Breaking Bad: 504-“Fifty-One”

In the fourth of episode of Breaking Bad‘s final season, much of the season’s plot has been put on hold to take a moment and focus on the dynamic between Walter and Skyler. Their rapidly deteriorating marriage is the major focus of this episode. Words are exchanged, things are said, and Walter continues to be the most intelligent man on the entire show. Meanwhile, Mike, Walt, and Jesse are looking to find a way to handle Madrigal, who may or may not have betrayed them.

What could have been this episode’s strengths end up being the major weaknesses. The emphasis on how much of a raging bitch Skyler is, versus how much of a controlled family man Walt is – makes itself apparent within the first five minutes of the episode, where Walt gets himself and his son extremely expensive cars. The sequence is oddly hilarious and I’m not sure how much I was supposed to laugh, but I’ll admit I was definitely cracking up.

I never liked episodes that focused on Skyler, and here we see everyone in a panic because of her. She’s really the only reason everything isn’t going according to plan, and what she says to Walter at the end of the episode is unforgivable and wrong. She may have proved herself momentarily a couple seasons back, but she’s just reverted to her old nosy, selfish, and frankly unintelligent ways. On the other hand, Marie is proving to be a valuable addition to the White family. She and Hank (who’s losing weight faster than a cancer patient, ironically enough), are definitely stepping up to the plate as both siblings-in-law to Walt and Skyler, but also as aunt and uncle to Walter Jr. and Holly.

Stepping away from all of that, though, another major issue I had with this episode was the mild usage of Jesse and Mike, and the complete absence of Saul. Breaking Bad works mainly because of the chemistry between Walter and Jesse (I swear, these [Breaking]bad puns are completely unintentional), but the lack of that here is really apparent. That is, of course, until the end.

*SPOILERS*

Jesse buys Walt a watch for his 51st birthday. In fact, he’s the only person to get him a gift and it’s a beautiful watch that Walt genuinely likes. He wears it, brings it back to Skyler and explains to her that the watch was given to him by someone who was pointing a gun at his head just a couple weeks ago. They’re now good partners and friends, so if their relationship can be mended, so can Walt and Skyler’s marriage.

He then leaves and takes the watch off, putting it on his nightstand. It ticks, and ticks, and ticks, and as the seconds get closer to the next minute, the ticking becomes louder and more intense until the end where it sounds like a gun cocking or the minute hand changing (or both).

I’m thinking that the watch is either bugged (unlikely) or that it’s merely a visual representation of Walt’s literal ticking clock. It’s possible that the cancer may come back and kill him since, as of this point, there isn’t anyone on the street who serves as some kind of imminent danger. But I guess we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

3/5 Bears


TV TRIVIA: This episode, titled ‘Fifty-One’ in reference to Walt’s 51st birthday, aired the same night as the latest episode of HBO’s Newsroom, which was titled ‘5/1’. Weird. Right? No. Whatever.

2 thoughts on “Breaking Bad: 504-“Fifty-One””

  1. Well we know he’s got at least one more year, since the first episode shows him at 52. I disagree with you about Skyler though, Walt has pretty much turned into a horrific monster who’s drunk on his own power, and as annoying as Skyler is, I totally don’t blame her for wanting out of that life, despite doing it in the most weaksauce, annoying way possible. One of the more brilliant things about this show is the divide between fans on the character of Skyler, where some people really hate her, and others are right there with her.

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    1. Walt clearly states that he likes to keep business and home life separate which, thus far, he has done pretty well. Sure the stress levels can be a bit high sometimes, but if you’re making millions a year and no one is trying to kill you, you’re not doing your job right. Skyler is threatening Walt with the loss of everything he loves. Drug Kingpin or not, that brings out the worst in a man. He needs to do what he has to do to keep everything together. He’s successfully kept his kids out of the business and treated his wife with nothing but care and respect. I think he deserves the same in return.

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