Breaking Bad Recap: How Time Flies

With her family in danger and her husband out of control, Skyler finally finds her voice in this week’s episode of Breaking Bad. Too bad that voice is quickly reduced to a quivering whimper by Walt’s roaring meglomania. Elsewhere, twitchy little Lydia is back, and Mike’s not happy about it. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore that time is running short, so let’s review the major events of “51.”

COLLISION COURSE | Lydia Rodarte-Quayle hasn’t calmed down one scooch since we saw her last. And why would she, with the DEA visiting her at Madrigal’s Texas offices? Mike gives her a heads-up about 30 seconds before Hank, Gomez and two uniformed officers arrive. There’s a shot where it looks like the lawmen are marching her out of the building, but it’s misleading; instead, she’s showing them to the warehouse, where they cuff and cart off Ron, her “guy” when it comes to providing methylamine for Walt, Jesse and Mike’s operation. The look Ron levels at her leaves her shaking in her mismatched shoes, and she tells Mike an embellished version of the whole episode to gain… what? Sympathy? Urgency? That’s cute, Lydia, that you think Mike would care that the feds were being mean to you. But he does care about getting the meth-central chemical to Albuquerque, so he sends Jesse to pick it up. Lydia meets the young cook at the warehouse loading dock and interrogates him to make sure he’s legit. “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to apologize for being careful,” she tells him as she leads him to the goods, adding that she wanted to make sure he wasn’t “one of those people they send into high schools.” (Side note: I find the way this high-strung chick talks to Mike – and now, Jesse — hilarious.) As Jesse pulls down a Golden Hornet-branded barrel of the highly valuable chemical, Lyd notices that there’s a GPS unit stuck to the bottom. But who put it there?

ALL ABOARD | Could be the DEA, considering how on fire Hank has been lately. Back in New Mexico, he and Gomez stare at a board of Fring’s operation — “Six feet under and half a face, he’s still screwing with us,” Hank muses – and Hank posits that maybe Lydia is the link between Gus and Peter Schuler, who AED-ed himself out of existence two episodes back. (Hank also refers to Schuler as “Burgermeister Meisterburger;” anyone who so easily alludes to Rankin/Bass holiday specials is aces in my book.) Gomez says Lydia doesn’t fit in the big, bad meth world, but Hank’s not convinced… and it’s instincts like those that earn him a promotion offer to replace Merkert as ASAC of the Albuquerque DEA. In exchange, though, he’ll have to give up all of his day-to-day work, including the Fring investigation. Hank accepts, and it’s a testament to this show’s writing that I’m quite happy at the success of a character I originally wrote off as an overcompensating blowhard. We later see Jesse, Mike and Walt meet up at the bug biz for an emergency powwow. After looking at Jesse’s cell phone photo of the GPS unit – which he left, with the barrel, in the Madrigal warehouse – Mike deduces that Lydia planted the unit to make them think the cops were onto them, so maybe Mike and crew would leave her alone. Jesse urges a furious Mike not to kill her. “I had a chance to deal with this before, and I gave her a pass,” the ex-cop tells him. “That’s what I get for being sexist.” Ha! Jesse argues that they need their “precursor” and wants to put the situation to a vote. I’ve got a vote for ya: Raise your hand if you think anything good can come from Walt’s argument-ending announcement: “The methylamine keeps flowing no matter what… Nothing stops this train. Nothing.”

SKYLER HAS HER SAY | After all of that talk of lawbreaking, and potential murder, I sure could use a palate cleanser. How about a little family manipulation, intimidation and emotional abuse – with a heaping helping of delusion thrown in for fun? When the Walters pick up the resilient old Aztek from the autobody shop – I’m assuming it was there for repairs incurred in last season’s “Crawl Space” episode  — Walt Sr. plucks his Heisenberg hat from the back seat and suddenly asks the mechanic if he wants to buy the newly refurbished vehicle for $50. Walter Jr. is stymied, but he stops caring about his dad’s odd behavior after they both roll home in new hot rods. His son’s love bought, a re-Heisenberged Walter revs the engine with gleeful abandon. Shocker: Skyler is not a fan of the new purchases (they were leased, Walt corrects her) nor of Walt’s expectation that she plan a big to-do for his imminent 51st birthday. And after she realizes he’s started cooking again, she asks him to think about sending the kids away. “A new environment might be good for them,” she says timidly, making me cringe at how quickly this strong-minded woman has adopted the averted eyes and hesitant speech patterns of the abused. Walt assures her that there’s nothing to be afraid of — “Clear sailing from here on out” — but Skyler seems less than sold.

