Breaking Bad

Season 5 Episode 4

Fifty-One

19
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Aug 05, 2012 on AMC
AIRED:
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
267 votes
8

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

TV.com Episode Review

  • TICK, TICK, TICK...

    Breaking Bad: Time Out

    "Fifty-One" was a superb episode that pushed Skyler to her limit as Walter continued to get comfortable on his throne.

  • Episode Summary

    Skyler considers packing up the kids and leaving. Walt and Jesse's ongoing plan may be foiled by a new team member.

    Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    SUBMIT REVIEW
    • Too slow and uneventful for my taste

      7.0
      "Can the Breaking Bad soundtrack get more diverse?", you may ask. responds Vince Gilligan and adds Australian dubstep duo Knife Party for the scene of Walt and his son enjoying themselves with their freshly leased muscle cars. Just as this intro isn't of much importance for the rest of the episode, this also applies for the introduction of my review and I'm now going to make a similarly unsmooth change of topic.



      As we meet Lydia again, not only will native German speakers notice that Laura Fraser's German is the epitome of halting, but her story arc is also getting more interesting. Her relationship with Mike hasn't got any rosier since he was on the verge of blasting her head off in "Madrigal" and a little GPS tracker on a methylamine barrel secures that the next episode, "Dead Freight", will be outstanding. That adjective isn't yet fitting for "Fifty-One", but the season's fourth episode has clearly got its moments to shine, to wit the scene that Fraser and Aaron Paul share together and that leads to the aforementioned discovery or the last shot of Walt's birthday present clock ticking. However, that's about everything worth mentioning, which is a fairly low yield from an episode lasting three quarters of an hour.



      With that, I'm not insinuating that I didn't like "Fifty-One" since Sam Catlin did a nice job with the script and made some of the duller story lines a bit more interesting. Nevertheless, the episode was too slow for my taste and I disliked the lengthy scene at the White house, which also sets off a new living situation for the family that I'm not too fond of. Additionally, there's a blemish with the episode's title and the actual overall number of it, which is the 50th and not the 51st. But my generous self won't be reducing the rating for "Fifty-One" just because of that.moreless
    • Fifty One

      10
      The episode opened with Lydia getting a visit at Madrigal from the DEA including Hank and Gomez. She takes them to a man who works for Madrigal that gets arrested. Lydia reveals that he was the delivery-person for all of their chemicals and that Mike's operation can't happen anymore but Mike sends Jesse to get a barrel that Lydia left out of inventory. When Jesse lifts it down off of the shelf with a forklift Lydia points out a device on the bottom of the barrel that is a tracking device so they put it back. Mike insists that Lydia must've put it there since if it was planted by the cops it would've been much less sloppily done than that. Mike says that Lydia needs to be taken care of and his letting her live was a lapse of judgment on his part. Jesse sticks up for her as she doesn't seem the type but Mike tells him that they're both being sexist by not killing her simply because she's a woman. Walt says that there is a better way and with his Heisenberg hat in tow he lays down the law that they will not kill her. He buys a new car for himself and Junior after getting his old car all the way back from Season 1 gets fixed and sells it to the guy who fixed it for fifty bucks and gets Junior and himself a pair of muscle cars instead. Skyler threatens to take the kids away and she doesn't want Walt's influence on the kids poisoning their family again. Hank and Marie come over for his birthday dinner and Skyler, on the edge of losing it, walks into the pool much to everyone's dismay. She gets Marie and Hank to take Junior and Holly for a few days while Walt and Skyler work things out. Walt confronts her about the pool incident and how he's back in biz but Skyler doesn't want to hear anything about it. Walt keeps poking holes in her plans that she keeps coming up with and she admits that she doesn't have a master plan only that she wants to get the kids away from Walt and every minute is a victory. This was top tier work on the behalf of Cranston and Gunn, who finally got an Emmy nom for last season's performance by her. Since this is one year exactly since the Pilot it's weird to see just how far they've come and how much Skyler wants Walt out of her life now which is sad seeing how against each other they are now. Hank deducing Skyler's infidelity would be a surprise to him and his musing on the fact that nobody from Gus's operation is talking and that someone is keeping them quiet and he believes it to be Mike pulling those strings. Topped with Jesse's gift of a really nice watch made Fifty One this season's best episode so far but also a bittersweet contemplation of how close Walt is to transforming into the kingpin and filling the drugless void of New Mexico's underground.moreless
    • An ongoing masterpiece...

