Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 4 Recap – ‘Fifty-One’
The fourth episode in the current season of Breaking Bad, Fifty-One, focused on Skyler. In a similar way to the episode we saw last week on the show, we’ve made a small step forward (and half step backwards) as far as it concerns the new meth operation of Walt,Mike and Jesse, and more of the drama was the affect of Walt’s new attitude on his surroundings – last week with Jesse and this week with Skyler. My episode review follows…
What just happened (episode summary): The DEA guys are visiting Lydia at her office; Hank is promoted; Skyler is faking another breakdown at Walt’s birthday, to convince Marie and Hank take the kids away; Problems arise with Lydia; Skyler confronts Walt; Jesse gives Walt a birthday present.
How it happened (the chatty TV critic): I loved the focus on Jesse in Hazard Pay (season 5 episode 3), and I loved the focus on Skyler this week. The way she confronted Walt, told him exactly – and us – why she can’t go to the police or stop laundering his money – because she’sacoward – that was enough for me, for now. I was wondering why she acted like she did, so scarred and helpless, not ableto speak up to Walt – or even take her son to be on her side.
When she explained Walt that her current “breakdown” was faked, and that it was her way of getting the kids out of the hose, it gave a better understanding of how this woman operates. She was looking for a way out, and that was it – going into that pool, in her cloths, that was her quickest solution to the problem. And she knows that this is no real solution, but she also knows she doesn’t have Walt’s “magic”, like she said (which probably made Walt feel pretty good in those miserable moments).
Skyler proved she was not too wise, when she described to Walt every possible idea she had for getting the kids out of their “environment”: blame Walt as being a wife beater, send Jr. to a boarding school a year before his graduation, etc etc. – was the fact that she shared those ideas with Walt a proof for her not believing in those ideas to begin with, or was she trying to threaten him? Or perhaps she was still searching his approval?
The thing is that Walt needs Skyler -she’s laundering his money, and if anything happen to her now (unless it will look like suicide), the policewill be all over him. Once she understands this, maybe she’ll change her ways. Right now, the only thing she did was to tell him, when he explains that there is no danger because Gus is dead and he was the danger, “I thought you were danger”. She still have some sense of humor, which was needed in this rather heavy episode.
Another woman who is looking for a way out is Lydia. The up-tight woman lost it completely when the DEA showed in her office (Mike warned her a few seconds before, and I’d like to know who gives him that information), and when Jesse came to pick up the methylamine from the warehouse she made it look like the police put trackers on the barrel. We only guess that was her, based on Mike’s logic that the police would be more careful and wouldn’t put the tracking device outside of the barrel.
Mike wanted to kill Lydia for this trick, but Jesse told him there’s no other way to find methylamine, and when Walter heard that he said they can’t stop the operation for anything. This was after his argument with Skyler, so when he says “nothing stop this train”, you get the feeling Skyler and Lydia are for Walter almost the same now.
Train, ticking clocks – are there more symbols for the unstoppable, guilt-free monster Walt is becoming? During Hazard Pay there was one scene with a ticking clock in the background, and during this episode there were three – including one real watch that got an extreme close-up when the episode went to black. Time is running on a single track, and Walt got his Heisenberg hat back. Not good guys, not good.
As for the birthday breakfast scene, I repeat now what I said on my post for this episode’s sneak peek: we spent four and a quarter seasons for a year in Walt’s life. In the pre-title scene for season 5 (on the season premiere episode, Live Free Or Die), we saw Walt celebrates his 52nd birthday alone, planning to move a machine gun over the border. I don’t know if this scene will be part of the first batch of 8 episodes, or the second, but clearly things are moving way faster now. My guess is that there is a jump in time between the two halves of season 5- but I’ll wait four more episodes to see.
What are we left with: The further we go on the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad, the more I feel like I need a background check on Walt, like we got on Gus, Jesse and even Gale – extreme characters deserve better explanations, and I’m not sure that ‘pride’ and ‘money’ are enough to explain Walt’s behavior. The way he has decided to treat his family like any other barrier on his way to become the new king of meth, it’s not just because he smelled death a year ago, when he was diagnosed with cancer. And it’s not because his extreme sense of pride. Or, better say, I’m interested, at this point, to know why exactly is he so obsessed with pride. I enjoyed the flash back the show creators gave us on Gus just before he got killed and left the series. It explained his story and his character better. Up until now I didn’t feel like I need an explanation to how Walt treats his family, but season 5 shows such a cold hearted Walt, that it feels like a hole Gilligan and his crew must fill.
Besides that, I expect that soon we’ll get (maybe with a less focus) Jr.’s side of the story. Now that he was sent away, and with him so close to the new DEA-boss-of-an-uncle maybe it will lead to an unexpected development in the story. Will he start spying after his parents? I’d love to see him becoming an active part of the main plot.
Episode info: Fifty-One premiered August 5 2012 on AMC. It was written by Sam Catlin and directed by Rian Johnson.