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Recap | Breaking Bad: ‘Fifty-One’

In “51,” the fourth episode this season, it’s Walter White’s birthday again. At the beginning of Season 1, Walt turned 50, and we know that at some point this season we’ll see him turn 52.

That it’s only been a year since his cancer diagnosis and his foray into the world of drugs is astounding, given how much Walt has evolved in such a short time. While he was once miserable, meek and depressed, he’s now boisterous and happy, brimming with bravado. Everything’s coming up Walt!

But when Skyler silently snaps during Walt’s small (much smaller than Walt would have liked) family birthday celebration, and slowly submerges herself in the swimming pool, fully clothed, Walt finally has to acknowledge Something Is Wrong With Skyler.

The dynamic between Walt and Skyler is interesting; they’ve seemed to have switched roles, in a way. Where Skyler was once assertive, she’s now passive and frightened of her husband. Walt, once the quiet one, now wears the pants.

And wear them he does. He actually threatens Skyler in this episode, rather than just hint at it: when Skyler finally plucks up the courage to tell Walt she plans to get the children out of the house, for their own protection, Walt makes it clear she will not take his kids away from him. “What are you gonna do about it?” he asks. What’s next, Walt, a bar of soap in a tube sock?

Finally, Skyler concedes there’s nothing she can do but wait. “Wait for what?” Walt asks. Skyler looks him in the eye and says, “For the cancer to return.” So congratulations, Walt, you are the big man on campus but your wife wishes you dead.

We open the episode with Walt symbolically becoming Heisenberg again, after putting on that hat and trading his middle-age mobile for a sleek import Chrysler 300, and defying Skyler by getting Walt Jr. that red and black Dodge Challenger. Again.

I’ve said it in every recap, and I’ll say it again: Walt’s ego will be his downfall, obviously. He’s living larger with each passing day and not being very cautious.

Oh, noes! A “DEA: tracking device, sorry guys!

Because the fact is Walt and Skyler actually do own a legitimate, profitable business (the car wash), but that isn’t enough for Walt. He’s too power hungry to be anything but a king. He isn’t just a failed scientist who fell into teaching high school; he’s the big man now. He’s now everything he couldn’t be before.

Part of the new Walt is his apparent obliviousness to the damage he’s causing. And if he does notice, he just doesn’t care. When Skyler expresses a legitimate concern — “There’s blood on my hands, too” — Walt dismisses it. It’s just part of protecting the family, he says. It’s justified killing and drug-dealing, no big deal.

What might be a big deal, however, is the mess that Walt, Jesse and Mike are in with Gus Fring’s former associate at Madrigal Electromotive GmbH. Lydia, who’s so shaken by the investigation into Gus’ death that she wears two mismatched shoes, gets a visit at Madrigal from the DEA. Hank astutely notices her footwear mistake, and once again his senses are spot-on; he wants to look further into Lydia.

The DEA haul off the methylamine guy from Madrigal, which means Mike sends Jesse to get the stuff. But when Jesse arrives, Lydia notices a tracking device on the bottom of the barrel. Oops, no methylamine for you guys this time, or ever.

Mike has a hunch that Lydia planted the device in an effort to stop doing business with him, thereby removing herself from the drug operation. She’s clearly a basket case and wants nothing to do with all of this. If the DEA get its hands on her, she’ll undoubtedly spill the beans to save her own ass.

Mike, in his old-school heavy way, says he had a chance to kill Lydia but didn’t take it: “It’s what I get for being sexist.” He assures Jesse that Lydia “deserves to die as much as any man I’ve met” and that it’s time to take care of it once and for all.

Whether or not they kill Lydia, the methylamine must keep flowing. “Nothing stops this train,” Walt says. “Nothing.” And maybe nothing will stop the train that is Walter White, whether it stays on track or derails.


  • Kobe8474

    Sorry. Can’t resist this correction. Walt’s new car is a Chrysler 300, which being from an American company, is not an import. Also, Walt Jr.’s new car is not a Mustang, rather a Dodge Challenger.

  • Nic

    Needed to be said. Car geeks are geeks just the same as any other.

    It did say ‘Challenger’ on the front grill after all…

  • Demoncat4

    odds are walts new change in personality will wind up in the end being his down fall. and skylar given how he just turned into the man  she did not marry may play a part in that 

  • Cory Jameson

    Everyone is expecting Walter to have his downfall. But I think the writers will go in the other direction. The only one left standing will be Walt. Everyone around him will be destroyed. 

  • Adam

    I have seen every single episode, and I can’t believe that the writers are trying to say only year has passed. So in one year walt was a crappy drug dealer to then being a part of Gus’ gang and then taking him out and all of that happened in a year. That is stupid, and I’m sorry but this show is excruciatingly boring. I turned it off last night right after that fat cow threw herself into the pool. Can there be a more hated character than skylar. The writers don’t know which direction they want to go with her. Last year she thrived with waltz money and loved it. She used goons against her former boss like she was some sort of mobster but then out of nowhere we have this person who is so scared and can’t believe what kind of work her husband does. Seriously, are we supposed to feel sorry for her now.

  • Scud

    How old are you? A lot can happen in a year. Also you won’t be missed.

  • Adam

    How old are you scud? Really, you can go from being a science teacher to one of the leaders of the drug game in one year. You are an idiot, and know nothing of real life since this show likes to base itself in a real world environment. I’ll stick to boardwalk empire which is a much better show. Are your feelings hurt because somebody said your show sucks moron.

  • Scud

    Thanks for answering my question with the same exact question. If you’re very smart and very lucky, things Walt has in spades, yes you can. Also you don’t know me, at all, so calling me an idiot is rather idiotic and saying I know nothing of real life is hilarious. I haven’t been living in a dream world. Honestly I don’t care if you think it sucks and Boardwalk Empire is good. Just not Breaking Bad good.

  • coalminds

    And feature repeated closeups of the grill..

  • coalminds

    Walt’s punishing Skylar for her years of subtle emasculation (and life’s, which he also blames her for) are great to watch. Loved the bedroom scene.

  • Adam

    No actually breaking bad sucks. And you obviously have no idea about the real world. I don’t care if you’re the smartest brainiac on the planet. That does not translate into street smarts and people who have been killers their whole life. And I don’t need to know you to know that you are stupid. Your replies explain it all as well as your name.

  • Scud

    Hahaha…. whatever you say dude. Also if you don’t get the Scud reference here’s a hint, its not to the missile.

  • Joshua

     It’s best you don’t watch the show. It’s too good for the likes of you.

    Walt said it himself last season that he had lived under the threat of death for nearly a year.