Breaking Bad Reviews

"Kafkaesque" Review

“Kafkaesque” is another strong episode of Breaking Bad that expands on the Season 3 universe. “Kafkaesque” works on clearing the air and letting characters know the truth.

Breaking Bad has always been a show filled with lies. Throughout seasons 1 and 2, it’s been Walt starting most, if not all, of the lies. This season has been different, and Walt’s been kept in the dark, too. Gus has been hiding a lot from Walt. Last week, Walt found out some of Gus’s agendas, and “Kafkaesque” continues to reveal those secrets, while starting new lies in the process.

One of the most important scenes is the confrontation between Walt and Gus. Walt lays his cards on the table, telling Gus exactly what he suspects him of. One notable detail (that I hadn’t considered previously) is how Gus intentionally called Hank in order to ensure a gun fight took place (from the episode “
One Minute”). Here I was thinking that Gus warned Hank because he cared for Hank’s safety. I mentioned last week how cold and calculating Gus is, and “Kafkaesque” only cements that. As much as I love Gus, he’s really not a nice guy.

Another important detail from the scene between Walt and Gus is Walt’s admission that he would have done the same thing had he been in Gus’s position. I’m not sure if Walt was bluffing, but that’s a pretty drastic statement, especially with Hank in such critical condition. Walt has really become a hardened criminal, and I’m finding him a lot tougher to sympathize with.

breaking bad, kafkaesque, gus, truck

Jesse is given a more prominent role this week. I’m glad to see he’s still in rehab - even if he’s about to start selling meth to his rehab peers. Although I predicted the story would go there in “Kafkaesque,” I still find it a bit surprising. I know it’s been hinted at that Jesse’s a drug pusher (think back to that girl at the gas station in “Green Light”). But even so, Jane was in rehab for six months, and look at where she ended up after quitting rehab. I feel like that must be at the back of Jesse’s mind.

Jesse has a lot of other great scenes in “Kafkaesque.” The one between him and Saul is fantastic and has me wondering if Jesse’s going to buy the nail salon. I honestly can’t imagine that. Still, the best scene with Jesse is in rehab, when he explains his box project from high school. I wasn’t sure how to interpret the scene at first because I was so sure that the monologue was just a metaphor for Jesse’s relationship with Walt (“Mr. Pike” = “Mr. White”). By the end of Jesse’s explanation, I realized that the box project was a
real memory - it wasn’t a cryptic retelling of his meth business… At least I don’t think it was. I’m still not sure, to be honest. It was a great scene, regardless, and I like that I had to juggle back and forth with its meaning. Did anyone else feel the same way?

In retrospect, “Kafkaesque” is a wonderful title for this episode. If you’ve ever read any Franz Kafka (I have
this book, and I really should read it more often), you’ll see a lot of parallels. The word kafkaesque describes the feelings in a Kafka story - where everything is government run and bureaucratic, making for a surreal and frightening state of mind. That’s the business Walt’s in. He’s no longer in control and there’s a bureaucracy to drug dealing. Gus is high up in command, and he makes a ton of political movements. In the larger scheme of things, Walt is only a pawn in Gus’s plan. He’s no longer the chess player from seasons 1 & 2, and Walt has finally realized that.

Another big piece of “Kafkaesque” is Hank’s recovery; it’s not going to be as quick as I’d hoped. It’s also going to be expensive, in a way very reminiscent of Walt’s cancer in seasons 1 and 2. By the end of the episode, Skyler comes up with a plan to give Walt’s money to Marie for Hank’s treatment. Skyler provides this whole elaborate story about Walt gambling. I’m pretty sure she’d come up with that ahead of time, because nobody is that good of a liar… even if you’ve learned from the best.

At the end, Walt seems turned on by Skyler’s ability to break bad. He has this creepy kind of pride about it and Skyler shuts him down by saying that she knows Walt is responsible for Hank’s condition… and she won’t forget it. Good for Skyler - but sometimes I feel like she’s
too smart. How does she always know everything?

Skyler also shuts Ted down, when he arrives at her doorstep. I think it was kind of rude of Ted not to leave when Marie was there, but I can understand his frustration. He’s divorced, too, so why should Skyler always come by his place? Why does only
she have to keep their relationship a secret?

“Kafkaesque” clears a lot of the air, but puts Skyler in the liar’s position. I’m not sure if Marie will buy into the whole gambling thing, but it seems like she was willing to accept the story. I doubt she’ll be asking too many questions once the money starts coming in.

-MP

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