Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Walter White Wednesday 29

Voyage of the Soul
. . . in which we learn of the dangers of poetry.  NOTE: This post refers to the events in the Season 5 "mini-finale" ("Gliding Over All") so  if you haven't seen that, please stop here! Proceed, but you've been warned and I'll tolerate no whining about spoilage.

Walt Whitman spent forty-plus years of his life writing, revising, and re-writing his magnum opus, Leaves of Grass, which first appeared in Breaking Bad with Gale Boetticher's quoting of "I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" back in Season 3. Gale gave a copy of the book to Walt with a lovely inscription, remember?

Walt should be more careful with his books.

"Gliding Over All," the title of this week's episode, comes from a poem contained within the book.  It's short, so I'll quote it here.

Gliding o'er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing.
The voyage of the soul -- not life alone,
Death, many deaths I'll sing.

I've often marveled at Gilligan & Company's ability to pull what looked like random threads together, but wow.  Seriously, WOW! That painting of a man rowing away from his family on the shore that we first saw in Walt's shrink's office back in Season 2 shows back up here in a cheap motel room, battered and stained much the way I imagine Walt's soul to be. Also in this meeting with Todd's tattooed and apparently Aryan Brotherhood-connected uncle, death -- many deaths -- are planned and later executed with astonishing precision. Walt's empire expands into Europe, Skyler shows him just how much money he's made (still not more than Gray Matter generates, but apparently, it'll do) and Walt has a change of heart. The family is reunited and a cozy poolside cookout commences - Walt glides serenely over all.

My co-author has already cleverly commented on the images and motifs that have previously appeared in Breaking Bad that reappear in this episode, so I'll simply direct you over to his post about that. Do those images indicate that the past - in the form of Walt's cancer - has returned? Believe it or not, I think the answer is not that important - Walt doesn't get a free pass on this one. He's done terrible things and done them willingly and that price must be paid. His doom approaches as a ship on the water - then again, maybe he's obliviously rowing out to meet it.

Hank knows. Now he's just got to prove it.
For me, this episode ties things together and puts Walt, who's become increasingly desperate, despicable, and damned, squarely in the gunsights of the one man who will patiently put it all together - Hank Schrader. This happened because, for all Walt crows about being smart, about being The Man Whose Name Must Be Said, he's sloppy.  He keeps trophies and loses his temper. Hank can follow the money or the bodies, but either way, there's a trail.

I think with the final shot of "Gliding Over All," we went from "Will Walt get caught?" to "Who's the weakest link?" So who will be Hank's guide on the trail? If Skyler's put in a box, will she turn Walt in to save the family? That woman has every intention of keeping her children. Heaven knows that Lydia's not wound all that tightly and she'll do about anything to stay with her daughter. (See the theme?) Then again, has Jesse been bought off by two duffles stuffed full of cash? After all, he was careful to check to see who was at the door, then he made a detour to the coffee table to make sure he went to the door with a gun stashed at the small of his back. And if he ever finds out about Jane . . . 

So that's our mid-finale, with no new episodes for nearly a year.  (I know - a YEAR!) But both I and the tall and talented Ensley F. Guffey will continue to be here for you, updating you on the progress of Wanna Cook? as well as including other tidbits on the dark world of Walter White.

No comments: