Breaking Bad: Fifty-One

Walt: "It's been quite a year, huh?"

It's been a year since the start of the series. Walt thinks it's been a pretty good year. He didn't think he'd live to see another birthday, and here he is, on his way to becoming Scarface, making millions, manipulating everyone in his orbit. He even bought himself a black sports car, and got Junior that red muscle car he wanted so much. Good times.

For Skyler, though, this is the bottom, the end. She is spending all of her time in a state of such deep depression that she isn't getting out of bed. Her face was pretty much expressionless during that entire birthday dinner with the fam, which wasn't the party Walt let Skyler know several times that he was expecting.

Walt is either not internalizing or refusing to accept the fact that his lifestyle is endangering his children, when it's all Skyler can think about. That scene at the party where Walt was going on about how he hadn't thought he'd live through the year was framed so that Skyler was standing behind him with her back to him, looking down at the blue, blue swimming pool. Skyler then chose to act out specifically in a way that would not endanger herself but would get her children out of Walt's reach and in a place where they would be safe. Even while she was emotionally drowning, Skyler was taking care of her children.

It might even work. If Walt doesn't get her committed. And he just might. But if he does, the only other move that Skyler could possibly make is to go to the cops. She'd do it, too. If she and Walt go to prison, Marie and Hank get the kids. I thought Skyler telling Walt outright that she had been counting on him dying of cancer took chutzpah. I also loved her smoking right in front of him, and dropping her cigarette butt in the novelty mug that said "51." I'm really rooting for Skyler now. Who knew that would happen?

Lydia what's-her-face is a hoot. She got a visit from the DEA that she described as "screaming, yelling and swarming." Loved her scene screaming into the throw pillow. Did she really sabotage the bee barrel? Or was it the DEA, after all? Whatever chivalry Mike was feeling because she was a woman and a mom is now over. I find it hard to feel bad for a woman who was ready to have eleven people killed, though.

Hank just got the big promotion. Marie was so bummed about Skyler and Ted, though, that she wasn't thrilled. She couldn't keep her mouth shut. Walt knew that would happen. It just ricocheted on him, though.

Loved the Gus Fring drug empire board with the strings going in so many different directions. It pretty much covered the entire four seasons of the series. The only thing missing was Walt and Jesse. And the blue stuff is making a comeback, of course. Mike's guys are all keeping their mouths shut. It'd be a miracle if that continued to be the case.

Bits (of bacon):

-- So much for the much battered Waltmobile. Could there be anything that represents the change in Walt more than trading in his battered hybrid for a black sports car?

-- In case we didn't get the car symbolism, Walt was wearing (and playing with) his black Heisenberg hat.

-- In case we didn't get the breakfast tradition symbolism, Skyler put a noticeably shorter bacon slice for the number "one" on Walt's plate.

-- The pesticide tents make me think of the circus.

-- Walt cut his head while shaving, and there was a streak of blood through the white shaving cream.

-- Skyler made another color change. She was wearing a white top when she went into the pool.

And pieces:

-- Lydia thought Jesse was a kid cop like on 21 Jump Street.

-- Jesse got Walt an expensive watch for his birthday. Walt used Jesse as an example for Skyler that she was wrong about him. Walt, I don't think that's gonna work.

Quotes:

Walt: "Life is good, Skyler."

Walt: "I can promise you that Gus Fring is dead. He was the threat. He was the danger."
Skyler: "I thought you were the danger."

Jesse: "And I'm telling you, these days, chances of getting a new methylamine hookup? It's rare, man. It's like Bigfoot. It's like unicorn rare."
Mike: "Kid, just... you're giving me heartburn here."

Mike: "That's what I get for being sexist."

Four out of four slices of bacon,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

14 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Great episode. I am simultaneously tremendously proud of Skyler for trying to stand-up to Walt, and very, very disappointed in her. If she truly wants to protect her children, she will go to the police. She apparently thinks she can't, but why? Out of a desire to protect herself? I don't see how that is doing "whatever it takes" to keep her kids safe. Just do your time, or seek an immunity deal.

Maybe she just doesn't have enough proof to truly pin down Walt. Nothing beyond what he's told her and the huge stacks of money she's laundering. But if she would just go to Hank ... he could investigate and get the proof. Maybe.

Sigh. It's a messy situation, but her unwillingness to go to the police at this point disappoints me.

Devin said...

Anyone hear a gun being cocked at the very end of the episode? It's the last noise you hear after the ticking of the watch, but before it fades to black.

Billie Doux said...

I don't remember it, Devin, but I'm sure you're right. There's always so much going on in these episodes. Maybe it's supposed to represent Mike killing Lydia?

Jess, I agree that going to the police is the rightest right thing for Skyler to do. But I think Skyler is thinking things through as logically as she can, and she still wants her freedom as well as her kids. If she goes to the police, or even to Hank, she risks going to jail along with Walt, and the kids lose her *and* the money. If she hangs on awhile longer, Walt could indeed relapse and die of cancer, and she could wind up free and rich and she'd still have her kids. Sending them to live with a DEA agent and a health care worker who love them is about as safe as she can make them. I'm more worried about Skyler than the kids.

Justin said...

If Skyler went to the DEA and told Hank she knew who Heisenberg was but wanted immunity, I'm sure he would give it to her.

Billie Doux said...

