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BREAKING BAD, “Fifty-One” Episode Recap

I might have shown some displeasure with how Skyler’s character was treated in the beginning part of this season (read: there was definitely displeasure). Even halfway through this episode, her seemingly never-ending series of zombie-like trances were beginning to border on comical. But then, following her “call-for-help” impromptu swim, we get an amazing Skyler scene that forgives most of her previous ones this season — a payoff that is oh so Breaking Bad.

Turns out that Skyler’s stunt was all apart of her plan to get the children out of the house and, more importantly, away from Walt — a strategic move that he certainly didn’t see coming. But Skyler doesn’t have the brilliant mind that Gus Fring had, so almost immediately Walt is able to poke holes in Skyler’s plan. In a few days the kids will come home from Hank and Marie’s and things will be back to normal. Skyler threatens to hurt herself to get more attention, but Walt will only have her committed, leaving him all alone with the kids. Then she says she’ll claim that Walt hit her after finding out about the affair, but that would only draw the cops closer towards the operation. As things get heated, Walt slowly turns into Heisenberg — “What are you going to do to stop it? What’s the plan?” Finally, Skyler breaks. She doesn’t know what the plan is, but she’ll count every minute the kids are away from him as a victory, and that all she can do is wait for the cancer to come back, knowing that her family can never be truly until Walt is dead and gone.

Of course, Walt loves his children more than anything in the world, and would never knowingly do anything to hurt them. The only problem is that he thinks that The White’s are as safe as they’ve ever been without Gus in the picture. Walt’s hubris has never been greater, and as an outsider, Skyler knows that the solution is nowhere near as simple as he thinks. With every passing episode this season, Walt is buying more and more into the idea that he is The King. There’s his usual share of cocky comments (“The methylamine keeps flowing no matter what. Nothing stop this train. Nothing.”) and the fact that he bought two brand new cars, not to mention his weekly installment of creepy comments to Skyler in the bedroom. But the thing that put Walt over the edge into megalomaniacal territory is when he found his Heisenberg hat in his old car — a visual reminder of the person he rose up from nothing to be; a transformation from a scared man doing whatever he can to save his family to ruthless drug kingpin who will do whatever he can to stay alive.

Away from Walt’s family issues, we have some more roadblocks for the Heisenberg corporation. After Lydia is forced to rat out her warehouse guy when the DEA comes to Madrigal, she informs Mike that she no longer has her guy to fudge the necessary numbers and to get the methylamine out of the warehouse undetected. Mike responds by sending Jesse out to bring the product back (being that Jesse is probably the only person left that Mike can truly trust). After getting grilled hard by Lydia, Jesse gets a forklift to take down the barrel, only for Lydia to discover that there’s been a GPS bug planted on it.

Jesse brings this news back to Mike, and after hearing the details, he knows that the cops couldn’t have possibly planted it. (“Even by cop standards, this is sloppy.”) He determines that Lydia planted the bug so that the boys would take their business elsewhere, and Mike’s happy to oblige, saying he’s going to kill her and proclaiming he should have never spared her life in the first place. But Jesse isn’t too sure. What if Mike is wrong about her and the cops really are on to them? As a democracy (which I guess a three-way meth partnership can be), Jesse demands a vote, looking to Mr. White for reassurance, who goes off on his high-horse rant about needing the methylamine (I couldn’t actually tell if he was voting for Lydia to die or not, since she won’t give them the stuff now anyway). I have to believe Mike is right on this one because, let’s face it, Mike is always right about everything. Jesse is persistent in not having her killed because of his inherent trust in people, but Mike’s been around the block and he knows a rat when he sees one, and sooner or later, Lydia is going to ruin something unless Mike can get to her first.

Even with shit flying at him from all angles, Walt continues to remain calm as we hit the midway point of the first half of Season 5. He’s already taken care of his biggest threat. All other problems he encounters seem minor in his eyes. But as we’re reminded in the final scene with the camera zooming in on Walt’s new watch, he’s nothing but a time-bomb. Tick-tick-ticking.

Other Thoughts

– The episode title, “Fifty-One,” is in reference to Walt’s 51st birthday. My guess is that this one ranks up there as one of his worst, but then again I’ve only been around for two of them.

– Of course, the series’ pilot took place on Walt’s 50th birthday. During his birthday dinner, Walt brings up how it’s been a year since his diagnosis, and he gives a nice speech about how he wanted to quit early on and how he would have never made it this far without his family (he conveniently left out all that meth stuff, but I’d still say the speech was about 75% sincere). We’ve been along for this journey much longer than the year portrayed in the show’s timeline, which was alluded to nicely with Marie’s line, “it seems like longer.”

– We know that Walt will at least live until his next birthday, as shown in the flash-forward opening in the Season 5 premiere. It will be interesting to see how the show handles that sort of time jump though, as it’s taken more than four seasons to advance just one year and they’ll need to jump another year sometime in the next 12 episodes. (When do you think that flash-forward scene will happen? Will the events ending part-one of season five lead up to that moment to start part-two? Or will it be the very last episode?)

– The opening scene tonight had Walt getting the Aztec fixed, and it looked for a moment like he might be trying to hold on to one small part of his old life. But nope. He sells it for 50 bucks.

– I can’t emphasize enough how great Anna Gunn was in that scene alone with Walt. It made all her catatonic stuff early in the season worth it.

– How does Skyler not know this by now? YOU DO NOT MESS WITH WALT JR.’S BREAKFAST!

– Hank got a promotion within the DEA and is presumably moving up to the head offices in El Paso. What does this mean for his investigation? I’ve got to believe he’s going to keep at it, considering he’s still only steps behind (even if sometimes his leaps to conclusions are miraculous just so the story can keep him on Walt’s tail).

– Jesse is the only person who got Walt a gift (and fitting it would be a watch), and as Walt pointed out to Skyler, Jesse tried to kill him only a few weeks back. Oh, Jesse. I really hope that your faith in people won’t be your downfall.

– Good lines of the week – Walt Jr. to Walt: “You drive like a geezer.” Mike to Jesse: “Kid, you’re giving me heartburn.”

Find Nick DeLorenzo directly on Twitter @nick_delorenzo and remember to follow @ScreenInvasion!

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Nicholas DeLorenzo

Nicholas DeLorenzo

television writer/social assassin