AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 4: “Fifty-One”
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Sam Catlin
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hazard Pay” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dead Freight” – click here
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is getting his vehicle fixed up, yet again. Sketchy when the mechanic says he found nasty remnants of the supposed deer Walt hit a while back. Yikes! Instead of taking it back Walt decides on a change, after finding his Heisenberg hat. He sells the vehicle to the mechanic for $50. More of his impulsive behaviour, though getting rid of it is probably a good idea. Afterwards, Walt and Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) go buy new cars— the Heisenberg in him wants to enjoy the spoils of being a meth kingpin, rather than continue being the meek, mild Mr. White he’s been for so damn long.
Soundtrack note: “Bonfire” by Knife Party goes HARD.
Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser) continually stresses out, hoping not to let her worries about the meth business bleed into her work at Madrigal. She gets a call from Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), letting her know the DEA are coming. Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and his partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) have questions. They’d like to go down to the warehouse and check on supplies. More for her to stress over. She has a scream into her pillow before calling Mike back. She’s concerned people are getting pinched and they’ll talk. He reassures these guys are paid to not talk. That doesn’t put Lydia at ease, but Mike only says: “I‘ll send a new guy.”
“So it all fits our story”
Back at home, Skyler (Anna Gunn) is rightfully pissed at her husband’s disregard for concealing their illegal income. Walt’s happy to laugh at the dinner table with his son over doing doughnuts in their new cars, whereas she worries constantly about the influence he’s having over Junior. She soon realises the money keeps rolling in and her husband hasn’t halted his drug dealing one little bit. She wonders if a “new environment” would be better for their kids, worrying what Walt will bring down on them the next time a scary situation arises. All he’s thinking about is his latest birthday party. It’s degrading to watch her the next morning at breakfast, forced into making Walt’s bacon a happy 51 by her husband and son insisting on tradition.
At work, Hank’s told SAC Ramey (Todd Terry) wants him to be the new ASAC at their office. That would mean he has to let go of the Fring/Heisenberg case. Not a move he’s been willing to make before. He wants to see this case finished, yet agrees to the new position. Can he finally let go?
Walt gets home later in the day upset to find there’s no big celebration waiting. His son’s watching TV. Skyler is making a nice little supper. But, somehow, he was expecting something bigger. He continually refuses to see what he’s done to his family. His sadness here is just another indication of narcissism. Meanwhile, Hank finds out about the “infidelity,” surprised to hear Skyler cheated on his brother-in-law. All this makes for a slightly awkward birthday dinner. It goes downhill after Walt reminisces on his diagnosis a year prior and Skyler takes a clothes-on dip in the pool, crying out silently for any sliver of help.
“And now you‘re being sexist— trust me, this woman deserves to die as much as any man I’ve ever met.”
At Madrigal, Lydia attempts to do things herself in the warehouse, like shut down the cameras for when the new guy arrives: Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). It takes a moment to get on the same page, though they do. When they go to get the barrel of chemicals, they see a tracking device planted on the bottom. Uh oh!
Marie and Hank want to take the kids for Walt and Skyler, leaving the married couple to work things out. Only the Whites aren’t going to be working anything out anytime soon. Skyler’s unable to forget everything, over the past month especially. She knows it’s only a matter of time before Walt can’t keep “the work at work” like a regular day job. She also recognises her own mistakes. She’s been warped by his influence. This husband-wife relationship has become one of severe antagonism. The veil slips further from Walt’s nice guy act, revealing the ugly narcissist below, and Skyler hopes his cancer will return.
Jesse alerts Mike and Walt to the methylamine problem and the tracker. Mike believes it was Lydia who put the tracker there to get herself out of the business. He wants to kill her for real this time, but Pinkman doesn’t like that. Jesse suggests they vote on it. Walt isn’t willing to slow down their production, so it’s not like he really cares about Lydia, he only wants to stay cooking meth and collecting capital.
Back at the house, Walt tries to talk to Skyler getting little response. He perpetually seems incapable of grasping how dire things have gotten, convincing himself there’s a make-up in the near future. Rather than be self-aware, he rambles on about Jesse giving him a watch for his birthday when, not long ago, he was holding a gun to him, as if that’s meant to change her mind. The stunning lack of self-awareness is more of that narcissism lurking below Walt’s every word, his every move.
Only a matter of time before things change— and definitely for the worse.
“I can promise you that Gus Fring is dead. And he was the threat, he was the danger.”
“I thought you were the danger?”
Great episode. Love seeing Rian Johnson involved with Breaking Bad. He’s an excellent filmmaker, bringing those same sensibilities he has for movies to the small screen with no less expertise. “Dead Freight” is next.