Saturday, August 11, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Fifty-One" (Season 5, Episode 4)

Previously on Breaking Bad, lots of money was made, Walt moved back into his house, which made Skyler uncomfortable, Nervous Lydia met with Mike and feared that the caged birds would sing, Hank was praised by the outgoing scapegoated ASAC, Sklyer suggested Marie keep quiet, in a loud way, Walt let Marie connect the dots regarding Skyler's I.F.T. moment with Beneke, Mike held off on shooting Lydia since she could provide the missing ingredient to the Blue Gold.

One of the best things about this show are the opening scenes, which never seem to take place somewhere we've already been.  This week is no exception as we open in a garage, where a mechanic marvels about how this certain little car he's bringing down has an amazing amount of staying power.  Of course, it's the Aztec, and the two Walters amble over to check it out.  You'll recall that it was last seen being T-Boned near the laundry last season as Walt and Hank were driving it, and Walt forced the crash rather than let Hank poke his nose around the super secret underground meth kitchen.  The mechanic goes over the list of items he replaced and how he kept it all on the insurance ("nothing beats free", he says) by using after-market parts, then he remarks on the front bumper and the unfortunate run-in Walt had with that "deer", which we know was a couple of hoods who were going to kill Jesse.  After obtaining the signatures he needs, the mechanic wistfully tells Walt how much he likes the car, how sturdy it is.  Walt opens the door and sees his old friend, the Heisenberg Hat!  The magical powers of the hat remind him of what a badass he now has become, and as his eyes get a bit larger and he suggests that he'll sell the Aztec to the man for $100.  After no haggling, he settles for $50, as Junior is all WTF?  Walt dons the hat and fingers the brim in the side mirror, feeling a little frisky.

Cut to the White driveway, where we see Junior pull in driving his PT Cruiser, and Walt screeches in behind the wheel of his new Chrysler 300.  After Junior appears to not be impressed, Walt gives him a "Huh?" look, and we see the scene repeat, only this time both of them are driving Product Placed Penis cars.  In fact, Junior is driving the same model red Charger that Skyler made them get rid of the last time Walt made a stupid purchase.  They rev their respective engines and have a little testosterone party as we go to the titles....

German is being spoken on a conference call as we pan to what we discover is Lydia's glass encased office. She's not engaged in the call topic one pit, and while looking down notices one of her shoes has lost it's little bow.  For someone as tightly wound as her, this is a big deal, especially in light of all the other stress in her life right now.  She bullshits her way, in German, through a question as we hear her cell phone vibrating.  it's in the desk, and it must be the secret MethLine because it's Mike on the line giving her a heads up that some DEA folk are about to pay her a visit.  Cut to thirty seconds later where she's pretending to work on something as Hank, Gomie and a couple of blueshirts arrive.  We don't hear what is said, but within a few moments she is leading them down the hall and to the warehouse, where she helpfully points out the foreman, who shoots a steely look back at her as the DEA takes him away.  She returns to her office, draws the blinds and lets out a healthy scream into a throw pillow.  She picks up the MethLine and tells Mike what happened, and he's okay with it.  She starts freaking, describing the look Ron (the foreman) gave her, and exaggerating that fourteen DEA agents practically broke down her door and screamed and yelled ate her, etc. She seems like the type who catches a cold and thinks it's cancer.  She tells Mike (and us) how important Ron was to the operation - he ran the warehouse, security, inventory, etc., and now that he's gone there is just no way she can handle that responsibility.  Mike says simply that he'll send over a new guy and hangs up.

Skyler comes home in the Wagoneer and can't get into the driveway as the Product Placed Penis cars are hogging all the space.She sees the temp plates in the window and sighs to herself, then is subjected to listening to the Walters go on and on about horsepower, donuts, and whose car is faster/better, etc.  As they prepare for bed, Walt rationalizes the car as a birthday present to himself, and since he leased them it won't raise any suspicion.  He then plops twenty grand on the nightstand for Skyler to marinate on, as she realizes that he's back in the drug business.  Sitting on the bed with her back to Walt, she proposes a private school for Junior.  This makes no sense to Walt since Junior's so close to college, but Skyler elaborates about changing the environment and this tweaks Walt's interest.  What's wrong with this environment, he wonders.  She meekly replies "nothing", drops the subject and crawls into bed.  Walt does the creepy cuddle and assures her that despite all the craziness of the past few weeks, the threat is gone.  Gus is dead, remember?  He proposes that they move forward and hey, what better way to do that than to have a little birthday party for him?  Chocolate cake, please.

Breakfast time, and Walt is served with a plate of bacon and eggs.  Junior reminds Skyler of the birthday tradition of spelling out the age in bacon, and she half-heartedly makes the pork fat into a "51", stealing a piece from Junior to make it whole.  At least she won't have to do "52".

