Breaking Bad
Kafkaesque

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The Gambler

At rehab group, Jere Burns is encouraging his recovering addicts to air out their daily frustrations as a way to ward off relapse triggers. But he's having trouble finding takers. Wait, nobody wants to bitch and complain about every little thing? Jere, I'd like to direct you to this little corner of the internet called ALL OF IT. He finally prods Jesse about that job it sure seemed like he hated last week. He asks if Jesse could do anything, irrespective of money, what would he do. Jesse obviously doesn't want to answer, but he wades into it. "Maybe work with my hands," he says, "make something." He relates a story about a woodworking class he took in high school, and his teacher, Mr. Pike. Jesse's project was to build a wooden box, which he did fairly shoddily, because: Jesse. But this Mr. Pike took a look at it and honestly asked Jesse, "Is this the best you can do?" Jesse doesn't say the word "inspired," but that's what he was, and he kept at the box-making task until he ended up making the finest, most well-constructed, best-smelling box (oh shut up) you ever saw. Something he could be proud of. Jere asks what he did with it. "Gave it to my mom," Jesse says, eyes down. Jere starts talking about art classes and adult education, but Jesse cuts him off. He didn't give the box to his mom. He traded it for an ounce of weed. You know, when Jesse first started talking about "Mr. Pike," I thought he was going to relate a story about Walt and just change the name. Could not have been more wrong, but it made me listen to the Mr. Pike story with Walt in mind. Think about how thoroughly Walt failed Jesse as a teacher. Not just in accelerating and deepening his place in the drug world, but also the way he discourages him. Of course, maybe Mr. Pike never came down with fatal lung cancer.

Back at the Whites' house, Marie is ranting to Skyler about the inhuman insurance practices. "He's a hero," Marie justifies, saying the insurance company would never deny coverage to a hero. Skyler, who's been through this before with Walt, is a realist: Marie will end up burning through her savings, and then what? Marie wants to head back to the hospital, but Skyler tries to convince her to stick around, wash up, get rested. The doorbell rings, and it's Ted Beneke. Doesn't he already feel out of place now that the family unit had closed ranks like this? Skyler is, of course, mucho uncomfortable, what with Marie there and all. Marie thanks him for the thoughtful gift of cheese sticks. Skyler is peer-pressured to invite him inside, at which point Marie says she's going to take that bath after all. Things don't get any less uncomfortable with Marie out of the room, which can't be a good sign for Ted. Skyler tries to shuffle him out the door with a "not the best time for a visit," but Ted says he hasn't heard from her in days and he cares about her. "I just want you to know that I'm here for you." And that's great! Only Skyler would prefer if his "being here" could take place elsewhere. She's almost got him out the door -- a problem to deal with at another time -- when he says that, given Marie's seen him now, why not just go public. After all, he's divorced and Skyler's divorced now, right? "Let's talk about it later?" she says. He presses, and she says it's not a good time. He presses again, and finally Skyler snaps at him, "You really want to do this now?" The next time she raises her voice, implicitly threatening to upset the fragile near-widow in the next room, "You're really gonna make me do this RIGHT NOW?" He's not, and message received, I'd figure. Before he leaves, Skyler looks at him with regret and says she'll see him at the office in a day or two. After all, those books won't cook themselves!

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