      9.0
      I suppose I'm writing this review to celebrate the sheer weight with which Breaking Bad has impacted me over the past five years. It certainly has been a rocky ride, with adrenaline and horror given in equal doses. Rewatching the past seasons (to get my girlfriend acquainted) has certainly shed some light on the bewitching trajectory this show has taken. When it's done, I am fairly certain it will become my all-time favorite tv series. Well done AMC, I'm willing to bet HBO bribed Dish to get you off the air. But anyway... SPOILERS follow.



      This episode gets a 9.0 for one simple reason. One year? It's been one year since Walter was diagnosed with cancer? I know, this is meant to accentuate the degree to which life (or fate, perhaps) can transform human beings into different creatures entirely. Furthermore, I understand Vince Gilligan is deliberately marking the one year point here to make viewers say it's been one bats*** year. Even so, it's simply not feasible to me, and this is the one major criticism I feel justified in leveling at Gilligan, who I believe otherwise deserves a Nobel prize. Look back. Walt was diagnosed with cancer, he begins treatment, he loses his hair, he goes into remission. Along the way, there's Crazy 8 (circa episode 1), Tuco, Jesse as boss to his burnout friends, meeting Gus, evading Gus, working for Gus, and finally killing Gus. There's also the fact that Jesse fell in love, woke up beside her dead body, went to rehab, got clean, got over it, continued rehab, fell in love again, killed Gale, went crazy, and got over that one too. Walt's transformation from Walter White- spineless chemistry teacher- to Heisenberg- reptile with a god-lust- has been more subtle, but even weightier. Yes, I know it has been a crazy year, but I simply don't believe people's emotions work that quickly, even if all of these events could conceivably be sardined into a 365-day tin. Even if it was Walt's 52nd birthday in this episode, I would be more satisfied.



      Now that I have purged my frustration on paper, I can honestly admit I have no further criticisms against this show. The acting and the cinematography are worthy of Gilligan's landmark writing, and I know with certainty that the intensity of this show will melt my brain by the time it is finished.moreless
    • I agree 100% with Jbirth

      10
      Sorry thefanof, but I have to pile on here. I actually signed up just to comment because ludicrous reviews like yours just piss me off to no end. It sounds like you just write stuff to get attention because, like jbirth says, your reviews make no sense. It seems like you give every episode of BB a mediocre to poor review. If you truly feel that way about each episode, then why watch the show?



      So that is one contradiction; another is the fact that you don't want to call the Walt-Sklyer fight good art or give Anna Gunn credit for her acting (you actually said her acting was brutal), yet you admit that was a good scene. You know what was necessary to make that a good scene??? Anna Gunn's acting! You know what else made it a great scene? Great art! From Cranston and Gunn's incredible acting, to the unbelievable directing and photography which made Skyler feel trapped. And to the writing that led to that great scene. That is all art!



      And, on a side note, I can't understand why "The Sopranos" is considered by so many to be a greater show than Breaking Bad. The crazy intensity and high stakes that BB has, and the amazing character development, particularly Walter's transformation from a pathetic, meek, sympathetic person to a monster that illicits fear and hate are 2 elements in which "The Sopranos" can't come close. I can also add the cinematography, directing, writing, and acting. Maybe the only area in which "The Sopranos" is stronger is the fact that it is more realistic. But realism isn't really the point of BB. It's about the consequences of bad decisions and I'm sure things will end horribly for Walt. Certain situations Walt and Jesse have been in would most likely have resulted in a different outcome 99% of the time. However, the character's motivations are almost always believable.



      Another supposed weakness of BB is Skyler's character. I never really understand why everyone hates her. People seem to forget her husband is a criminal and that she has had every right to treat him poorly (like cheating on him via Ted). Skyler still might not have been as interesting as Carmela Soprano for the first 4 seasons of BB. But, with season 5 under way, that is no longer true. The scenes between Walter and Skyler in season 5 are far more intense than any scene between Skyler and Tony.



      At any rate, I'm done. If people want to criticize the show, that's fine. But stop looking to criticize just for the sake of criticizing and back up your points at least.



      As for the review: I think this was the best "non-action" episode of BB. That Skyler-Walt confrontation scene was just outstanding! And the thing is, it was super intense, yet the scene didn't even rely on suspense. Think about how amazing that is! Remember the episode, "Half-Measures", when Jesse almost got himself killed and Walt ran over the 2 thugs? Great, great scene but the intensity was mostly due to the fact that we had no idea what was going to happen or that Jesse might meet his demise. Then, Walt comes out of nowhere, and we have one of those great BB "holy shit" moments. Contrast that to the bedroom scene, in which we almost approach that same intensity without guns, gangsters, explosions, shocking moments, or cliffhangers. Just straight up brilliant acting and directing inside of a bedroom! Now if that isn't art, I don't know what is!moreless
    • Ok, Mr. thefanof!

