|Breaking Bad episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Rian Johnson|
|Written by||Sam Catlin|
by Knife Party
|Cinematography by||Michael Slovis|
|Editing by||Kelley Dixon|
|Original air date||August 5, 2012|
|Running time||47 minutes|
"Fifty-One" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 50th overall episode of the series. Written by Sam Catlin and directed by Rian Johnson, it originally aired on AMC in the United States on August 5, 2012.
Walter White and Walt Jr. retrieve Walt's Pontiac Aztek from an auto repair shop. The mechanic believes the car will last a long time, but when Walt puts on the hat he dons for his Heisenberg persona, his pride takes over. Walt impulsively sells the Aztek to the mechanic for $50, leases a new Chrysler 300 for himself, and later leases a new Dodge Challenger for Walt Jr.
At Madrigal's Houston branch, Lydia Rodarte-Quayle receives a call from Mike Ehrmantraut, who warns her that the police are about to arrive. She escorts Hank Schrader, Steven Gomez, and other officers to the Madrigal warehouse and points out foreman Ron, who was supplying her with methylamine. Mike reassures Lydia that Ron will not talk, adding that she will have a new guy in the warehouse soon. Walt presents Skyler White with a stack of newly-earned drug money, saying they have to recoup the lost $600,000.[a] After her suggestion of sending the kids to boarding school is struck down by Walter, he mentions that she should throw him a party for his 51st birthday.
The next day, SAC Ramey offers Hank the position of ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) vacated by Merkert. Hank accepts, even though his pursuit of Heisenberg will be given to a field agent. That evening, the Whites and the Schraders finish a meager birthday dinner in the backyard – a noticeable shift from the well-attended surprise party one year before.[b] After Walt Jr. leaves, Walt notes that it has been a year since his cancer diagnosis. As he reflects, a fully clothed Skyler steps into the pool and slowly submerges herself. Marie panics while Walt jumps in to pull her out.
At the warehouse, Lydia leads Jesse Pinkman to a barrel of methylamine. As Jesse lowers the barrel with a forklift, Lydia points her flashlight at a GPS tracker affixed to the bottom of the barrel, forcing them to leave empty-handed. Back at the house, Walt learns that Skyler has asked Marie and Hank to look after the kids until her issues with Walt are resolved. Walt tentatively agrees though he considers it a temporary arrangement. Skyler insists that she will not have her children living in a house where dangerous events that occur are just shrugged off. She threatens to further harm herself, to fake spousal abuse and to send Walt Jr. to boarding school if Walt brings the kids back home, but he belittles her plans as unworkable. Breaking down and realizing there is no way out of her situation without hurting her family, she relents to his arguments but not without admitting to him that her only option is to hope that Walt's cancer will come back and kill him.
The next day at Vamonos Pest, Mike is skeptical that the tracker was planted by the DEA because of its crude placement on the bottom of the barrel. When informed by Jesse that it was Lydia who spotted it first, Mike concludes that Lydia planted it herself in order to get out of their deal and vows to kill her. Jesse pleads for Mike to show mercy and asks for Walt's opinion. Walt votes to keep her alive so no time is lost finding a new precursor supplier. Jesse later gives Walt a TAG Heuer Monaco wristwatch as a birthday present, which pleases Walt. At home, Walt informs a chain-smoking Skyler that more money is coming. He shows off Jesse's gift as proof that Skyler will eventually forgive him, as Jesse once wanted him dead too.[c] Walt goes to bed with time on the watch ticking away.
Dean Norris (Hank Schrader) spoke about the "tense" family dinner scene: "Those are some of my favorites because we all get together, and they've kind of become a signature thing on the show. I work with the DEA guys all the time, who I love, but from a personal side it's nice to hang out with the rest of the gang. Those scenes are going to be even more interesting if Hank ever knows something about Walt that Walt doesn't know he knows, because for the entire series Walt's had this secret that everybody in the audience knows and Hank is the one guy that doesn't know it."
"Fifty-One" was watched by approximately 2.29 million American viewers in its original broadcast, matching the second episode's numbers.
The episode received critical praise with many critics singling out Anna Gunn's and Bryan Cranston's performances. Luke Gelineau of TV Equals called "Fifty-One" the "best episode of the season thus far", adding "I think the first three episodes were all quite good, but I honestly can't think of any other episode in this show that focused so heavily on the characters of Walter and Skyler White." The Baltimore Sun's Wesley Case called Skyler's pool scene "unnerving" and "heart-wrenchingly sad", adding "Breaking Bad is a show built around action — big explosions, shoot-outs, throat-cutting murders, and other vivid portraits of the messy drug-dealing business. Besides Jesse's breakdowns, we rarely see the existential crises all of these characters must be dealing with at all times."
In 2019 The Ringer ranked "Fifty-One" as the 30th best out of the 62 total Breaking Bad episodes.
For his direction of this episode, Rian Johnson won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series. Anna Gunn won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in this episode at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards.