"Kafkaesque" is the ninth episode of the third season of Breaking Bad and the twenty-ninth episode altogether.

Summary

Teaser

A television commercial for Los Pollos Hermanos extols the chain's (apocryphal) history and the secret to its signature chicken. The sequence transitions to Walt and Jesse in the superlab, handing off a shipment of blue meth, is sent to Gus's chicken farm. Victor oversees workers as they put plastic bags of meth into specially UV-marked tubs of fry batter for distribution across the Southwest. As the trucks are loaded up and leave the facility, Gus's silhouette can be seen watching them depart.

Act I

Walt and Jesse cook a batch that yields slightly more than required. Jesse wants to save the extra product for the next batch, but Walt insists they send it to Gus. Having crunched the number, Jesse grumbles that Gus will gross $96 million to their measly $3 million. Walt replies that Jesse should be happy to be a millionaire.

At the hospital, Gomez visits Hank and shows him a map detailing where blue meth has been found, crediting him with correctly predicting the product's reappearance. Hank does not take much comfort from the news; he's in too much pain. Skyler watches Walt absorb this -- and Hank's revelation that he received a call warning him of the Cousins' impending attack, which is the only reason he survived. In the parking lot, Walt tells Skyler he had nothing to do with the shooting and assures her the family is safe.

Act II

Jesse at a group therapy session.

Jesse attends a meeting of his support group, where he describes his new workplace as a boring corporate laundromat. "My boss is a dick," Jesse complains, adding that the owner is "a super dick" whom everyone fears. When the group leader refers to Jesse's situation as "Kafkaesque", Jesse, not really understanding what the word means, agrees with him.

Back at the hospital, a doctor tests for feeling in Hank's legs, noting that nerve function appears to be returning. However, the doctor informs Skyler and Marie that the odds are against Hank making a full recovery. Another hospital staffer refers to insurance delays and alludes to policy limitations, but advises Marie not to go out of plan or she could land up bankrupt. Upon being told that physical therapy would be medically justifiable but not optimal, Marie decides that she will arrange Hank's care herself.

Saul explains money laundering to a skeptical Jesse.

Saul and Jesse visit a nail spa that, Saul proposes, would be an ideal front for a money laundering scheme Jesse, unimpressed with Saul's plan and already reluctant to pay taxes, ends the conversation after Saul declines to extend him Walt's 5% fee structure.

Walt and Gus discuss business in the chicken farm office.

Meanwhile, Walt visits the chicken farm to meet with Gus, wanting to discuss "issues that could cause a misunderstanding between us." Walt speculates that he was the Cousins' primary target, and that Gus steered them to Hank in order to protect him, and that he did so to put heat on the cartel, affect their supply, and could corner the entire Southwest meth market. Walt says that he owes Gus his life and respects his strategy. He leaves with a $15 million-a-year open-end deal and Gus's guarantee of the White family remains safe. On the ride home, feeling empowered and reckless, Walt floors his gas pedal and nearly drive his Aztek into an oncoming semi truck.

Act III

At another group meeting, Jesse recounts being inspired by Mr. Pike, high school woodworking teacher. At first, Jesse slacked off on in Mr. Pike's class, but when chastised with not being able to do any better, he eventually painstakingly created an intricate box. When asked what he did with it, Jesse says he gave it to his mother. When the group leader suggests "it's never too late", and that Jesse should take art classes, Jesse admits that he didn't really give the box to his mother, but traded it for an ounce of weed.

Skyler and Marie discuss Hank's medical bills at the White residence when Ted makes a surprise visit. When the conversation is taken outside, Ted asks why Skyler is being secretive, under the impression that she has divorced Walt. Skyler chides Ted for putting her on the spot. Ted departs, telling her to take as much time as she needs.

Jesse, Badger, and Skinny Pete at the diner.

Jesse visits a deli with Badger and Skinny Pete, reminiscing about being able to cook "anytime, anywhere" when in the RV and not having people boss him around. "What's the point of being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?" he complains. Jesse proposes they sling, hinting that he has found a new market to tap. Back at the lab, he underreports a batch's weight when it's a couple of pounds over.

Act IV

Badger and Skinny Pete follow Jesse's new business plan by accompanying him to his next group support meeting. There, they make a point of mentioning the blue meth that's "back in town", enticing the other recovering addicts in the group. 

Skyler offers financial help to Marie and Hank as a stunned Walt listens in.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Marie threatens to take Hank's story to the press if he doesn't receive top-grade therapy. Ignoring Walt's hesitance, Skyler offers to pay Hank's medical bills. Explaining how she came upon a large amount of money, Skyler spins a tale about Walt attempting to provide for his family by developing a card counting system and winning big in illegal blackjack games. Marie is astonished by the supposed admission. Walt plays along, impressed by Skyler's ability to lie. When he asks how Skyler came up with the story, she replies that she "learned from the best". Skyler also voices her suspicion that Hank was shot because of Walt. She walks out, once again leaving Walt crestfallen.

