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Breaking Bad Recap Season 5, Episode 4: ‘51’

By / 08.05.12

For most, a 51st birthday would be generally lack in rage status. In fact, the artist formerly known as Walter White probably wouldn’t even be aware it was his birthday. Yet Heisenberg, having received the fateful cancer diagnosis a year to the date, deems it fitting to greet the occasion with style. 

More than anything, this is really an indication of how the once mild-mannered king of the mundane has abdicated his former throne for a real one. His gloating to Jesse (ITS MY BIRTHDAY, IM THE DOPEST, LETS TAKE ANOTHER ONE TO ME) sounded as if it were coming from a nine year old brat who was all but certain she’d come home to a brand new American Girl Doll.

At 51, Walt finally has cause to celebrate–he’s become all whose he’s wanted to be, and has seemingly filled his potential in ways previously unimaginable. As the opening scene demonstrates, reuniting with his Heisenberg Hat essentially seals the deal on Walt’s coolness level. And because Heisenberg’s are pretty much the real-life manifestation of 1970’s Varsity QBs, he’d now rather be caught dead than with a soccer-dad mobile. Meaning, the ride swap for Walt and Walt Jr. was just as much about the rides as it was the background dubstep. Dubstep, like Heisenberg, is all the rage nowadays.

Lydia freaks out–and then freaks out again–which leads to an interesting subplot, whose place on the back-burner likely won’t last very long. The main focus of the episode, Skylar’s sudden wish to channel the main character from “The Awakening”1 and try and live life by not living was certainly alarming, but nonetheless a necessary device to underscore how truly f*cked up she’s become by Walt’s own “Awakening.” It’s as if while Walt increasingly gains strength, will, and reason to live, he’s sapping it all from Skylar.

Overall, this was an episode that was rather similar to one of those nights where you hop around four or five different bars, all of which were really good, but have such a dope time at every single one that you half-wish you just stayed put for the night. This episode tackles so many different channels, asks so many questions, and sets up so many potential developments (Is Skylar going to be the one who sells out Walt? Will Hank hang out with Junior to the point where Junior starts getting involved in the hunt? How will the Lydia sitch be resolved?) that they’re nearly impossible to quantify in a singular narrative. The beauty of this show is that its pretty much exactly like advanced physics/chemistry–the more you know, the less you know. A mindf*ck to the highest degree, and wanting more is just as much foreboding as it is enticing. From here on out, its likely gonna be like watching a mad scary movie in third grade. Eyes half closed, but looking away was never really an option.

Quick Bumps:

Jesse Pinkman “Bitch” Count: True, this wasn’t a Jesse-centric episode by any means, but this slump has gotta be a record. Though as we all know, even Mark Cuban was broke once. A late-season surge is inevitable.

  • This episode: 0
  • Overall: 2

Random Observation(s) of the Night:

  • Congrats, Hank. You really deserved the promosh. Gotta admire defying the odds, especially in this economy (insert Hank chuckle here)
  • Is Lydia hot? What’s the consensus?
  • We all know that “51” Bacon design from the season opener. Judging by the way Walt defeatedly put together the “52,” the clock’s ticking on when sh*ts gonna go down between him and Skye.
  • How much we think Jesse dropped on the watch? I’d ballpark it at a modest 5-6 G.
  • The clock's ticking. On everything. 
  • Espeically the AMC/Dish feud.

Relationship to Watch:

  • Walt and Skylar is the easy choice here. But the truth is, everybody, and it's not even close. Winter's Coming, Bro. 

Catch Up On Previous Recaps Here.    Follow Me On Twitter 

12th grade english teacher gets the assist, as does trusty-old sparknotes.1


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