Sisters”. These are two shows that I would have never put in the same category as “Breaking Bad”. To me “Breaking Bad” is BROKEN this season and the writing is worthless. Don’t look for any Emmy Awards this year.

  3. Pete C on May 17, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Chicken Brothers not chicken robbers. hermano=brother.
    Jessi wouldn’t be in AA, NA is more likely.

  4. cancan on May 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Great episode.

    The shot of Walt and Marie both leaning in to listen intently to Skyler’s gambling cover story was hilarious!

    I think that Walt’s close call on the highway stemmed from his realization that he his deeply in the meth business without an option to get out. There is a deep sense of remorse, shame, and guilt because of this. He still does not believe he is the bad guy–he can’t be the bad guy as he said. Now, he has landed a fulltime open ended job of cooking meth. As he has propelled himself down this extremely karma heavy path, he punches the gas pedal on his car and accelerates to a high speed. Perhaps this is an expression of trying to leave his predicament and all that he’s done that has lead up to this point; driving fast and furious much like a rocket shoots into the sky to escape the force of gravity and leave the Earth. He closes his eyes not to try to end his life (Walt would not commit suicide–it’s not his character to do so), but closes his eyes because he really is the bad guy, and no amount of his brilliant and rational mind can escape the gravity of that fact.

  5. Shannon on May 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    @Cancan, good explanation of the car scene. @Pete C I could have sworn that in the ad for the Chicken Brothers, when they were recanting the history of the shop, they referred to the “chicken robbers” Anybody else catch that?

  6. Xavier N. on May 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    No, it definitely was “brothers”*. Now you need to look up the word “recanting”.

    *Just FYI, the word for “brothers” in Spanish is “hermanos” (“sisters” is “hermanas”), and “Los Pollos Hermanos” is “The Chicken Brothers”.

  7. Shannon on May 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    @Xavier N. I meant recounting.

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