HAPPY (?) BIRTHDAY | At breakfast the next morning, she grudgingly keeps up the family birthday tradition and arranges Walt’s bacon to mark his age, 51 -– the same thing he does in the diner in the flash-forwarded first moments of this season’s premiere. That evening, Walt skips out early from work, telling Jesse there’s probably a party waiting for him at home. And he really believes that, so he’s disappointed to learn that his big bash is just a family dinner with Hank and Marie. It’s an awkward evening, mostly because knowing about Skyler’s infidelity causes Hank and Marie to act super weird. Well, that and the fact that Skyler kinda/not really tries to drown herself in the backyard pool while Walt’s waxing philosophical about her support during his illness. (Walt: “It’s been quite a year.” Marie: “It seems like longer.” Ha!) Walt plays the concerned spouse while his in-laws are there, but his tone changes dramatically later when he confronts Skyler in the bedroom. Seriously? Nothing good happens in that room. Walt careens from confused (about her “pool stunt”) to soothing (“Now, I’m running things. I keep the work at work,” like he’s an IT consultant or something) before settling on terrifyingly threatening. Skyler’s speech to him about her success in relocating the kids to Hank and Marie’s is a little kickass, but it’s soon swallowed by Walt’s relentless badgering and mocking – all delivered in a voice approaching Batman-like levels of raspiness. What’s up with that? She threatens to hurt herself again. He threatens to have her committed. She counters by saying she’ll tell people he hits her, but Skyler’s losing this game, and she knows it. Finally, she admits that she doesn’t have a long-term plan. “I’m a coward,” she says. “I can’t even keep you out of my bed.” So she’s just going to wait. For what? Walt sneers. “For the cancer to come back,” she tells him. My GOD, Anna Gunn owned that scene. The next day, Jesse gives Walter a watch as a belated birthday gift, and Walt uses it as evidence that Skyler will reverse her feelings about him. “The person who gave me this present wanted me dead, too, not that long ago,” he says, so patronizing and smug that I want to shove that watch right up his Erlenmeyer flask. “He changed his mind about me, Skyler, and so will you.” And as they go to sleep, the watch relentlessly ticks down the seconds… but to what?

Now it’s your turn. This episode was packed, and we want to hear what you have to say about it. Do you fear for Walter Jr. and Holly’s future? What did you think about Hank’s crack regarding Marie’s mental health? And does anyone care to handicap Lydia’s and Skyler’s odds of surviving through the series finale? Make your thoughts known in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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52 Comments
  1. TDS-Matt says:

    “For the Cancer to come back!” actually shook me as I was watching. Anna Gunn was incredible.

  2. Josh says:

    This is what separates breaking bad from the rest of tv. They remember everything. Every conversation and scene is important. No one forgets what was said or done to them. That skyler/walt scene was epic and sums up just how far they’ve both come since the series started. Walt is in complete control..for now

    • Patrick Maloney says:

      I find it interesting you say that because does anyone else find it glaring that Mike is going back to half-measures?

  3. sam says:

    OH MY GOD — ANNA GUNN — JUST AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE — I could just feel everything she was feeling without her saying a word. Just give her the emmy already!

    • Joseph F. McNulty says:

      That was one of the best scenes ever in a series that specializes in great scenes. When Walt asked her (with barely disguised contempt) what she was waiting and hoping for, and she answered flatly, “For the cancer to come back” –it was a moment that hit like a hammer’s blow. It is a sad and shocking thing to hear that your wife, the woman that you have loved for years, is hoping and waiting for your death. I would think that Walter White’s visits to her in her bed are over. Would you want to make love to a woman who is counting the minutes until your death? This was as shocking in its way as the moment when Walter White suddenly appeared in his Aztec to run over the two drug dealers or when he told Skyler, “I am the danger.” Congradulations to Anna Gunn for a peak performance that she too seldom gets to display. She is showing some of the controlled, tense, compelling acting that Giancarlo Esposito was famous for. Her name should already be on the next Emmy. I wonder if the two expensive cars (regardless of whether they are leased or purchased) show that Walter White is uncharacteristically falling prey to “Tony Montana Disease” as well as cancer?

