‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5, Episode 4: ‘Fifty-One’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by

Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Fifty One Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 4: Fifty One Recap

When season 5 started, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was seen arranging some bacon on his plate into the number fifty-two. Tonight, in the aptly titled ‘Fifty-One,’ we learn just where that tradition started. As Walter continues to move forward with his attempt to fill the streets with his special product, Breaking Bad continues to illustrate just how far away from the original intent – and the original man – Walter’s ambition has driven him.

Walter has slipped easily into the notion that because he eliminated the most grievous threat to himself and his family, he’s no longer in any danger – or that should a situation arise, he’ll be able to handle it like he did Fring. That confidence begins to emanate in a certain swaggering, pork pie hat-wearing manner that suggests Walt is teetering on the edge of yet another tipping point in terms of his own conduct. His sense of control spreads out like tentacles into all facets of his life, creating the same level of tension at home as he may have with his partners Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Mike (Jonathan Banks). For a man who reluctantly got into the meth cooking business to provide a safety net for his family when he died, Walt’s now become the single biggest threat to their well-being, ostensibly cornering Skyler into an impossible position until she begins to see things his way.

As much as the Ted Beneke situation was Skyler’s response to the initial shift in Walter’s behavior, it has continued to have reverberations well beyond any act of infidelity. As Skyler may have seen what Walt was doing as a necessary, yet temporary evil, her tune changed drastically after the threat of Gus Fring began knocking on her door. But it was the image of Ted in the hospital, gripped with fear that eclipsed the pain of his injuries, a fear of Skyler that seems to have resonated so deeply in her psyche that she now has become hostage to a state of affairs entered into without proper forethought.

So, after Walt sells his newly repaired Pontiac Aztec for $50, and comes home with a new car for both himself and for Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), Skyler says nothing, instead reserving her few words to express concern over Walt Jr. and Holly’s safety. After pooh-poohing the idea, Walt changes the subject to thoughts of how they might celebrate his pending birthday – expecting something along the lines of a surprise party, but ending up with just Hank (Dean Norris) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) instead.

The gathering is relevant not only because of how Skyler eventually conducts herself, but also because the scope of Breaking Bad is examined outright. All that has occurred has done so in the course of around 12 months, making Walt’s transition an extraordinarily expedient one. The pace of change also goes a long way in explaining Skyler’s collapsing under the weight of it all. Whereas Walt was somehow reborn into his current role, it is now Skyler’s life that is dying, and she’s had no time to reconcile herself to that fact. The slow walk into the deep end of the swimming pool was metaphorically poignant, but it also served as Skyler’s only play to get Walt Jr. and Holly out of the house.

In the aftermath, Walt is confronted by his wife’s less than pleasant feelings towards him, and her plan to get herself and the children as far away from him as possible – a plan that may or may not include feigning abuse to see her husband taken away. Walt has a counter for all of her plans, causing Skyler’s hope of escape to wither until all she has left is enough resolve to wait for his cancer to return and kill him – which she seemingly hopes to facilitate later by chain smoking in their living room.

Aaron Paul Breaking Bad Fifty One Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 4: Fifty One Recap

Lydia (Laura Fraser) is caught in a similarly unfavorable position in having to supply Mike with methylamine or face the business end of his handgun, while Hank and the DEA continue to sniff around Madrigal, picking up another person responsible for the El Pollo Loco case that’s now provided Hank with an overdue promotion. The question from that now becomes: will Hank’s inevitable handing off of the Fring investigation result in a stroke of luck for Walt, Mike and Jesse?

Still, Lydia’s hyperbolic response to the DEA’s appearance leads her to deliberately sabotage the delivery of the methylamine by tagging it with a GPS device and convincing Jesse the authorities are tracking Madrigal’s raw materials. Mike, however, is not so easily convinced, and manages to poke enough holes in the story that it’s sunk in a matter of seconds. Putting his game face on, Mike heads for the door to terminate Lydia once and for all, but is stalled by Jesse long enough for Walt (in full Heisenberg mode) to decree that the meth does not stop flowing for any reason, earning Lydia another stay of execution.

Walt’s continued blindness to the circumstances, and willingness to allow the existence of loose ends and wild cards may seem reckless, but considering his perception of the situation, it may only be a matter of time before he reacts in a manner not unlike Gus Fring. There is a lot of waiting going on right now. While Walt will undoubtedly be primed to show the monster that’s been growing inside of him to those who are replaceable, he’s prepared to wait for Skyler to come around, telling her that the man who gave him a handsome new watch was trying to kill him just a short time ago. Walt may be willing to wait for Skyler to see things his way, but the clock will continue ticking, and there’s no telling whose patience is going to win out.