Official Photos

Trivia

  • Definition of Kaf·ka·esque (adj.)
    • 1. Of or relating to Franz Kafka or his writings.
    • 2. Having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre or illogical quality.
    • 3. Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.
  • During the opening montage sequence featuring Walt and Jesse's meth being smuggled through Pollos Hermanos, the song used is a variation of the "Bolivia Theme" from the Scarface soundtrack. It is featured in the scene when Tony Montana travels to South America to meet the drug kingpin, Sosa.
  • Mark Harelik, who plays a Doctor in this episode, is another Seinfeld alumnus (like Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Bob Odenkirk). In the episode "The Comeback," Harelik plays Milosh, a tennis pro-shop worker.
  • While preparing the Chilean dish together for Gus and Walt's dinner, a sliced orange pepper is seen on the cutting board, just like the orange pepper that is sliced in the opening of the Los Pollos Hermanos commercial that is the teaser at the beginning of this same episode.
  • As Walt cleans in the lab, the spot he notices on a large tank appears reflected in the lower center of his forehead. This is the traditional location of the "Mark of Cain," denoting God's curse on Cain for murdering his brother, Abel, and for lying to God about the murder. Walt is wrestling with guilt after realizing he is largely responsible for what has happened to Hank.
  • This is not the first Bryan Cranston series to feature the word "Kafkaesque": in Malcolm in the Middle[nowiki]'[/nowiki]s "Krelboyne Picnic" episode, Reese picks on a young nerd named Eraserhead only to find himself menaced by his target's identically-dressed and much older brother, to which Eraserhead says "Kafkaesque, isn't it?"
  • In reality Gus will gross 104 million in three months. Jesse forgot to account that there are 13 weeks in three months and did his calculation for only 12 weeks.
  • The prospect of Jesse woodworking is brought back in the series finale.

Production

Credits

Co-Starring

Uncredited

  • Phil Arnold as Restaurant Patron
  • Laina Loucks as Rehab Group Girl

Featured Music

  • "Veneno" by Chuy Flores (during the opening montage)
  • "Bossa for Laura" by Jimmy Dunn Band (in the background at the nail salon)
  • "New Song" by Howard Jones (when Jesse meets Badger & Skinny Pete in a diner)
  • "Mr. Money Man" by Rod Taylor (playing in Jesse's earphones in the lab)

Memorable Quotes

"My brother-in-law, moments before he was attacked, someone called to warn him. I believe that same person was protecting me. Those two men - the assassins - I believe I was their prime target, but that somehow they were steered away from me to my brother-in-law [...] He made that phone call because he wanted a shootout, not a silent assassination. In one stroke, he bloodied both sides, set the American and Mexican governments against the cartel, and cut off the supply of methamphetamine to the Southwest. If this man had his own source of product on this side of the border, he would have the market to himself. The rewards would be enormous. We're both adults. I can't pretend I don't know that person is you. I want there to be no confusion. I know I owe you my life, and more than that, I respect the strategy. In your position, I would have done the same."
―Walter White to Gustavo Fring

Jesse: "I took this Vo-Tech class in high school–woodworking. I took a lot of Vo-Tech classes, because it was just a big jerk-off. But this one time, I had this teacher by the name of Mr. Pike. I guess he was like a Marine or something before he got old. He was hard of hearing. My project for his class was to make this wooden box. You know, like a small… just like a…like a box, you know, to put stuff in. So I wanted to get the thing done as fast as possible. I figured I could cut classes for the rest of the semester and he couldn’t flunk me as long as I–you know–made the thing. So I finished it in a couple days. And it looked pretty lame, but it worked you know, for putting stuff in or whatnot. So when I showed it to Mr. Pike for my grade, he looked at it and said: “Is that the best you can do?” At first I thought to myself, “Hell yeah, bitch. Now give me a D and shut up so I can go blaze one with my boys.” I don’t know. Maybe it was the way he said it, but it was like he wasn’t exactly saying it sucked. He was just asking me honestly, “Is that all you got?” And for some reason, I thought to myself: “Yeah, man, I can do better,” so I started from scratch. I made another, then another. And by the end of the semester, by like box number five I had built this thing. You should have seen it. It was insane. I built it out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood. It was fitted with pegs, no screws. I sanded it for days until it was smooth as glass. Then I rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark. It even smelled good. You know, you put nose in it and breathed in, it was–it was perfect."
Group Leader: "What happened to the box?"
Jesse: "I gave it to my mom."
Group Leader: "Nice. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? It’s never too late. They have art co-ops that offer classes adult extension program at the university."
Jesse: "You know–I didn’t give the box to my mom. I traded it for an ounce of weed."
―Jesse at his NA group meeting.

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."
―Jesse, Badger and Skinny Pete having a conversation.
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