  4. Stephen says:

    Why does Mike so easily listen to Walt’s “speech” about the train not stopping? Mike knows the business better than him.

  5. I liked the watch ticking in the end. “Just like a time-bomb tick ticking away” lol. I am guessing they are going to steal a train car full of barrels or a big tanker car full of the chemical next episode. Or maybe they set up something to stop a train and then just drain some off of a tanker car and no one notices? Like that won’t set off every DEA radar across the country. I still say Skylar is going to roll on Walt. Maybe he kills her to shut her up and makes it look like a suicide. She did try to drown herself in front of witnesses….

  6. jade says:

    i have grown to not only deespise walt as a human being but to pity his family and those in his path. No one sees what a destructive person he is and no one is going to stop him..just excited to see how the season plays out and FINALLY see Walt loose the control thats taking over his humanity.

  7. Jason geller says:

    Once again an amazing episode. There is no other show that is gripping and edge of your seat like ( maybe sons of anarchy ). Mad man ? Downtown Abby ? Not even close

  8. meatball juniors says:

    anyone hear the gun when the ticking ended?

    • I thought you meant a gunshot which I definitely did not hear. But I went back and turned the volume way up and sure enough there is a sound there. Sounds like someone racking a shell into the chamber of a shotgun. Interesting. Obviously Walt isn’t going to die because we know he is alive a year to the day from this episode.

      • Or even just someone chambering a round into a regular gun pulling the slide. Might not have been loud enough for a shotgun. Makes me wonder if it is something real to worry about for the next episode or if it is just a metaphor for Walt reaching the point of being a loaded gun.

      • Matt says:

        I heard it too and could be a shot gun. Remember the very start of the first episode of the season there is that scene where Walt ( a hairier Walt by the way) is making that deal with the dude who gave him the car keys. Walt then opens the trunk to find a shot gun. It could be a hint of whats coming.

        • That wasn’t a shotgun in the trunk of the car. It looked like a 50 caliber machine gun. Hard to tell, but he wouldn’t need to be making bathroom deals for a shotgun.

          • bleh says:

            Don’t you guys think that was skyler killing herself?

          • Joseph F. McNulty says:

            It was an M-60 machine gun, the iconic machine gun of the Vietnam War. It is a .50 caliber and fires shalls about the size of your finger. It seems to be heavy ordinance for Walter White — more commonly “Scarface” territory. Why would he need a machine gun? I would think that a pump-action showgun or an assault rifle would be plenty of firepower. Is he defending the pest control offices against a banzai attack? He also would need some serious instruction on it — more than something “pulled off the internet.”

  9. Kyle says:

    I may be wrong and looking to much into things. But I could have sworn that at the end of this weeks episode. As the watch was ticking at the end, it almost sounded as if a gun was being cocked. Almost as if it was meant to be hidden among the ticking.

    We have seen Skyler is a liability as of late. I really hope Walt deals with her as Heisenberg see fits.

    • Kyle says:

      *EDIT* sorry this is basically a repost of Chuck Finleys comment. I didn’t see that he had commented on this until mine was posted.

      I am glad some one else noticed it though. God this show is to epic.

  10. jj says:

    Good reminder point. Walt is alive a year from now.

  11. Paul says:

    Wait hold on, there are actually people who like Skyler and dislike Walt?

    • Jessica says:

      Yes they have intelligence.

    • Chester says:

      Or people who dislike Walt and feel sorry for Skyler

    • Jake says:

      Actually love them both and understand them completely.

    • I’m not feeling the Skylar love either. I just find her so….useless! She treated Walt like crap back when he was a decent human being, and now that he’s actually evil and deserving of her disrespect all she can do is sit there and “be afraid”?

      She needs to grow a pair and leave, or just shut up already. Walt has proven that he won’t let anyone hurt the kids, so just lay low until he’s made enough $$ for you to steal it and get new identities.

