TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.4, "Fifty-One"

Happy Birthday, Walter White.

"Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it...I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!" It was only eight episodes ago that Walter White changed Skyler's opinion of him from a lowly meth-cook to a major player in the drug business, and now he's facing the consequences. In Walt's mind, he's earned his place as kingpin. He outsmarted Gustavo Fring, and worked hard doing it, and now he deserves to reap his rewards. Hank, Marie, and Walt Jr. all love him, so why can't Skyler just snap out of it and say how great he is? But Skyler can't do that. The man she lies next to in bed at night is a murderer without any regrets. But she can't leave. She can't tell the kids. She can't hurt herself and blame Walt. As she says in her showstopping argument with Walt tonight, her ideas aren't good. She's just trying to think of ways to bide the time until Walt dies of cancer. People were speculating after last season that maybe Walt's cancer has returned. It's certainly a possibility. But as it's always been, cancer is the least of his worries. Hank is still working hard to catch Heisenberg, and even though he now runs the field office, I doubt that means that Walt's trouble with the DEA is over. Plus, cooking meth in houses is as dangerous a plan as Walt and Jesse have attempted so far. How long can that go on before a house blows up, or someone sees something they shouldn't? And then there's Lydia. As of now, her role in the season is still hazy. She serves a purpose, no doubt, but it feels as though there's something major about her character that we still don't know. She's a wild card if there was ever one, especially after she appears to have put a tracking device on the bottom of a barrel to scare Walt and Jesse off. Mike says she's dangerous and needs to be killed. He knows things about her that we don't yet, and I don't think we will be in the dark much longer. But let's go back to that argument. As Walt is celebrating his disappointingly small birthday party with family, Skyler leaves the table. She stands over the water, staring into it, transfixed. The scene is very hypnotic and beautiful. And as Walt continues to talk, Skyler slowly walks into the pool. After the family slowly realizes that she isn't coming out, Walt dives into the pool to rescue his loving wife. Walt sits with Marie and Hank and discusses having Skyler see a therapist. Marie suggests that her and Hank take the kids for a little while. Walt asks if it's her idea. "No, it was Skyler's." So Walt goes into the bedroom and begins a scene as tense as the show has had. Skyler is afraid of her husband that she knows is a murderer. Chekov's ricin is still under the light socket (and I'm sure there's a gun somewhere in the room). As Walt chases Skyler around the room, she tells him how scared she is of him, how she is thinking of hurting herself and saying Walt did it. Anna Gunn is tremendous here, and this is the best work she has ever done for the show. Skyler is finally telling her psychotic husband how much she hates him. And Walt finally turns the switch from creepily loving husband to Heisenberg. He coolly shoots down all her ideas, presenting the logic flaws in every plan. He leaves her scared and defenseless with no where to go and nothing to do. In his mind, that's what she gets for not loving and supporting him. The episode ends with Jesse giving Walt a watch. Walt goes home, walks past Skyler who is smoking cigarettes in hopes of his cancer returning, and then stops. He shows her the watch, and tells her the person who gave her that had a gun to his head only a few weeks ago. "He changed his mind about me. And so will you." We end with a close up of the watch, leading towards a countdown. The end is nigh, and something big can be expected in the final four episodes of the year. Happy Birthday, Walter White. Some thoughts: Tonight's episode was directed by Rian Johnson (who also did season 3's "Fly", as well as the films "Brick", "The Brothers Bloom", and the upcoming "Looper"). Johnson does a great job here. Besides the dubstep-enhanced opening he doesn't get the chance to do anything flashy as he did with "Fly", but the direction is still tremendous. Each shot looks gorgeous, especially Skyler drowning in the pool. It's crazy how much has happened in one year. Even Marie has a hard time believing it. Skyler doesn't deserve the torture Walt gives her, but she isn't helping her case by taking Walt Jr's bacon. What else does that boy have besides breakfast? Next week on Breaking Bad: 'Dead Freight' : Walt's team must get creative to obtain the materials they need to continue their operation.
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