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.
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.
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!
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.
Fifty-One was definitely a perfect episode of Breaking Bad. I really enjoyed watching because the actors were amazing, the cinematography and editing were superb and the scenes were very well written! I loved how Walt bonded with Walt Jr. in the beginning by getting new vehicles, and how Skylar was broken down more by Walt as he questioned her. I loved every aspect and was on the edge of my seat a few times. This was one of the best episodes of the series. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
This was shameless by Breaking Bad. Skylar's "breakdown" is clearly this show trying to create Emmy material for Anna Gunn, the only problem is that her acting is awful in this show so it was more of a headache than anything else. Wish there was more emphasis on the business than her struggles, but Walt quickly shooting down all her strategies was a good scene.
I just don't want to hear how this is art and how her performance was anything less than brutal. This new directing style of Breaking Bad just is not working for me.
usually are the action packed, mind bending episodes of BB that stick in your head but this slow moving one was perfect. First of all it was beautiful to look at (more than always) the pool scene alone made this one worth wathing but the preformances of Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn were amazing, the opening was incredibly cool and the scene where Jesse gives Walt his birthday present was so subtle but sad because you know Walt doesnt deserve such a nice gesture from Jesse. The other great thing is that it also moved the story along more than one would think: Hank back to El Paso? Lydia becoming a problem. And what was Walts solution that Jesse talked about at the end? we are gonna have to wait another weekk to know