AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 9: “Kafkaesque”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Peter Gould & George Mastras
* For a review of the previous episode, “I See You” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fly” – click here
We get a nice Los Pollos Hermanos commercial, talking about the company’s recipe and its traditions, the history of the chicken, and so on. “The old ways are still the best,” says the voice-over. Then, we see the other product Los Pollos Hermanos trafficks in: blue meth. It goes from Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) all the way to the distributors and then all over the region stuffed in chicken fry batter. All of which is overseen by the chicken man himself, Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).
Jesse’s pissy about the “charity” Walt is giving out when their batch is a pound over. The divide between these two continually widens. The older of the two tries to tell the younger to leave it be, stay happy with things the way they are and stop bitching. Pinkman doesn’t like the man on top making all the money while they only get a small percentage of the profit: $3-million and the whole batch is worth near $100-million. Funny— a Marxist argument from Mr. Pinkman.
Poor Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) is still laid up in bed. Wife Marie (Betsy Brandt) looks after him, often accompanied by Skyler (Anna Gunn), Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), and occasionally Walt Sr. Soon, Hank’s partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) drops by with an update on the blue meth “popping up everywhere.” Meanwhile their drug kingpin’s sitting right in the room. Hank mentions to everyone he received a “warning call” on his cell, particularly intriguing his brother-in-law.
The doc comes to check on Hank’s sensation in the lower extremities. He’s regaining nerve function in various spots. It’ll be a long road to recovery, but the road must start somewhere. Hank understands the road’s long, and Marie has trouble grasping that concept. Only problem is insurance, which won’t cover all Hank’s needs. Meaning? More money’s required.
At one of his meetings, Jesse’s coaxed by the group leader (Jere Burns) to talk. He doesn’t have much to say, though he does get into some of the “Kafkaesque” workings of his so-called corporate laundromat job. I doubt Jesse knows Kafka. Later on, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is busy getting a massage when Jesse meets him. The greasy lawyer’s got the spa as a money laundering outfit for him. Jesse doesn’t like playing things straight with businesses or big companies running the show. He’s used to the street life, unable to upgrade to a more professional style of drug running. No matter how well Saul explains the process.
By the truck fleet, Walt meets Gus. He’s sure the Salamanca brothers were after him originally. He sees a “deeper game” at play, and he knows Gus is the one manipulating the game. Walt lays his cards on the table, thanking his employer for saving his life. They further discuss what may come after their current contract. The cook’s not so secure anymore in his safety, unsure whether there’s a guarantee he’ll be spared next time cartel hitmen come looking.
“What’s the point of being an outlaw when you’ve got responsibilities?”
“Darth Vader had responsibilities. He was responsible for the Death Star.”
In group, Jesse remembers a woodworking class in high school. A teacher called Mr. Pike had the class make a wooden box. Jesse said he quickly made a “lame” box, hoping to get out of work the rest of the semester. Mr. Pike wasn’t impressed. This prompted the kid to make more boxes to improve. The last he built was a perfect box. He later sold it for an “ounce of weed.” Inside Jesse’s a person dying to find purpose. Sad to see him wasted on drugs. His frustration with Walt and Gus pushes him back to dealing with Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker). Uh This leads him to skimming from extra yield on the batches he and Walt cook. Worse, he and his buddies go to the group meetings to troll for customers. One moment, Jesse’s sympathetic, the next a ruthless villain.
When the bills start pumping it gets to Marie. This prompts Skyler to offer to pay them. She reveals the fake story of Walt’s gambling addiction as a front for Marie so they can pay for Hank’s medical care. Jesus. I don’t hate Skyler, but this isn’t a smart idea. There’s a paper trail binding Hank and Walt – a.k.a Heisenberg – and it’ll only turn out nasty for the family, one way or another. It’s partly punishment for Hank lying there in that hospital.
What an episode! There’s always this slow burn about Breaking Bad, the pacing’s outrageously good. I’m always glued to the screen, even though I’ve seen the series a couple times already. Fantastic work.
“Fly” is next.