‘Breaking Bad’ Review: “Fifty-One”
‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 cooks up its fourth episode of the year, as Walter celebrates his fifty-first birthday almost a year after first being diagnosed, while Skyler seems to go off the rails and Jesse finds a complication to their partnership with methylamine supplier Lydia.
Last week’s ‘Breaking Bad’ episode “Hazard Pay” saw Walter and Jesse finding themselves a new place to cook their product, ironing out some details with Mike, while Skyler had a breakdown at work, so how does “Fifty-One” keep things moving? What will season 5 of ‘Breaking Bad’ cook up?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 episode 4, “Fifty-One!”
At a local auto-shop, the mechanic lists off the adjustments that have been made to fix Walt’s infamous Pontiac Aztek (no new windshield this time), expressing his admiration for the vehicle. When Walter finds his classic Heisenberg hat in the passenger’s seat, he makes the mechanic an offer: he can have the car for the low, low price of just $50! Sold, but what’s his angle?
Later that day, the PT cruiser pulls in, driven By Walter Jr. while right behind him is Walt in his sleek new black coupe! Only marginally impressed, Walter Jr. isn’t happy until his dad replaces the PT Cruiser with his old Dodge Challenger! Both cars in the driveway, the two gleefully rev their engines.
Another day, Lydia sits in her office seeming tense and uninterested in her work, when Mike calls to announce she has visitors coming! Hank and near of the whole DEA arrive in her office, asking her to lead them to the warehouse. Once there, she points out the floor manager Ron, and the authorities take him away. After screaming into a pillow, Lydia calls Mike back complaining that its’ all over, but Mike shrugs it off and says he’ll send someone new to pick up the methylamine.
At dinner, Skyler seems distraught by the men gleefully boasting about their cars, but Walter assures her afterward that they’re only leases and shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. She realizes from the stack of bills that Walter has started cooking again, and puts forth an idea of sending Walter Jr. to boarding school. Walter shrugs off the idea, what with Jr. only being a year away from college, and scoffs at the idea that their children need “a new environment.” He assures Skyler that there isn’t anything to worry about anymore, and they should begin looking forward to things again, things like say…Walter’s upcoming birthday! It’s party time!
The next morning, Skyler forgets her classic “birthday number bacon” tradition until Walter Jr. insists that she continue the tradition by fixing a 51 over Walter's breakfast. Meanwhile at the DEA office, Hank spitballs with Gomez that there must be some element of Fring’s organization they missed, as they confirm to the interim captain that the blue meth is turning up on the streets again. The captain sends Gomez out for a moment, as he has something he wishes to discuss with Hank: promoting him to head of their DEA office! Taken aback, Hank accepts the position.
After finishing his latest cook with Jesse, Walter takes off early thinking he has a birthday party at home to arrive to, but finds no one there. Instead, Skyler is preparing dinner, and got the chocolate cake he asked for, but only invited Hank and Marie over for dinner. Visibly morose, Marie lets slip to Hank on the way over that Skyler had an affair with Ted Beneke, surprising him given that Walter was the one displaying shady behavior with a second cell phone.
Later at dinner, everything seems to be going smoothly, but the mood quickly deflates when Walter Jr. leaves to go see his friends. Skyler starts displaying a bit of odd behavior, getting up to stare at the pool while Walter thanks Hanks and Marie for the support they gave him this past year, having been diagnosed almost exactly one year prior. As he speaks, reminiscing about the chemo and Skyler’s comforting, the woman moves ominously closer into the pool. Finally, Skyler fully wades into the pool, ignoring the group's questions, and fully submerging in the deep end. While everyone remains confused, Walt dives in to pull her out.
Back at the Madrigal warehouse, Lydia fiddles with how to disable the security cameras, before opening a shutter to reveal Jesse waiting to take the methylamine. Before they can proceed, she foolishly implores him to prove that he knows Mike , relenting when Jesse knows the man’s last name. She leads him to the barrel, but as Jesse lowers it by forklift, she implores him to stop, having noticed a foreign device attached to the bottom of the barrel.
Around the kitchen table, Walter and Hank debate what Skyler might have been trying to do with her pool stunt, before reasoning out that she should talk to Marie’s therapist. Marie enters, having calmed Skyler down, and gently suggests that she and Hank take the children for a few days, if only to allow Walter and Skyler some space to fix whatever’s gone wrong in their marriage. Hank corroborates the idea, as Walter realizes that it was Skyler who gave them the idea in the first place.
After they’ve gone, and made the arrangements for the kids, Walter congratulates Skyler on her plot. He again assures her that there is no danger to the children anymore, but the woman insists that the children must stay out of the house as long as Walt is back in business, out of a home where drugs, murder and violence are simply shrugged off. Things start getting heated when Walter counters that it’s only a temporary measure, to which Skyler suggests that she could hurt herself, or give herself bruises to keep the kids away from Walter, but Walter shoots down the logic behind every idea she has. Finally cornered, Skyler admits that she lacks Walt’s intelligence in crafting a master plan, and can’t stop her involvement in Walt’s dealings, but the best thing she can do is hold on, and wait. For what, you ask? Why, for the cancer to come back, of course!
The next morning, Walter nicks himself shaving his head, before getting a panicked call from Jesse. Over at Vamonos Pest, Mike points out the apparently sloppy work done in attaching a GPS device to the bottom of the methylamine barrel. When Jesse confirms that Lydia was the one to spot the device, Mike reasons out that she must have planted it herself, thinking it would scare their operation into leaving her alone. Mike resolves to kill Lydia for her actions, ramping down production if necessary, but Jesse protests taking such violent full measures for a woman only panicked. When asked to weigh in, Walter decisively declares that their production will not stop for anything. Outside, Jesse thanks Walter for coming to his aid and devising a plan (which we didn’t hear), and delivers his belated birthday present: a watch. Tick-tock.
Later that night, Walter arrives to find Skyler smoking in silent darkness. She ignores most everything he has to say and he heads down the hall. He changes his mind, however, coming back to show Skyler the watch and explain that the person who gave it to him, who wanted him to have “time” pointed a gun at his head not long before that. That person changed his mind about Walter, and so will she, he says.
Afterward, Walter gets into bed as we hear the watch’s ominous ticking, compounded by what sounds like a gun barrel’s click and a ticking motif in the episodes’ credit music.
It's been said that 'Breaking Bad' doesn't usually start getting tense until the last few episodes of the season, but as the fourth of eight episodes comprising half of the show's final season, all bets are off for "Fifty-One." The highlight of the episode for certain is Skyler's breakdown, and it'll be interesting to see what happens with Lydia, but for now "Fifty-One" is another fairly quiet entry.
Did you get your fix of ‘Breaking Bad’ bad-assery? What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Breaking Bad’ episode recap of “Dead Freight” on AMC!