Bad Ass Quote of the Week
“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? – Walt> …”For the cancer to come back.” – Skyler White
Thoughts on “Fifty-One”
Vince Gilligan and the writers have some fun with the loyal Baddicts as this episode opens – a final farewell to Walt’s Pontiac Aztek. Walt and Junior are picking up the car from the garage where it has been repaired after Walt and Hank’s accident in “Crawl Space“. Good cracks by Benny the body shop owner about “At least it wasn’t the windshield this time”, “Fern Green – interesting tint”, and “People like to joke but, I really, really like this car.”
He echoes the sentiment of Lucy, the waitress in the opening scene of “Live Free or Die“, when he says “Nothing beats free”.
Walt picks up the Heisenhat from inside the Aztek, and sells the car to Benny. In a great music montage (“Bonfire” by Knife Party) Walt arrives home with a brand new Chrysler 300 SRT, and Junior with a Dodge Challenger. Heisenberg don’t drive no Aztek… and Junior don’t drive no PT Loser!
Lydia (on a conference call in her office in Houston) is still flustered and stressed out (wearing unmatching shoes). Mike gives her 30 seconds warning that she is going to receive visitors…the DEA. How was Mike able to give her this warning, and why only 30 seconds ahead? If he has a mole inside the DEA, why didn’t they provide more warning? Yes, I saw the little nod that Gomez gave to Lydia, but it looked to me that he was merely acknowledging being introduced by Hank. More likely, Mike has someone inside the Houston Madrigal Electromotive office keeping an eye on things. It’s not likely to be the warehouse manager who is arrested (otherwise he would have made tracks), so perhaps one of the nosy secretaries outside Lydia’s office?
Stressed to the point of screaming, she calls Mike to tell him that Ron (the warehouse manager) was just arrested, heavily exaggerating the size of the DEA “raid”. She doesn’t think she can continue supplying him – Ron was her guy, she doesn’t have a guy anymore – he was the one that fixed security, loaded the barrels and drove the truck. Mike says he will send a new guy. This is a very amusing echo of Mike’s speech to Jesse in Episode 405 – “Shotgun” when he tells Jesse, “You are not the guy, you are not capable of being the guy. I had a guy, but now I don’t. You are not the guy.”
Skyler is speechless when she arrives home to see the new fleet of muscle cars in the driveway, and must park in the street. She is quiet during supper when Walt and Junior jokingly argue about whose car is more powerful. The only thing she offers up is a stern look when Walt offers to teach Junior how to do doughnuts.
As Walt explains the story to cover the car purchases, Skyler is showing her stress by tightly winding her dental floss around her finger. No literature degree needed to figure out that symbolism. Upon learning that Walt is cooking again “to make up the $600,000 we lost”, she proposes sending Junior to boarding school in Arizona. She wants to get the children to a new environment. Walt does not buy in. He tells her there is nothing to be afraid of anymore, and he wants them to try to start looking forward to things again. He suggests a birthday party for him would be good for all of them. Skyler has her back to him in bed again.
There is a close up on Walt’s left hand caressing Skyler’s shoulder as he discusses this with her, his wedding ring clearly shown. A contrast with the opening scene in “Live Free or Die” where his wedding ring is not being worn.
Walt’s birthday arrives and Junior prompts Skyler to put his age on the plate using the bacon (real bacon this time), family tradition. Skyler reluctantly does this, stealing a slice from Junior to complete the “1″ in 51. Nobody but Junior could be the “breakfast police”.
At the DEA Hank and Gomez are going over the connections in Gus’ empire, and Hank feels there is something missing in the link between Madrigal Electromotive in Germany, and the warehouse manager in Houston. He floats Lydia’s name, but Gomez rejects it saying she is “too uptight, to together”. Hank notes she was wearing mismatched shoes “How together could she be?”
The DEA supervisor arrives and asks for an update on the case. Hank notes that none of Fring’s crew is talking, and he suspects someone is out there keeping them alive, and he thinks it’s Mike. They are assembling a surveillance team to keep an eye on him. They also note that the blue meth is back on the street in small amounts, either old inventory, or someone is re-booting.