You're right, Justin. Skyler probably would get immunity in exchange for testifying. If I were Skyler, I would have gone to the cops before they ever bought the car wash. But thinking as a mom (I'm a mom), if Skyler waits out Walt and he dies, Junior never has to know about Walt. That's no small thing -- take it from someone who knows. And money to keep the house, money for college, again, no small thing. It's not the choice I would make, but I get why she's doing it.

Skyler is also battling pretty serious depression. It's very hard to move ahead or take any kind of action when you're clinically depressed, especially the sort going to the cops would involve.

Plus if she went to the cops, the show would be over. And we can't have that. Yet. :)

Denise Shields said...

Skyler won't go to the police because she doesn't want her kids to have to live with the stigma of having a father that is a drug dealer and murderer. She backed off the idea of making Walt a wife abuser for the same reason.

Amy Ennis said...

I see a lot of myself in Skylar. Or at least how I would act if I were in her position. At first, she was a little more than seduced by the idea of having money and not having to worry. She's a smart woman, as is proof by how she handled the IRS investigators last season. But I don't think she realized more than just "I'm getting my family out of this financial hole" when she first started. Now, she sees the full implication of being in the drug business. I hear people all the time say "I would sell meth. See how much money they make?" But they don't see beyond the initial, just like Skylar (and perhaps Walt) didn't see it. Now, it is real, and it is dangerous. She is realizing that this hole may be different from the financial hole, but it is a hole nonetheless. Very fascinating. I can't wait to see how this ends. I now see Mike killing Walt and Jesse inheriting the load. Either way, I think Walt has to die. He will probably take Jesse with him, which makes me sad.

Anne said...

I'm very confused about the entire Madrigal thing. Didn't that episode just come completely out of nowhere?

Can anyone clear up a tiny bit of confusion for me? When Jesse went to Lydia's warehouse, why did he say he just travelled 900 miles from N.M.? Where on earth is the warehouse located? Does Lydia even live in N.M.?

Billie Doux said...

Anne, the warehouse isn't in New Mexico. I don't remember where it is, although I think they told us at one point. Texas, maybe?

Anne said...

Billie, thanks. (Glad someone is reading my posts!) It did come out soon after that the warehouse is in Houston, TX. Maybe that is even where Lydia lives as the city did seem "major league" at night looking out from her apartment windows. (I have a feeling that ABQ doesn't look like that at night.)

Billie Doux said...

You're welcome, Anne. We read every comment, by the way.

Steve said...

Just wanted to close the loop on the gun cocking comment, even though at this point years later I'm sure no one will read my comment. I'm just watching the show for the first time (I know, I know, I've been very busy the last few years :) and I replayed the last few seconds a few times and it's not a gun cock. It sounds more like a circuit being closed. Also, sometimes, ticking clocks like that make a different sound when they reach 12 (or a set target). Having not seen the next episodes, I don't know whether this comes up again so for now, I'm just interpreting it as symbolically saying "times up". I don't know whether that's on the relationship between Sky and Walt, or the entire family, or Walt and Jesse, or with Mike, or maybe just everything eventually explodes, both figuratively and literally. It seems a virtual certainty that this season won't end with everyone intact; it's not even clear anyone survives.

And Billie, these reviews are fantastic, as always. Just as you enabled me to enjoy Alias at several different levels as I binge watched, you're doing a superb job here as well. I would have missed many of this things listed here, and these also help me remember things that happened earlier. All of this enriches my viewing experience tremendously. Thank you.

Billie Doux said...

Steve, thanks so much. Enjoy the rest of the series. Breaking Bad is such an exceptional series, one of the best.

(We still read every comment!)

Azalea Bradley said...

God, what a wretched bottom-feeder Walt has become. It was these last two episodes where I realize what Walt has always wanted: He wants to be the patriarch. The strong yet benevolent leader and authority. He wanted a wife who was subservient and submissive. Of course, he didn't get that. He got a wife who was his equal, who stood up for herself. And, rather than be at the fore of a prestigious company -- certainly a patriarch position -- he's stuck working (for a woman) at a high school (for reasons that still aren't totally clear to me). So the resentment has been building for years. Now he's the patriarch, in control, oblivious to his wife's suicidal depression in reaction to him.

What's creepy to me is that I think the affection he expresses for Skyler is really genuine. But he is so clueless about her emotional state (and really doesn't care anyway) that it's clear that he's a complete narcissist and doesn't give a hoot about anyone else's feelings-- just is own about them.

Another creepy thing I've discovered about Walt is how unpredictable he is. In any situation I can easily picture him either taking things in stride or flying off the handle. Skyler knows this too, which is why she's so afraid of him. That seems like a clear sign of a dictator to me: arbitrary desires, unpredictable mood, excessive reactions, domineering "I get my way" attitude.

When Skyler straight up told him she wanted him to die, I was so proud of her. She laid everything out, including her lack of leverage. Walt has taken her freedom completely from her. That may have gotten through a little bit to Walt, but in his mind, his "patriarch" script is incompatible with her obvious unhappiness. So, clearly, it's she that has to come around and change her mind about him, just like Jesse did (whom he also manipulated).

While I'm here, I wanted to mention that I like the introduction of Lydia's character. It's such a male-dominated show, and the introduction of a very morally shady female character, who isn't the partner of a man in the show, adds just a tiny bit of nice balance. And I loved how Mike admitted, in passing, that his sparing Lydia came from (benevolent) sexism. Nice touch.