Hyphenated Review: Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One”

Breaking BadEpisode 504

Summary: Walt and Walt Jr. get the old Aztec back from the shop. After spotting his Heisenberg hat in the back seat, Walt sells the Aztec impulsively and buys a Chrysler 300. Once he sees Jr.’s disappointment, he swaps his PT Cruiser out for a fresh Dodge Challenger. At Madrigal’s Houston offices, Lydia gets tipped off about a DEA visit just before Hank and crew show up. She leads them to Ron Forenall, and after they leave with Ron in custody, she calls Mike back to tell him she has no one to move the methylamine. Mike tells her he’ll send someone else. Walt gives Skyler more cash to launder and she responds by telling him she wants the kids out of the house. Walt blows her off and asks for a birthday party and a chocolate cake. The next day, Jr. has to beg Skyler to break Walt’s bacon into a 51. This also signifies that a year has passed in the series. Hank and Gomez are still trying to figure out the missing pieces of Gus’s empire and decide to follow Mike. Hank gets offered the ASAC job in Albuquerque and accepts. Walt leaves a cook with Jesse early so that he can attend his birthday party; Skyler instead fixes him a store brought meal. Marie tells  Hank about Skyler’s affair on the way to the White’s house. During dinner with Hank and Marie, Walt thanks them for their support over the past year; Skyler says nothing and attempts to drown herself in their pool before Walt saves her. Jesse goes to the Houston Madrigal to pick up the latest shipment of methylamine, when he and Lydia discover a tracker on one of the barrels. Marie and Hank agree to keep Jr. and Holly while Skyler recovers; Walt is livid that Skyler found a way to disobey him even though Skyler was trying to keep to keep the children safe from their criminal activities. Walt dares Skyler to figure out a way to stop the kids from returning home, and when she can’t, she says she’s only biding her time until Walt’s cancer returns. Walt gets a call from Jesse the next morning, who informs him Mike is ready to kill Lydia because he believes she planted the tracker. After a vote saves Lydia’s life, Walt says that the cooks must not stop. Jesse gives Walt a watch for a birthday present, which Walt uses to tell Skyler that she’ll come around as Jesse has.

Thoughts:

It’s pretty apparent after this episode’s cold opening that Walt is officially at zero fucks status. After returning (rather burning) Jr.’s flashy car in Season 4 because of Skyler’s protests, he is definitely beyond the point of caring about anyone other than himself now. Even though he still says things about his activities being for the family, he’s been completely won over by being the head of a criminal enterprise.

Lydia’s actions still seem super suspicious to me here. Even with just enough notice, she turns over her meth transport guy rather easily (and I’m sure he’s going to get added to the hazard pay roster). I have a feeling that she’s going to eventually turn on Walt, Jesse, and especially Mike, but she’s just biding her time until the right moment.

Skyler seems to be coming out of her early season coma as she starts challenging Walt about keeping the kids in the house. And actually, this is one of her more reasonable requests even though Jr. is sure to get pissy about it. Lord knows the Whites have had a hell of a year; them needing time to mend their marriage through everything that’s happened kind of makes sense…to everyone except Walt. He promptly smacks down the idea and instead asks for a party and a chocolate cake, like he’s not running a criminal enterprise and they’re just a normal happy family. Which in his mind, they sort of are.

Then for the third time in the series, we see Walt receiving a plate of bacon that gets broken into his age (this time at Jr.’s urging, Skyler ain’t have no time for that).

And we’ve reached the year point! 4 and a half seasons have taken place in one year’s time. This is a pretty ludicrous concept if you think about it. Mild-mannered Walter White goes from teacher and submissive husband to drug kingpin in a year? I’ll give you 18 months or 2 years, but not one! But in the world of Breaking Bad, nothing should surprise me.

At this point, Hank and Gomey are grasping at straws. None of Fring’s men will talk and the only lead they have is with air tight Mike. And I have a feeling Hank is going to cost himself his career over pursuing this case (and ultimately, his brother-in-law). He took the promotion but you know, Hank Schrader is one stubborn motherfucker.

And Skyler has gone from fear of Walt to total indifference in short order. From her “homemade dinner” to her after dinner swim to her smoking in the house at episode’s end, you can see she’s past her breaking point. All she wanted was the kids to be safe and Walt isn’t having it. It couldn’t have been that long ago in real time that Walt was ready to relocate the entire family. Maybe his cockiness is really shielding his fear of retaliation for everything he’s chosen to do in the past year?

As hard as it is for me to write these words, Skyler White was the star of this episode. The last thing I expected was for her to attempt to drown herself (poorly, but still). I expected her to act out somehow as she’s prone to do when she doesn’t get her way but spraying her family members with blood from slitting her wrist was probably a little overdramatic, even for her. But the line she delivered about waiting for Walt’s cancer to come back? STONE COLD. And it was one of the first times this season that Walt seemed truly affected by something going on around him.

Lydia is gunning for Skyler’s “Most Hated Woman on Breaking Bad” title and her “discovery” of a tracking device when Jesse arrives for the pickup only furthers her case. One of the amazing traits that Jesse has retained the whole series is his reaction when shit goes bad and this is no different here. I personally wish that Mike had been there (impossible with the tail and the fact he’s under suspicion as Fring’s right hand) just so he could’ve shot her in the head the moment she started freaking out.

But in order to stay in the meth business, they need Lydia, so I was super torn between Mike and Walt in their final confrontation of the episode. Walt winning out stays true with his invincibility mode he’s been flaunting all season but you still a get sense that this new meth partnership won’t be lasting much longer. This is probably another reason why Walt doesn’t want to stop cooking; he doesn’t want to start over with new partners and he wants to take as much advantage of their current situation that he can.

The watch was a classic Jesse gesture towards how much Walt means to him even though Walt continues to never reciprocate. But in what had to be the weirdest episode ending ever, the watch ticks loudly as Walt sleeps and then seemingly explodes as we fade to black. While Jesse (or Mike) could have planted some form of bomb in the watch, that just wouldn’t be Breaking Bad’s style.

The watch ticked down and blew up like bomb so it’s signifying the destruction of something or someone is the series.  Here are some thoughts:

  • The final break between Skyler & Walt
  • Jr.’s relationship with Skyler is ruined
  • Maybe Mike killed Lydia behind Walt’s back
  • Perhaps Jesse (or Mike) did plant a bomb in the watch
  • Maybe Walt’s time on top is over
  • The DEA finally broke the case open
  • Or something happened to Jesse while Walt slept

All of this is mere speculation however, we could get to midseason’s end and still not know what it meant. Or maybe that wasn’t a bomb exploding…was it a gunshot? Did someone shoot Walt in the head? Skyler?!

I hate you Skyler.[1. I know, midseason has been reached and we’re all waiting for an announcement for when the final episodes will air. But I’ve had this review partially finished for months now and I couldn’t just delete it. I’ll wrap up season 5 part 1 in one shot with the next Breaking Bad Hyphenated Review. You don’t want to miss it! Excelsior!

I always wanted to say Excelsior.]

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