‘Breaking Bad’ Recap (Season 5, Episode 4): “Fifty-One”
I think “Fifty-One” is probably going to go down as the most controversial episode of Breaking Bad since the third season’s “Fly.” Both episodes were directed by filmmaker Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), who gave each episode with an interesting stylistic flourish that wasn’t as present in the rest of the show. Both episodes also dealt with relationships, “Fly” being about Walt and Jesse and “Fifty-One” being about Walt and Skyler. People didn’t seem to like “Fly” because it was 48 minutes of Walt and Jesse trying to kill a fly and I think a lot of people are not going to like “Fifty-One” because it’s (almost) 48 minutes of Skyler. But don’t let that put you off: if you liked “Fly” then you’ll probably like “Fifty-One,” which feels like one of the most ominous episodes of the show so far. All of the ticking references mean something: Breaking Bad is counting down to something big and I’m not sure if some of these characters are going to survive whatever happens when it happens.
While we have been watching Breaking Bad for the past five years, the 50th episode of the show has Walt turning 51, which means it’s been exactly one year since Walt found out he had cancer and started cooking crystal meth. It’s been a hell of a year: Krazy-8, Tuco, Holly’s birth, Jane, the plane crash, the Cousins, Hank’s shooting, Gale, Gus, Mike, etc. Somehow, Walt has emerged from all of this relatively unharmed, which has given him a superiority complex the size of the sun. Now that Walt has become Heisenberg full-time, he thinks he is in control of every situation. Unfortunately, he’s not: the problem Walt has to deal with this week is his wife, Skyler.
A lot of people who watch Breaking Bad don’t like Skyler at all. To be fair, she was pretty annoying during the first two seasons when she was in the dark, but I’ve been mostly fine with her character since she learned Walt’s secret at the beginning of the third season. I’ve enjoyed her growth and how she sort of “broke bad” herself, with Ted and the money laundering at the car wash. However, after what happened with Gus, Skyler has feared (quite rightly) her husband, and now has to resort to desperate measures to protect her children from their father.
During Walt’s 51st birthday party, Skyler walks into the pool and attempts to drown herself just to get Hank and Marie to look after Walt Jr. and Holly for a couple of nights. There is a fantastic confrontation between Walt and Skyler as a result of this, the two of them plotting and trying to one-up one another. But Skyler can’t win: this is Heisenberg she’s dealing with now. The only option she has left is to wait for Walt’s cancer to return and kill him once and for all. I think it’s safe to say that the White marriage is truly dead after this excruciatingly uncomfortable scene, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Anna Gunn wins an Emmy for this episode next year.
While most of the episode was about the Whites, we also got a bit more of panicky Lydia, as Hank and the DEA visited her Madrigal warehouse, and Mike sent Jesse to pick up the next barrel of methylamine. Lydia freaks out again when she spots a tracking device on the barrel, but Mike sees through her plan: she has put the device on it herself in an attempt to scare Mike into finding a new source. Mike decides he’s going to have to kill her, but Walt and Jesse disagree: they are not going to stop production and find another source now that they are already rolling. Plus, Walt buys his son and himself sports cars, Hank becomes the new ASAC, and Jesse gives Walt a watch for his birthday. What a nice boy.
Next week: I think we get out first glimpse at what these four episodes have been counting down to. Someone’s going to die, right? Who’s going first? After last week I thought Walt was going to have to kill Mike but now I’m thinking he might have to do Skyler first…
Image credit: AMC
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