For a show about chemistry, “Breaking Bad” sure likes its poetry.
It was Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” that led Hank to uncovering Heisenberg’s true identity.
The episode after next has the highly foreboding title “Ozymandias,” a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
This may be why, at the end of Sunday’s show, I was left asking — despite English poet John Donne’s advice to the contrary — for whom the bell tolls?
The funereal clangs reverberated through downtown Albuquerque as Jesse and Walt retreated to their respective corners, each plotting his next move. The trace of a smile on Jesse’s face (I’ve got a plan to get Mr. White!) and the look of resignation on Walt’s (I’ve got another job for Todd’s crazy uncle and it rhymes with messy) would indicate that both Walt and Jesse think the bell is tolling for the other guy. As Donne’s “No Man Is an Island” suggests, it’s likely tolling for both.
Sunday’s episode was a slow burn that culminated largely where last week’s left off: on the brink of the inevitable showdown between Walter White and his partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman.
We see that Jesse didn’t go through with torching Walt’s house after giving it a gasoline bath in the previous episode. Hank and his handgun intervened, convincing Jesse to take down Walt in a less fiery manner.
Hank gets Jesse to wear a wire during a meeting with Walt. At the last minute Jesse bails on the plan, mistakenly thinking that Walt has set him up. This makes an angry Jesse even angrier.
“Next time I’m going to get you where you really live,” Jesse growls at Walt from a nearby payphone.
We don’t know the details of Jesse’s plan but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t aimed squarely at Walt’s Achilles’ heel: his pride. We’ve seen that pride metastasize like a cancer throughout the series, and it could very well be what ultimately does him in.
We also don’t know the details of Walt’s plan, but his call to Todd would indicate that another assassination is in order.
Say what you will about Walt’s incessant manipulation of Jesse but this episode, “Rabid Dog,” made it clear that Walt really does — or did — have a soft spot for his former chemistry student.
When Saul used another colorful metaphor to suggest that Jesse be put down — Old Yeller style — Walt bristled just like he did when Saul floated the idea of offing Hank, who’s “family.”
Walt was equally appalled when Skyler, in full Lady Macbeth fashion, encouraged him to send Jesse on a one-way trip to Belize, if not in those words.
“We’ve come this far. What’s one more?” Skyler asks Walt during the Whites’ impromptu staycation at an Albuquerque hotel.
It was chilling — both for viewers and Walt — to watch this woman who’s long been the moral compass essentially command her husband to kill Jesse in order to protect the family.
“You. Need. To deal with this,” she tells Walt, who accuses her of overreacting.
“Jesse isn’t just some rabid dog,” he says.
That was when Walt still thought he could use his old bag of tricks on Jesse. If he could just talk to him, Walt reasoned, he could convince Jesse that he poisoned 8-year-old Brock for all the right reasons.
The episode began with Walt discovering that Jesse didn’t burn down his house. It ended with Walt discovering that all bridges between him and Jesse are fried to a crisp. And Jesse isn’t about to tread lightly.
For last week’s recap, click here.