Breaking Bad continues next Sunday with ‘Dead Freight’ @10pm on AMC. Check out a preview below:


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  1. “When season 5 started, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was seen arranging some bacon on his plate into the number fifty-two. Tonight, in the aptly titled ‘Fifty-One,’ we learn just where that tradition started.”

    Wrong. We saw this in the pilot episode of the show where his bacon is arranged to say ’50′. Hence the ‘tradition.’

    • No it was “52″ in the pilot episode. I remember thinking it was the letters “SZ” until it was explained that it was Walt’s birthday. Now we know where the bacon arranging tradition comes from.

      BB pilots often tease a future event that becomes clear as the series progresses. In this case Walt stocking up on automatic weapons, which he never used in the past.

  2. i dont get why walt doesnt just let skylar leave ..i dont get it .. so what happened to her boy toy ted why was he in the hospitol ?

    • *Spoiler for those who didn’t see Season 4″
      Skylar got their lawyer (can’t remember his name, Saul maybe) to send some guys to Ted’s house to basically scare him into paying off what he owes to the IRS. When he tried to run from them he tripped and fell. It was actually kind of silly looking but yeah he got messed up pretty bad from it.
      As for this new episode, I loved it. Skylar did great in this episode but I still don’t like her lol. Kinda wish Walt just got his own place so we don’t have to see Skylar walking around all depressed. Regardless, can’t wait for next Sunday :)

      • thank you for the info… i never really liked skylar to begin with .. but her behavior lately is just wayyyy too much .. walt just needs to let that go ..

        • Skylar is a loose end that needs to be kept under control. That is what Walt is doing. Also, what are you talking about? Her behavior is way too much? She has to share a bed with a man who is deep in the drug business and has killed people and seemingly shrugged it off. She feels trapped. She feels scared. I don’t get why everyone sees Skylar as a monster. Her behavior is reasonable given Walt’s behavior.

          • My issue is that she isn’t innocent herself and yes Walt killed a few people but it wasn’t just for the fun, it was to protect himself and his family.
            If she felt that strong about the whole situation then she should have gotten that divorce instead of sleeping with Ted, staying in the marriage and then getting involved. She made her bed now she has to lay in it.
            Man this show is awesome lol.

          • i guess your right @ saltyjos .. but i still thinks its a bit much .. i mean she cheated on walt so an angel she is not .also i mean walt appears to be trying to make amends its not like he is hurting her ..

          • @salty.. would think that blowing smoke in some ones face and saying i hope your cancer comes back .. is a monsterous act dont you ??

  3. An episode designed by Mike’s line about Walter. Tick. Tick. Tick. My favourite scene of the entir series also. That of Skyler flicking ash and cigarette butts into his birthday cup after she has told him that she is waiting for his cancer to come back. It was subtle, but beautifully warped. Like this entire show.

    I got the strong sense Skyler will end up killing herself. That scene out back where Walt was doing his speech and Skyler was looking at the blue water (as in blue meth) made me think she is on her way out with the only way out left.

    Whatever happens, this is monumental TV.

    • That’s a great point about the pool symbolizing the blue meth. This show pays careful attention to color and images. I also see Skylar’s pool stunt as a baptism of sorts. My full thoughts on this episode are on my Breaking Bad blog.

    • I don’t think Skyler is suicidal. What she did at the pool was symbolism of escape. Of course she knew that she couldn’t commit suicide at that moment, even if she wanted to, because she had family right there to save her. She went into the pool as Walt was recounted events of the last year and she just couldn’t stand to hear it, so she immersed herself in the water, and you can see the kinda serene look she had when she did it.

      Suicidal? I think her concern for her kids will overide any thoughts of a quick demise.

  4. Actually I kinda feel sorry for Skyler, looking depressed all around. Not saying that I like her, but still.

  5. Either kill her off or let her run away. Either way, Im sick of her. She is no saint and the way she is treating Walter after all the crap he has had to take and do to provide for her and his kids, and she treats him like some common thug. She is the sorriest excuse for a wife ever to grace the small screen. Get rid of this stupid B**** and get on with the show.

