'Breaking Bad' recap Ep 4: Fifty-One
Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
It’s hard to believe that we are already at the midpoint of the first part of Breaking Bad’s final season. Through these last four episodes we have seen a Walter White (Bryan Cranston) that is now a complete drug dealer, perhaps in the same vein as someone like Scarface.
The fourth episode begins with a nice surprise return for Walt’s now infamous Aztek van. It has been completely restored and Walt offers to sell it for a mere $50, a wonderful nod showing that he has truly left his past self behind.
The episode is written by Sam Catlin and directed by the upcoming “Looper” director Rian Johnson (who helmed the excellent bottle episode “Fly” from Season 3). They combined forces to give us a celebration of Walt’s birthday in true “Breaking Bad” fashion. Lets just say it wasn’t a happy one.
But everybody seemed to be celebrating, whether it was Walt with his birthday or Hank (Dean Norris) with his new promotion. With the exception of Skyler (Anna Gunn) who perhaps showed how uncomfortable the dinner scene was. The days in the earlier seasons of “Breaking Bad” when everyone would enjoy their stay at a dinner party are clearly gone as things have quite clearly changed and become indicative of how tense the show has become. Tension is even present at the dinner table. Just the expression in Skyler’s face indicated how bad the situation had become. She looked incredibly depressing.
The episode started with a great father and son moment, both of them being genuinely happy while getting new cars, and after that it just went on a complete downward spiral (and I mean that positively).
During the birthday scene, it becomes clear how Johnson is able to shift his style tremendously. At the beginning he showed a lot of energy, a lot of crazy camera moves, and by the birthday scene he shifted towards a more contemplative and almost dream-like style that was completely absorbing. That scene also had great performances from everyone.
Lydia (Laura Fraser) from the second episode of the season returned with an added sense of paranoia. Clearly her world is crumbling down now that the DEA and Hank are piecing everything together with the connections of Madrigal and Gus Fring.
All this tension was amplified even more during the excellent after dinner scene, which included some great dialogue and just some phenomenal acting by its cast. Marie (Betsy Brandt) made a startling revelation about what should happen to the kids and said it. After, a completely unnerving and terrifying shot of Walt was shown.
The feeling of tension really escalated towards the end of the episode, during the last 15 minutes. During one of the season’s best scenes, Walter and Skyler confronted each other in a scene that was utterly devastating to watch, it again showed that this show is really not afraid to go into the really bleak direction. And of course this scene has some Emmy worthy acting by Cranston and Gunn who were just simply stunning during this scene.
After going back to Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Mike (Jonathan Banks), Walter said the words, “We are just getting started. Nothing stops this train” and I think that’s exactly how “Breaking Bad” feels right now. It’s completely running on all cylinders and I really think we haven’t seen anything yet. There was also a very nice moment between Paul and Cranston that was a reminder that right now, sadly, his happier moments happen in his other life with Mike and Jesse; quite a contrast with all the suffering that has been happening at home.