      10
      Ok, I don't know if I can do this or not, because although I visit TV.com every day, I don't comment much, but I would like to respond to the absurd review made by thefanof. I usually respect other people's opinion because they are as legitimate as mine, but the case is that thefanof and me watch lots of the same shows, and in my opinion his reviews are almost always ridiculous.



      A review, an article containing someone's opinion, must have information that allows us to understand such evaluation. And you never do that!!!



      But with the review about "Fifty-One" I just had to talk. So for you this episode was just emmy material for Anna Gunn?!. How can you only see that when this episode was a meditation on what changed in Walt's life and in Walt himself over the past seasons, over the last year, and by the way, a meditation that was way more complex, and way more "art" than almost every other show in recent television history? The amount of

      implicit information lying under every line of dialogue in this episode (and in this show), and the amount of emotions shown in every character's faces, are NOT just emmy material for Anna Gunn.



      And then you say Anna Gunn's performance in this show is awful. Ok, so let's take the example of this episode's fight between her and Walter. Do you think it is an easy scene to do? Do you think every actress can put such intensity in her words and in her body lenguage, for ten minutes, while shouting just ONCE? Really, she didn't raise her voice, but nonetheless it was one of the most intense conversations in the history of the show (incredible work by the writers and the actors, Cranston is unbelievable). She may not be the best performer in the show. Cranston is a genius, Paul is excellent, and Norris, Odenkirk, Esposito and Banks are very good too, but she is one hell of an actress in a very difficult role.



      And then you say you don't want to hear how this is art. Ok, so what do you want to hear? That this is poor television work? That the scene in which we see Walter talking and Skyler is in the back, jumping in a pool with the same color as the drug he sells is just a normal scene of television? That the opening scene, that allows us to perfectly understand the differences between Walter and Heisemberg, is just a filler scene? That the fight scene isn't one of the best scenes of the show? That the final scene isn't supremely well done, with the excellent use of the (little) light showing Skyler's indifference and Walter's pride? The only ones who will say that this show isn't art are the ones like you, the haters, and the ones who just want hot girls and boys talking about the weather and cheating on each other on a tv show. But I know you're not like that, because I know you watch some very good shows! So, just like the poster for one of my favourite movies reads: look closer. You may not like it, you have all the right not to like it, but DONT say its a bad show, or if you do, justify it!



      I think that with this response to the one who is, in my opinion, one of the most ridiculous reviewers of TV.com, my own review is almost done.



      This was one of the most incredible episodes of the entire series. Breaking Bad is, right now, the best show on TV. Every aspect of the show is brilliant. The writing, the acting, the directing, the photography, everything. For me, the show is a masterpiece, and nothing, absolutely nothing about it, is overrated.



      PS: I'm form Portugal, exceuse me for the messy english.

      moreless
    John Ashton

    John Ashton

    Mechanic

    Guest Star

    Russ Dillen

    Russ Dillen

    Ron

    Guest Star

    Melissa McCurley

    Melissa McCurley

    Lydia's Secretary

    Guest Star

    Laura Fraser

    Laura Fraser

    Lydia

    Recurring Role

    Steven Michael Quezada

    Steven Michael Quezada

    Steven Gomez

    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

    FILTER BY TYPE

    • TRIVIA (4)

      • The watch that Jesse gives Walt is the Tag Heuer Monaco, the same one that Steve McQueen wore in the movie "LeMans" (1977). Steve McQueen was later diagnosed with an inoperable form of lung cancer. walt also has lung cancer.

      • The scene in the bedroom near the end of the episode was originally planned with Skyler staying stationary on the bed. However, Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Rian Johnson decided to convey Walt's "cornering" of Skyler a bit more by having Anna move around the bedroom with Bryan slowly closing in on her after each move. Vince Gilligan was greatly impressed with this "blocking" technique.

      • During the smoking scene and serious talk with Walt, Anna Gunn was hiding her nausea from the herbal cigarettes. She used to be a smoker, but had to take Gravol and cough drops in order to keep the scene going. Rian Johnson, the director, avoided filming her face because of Gunn's difficult time during that scene.

      • Chrysler paid for the product placement, this time. But Michelle MacLaren mentions on the podcast that she told Rian Johnson (the director) to at least show off these cars a bit. Michelle says Rian hit it out of the park by doing the low-level trolley camera play between the two cars with the engines roaring.

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (3)

    • ALLUSIONS (0)

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