Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One”Posted: August 5, 2012
I had to watch this episode a couple of times, because the first time around I just hated it. Well, most of it. I’ve mentioned before that Skyler is really putting me through the ringer this season, and that last week’s episode was a perfect storm of several things I hated about her and Marie. Well, this week the show notched it up to 11. And because Skyler and Marie alone aren’t enough, it threw this woman from Madrigal Electric into the mix.
There’s a never-ending debate raging on the internet about this or that show having weak female characters. This debate usually comes with charges of sexism thrown at whatever writer would dare to portray women in such a way. I think a lot of these arguments get overblown. Can we just be honest and say that there are weak women out there — the same as there are weak men — and that sometimes these weak people have a part to play in whatever story the writer’s trying to tell?** A woman on TV might not be able to stand up for herself or can’t say no to men, but Walt White’s a murderer! I think we may be losing perspective. Anyway.
(**Now, don’t take this as me writing off every argument against women in television who are portrayed as weak. Sometimes these arguments hold a lot of water. Right now I’d point you to The Newsroom, where just about every female character comes off as borderline schizophrenic.)
So if there’s a weak woman written into a show, you’re not going to get a lot of argument from me, so long as that weakness has grown organically from the story. If we’re talking about Skyler in this season of Breaking Bad, I don’t think that’s the case. Yes, she knows that it was Walt who took care of Gus. And she sees that it’s a terrible thing she’s done to Ted, but Skyler has never been a stupid person. And I just can’t believe that she knew her husband was in the meth business and at the same time had some fantasy in her head where he doesn’t work with dangerous people or ever get his hands dirty or bad people would never want to do to him what he did to Gus. So this thing she does where she looks around while her lip quivers and then jumps into a swimming pool just comes off totally unbelievable to me. And what makes it worse is that I always saw Skyler as a strong woman, and they’ve kind of turned her into a wreck.
That being said, Walt bringing the smackdown on whatever plan she had to get Junior and Holly out of the house I think may have put the two of them on equal footing. At least now Skyler can be upfront with Walt about her feelings, or her lack of feelings for him, whatever the case may be. It was a confrontation that needed to happen. Walt’s not going to move out of the house, so love him or hate him, he and Skyler are going to have to find some way to live with each other. Skyler chain smoking cigarettes is progress, and that’s something.
Other things. It seems as if this season is going to show us exactly how committed Walt is to being a drug kingpin. He talks a big game, but even he seems to be under some of the same delusions as Skyler if he really thinks he can keep his work life walled off from his family life 100% of the time. In any case, he’s going to have a big decision to make concerning Lydia from Madrigal, who we find out may be bullshitting about the tracking device on the barrel of methylamine Jesse had come to pick up. I understand that the reasons to feel sympathetic toward Walt and Jesse are dwindling faster than a Russian gymnasts’ hopes for a gold medal (TOPICAL!), but you can still make the case that these are two guys who are trying to live with one leg in and one leg out of the drug business. SOOOOO I get that maybe they don’t want to kill Lydia — and Jesse obviously doesn’t — but after watching so many movies and TV shows about drug dealers only doing business with people they know and vetting new customers, you kind of get it ingrained in your head that someone as neurotic as Lydia running around, freaking out, and more importantly knowing all of Mike’s dirty secrets is a huge loose end. I mean, aren’t we watching the beginning of the end here?