      • tripoli says:

        I haven’t liked Skyler for quite some time, but last night really sealed it for me. I find her so much more awful than Walt. Sure, he’s a drug dealing, power tripping dude, as of late, but man, she was a stone cold bitch last night with the cancer comment. Really? You’re just waiting for your husband to die? And you’re so afraid of him but continue to hang around? I think Walt has proven that he’ll do anything to keep his family safe, even though he is the reason they have been in danger at times, so her extreme reactions lately seem a bit too much. Although Walt has been pretty creepy lately, so I can understand her aversion to sleeping in the same bed, living in the same house, etc. I kept yelling at the screen for her to just leave. She is just beyond annoying at this point. I’d even be happy if she stuck around and just grew a back bone and put up a real and interesting fight. Otherwise, it’s time for a dirt nap.

    • Anthony says:

      I don’t know if I like Skyler as much as I can understand why she has taken the direction she has. While its great TV to see Walt’s descent into infamy, he is leaving her very little choices in the matter. And yes, she holds alot of blame for her part in being an accomplice. But she should be given props in being the bigger person with saying “enough is enough.” Especially after the threat of her entire family being executed. Completely understandable why she is desperate at this moment

  12. Jamie says:

    Another great episode, I am really starting to dislike Walt, despite rooting for him during the previous 4 seasons. I love the way Gilligan and the writers, as well as Cranston, have handled the transformation from episode one until now. It’s really sad to me that a show of this exceptional quality is ignored in my native UK.

    Am I alone in thinking that eventually Mike & Jesse will team up against Walt? I’m guessing Mike would mention that Gus wasn’t behind Brock’s poisoning, unless Saul let’s it slip first. With Skyler so unhappy, and Hank closing in it could (and should) see Walt on the run seemingly alone as in the opening episode? I’m sure Walt will die by the end of the season next summer, but I’m wondering if I’ll be as sad as I thought I’d be when the show started.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, roll on next week!

  13. Matt says:

    This episode was “ok”. The pace was too slow for me. Glad to see Anna Gunn finally air it out. I was getting tired of her walking around like a zombie.

  14. asd says:

    does anyboday know how the song is called at the “car buying scene”?

  15. Jamie says:

    The song is Bonfire by Knife Party

  16. Mac says:

    BB is becoming too much of a sappy soap opera and Jesse’s character has been reduced to sidekick status this series unfortunately. Still enough there to keep me interested but only just…

  17. Nate says:

    Best show on tv. Sad its almost over. I do believe walt is gonna have to deal with Skylar and it would be smarter if he does it soon. Its a shame cause anna is doing a great job. But I am on walts team so I wanna see him make it.

    • Joseph F. McNulty says:

      I have been watching television since “Uncle Miltie” and can say that “Breaking Bad” is not only “the best show on television,” it is the best show EVER to be on television. The only thing that even comes close is “The Sopranos” (which was strangely uneven in its writing). I can’t believe people are watching such dreck as “CSI-Hooterville” when “Breaking Bad” should be the runaway number one hit. Even the minor parts on “Breaking Bad” are exquisitely case. The guy in the junkyard — I forget the character’s name — was hilarious when he was asking the boys if they had any plates in their skulls or other metal that might be attracted by the magnet, asking Jesse (as if he would KNOW), “Why DO these young guys have metal rings put through their penises anyway?” Or when he mentioned “Miller Time” and Mike answered, “I can think of a hundred ways this thing may turn out, and none of them involve ‘Miller Time.'” Do those connected with “Breaking Bad” know how really good it is? I hope that the cast and writers will enjoy the remaining epidisodes because they will probably never be involved in something this good.

  18. Karen says:

    I have a bad feeling most of the people we have come to know and love (ehem… Not Walt) will perish into the cold ground before season’s end: Mike, Skyler, Jesse (!), Hank and maybe even Walter Jr. Though I’m dreading this scenario

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      You really think Walt will survive the series? My vision of the end is Walt dead in the middle of a dark desert. The ending to Crawl Space clinched that in my head. Though the way they had Skylar looking down over him in that scene with that angelic light behind her kind of tells me her time is coming as well.

  19. Wincy says:

    The thing about Skyler is this: if she can get herself together, and puts her mind to it, she’s the one who can match Walter toe-to-toe. She’s proven in the past that she can work out complex solutions (the car wash, Ted’s tax audit) Plus, now she has the added motiviation of saving her children. I think she can lull Walt into thinking she’s onboard and harmless by feeding into his delusion of a “happy family life” – and then she’ll take him out.