Hey, it's a photo of Smilin' Gustavo Fring, as Hank laments how even with half a face, lying in a grave he's still giving them agita.  He's setup a huge bulletin board with all the major players in the Fring Ring, from Madrigal tater tot man Schuler to our newly captured Ron the Foreman.  He's looking for more, and suggests Lydia to Gomie, who dismisses her as too uptight, too together for an operation like this.  Maybe, says Hank, but he noticed her mismatched shoes and wonders how "together" she really is.  Pretty perceptive one, this guy, maybe he should get a promotion.  The new head honcho walks in and asks for an update, and Hank provides some thoughts on why everyone is keeping quiet.  He suggests that none other than Mike is the one holding everything together, so as usual he's on the right track.  Also, the blue meth is making a comeback, which raises a few eyebrows.  Head honcho dismisses Gomie, praises Hank for his stellar work, and suggests that Hank applies for a promotion to be the ASAC in the office.  He notes that Hank would be less involved with the day-to-day, Fring included, and would oversee all the open cases.  Hank accepts, noting that Marie would kill him if he didn't, and shakes head honcho's hand.  Good job, Hank.

At a tented house, Jesse and Walt are wrapping up another cook when Walt asks Jesse to cover for him as it's his birthday.  He's expecting a party of some kind to be awaiting him, and Jesse wishes him a HBD as he boxes up the equipment.  Walt arrives home, checks his reflection in his PPP car, notices no other cars in the area, and goes inside.  No party - Junior is watching TV and Skyler is finishing up dinner. Whats the plan?, he wonders. Turns out it's nothing more than Hank and Marie stopping by, a nice dinner, and the chocolate cake he requested.  Burn!

A great car scene with Hank and Marie ensues.  He's aware that something is bugging her, since she's unusually quiet.  It tales about 15 seconds of prodding before she basically spills the beans about "infidelity".  He assumes Walt, and is surprised to find out it's Skyler.  After dinner the couples gather by the pool for drinks and listen to Junior brag about how fast he drives his new PPP car.  He leaves, and the party grinds to a halt, as Skyler makes no effort to even fake interest.  Hank and Walt small talk about the cars some more, then...crickets.  As Skyler gets up to start cleaning up, Walt begins to reflect on the past year. The cancer diagnosis, the surgery, Hank getting shot, etc.  As he begins to talk about his fear of the treatment, we see Skyler in the background approaching the pool, and grabbing the ladder handles. Walt's speech starts dripping with subtext as he talks about the times he thought he was "done for", but then "someone, or something" would pull him through.  Skyler's dipping her toes in the pool now, and we see just enough of her in the shot to know that we should keep an eye on her.  Just then, he brings it around to her, and speaks about how when he first got the chemo he was a mess and she was the strength he needed to get through it.  He turns around to give some detail to Hank and Marie when Skyler starts eyeballing the water, and begins her descent.  At first it's kind of funny, but once she submerges herself Marie gets scared.  We see Skyler underwater, no expression on her face, her blue dress flowing around so she looks like a jellyfish, floating silently until Walt jumps in and grabs her arm.  Scene...

Back at the warehouse, Lydia struggles with the breaker box, turning off different groups of power until finally getting the correct one which shuts off the surveillance cameras.  Mike's new guy shows up, and it's Jesse, who is forced by Lydia to provide Mike's last name before she finally trusts him.  I was surprised he even knew it.  I loved the fact that she tells him how she had to be careful since he could have been one of "those undercover people they send into High Schools".  Jesse Pinkman in a 21 Jump Street reboot?  I am IN.  She points out the one barrel of chemicals he is to take, from the highest shelf, and he procures a fork lift to get it down.  What's this? Lydia "discovers" some kind of item secured to the bottom of the barrel, and freaks.  At this point we don't know what it is, but it can't be good.

Back to the White house, where Skyler's dress drips dry.  Hank tries his best to get some detail out of Walt, to help, and Walt lets it slip that there are some "issues' in his marriage.  Hank suggests Marie's therapist, but man, doesn't that guy have his hands full with her?  Marie emerges from the bedroom,  and after verifying with the men that Skyler probably wasn't trying to off herself, suggests to Walt that maybe the kids should come and stay with them for a few days, until things settle down.  Walt scoffs at the idea, not really seeing how that is a solution to the problem.  Hank gives his approval of the idea, and Marie oversells it juuuuust a bit more which pings Walt's spidey sense.  He asks her whose idea this was, hers or Skyler's?  She cops that it was, in fact, Skyler's.  Shit's about to go down now....