    • Wow….You are so right. Walt is doing everything for his family…He started making meth for the family…Lying for the family…Killing people for the family…Threatening his family, for his family…Oh wait, Walt is a jerk. Here is the thing, Walt isn’t a common thug. He is something much more than that. There was a line crossed (I believe several seasons ago) where ‘doing this for her family’ has just become an excuse for Walt to rationalize his actions. I still do not understand the hatred for Skylar. She is no saint, I agree there. But neither is Walt. Don’t get me wrong, I like Walt. But he is a total a**.

    • ya i mean if this was a real person and not a tv show we would all call this man a monster. Walter does a lot of terrible things he is obviously the villian now in the series…

  6. Skyler is coming to terms about who she is married too. And i dont think Lydia planted the GPS. Plus the look Hank gives Guss’ laptop as its being bag into evidence, i think he gave it a look. Has anyone caught the undercover agent popping up here and there?

    • I agree about lydia and the GPS,i wonder if its either the cartel or gus’s brother as max wasnt his but basically someone knows their still operating and maybe trying to locate the lab.What do you mean by undercover agent?,i feel as if mike mike have CIA ties as he doesnt seem worried about surveillance and always knows whats going on like with hank going to lydia in houston if you think about it all the surveillance hints so far maybe he has walt bugged or has video or audio of things he did to jesse

      • They very clearly hear Hank talk to another unit in the DEA over the bug and learn that lyddia did not plant it but that the DEA planted them sloppily because they didnt have enough time to put them inside the barrels before they were shipped to her warehouse. this is what saves lydias life. Theres no more guessing as to where the bug came from

  7. I bet Skyler will get hooked on Walters product and that will get Walter to stop cooking making Mike and Jesse want to kill Walter and that’s were the WW2 machine at the beginning of the season comes into play…?

    • I always had hoped Walt Jr. would get addicted to meth ro something with his friends and his dad would catch him getting high on the “blue” making his meth manufacturing come full circle back to his family and show him the truly ugly side to the world of meth heads.

  8. She’ll kill herself, or at least die in some way in the mid season finale. Bet my balls.

    • Maybe she will OD on Walters product?

  9. how bad ass would it be to see walter white on the walking dead .. maybe once breaking bad is done bryan cranston or aaron paul can make an appearance on that show .. would be epic ..

    • Walt Vs Rick! Lmao, that would be awesome (just as a thought tho).

      • so who is more of a b word .. lori or skylar ?

  10. Walter is doing a bad thing by cooking meth, but he does have a strict quality control in mind, to make a clean drug, so he is doing a good thing for the drug using comunity…
    He wants to best all the competiton also, and not by killing – by being smart, and strict with quality. You can’t say that Walt has ever killed anyone who hadn’t threatened him or his relatives (inclooding the tool – Jessey).

  11. The truth is nobody knows what is going to happen, that’s the beauty of breaking bad!

    Epic and subtle all at the same time, when ever somebody points out clever references I’m like dah, oh yeah!

    The final episode of this show will be tv history, wtf is going to happen?!

  12. WOW!! Really… WOW!!
    The scenes with Walt and Skylar were amazing…
    Not only because of the build up to her saying she’s waiting for his cancer to return but also the moment with her smoking, dropping the ash into a birthday cup and blowing the smoke torwards him.
    Also, the direction of this episode was excellent. As much as BB is praised for the story and acting I don’t think enough credit is given to those who direct it.
    IMO this is TV at it’s absolute best…

    • I just looked it up and this episode was directed by Rian Johnson the writer/director of Brick, The Brothers Bloom and the soon to be released Looper.
      Give this guy a directing Emmy next year. He earned it for last nights episode…

  13. the bacon tradition thing was first season in like season 1 episode 1 or sometime around there, when skyler made veggie bacon and shaped it as a 50.

  14. walt is becoming an evil evil man. anyone who says that he is doing this for his family is wrong, that’s a sad excuse to rationalize his actions. it may have been at first, but look at how he explains it to skyler: “well, gotta make the up the 600,000″ bullsh*t walt, you are f*cking evil and you WANT to cook meth

    skyler has full right to be pissed. all she wants is walt out of her life, or at least at a safe distance, but it’s like walt just keeps coming closer and closer. he can SEE that his wife absolutely hates him, yet he moves back in and sleeps in her bed??

    skyler just wants her kids safe, i think that’s perfectly reasonable. last time she trusted walt that they were safe, he ended up searching for money so they could all disappear, when that didn’t work he killed 3 people. now she realizes that walt is the danger in this family, and is wondering how long it is until they are in serious danger again.

