For Jesse (and the audience) the spider is obviously an harbinger of the grim reaper … after all, we first saw it when Todd shot the little boy Drew in cold blood, also out in the desert. But spiders eat flies, which also represent death, or a preoccupation with death. Considering all the mythology around the arachnoids and their webs, could the return of the fuzzy desert spider be seen as another kind of sign?
This is one of those rare moments when the symbolism in Breaking Bad is a bit too heavy-handed. We get it: Jesse is thinking about the things that brought him there, including Drew Sharp, whose death was signaled by the tarantula, etc. Not just death, it represents slow, creeping death, and by extension the creeping guilt associated with the deaths Jesse feels responsible for.
But there is something interesting in the fact that it isn’t just any spider, but specifically a tarantula. Spiders are predators, and by this point Jesse, who pretty much believes he has come there to die, is thinking of Walt as a predator. But if Walt pictured himself as a spider, it wouldn’t be as a tarantula. Walt thinks of himself as an operator, sitting in the center of his web, marshaling every resource to achieve total control. Tarantulas don’t spin webs, though–for Jesse, things are much more straightforward. He’s not thinking of systems, of multiple events conspiring against him. He’s thinking in stark terms of right and wrong, of guilt and damnation. Walt, thinking of webs, totally misunderstands Jesse’s desperation as paranoia, and offers him an escape from the system. But all Jesse wants is absolution. And it is a very small step from there to wanting revenge. [x]