  20. Terry says:

    I think the catalyst for the final straw will be Walt Jr losing his life in the new car that Walt bought him. Skyler will turn him in and Walt will be on the run, planning to go out like “Scarface” did.

  21. For us it was all about the pool and the bedroom scenes. You’re right, Michael, Anna Gunn OWNED those scenes and this is coming from someone who isn’t really her biggest fan.

    In our review, we address the changes between birthdays – cars, breakfasts and reactions. Considering where Walt is at birthday 52, what does this say about what’s to come???

  22. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I like your reviews, Kimberly, you really have this show and these characters nailed. Anna Gunn was great, I totally think this is the episode she ends up submitting for the next Emmys (if the show is even eligible then, not sure how that works). I agree with what you say about it being a testament to the writing about how we’ve come to change our feelings about some of these characters. I’m with you on Hank, for sure, but for me, it’s more amazing how they’ve come to change my mind about Skylar.
    .
    When I first started watching this show the first time, I had to give up on it somewhere in the 2nd season, because I just couldn’t deal with Skylar. She was too much for me and I thought she was ruining the show. But I feel the exact opposite now. It helped that I started from the beginning when I went to rewatch the series, because it suddenly hit me that she was the catalyst for everything happening with Walt, and thus the show. Walt does everything he does either for her or to spite her. And at this point, I think he believes it will validate who he has become if he can convince her to go down the dark road with him and he believes he can force her into being the happy wife and loving him because he’s such a big man now. I root for her, and I hate Walt in this current season. He’s just so creepy and skeezy. Everytime he puts his hands on her and gets that gentle, yet threatening “We’re going to be a perfect family” tone to his voice, I feel like I’ve been violated. Walt makes my skin crawl at this point. And she was completely right in calling him on his rationalizing B.S. I think people who hate Skylar still and want her dead are just not watching the series closely enough. Because she is an amazing actress and an amazing character and just a huge part of the show.
    .
    I don’t think Walt ends up killing Skylar. I have wondered if she leaves him with the kids and he’s going after her in the flash forward episode, but I don’t think Walt is going to kill Skylar, no. He’s put too much work into trying to make her love him. He’s not giving up on that. In his delusions he still believes she’ll realize his newfound power makes him worthy of her love. But I do think she’s going to end up running with the kids. Maybe with Marie and Hank’s help.
    .
    And talking about the safety of the kids…I still think about that ricin cigarette in the light panel. We’re coming back to that at some point, oh yes, we are. Does Skylar run out of smokes and come across it needing a tobacco fix? Does the baby start crawling and somehow get to it? Does Walt Jr. find it, wonder if it’s pot, and become curious? Does Walt decide to off Skylar after all and give it to her? I still can’t decide if I think Junior is coming into the business or not as some sort of psycho way for Walt to decide to bond with his son. We’re running out of episodes to watch. The series may not end until 2013, but there are not that many episodes left. It may be too late for them to take a twist like that. But if Skylar really does end up running as I suspect she will once she pulls herself out of the depression closet, it will be because something major happens to one of the kids, and Junior cooking with his dad may be it.
    .
    Sorry that was so long. I get excited talking about shows I love. I get so, so excited. And none of my friends watch Breaking Bad, so here I am.

  23. JG says:

    I’m guessing that the sound at the end of the watch countdown is Mike cocking his gun and killing Lydia despite what Walt had to say and signifying the end of the precursor. Mike has been the ultimate badass up to this point so why would he all of a sudden listen to Walt and take a “half measure”. To get the precursor I think that Walt will talk to Gretchen and Elliot about working for their chemistry business and devise a plan to steal methylamine. Either that or threaten Elliot until he complies. I think the whole job offering and Gretchen and Elliot as a whole are way too built up to not be brought into this season.

  24. Julian says:

    That was by far the best of the season so far. I think that whole sitting round the pool sequence is the best sequence they’ve filmed yet. So intense and dreamlike. And that bedroom argument was shocking. Highly sus don’t you think that old dea guy quits and hank gets a promotion away from the fring case. I said the old chief and Walts old partner were highly suspect seasons ago

  25. dbzd says:

    What kind of watch is it that Jesse gave to Walt?

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