Breaking Bad, 5-4: “Fifty-One”
Walt and Junior are at the garage, picking up Walt’s repaired Aztek, which he sells to the garage owner for $50 after taking his Heisenberg hat out of the passenger seat. Shutting the door to the car for the last time, Walt looks at his reflection in the side mirror and touches the brim of the hat like an old-style Western gunslinger.
Hard electro-pop music plays as Junior’s PT Cruiser and Walt’s new black Chrysler 300 pull into the Whites’ driveway. Junior seems reluctant to celebrate the 300, and the next thing we know the cars are pulling in again, but this time Junior’s driving what looks like the same Dodge Challenger Skyler made him give up in episode 7, season 4. The two laugh as they rev their motors.
Scene 1: Lydia’s office, the Whites’
Mike calls Lydia to give her a heads-up that she’ll have visitors in 30 seconds: Hank and Gomez. She takes them and some regular cops to the Madrigal warehouse and points out her warehouse man, who becomes the fall guy (is arrested).
At the Whites’ the guys are talking cars and teasing each other over dinner. Later in the master bath, Walt says to Skyler, “I know you don’t approve, but we can call mine a birthday present to myself and Junior’s me being a softie. Besides, they’re both leases.” He puts stacks of money on the counter. “We can afford it now.”
“You’re back at it.”
“Well, yeah. I had to make up that $600,000 we lost.”
Later, Walt’s in bed reading, and Skyler’s sitting on the edge of the bed on her side, putting on lotion. “What do you think about boarding school for Junior?” she asks, adding that a “new environment” might be good for the kids.
“What does that mean? What’s wrong with their environment?”
Skyler lies down on her side, facing away from Walt, and he starts glomming onto her. “I know the last few weeks have been rough, but there is absolutely nothing for you to be afraid of anymore, okay? I want to start looking forward to things again. Speaking of which, I don’t know what you have planned for my birthday. I’d understand if you hadn’t given it any thought, but a little celebration might be good for all of us. And maybe, if I may be so bold, chocolate cake with chocolate icing…Life is good, Skyler.”
The next day at breakfast, Skyler serves Walt eggs and bacon, and Junior notices that she hasn’t broken the bacon and spelled out Walt’s new age. “That’s all right,” Walt says. “I can do it.”
“No, Mom has to.”
“Well, it is sort of a tradition,” Walt says, holding Holly.
Skyler gets up and, without a word or a smile, breaks Walt’s bacon up and uses the pieces to make a big five and a little one. When Junior says, “That’s a pretty small one,” she takes one of his pieces of bacon and puts it on Walt’s plate.
Scene 2: the DEA, a tented house, Casa Blanca
Hank and Gomez look at their picture board, now graced by a picture of Peter Schuler and Gus together. “There’s gotta be someone in the middle,” Hank says. “Maybe Lydia.”
“Too uptight,” Gomez says, and Hank mentions the mismatched shoes she was wearing.
Their new boss comes in and asks how the case is coming. “No one’s talkin’ to us,” Hank says. “Mike Ehrmentraut is keepin’ ’em alive. We’re putting a surveillance team on him…The blue meth is making a bit of a comeback.”
The boss sends Gomez out and tells Hank he can become ASAC in El Paso if he applies for the job.
At a tented house, Walt asks Jesse if can “finish up. It’s my birthday, and I may have a party waiting for me.”
“No problem. Happy Birthday!”
Walt enters Casa Blanca expecting a big surprise, but it’s just Junior watching TV. “Where’s your mom?”
“Oh, hey,” Skyler says. She’s wearing a long sky blue skirt and a white sweater.
“So, what’s the plan?”
“Hank and Marie are on their way. Roast chicken and potatoes for dinner. Fruit for dessert, and chocolate cake as requested.”
On their way over, Marie spills the beans to a surprised Hank that Skyler had an affair on Walt.
Later, at the pool, Junior leaves, and the conversation’s stilted, with Skyler silent and unsmiling. She gets up and makes her way to the pool, finally going down the ladder into the water and submerging herself to everyone’s consternation.
Scene 3: Lydia’s warehouse, Casa Blanca
Lydia turns off the security cameras in the warehouse and meets Jesse, who’s come for methylamine. The deal’s off when Lydia spots some sort of tracking device on the barrel.
Meanwhile, Hank, Marie, and Walt discuss what just happened, and Walt agrees that Skyler needs therapy. Marie offers to take the kids to give Walt and Skyler time and space, and, prodded by Walt, admits that this was Skyler’s idea.