The supervisor asks Gomez to leave, and offers Hank the job of A.S.A.C. (Assistant Special Agent in Charge). This would require Hank to supervise every case in the office, so he would have to give up his “day to days” including Fring. Hank accepts.
I am only waiting to see what Hank will do when he sees a photo of Walt’s new Chrysler 300 (just as conspicuous as the Aztec, really) in the parking lot of Vamonos Pest when the surveillance team on Mike provides them.
Walt asks Jesse to finish packing up at a cook house as he wants to leave early for his birthday. He spruces up before entering his home, anticipating a surprise party like last year. He notes that Skyler has relegated Junior’s Challenger to being parked on the street, and her car is back in its usual position, closest to the door of the family home. Skyler taking command again? She’s at least starting to assert herself a bit.
Walt enters the house and is obviously searching for a surprise party, only to find Junior watching TV and Skyler in the kitchen. He asks Skyler what the plan is, and it’s supper with Hank and Marie.
Hank asks Marie what is bothering her as she drives them to Walt’s birthday. He says she doesn’t seem that excited about his new job, and when she leans over to kiss him, he quickly redirects her to keep her eyes on the road – no more hospital time for Hank! After revealing the whole story of Skyler’s affair to Hank (without saying who it was with), she mimes zipping her lip and throwing away the key. Like Walt didn’t know Marie would spill it the first opportunity she could. Hank probably betrays that the secret is out when the door to Walt’s house is opened revealing the birthday boy, Junior and Skyler, and he says “Heyyyyy, there she is!’
After Junior departs the birthday supper, an uncomfortable conversation ensues between the four adults, mainly due to Skyler’s detached manner. As Walt goes over the events of the past year, his cancer and treatment, Skyler moves to the pool, and stares at the water. To the surprise of everyone, she steps into the pool and sinks to the bottom, wearing a mysterious peaceful expression, almost smiling. Walt jumps in to pull her out.
From the first viewing of this episode, I could not believe that this was a legitimate suicide attempt, a product of Skyler’s recent despondency. She has always been a strong person, strong character, and I just did not see this in her. Something must be up in her mind, and we will shortly see what it is.
Lydia fiddles with an electrical panel, randomly throwing switches until she successfully turns off the security cameras in her warehouse. Jesse shows up to receive the barrel of methylamine – it seems that he now “is the guy”. Upon lowering the barrel that Lydia has erased from inventory from the shelf, she notices something on the bottom. It appears to be a lump of plasticine, or plastic explosive, in a strange shape.
Hank and Walt talk about Skyler’s actions, and Hank indicates he knows that they have had some problems from Marie. Hank says perhaps Walt should have her talk to someone, to which Walt replies “I”m going to get on that first thing.”
Hank suggests Marie’s guy “Dave” and jokes that Marie isn’t the best advertisement for advanced mental health. That’s the first time we’ve seen him acknowledge that outside of his marriage.
Marie arrives and offers up Dave’s number, as well as playing dumb about knowing Walt’s story about what has been going on. She proposes that she and Hank take the children for a while to give Walt and Skyler some space, and Hank agrees that it’s a good idea. Walt asks her if this was her idea, and Marie says it was Skyler’s “she really needs this”, and Walt replies “yep”.
In the bedroom, Walt tells Skyler that the kids are going with Hank and Marie, and they are out of this environment. The following argument between Skyler and Walt about the safety of the children and her plan to remove them from the situation, is epic, surely up for Emmy consideration next year. Skyler reveals her act in the pool was the plan she came up with to get the kids out. She threatens faking that Walt beats her, sending Junior away to school, and Walt shoots down every idea. He challenges her, “You want to take me on? You want to take away my children?”
She can only bide her time and wait. Walt asks her what she is waiting for, and she says, “For the cancer to come back.”
Blistering! Surely the highlight of this episode. The camera angles during the first half of this scene show Skyler, but Walt’s head is cut off, like she has taken some power back, decapitated his plans for the moment. Of course, he comes roaring back and defeats every angle she considers, reducing her to the only hope she can cling to… that her husband will die. This, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful, character driven moments in the series.