    • great points .. BUT can it be done allready .. i mean im just kind of tired of that and thats why i just dont get why walt doesnt just say .. okay cool cath ya later .. and do the weekends and wednesdays like most of us who cant make it work with our wifes anymore .. but its getting old as hell .. its crazy how walk went from a nice guy teacher ..willing to work a second job busting his ass to make ends meat for his family .. to a full blown tony montanna ..

    • @ John
      I agree.
      I don’t understand all the hate directed torwards Skylar. She has made some serious mistakes but she’s living with a monster. And like everyone else on the show her actions are direct result of what Walt has done.
      But I still see things ending badly for her. Especially when I think of a certain vile or Ricin hidden in her bedroom…

  15. Wow can’t believe how many people still hate Skylar and defends Walt after seeing season 5 so far. It’s clear that instead of counting his lucky stars that he got out of it all alive and go back to living his normal life with his family, Walt is still cooking meth because he likes it, because he wants to do it, and it’s no longer “for the good of the family”. He is a completely different person now, he no longer fears anyone or anything and his ego has completely taken over. I feel intimidated and scared just picturing myself being in Skylar’s situation, being forced to have to live with this dangerous person, who doesn’t take no for an answer, who she is supposedly married to but can’t even recognise anymore.

    I used to dislike Skylar because of her controlling ways, but a lot of things she did, while annoying, were understandable reactions to the situation. The things she did involving Ted Beneke were all in all wrong, but evil wise and law-breaking wise? Walt has done a TON of things that are just monsterous (come on, he killed people and poisoned a child for god sakes)

    • I agree. Walter is waaaaay to sure of himself. Walter is an oddball and either shoots himself in the foot with stupid alter ego rants or just believes everything will remain dandy now that another drug dealer is out of the picture. Did Walter completely forget the cartel?!? Or other rival drug dealers are out there?!?

      Also Skyler has become some what annoying, but at least she admitted not knowing what else to do. I think Walt needs to eventually place his family in a more secretive location since they are exposed and will prolly happen after Walt Jr graduates HS. Sadly I can easily see Walt Jr getting his hands on his Dad’s meth when in college…those crazy kids! mark my words!!!

  16. Did anyone hear a gun being cocked at the end of the episode? Right before if fades to black.

  17. Did anyone hear a gun at the end of the episode? Right before if fades to black.

    • I just heard the watch that Jesse gave Walt ticking..symbolyzing that Walt’s time is inevitably running out like many a kingpin before him. I really loved this episode. The part where he say the production of meth stops for no reason. And Mike should have smoke Lydia by now. She’s the loose end. In the 05/01 episode, it seems like Walt goes on the run..so maybe he leave his family behind and its no longer about providing for the family and more about embracing ‘Heisenberg’ and being the ‘chemist’ he was destined to be. I always thought that Jesse would end him but maybe its the other way around.

    • I heard it, too. I’d speculate that it’s Skylar, which wouldn’t be surprising after the last comments Walt made to her that night. Did Walt still have Jesse’s revolver in the house?

      Or it could be Mike protecting Walt from Skylar, because he has always been watching Walt’s back since the beginning – and even though it’s not his job anymore, he still needs Walt for his hazard pay fund.

  18. *SPOILER*

    Did anyone else make the connection between the DEA timeline and the later birthday conversation?

    Early-Midway into the episode Hank and his partner discuss the blue meth timeline infront of the dea evidence board ( http://www.amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad/dea-evidence-board ).
    They talk about ‘the bluemeth timeline’, how its now starting to reappear on the market. I’m assuming they must know, when it first came to light to.

    A couple scenes later; Walter is talking about the exact date, where he got his cancer diagnosis right infront of Hank. Obviously Hank already know this date, but It might pull his thoughts in the ‘right’ direction next time they look at the board/bluemeth timeline.
    The only reason why he hasn’t pulled more towards suspecting Walt, are because of their family ties. That conclusion isn’t even unlocked/adviable for Hank yet.

    • It’s possible.

      Maybe i’m overthinking it. But Hank also found out that his theory about Walt’s second cellphone was wrong. (Skyler cheated, not Walt)

  19. Does anyone know why Walt sold his car? Was it to just get away from evidence linking him to the crime or just another signal of his character change.

    • it’s another signal of his character change, he’s not trying to suppress the “heisenberg” in him anymore, he’s going all out. and heisenberg can have only the best.

      • Cool, thanks for the answer. I figured it was just another character change since he looked at the hat and his reflection. Getting kind of hard to root for the guy now.