“51” isn’t just the episode that confirms that Walter White is the danger but that he is a danger to everyone around him. Walter was the reason Hank was a near parapalegic and almost killed twice (by the twins and by Gus Fring). Walter was the reason behind every terrible experience in Jesse’s life since he’s met him. Walt was the reason why Mike’s granddaughter doesn’t have money in her bank account and why he’s back in the meth business. Walt is the reason why Skyler’s having a serious mental breakdown. Sure, Walt is helping in making them all significantly richer but at what cost?*
This episode centers around Skyler’s reservations about Walter, her and her children’s safety, and Walter’s obliviousness and then reactions to them. Skyler presses Walt at the beginning of the episode to send the kids away to which Walt wonders “why?” Skyler, still deathly afraid of Walter and what he may or may not be capable of, relents on giving any reasons until Walter’s birthday party. While Walter is giving a speech about how Skyler has stuck with him while he had cancer and how lucky he’s been to be alive (which is actually a “wink, wink” speech that viewers will understand is about more than just cancer), Skyler decides to walk into the deep end of the pool. After Walt saves her from the pool, Hank and Marie decide to take the kids for a couple days. After they leave, Skyler drops the bomb about how she fears for her children’s lives while Walt is around. Walt tells Skyler that Gus was the danger to which she replies “I thought you were the danger?” Burn. Speaking of burn, Skyler’s recently picked up smoking habit rears it’s head again during this episode. Considering the fact that the ricin cigarette played a large role at the beginning of episode two, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being inhaled by Skyler herself.
During the episode, Walter engulfs himself further into the Heisenberg persona. He sells the fixed up Aztec (that was totaled after he crashed it when Hank wanted to check out the laundromat where the meth lab was hidden) for 50 bucks, he buys a new sports car for himself and one for Walt Jr., he wants a big surprise party for his 51st birthday (and gets a small one instead), etc. Walt is giving in to his indulgences and loving it. However, when Mike wants to kill off Lydia for trying to bamboozle them, Walt ignores Mike’s advice. Walt’s/Heisenberg’s overconfidence may prove to be his downfall and it may be at the hands of two of the three women characters on the show: Lydia and Skyler.
When Walt asks Skyler what she’s waiting for in that scene after the birthday party and she replies with “For the cancer to come back”, it brings up another notion that I like to keep bringing up and that Vince Gilligan keeps hammering home. I don’t mean the foreshadowing of the cancer but the fact that Walter himself is the cancer in everyone’s lives. He is dragging everyone down slowly and killing them. Vince Gilligan has always said that he wanted Breaking Bad to be like “Mr. Chips meeting Scarface” but at the end of Scarface, the main character dies. Cancer kills everything, thus killing itself in the process. Thus the ending of this episode could also be considered foreshadowing since the ticking of Jesse’s watch sounded more like a time bomb….the same time bomb that Mike was referring to a couple episodes ago.
*You may be asking how Hank is getting richer because of Walter. It can be argued that Walter is indirectly responsible for Hank getting his promotion.