After Hank and Marie leave, Walt goes back to the bedroom and tells Skyler that it’s all arranged as she wanted. When he asks for an explanation, Skyler says, “I don’t want the kids here anymore. It isn’t safe…A couple of weeks ago, a man was coming to this house to kill us, to murder your entire family. You were in the crawlspace, screaming.”
“I dealt with him. It’s over.”
“It’s not. You’re right back in the meth business again.”
“It’s different now. I’m running things. Nothing will ever impact you or the kids.”
“You don’t know that. You can’t make that promise.”
“I promise you that Gus Fring is dead. He was the threat – he was the danger.”
“I thought you were the danger.”
Walt gets up and paces the room. “Is that what your pool stunt was all about? Trying to protect my children from me?”
“Not just you. There’s blood on my hands, too.”
“What blood? Beneke?”
“He’s in the hospital because of me.”
“You didn’t set out to hurt anybody. You did what you had to do to protect your family.”
“Stop it, Walt! Just stop! I don’t need to hear any of your bullshit rationales! I’m in it now. I’m compromised. But I will not have my children living in a house where dealing drugs and hurting and killing people is shrugged off as ‘shit happens.’ We’re back at it? Fine. The kids stay away, and that’s that.”
“That’s that? What?”
“I got them out of this house.”
“To a sleepover at their Aunt Marie’s for a few days. Then they come home to a house where their parents love them.”
“No! I will not let our business endanger them.”
“How many times do I have to say that they are not – ”
“I said no! I swear to God I won’t have them back here!”
Walt moves closer. “What are you gonna do to stop it?”
“Whatever it takes. Everything in my power.”
“Like what, specifically? What’s your next move?”
“My next move is maybe I hurt myself, make it clear we need more time.”
“So maybe I have you committed to an in-patient facility while I take care of the kids myself. Is that what you want?”
“So then maybe I show up with bruises on my neck, give myself a black eye, say you beat me when you found out about my lover.”
“I’m not hearing a solution to your problem. You want to take me on? You want to take away my children? What’s the plan?”
“I don’t know! This is the best I could come up with! I will count every minute that the kids are away from here, away from you, as a victory! But you’re right – it’s a bad plan. I don’t have any of your magic, Walt. I don’t know what to do! I’m a coward. I can’t go to the police, I can’t stop laundering the money, I can’t keep you out of the house – I can’t even keep you out of my bed! All I can do is wait – that’s it – that’s the only good option: hold on, bide my time, and wait.”
“Wait for what? What are you waiting for?”
“For the cancer to come back.”
The next morning Walt gets an emergency call from Mike and Jesse as he eats his cereal.
Scene 4: the VP office
“If the DEA’s trackin’ our barrels,” Jesse says, “there goes our precursor connection.”
Mike points out that “even by cop standards” what he saw was “sloppy.” Also, Jesse didn’t check any of the other barrels. “Was it you or her that spotted it?”
“Okay. She’s dead.”
“Just tell her to cut the crap! We need her!”
“We may have to ramp down for a while; it beats dealing with a lunatic…Trust me, this woman deserves to die as much as any man I’ve ever met.”
“What if it really was the cops? Mr. White, what do you think?”
Walt, holding his Heisenberg hat: “The meth keeps flowing, no matter what. We’re not ramping down – we’re just getting started. Nothing stops this train – nothing.”
As Walt heads for his car, wearing the black hat, Jesse calls, “Hey, yo! Mr. White! Hold up! Hey!” He expresses agreement with Walt’s position and gives him an expensive watch for his birthday. “The receipt’s in the box, in case you want to exchange it…Anyway, happy birthday!”
Scene 5: Casa Blanca
We see Skyler sitting on the living room couch, smoking, as Walt enters. He greets her pleasantly, says he stopped by Hank and Marie’s, and asks how she is. No answer. “There’s going to be some more money coming in soon. Is that okay?”
“Fine,” Skyler says, in a barely audible voice.
“Good. So – coming to bed?” Skyler doesn’t answer, just lights another cigarette (trying to speed the return of Walt’s cancer?).
Walt starts down the hall, then comes back to show her his new watch. “The person who gave me this present wanted me dead, too, not that long ago. He pointed a gun right between my eyes, and threatened to kill me. He changed his mind about me, Skyler, and so will you.”
We see Walt in the bedroom in his underwear. He gets into bed, looks at his new watch, almost as big as a clock on the nightstand, and turns off the light. The camera closes in on the watch, as it ticks faster and faster, the “ticking time bomb” of Walt that Mike talked about in an earlier episode.