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Breaking Bad: Kafkaesque

"Jesse, you are now a millionaire. And you're complaining? What world do you live in?"

The theme of this episode was adulthood and responsibility, even for drug dealers. Or especially for drug dealers. Plus putting your cards on the table, in more ways than one.

Walt indeed put together the pieces he was presented with in the previous episode, and came up with the right answer. Confronting Gus with the truth was a smart thing for Walt to do. He must have accurately concluded from what he'd just learned that if he was no longer valuable, Gus wouldn't hesitate to take him out. So Walt just verbally agreed to a long term contract with Gus for fifteen million a year, which had to be exactly what Gus wanted. And almost immediately after, Walt made a half-hearted attempt at killing himself. He tromped on the accelerator and closed his eyes, but couldn't quite let go. Walt still wants to live, even if his life belongs to Gus.

On the other side of the maturity divide, we have Jesse. He was arguing with Walt about an extra pound here and there, and about the inequity of Gus's profit margin. And now Jesse is planning to sell the "extra" meth, which is just unbelievably, incredibly stupid. Jesse also refused to listen to Saul's advice on how to launder money via nail salon. I loved the whole bit with the group therapy, Jesse's description of his job at the laundromat, and Jere Burns calling it "Kafkaesque," a term Jesse adopted even though he didn't understand it. Actually, one could say that all of Breaking Bad is Kafkaesque, not just the situation with the all-powerful and frightening Gus Fring.

I usually feel that there is good in Jesse waiting to come out, especially when you get a story like we did this time about Jesse crafting the perfect box. But taking Badger and Skinny Pete along to his next therapy session in order to drum up customers was just so very low. And it went with the end of the box story: that Jesse traded something he had put so much time and effort and love into for an ounce of weed. That sad little story was Jesse in a nutshell.

Back to the adults. Marie again made me admire her when she said, to hell with the health plan, who is the best therapist we can get for Hank? Skyler backed her up, too. Of course, Skyler's estranged husband is a millionaire. I loved Skyler outing Walt to Marie with the most logical, intricate lie imaginable, that Walt made a ton of cash by figuring out how to successfully cheat at gambling. Walt's expression, as Skyler was talking, was so funny. I think it held some admiration, too. Skyler sounded proud of Walt. Has she done a 180? She appears to have lost interest in Ted Beneke, who rubbed her the wrong way with his bad timing and lack of sensitivity.

It's sad that Hank might never walk again, and that his health care plan won't pay for the best physical therapy that might increase his chances. But not surprising. Sometimes I think that Breaking Bad's strongest recurring theme is the tragic state of health care in the United States. You might call it "Kafkaesque."

Bits:

-- The opener gave us a sepia-toned history of Los Pollos Hermanos commercial that segued into pounds and pounds of blue meth being packed into buckets of chicken dip.

-- Skyler was still wearing green. And I loved Saul's little money-laundering demo to Jesse using a bottle of bright pink (for Pinkman) nail polish.

-- I also liked the visual of Walt in his banana yellow coveralls and bright blue gloves, polishing the machinery.

Quotes:

Skyler: "Are we safe?"
Walt: "Yes."
Skyler: "Are you safe?"
Walt: "Absolutely." (No.)

Saul: "Kick off your shoes, lay back, exfoliate."

Walt: (to Gus) "In your position, I would have done the same."
I wonder. Is Walt capable of being a brutal, massively powerful drug kingpin, like Gus? It often feels as if that's the direction the series is going.

Jesse: "What's the point of being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?"
Badger: "Darth Vader had responsibilities. He was responsible for the Death Star."
Skinny Pete: "True that. Two of them bitches."

Skyler: "Something tells me Hank is here because you. And I'm not forgetting that."
Very perceptive, Skyler.

I often feel that I'm inadequate to the task of reviewing this series because there is soooo much going on beneath the surface. I'm also not that familiar with Kafka, which might have helped me this time. But at any rate, three out of four Josie Kafkas,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

5 comments:

  1. And to think, I almost missed the beautiful rating since I haven't watched Breaking Bad yet and didn't want to be spoiled. But with a title like that, I had to skim!

    :-)

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  2. When Skyler was telling how Walt made money in gambling, I could not help but think that Walt was thinking: why the heck did not I come up with this story for Skyler?!

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  3. Jesse attempting to peddle drugs at an NA meeting is just about the lowest thing ever.

    I loved Walt watching Skyler lie. He seemed so interested in what she was going to say he did next.

    Was Walt trying to kill himself? I thought he was just reveling in a moment of being totally out of control. It was very illustrative of his character. One moment of crazy, criminal behavior. The next minute he was using his turn signal to reenter traffic.

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  4. Billie posted in an earlier episode of season 3 that Marie was seriously overdosing on Splenda (or words to that effect because, I admit, I am too lazy to look for Billie's exact comment). The last time we saw Marie "using" Splenda, I was amused to see her "flicking" the packets in the exact same way that Jane "flicked" the heroin needles that she and Jesse used.

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  5. I love how Jesse literally will not dip his toes in the water of the nail spa. (Thanks to Billie I am now fixated on the theme of water.)

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