The next morning, Walt shaves his head, cutting himself. Yeah, I’ll say he was cut – by what Skyler said to him the night before. He eats alone, a bowl of cold cereal, a complete contrast to his family birthday breakfast the day before.
At Vamonos Pest, Jesse shows Mike photos of what was stuck to the bottom of the barrel of methylamine – a GPS tracking device. Jesse thinks it’s the DEA, but after questioning him, Mike deduces that it was Lydia that placed it, and that he must kill her. She did it to get out of supplying them. Jesse argues with Mike to spare Lydia, and Mike argues that she has to die. Jesse says that this is a voting matter, and appeals to Walt, who says “The methylamine keeps flowing no matter what. We are not ramping down. We’re just getting started. Nothing stops this train. Nothing.”
Walt delivers this line sitting off to the side, after staying silent and out of the argument – he’s the boss. He plays with a loose thread on his Heisenhat. What does this signify – that Lydia is a loose thread in their operation – or something else? There are plenty to choose from – perhaps Junior mentioning to Hank that Walt called him Jesse? Too many to guess from. Framing Walt’s head between pictures of flies in a poster on the wall behind him was also another nice touch. This scene was about a “bug” on the methylamine barrel. It also contrasts with Walt’s emotional / irrational state in Episode 310 – “Fly” and his assertion of control now.
One thing that I question here is why Lydia struggled with turning off the security cameras in the warehouse prior to Jesse’s arrival. If she had placed the GPS on the barrel, wouldn’t she have had to disable them before? The only thing I can think of was that she placed the GPS with the aid of “her guy” Ron, prior to his arrest. If so, Ron must not be one of the 11 that Mike is looking after with “Hazard Pay”, or else his loyalty lies with Lydia and not Mike. Another possibility is that Lydia rigged the barrel after turning off the cameras and before Jesse’s arrival. I dismiss this possibility as I just can’t envision Lydia operating a forklift to do this job in her flustered state. I suppose we’ll find out more about this in the future.
Outside of Vamonos Pest, Jesse tells Walt that he likes what Walt did inside “it was the way to go”. I’m curious as to what Walt’s plan is. Jesse also presents Walt with the gift of a watch for his birthday.
At home Walt see’s Skyler smoking silently on the couch – butting her cigarettes in his birthday coffee mug. He’s been to see the kids and says they are doing ok. He then shows Skyler the watch Jesse has given him, saying that this was given to him by someone who wanted him dead too. Walt says,”Not that long ago, he pointed a gun right between my eyes, right here, and he threatened to kill me. He changed his mind about me Skyler, and so will you.’
Skyler goes on smoking silently as Walt goes to bed, placing the watch on top of his books. The hour hand is pointed at 10 minutes to the hour – or 50 minutes after. A close up of the alarm clock shows a hand ticking past 50 and towards midnight - or zero. Walt has lived one year since the beginning of this show (his 50′th birthday), when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given about two years to live. Time is ticking for him. Skyler is waiting. Mike also said in “Madrigal” that Walt is a ticking time bomb and that he doesn’t want to be around for the boom. We know all this, but those simple images at the end of this episode could not help but fill me with chills.
This episode was perhaps not as fast-moving as the first three of this season, but it was full of character driven drama which is what makes this show great. I am not complaining, and enjoyed it thoroughly!
I am predicting that a photo of Walt’s Chrysler 300 in front of Vamonos Pest, provided by the surveillance team assigned to Mike, will finally tip-off Hank to Walt. I know this contradicts my prediction of Junior telling Hank that Walt called him Jesse when he was drugged up, but these don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
None of my predictions came true this week, and none were disproven.
My score so far since starting this site is 3 1/2 predictions correct, 1 1/2 predictions wrong, and 6 now pending.
Humorous Quote of the Week
“Chances of getting a new methaline hook up is rare, man. It’s like bigfoot, like unicorn rare.” – Jesse Pinkman