Bedroom.  Skyler is awake but closes her eyes when Walt comes in. It's later now, as Walt tells her he's provided Marie with supplies for baby Holly, and notified Junior by phone as to what is going on.  You got your way, Skyler, so cheer up!  Finally, after weeks of catatonic silence, she's ready to confront him with her fears.  She doesn;t want the kids in the house anymore, and feels it isn't safe.  Walt scoffs at that suggestion - he got rid of the danger by killing Gus, remember?  Skyler calls back "I thought you were the danger?"  Point to Mrs. White.  Walt, getting a little more on edgy, wonders if the whole pool "stunt" was just a ploy to get the kids out of the house.  Skyler contends that she is part of this, and that her hands are dirty vis a vis Ted.  Walt calmly tells her that she was doing what she had to do to protect her family, and far from making her a bad person, it simply makes her human.  He moves in for a tender leg touch, and she jumps off the bed.  No more bullshit rationales, she says.  She's a part of this whether she likes it or not, but she will not have her kids be anywhere near it.  Walt challeneges her assertion that this is somehow a permanent measure but she puts her foot down that she will not have them back here, end of story.  Walt gets that look in his eyes again, you know the look, where he's cold , calculating and scary as hell.  "What are you going to do to stop it?" he asks.  Taken aback, she starts throwing vague "whatever it takes" talk.  "Specifically," Walt asks, "what is your next move?"  He's calling her bluff and you can see how when he feels smarter than his adversary the smugness gets cranked up to eleven.  She suggests that they'll need more time and are struggling, he counters with no, you're still struggling and I'll have you committed.OK, she counters, maybe I'll have some bruises, and tell everyone that you're beating me after finding out about my lover; he counters with sure, let's get Ted involve, which will surely get the authorities curious and open up that can of worms, not to mention the effect on Junior.  Speaking of Junior, she suggests sending him off to boarding school again, and Walt slams this one right back at her by saying how wonderful it would be to ask him to drop everything with one year left of high school and ship off to some faraway place.  She's getting desperate now and she move to another corner of the room and Walt challenges her once and for all to find a "solution" to this "problem".  He corners her on the bed and starts getting louder as he asks again "You want to take me on, and take away my children? What's the PLAN?"  "I DON'T KNOW" she sobs/screams.  She;s trapped, and she knows it - she can't go to the cops, stop laundering the money, can't keep him out of this house or her bed.  All she can do is wait.  For what, Walt wonders.  "For the cancer to come back".  BOOM.  Game, set, match to Mrs. White.

Back form commercials, we are treated to a rear view of Walt's head shaving session, where blood is drawn.  He eats breakfast, alone, when his cell buzzes.  He tells the other party to relax and says he's coming.  At the Bug HQ, Jesse is all ramped up about the item attached to the barrel, which he helpfully shows a picture of to Mike and Walt.  if the DEA is tracking this, they are done.  Done!  Turns out the device was a GPS, which Mike deftly explains was clearly placed there by an amateur.  After asking who spotted this first and finding out it was Lydia, Mike puts two and two together.  "okay", he says, "she's dead".  He gets up, presumably to go and kill her, when Jesse wonders what's going on.  Mike explains that Lydia set this up to create the (false) impression that the DEA is tracking her stuff, thus forcing the boys to look elsewhere for a methylmine source.  She's right, Mike says, they will need a new source after he leaves her in a ditch.  Jesse implores Mike to cool it - they need her to keep the operation moving.  Mike, the business side of the crew remember, says that if they have to ramp it down for awhile, so be it.  It's worth it to cool it until the heat is off.  Jesse is adamant, and asks that it gets put to a vote.  Walt, who has been silent through all of this, is prompted by Jesse to weigh in.  Holding the magic hat in his hands, looks ominously up and says the methlymine keeps flowing, no ramping down will occur, and that nothing stops this train.  Nothing.  We do not see how Mike responds to this pronouncement.

Outside, Walt, hat now on, heads toward his PPP car when Jesse catches up and compliments him on his idea.  Also, he gives him a birthday present - a freaking Rolex.  Nice taste there, Pinkman.  Considering Walt got nothing from his wife when he was expecting  a party, this is a nice surprise.  

Walt returns home to find Skyler on the couch, puffing away now that no kids are around.  She's also using an Area 51 mug which ties in nicely to the show's title for this week.  He tells her her stopped by to see the kids and that Junior is asking a ton of questions.  He asks how she is, and she says nothing.  "Coming to bed", he asks, and Skyler says nothing as she lights another cigarette.  Walt heads down the hall, but has a second thought and turns around.  He shows her the Rolex, and mentions that the person who gave this to him wanted him dead not very long ago, but changed his mind about Walt, and soon she will too.  Left unsaid is how Walt manipulated the shit out of him to change Jesse's mind, but since when does Walt get bogged down with these kinds of details?  He gets into bed and eye the Rolex as he turns out the light.  We close in on the watch face as it ticks, ticks, ticks past 50, and the last sound we hear is a gun click.


  • Does anyone else still think there is a mole at the DEA?  I'm thinking the head honcho promoted Hank to get him off the case, since he's been right all along.  Possible?
  • So Lydia gets to live, which I can't help but feel will be a bad thing for these guys at some point
  • Anna Gunn continues to have a great season, mostly because she's getting a lot more to work with
  • Next week: the crew resorts to pulling heists in order to get the precursor.  Sounds like the body count will inevitably rise...
  • What do you think?

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