Breaking Bad S05E04 Recap: Fifty-One

Last year, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) celebrated his 50th birthday as he received the unfortunate news of being diagnosed with cancer. This year, it's not Walter turning 51, but Heisenberg instead. Seems like just yesterday Walter was lost in the desert wearing only his underwear.

You can already feel the tension build in this episode when Walter sells the Aztek and brings home two sports cars for himself and Walt Jr. While going through the Aztek after it was repaired, Walt finds his alter ego's hat. Ah, a trip down memory lane. Funny to see him wearing that again.

Crazy Lydia is back with her mismatched shoes and shady behavior. Hank and his gang show up at the Madrigal headquarters for some questioning until Lydia leads the DEA to an arrest. She's more spooked than ever. She's afraid that this is going to come back to her and Mike isn't giving her any answers, other than reassuring her that no one is going to squeal.

Jesse makes a trip to the warehouse to meet Lydia and pick up some methylamine to get cooking again, but they discover a tracking device on the barrel. Hmm!

Mike finds out about this tracking device and asks Jesse who spotted it first, him or Lydia. Jesse explains that she noticed it first and Mike instantly makes the decision to hunt down Lydia and finally kill her on the hunch that she planted it there herself to shake off any future methylamine business.

Jesse is trying to stop Mike from doing this but he isn't having it. As the two go back and forth, trying to find some reason to settle on, Jesse asks Walter for his input. In true Heisenberg fashion, he looks up and says, "Nothing stops this train. Nothing."

On the ride over to Walter's house for his birthday, Marie can't keep a straight face knowing that Skyler had an affair. Hank being the smarty-pants DEA knows that she's hiding something, so he pries into her until she spills the beans. Obviously, Hank can't believe that it was Skyler who had the affair, since he was betting that Walter would be the one because of his second cell phone.

As Marie, Walter, Hank, and Skyler celebrate a quiet evening for Walter's birthday, Skyler excuses herself from the table and stares into the swimming pool behind the guests. All the while, Walt is reflecting back on the past year and all of the "dark days" that he was faced with, but he's still alive and well. He even makes a remark about Hank having to face some problems of his own and seems to have gotten through them; walking again and a solid promotion with the DEA.

Nearing the end of Walt's speech, the family notices that Skyler is in some sort of trance, walking into the pool; further and further into the deep end. Eventually, she submerges into the pool and floats weightlessly in the water until Walt dives in and saves her. This is going to make for a fun conversation later.

Walter and Hank talk a bit about the marriage and what has been going on lately. After the talk, Walter moves into the bedroom to confront Skyler about her swimming pool stunt from earlier. He's asking questions and trying to figure out what she wants until Skyler, after three episodes, finally opens up.

She doesn't want the kids anywhere near the house and really, anywhere near their father. She wants Hank and Marie to take them for now and possibly send Walt Jr to another school. She abhors the person who her husband has become and is trying to do anything she can to keep him away from what remains pure in their marriage: the kids. She knows she's guilty too and feels responsible for the things she has done in the past.

With every short-sighted escape plan that Skyler presents to Walter to keep him away from the family, he answers with his own genius rebuttal. It seems that Skyler is stuck until she hashes out her finally, cold plan. To simply wait until Walter's cancer returns and for him to die. But it's hard to say if that will be Walter's demise.

Lab Notes!

Aside from the intense and emotional turn this episode took, I couldn't help but laugh at the dubstep montage between Walter and son as they pulled up in their new cars. Pretty hilarious but looking back, it was a peak of Walt's happiness in this episode.

It's interesting to see Walter walk around in his Heisenberg hat in the daylight and out in the open. Originally, that hat was meant as a disguise, but now it's something he wears in front of his own son. Seems like Walter sold his Mr. White identity along with the Aztek and has now invited his Heisenberg personality to take over another portion of his life.

I'm waiting to see how Hanks promotion pans out. At first, I thought he was going to have to pass off the Fring case entirely if he took the promotion, but now I'm waiting to see if he and Gomez fight over it who will take the helm on it. Any at rate, it looks like it's something that didn't sit well with him. Or maybe I was reading into it too much.

The pool scene was probably my favorite of Fifty-one. The colors and atmosphere of Skyler floating underwater were mesmerizing but paired with a dark, uncomfortable tone (Walter popping up behind before the cut was fantastic. I loved seeing that). Was she trying kill herself? I would love to know what was going through her head as she was suspended in the water, but to me it was a cry for help. Something for Marie and Hank to see in order to get the kids out of the house.

Man, Jesse Pinkman. What a nice guy, right? He's been number one in my book this season and he's becoming more and more a voice of reason while he remains to be on everyone's good side. Last season he felt like a loose cannon to me, but it's quite the opposite in this season (for now).

The final scene had me thinking about two different things. One, the symbolism of Walter being a "ticking time bomb" as we got a nice close up of his watch, a birthday gift from his partner in time. From here on out, this seems to be time slipping away from Walter. He warns Jesse about Mike taking too many liberties, while he takes them all the time. That watch also stands out to me as the last nice thing anyone will be doing for Walter.

Lastly, I couldn't help to think about the ricin. Remember? It's hidden in the bedroom. And what was Skyler doing in the living room before Walt went to bed? That's right.

Awesome, awesome episode. What did you guys think?

Comments 4
George Prax's picture

Loved this episode. The directing and cinematography in particular was spectacular. It was the same guy who directed "Fly".

Caleb Pass's picture

Oh really? I didn't know that. But yeah, this might be my favorite episode so far. Even though we're only four deep.

Phil T's picture

Nothing stops this train. Nothing.

George Prax's picture

Yep, Rian Johnson. He also directed the upcoming film Looper with JGL and Bruce Willis.