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Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan Said Walter White Didn't Come To Life Until This Scene

Vince Gilligan created "Breaking Bad" to portray Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) transformation from a meek high school chemistry teacher to a murderous methamphetamine kingpin over the show's 62 episodes. And according to Gilligan, there is one episode, one scene, in particular, that perfectly symbolizes this rise and fall.

In Season 1, Episode 5, "Gray Matter," Walt and his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) attend a birthday party for his friend and former business partner Elliott Schwartz (Adam Godley). Walt had left the company they founded together in college, taking a measly $5,000 payment for his share of an enterprise now worth billions. The two old friends are sitting and swapping old stories during Elliott's lavish birthday party when he encourages Walt to return to the company, touting the excellent medical care they could offer him. Walt sneaks a glance over at Skyler, who is chatting with Elliott's wife Gretchen (Jessica Hecht), and at that moment realizes that Skyler might have shared his recent lung cancer diagnosis with others.

In a 2013 interview with Empire, Gilligan recalled his five favorite moments in the series. He highlighted the birthday party exchange as a critical moment for the show's protagonist and writing staff, saying, "Instead of taking this life preserver that's been thrown to him, Walt decides to go back to cooking crystal meth, and that's one of my favorite moments and one of the most important moments in the life of the show, because prior to that I don't think the writers and I truly understood ... that he was a creature of such pride and such damaged ego that he would rather be his own man and endanger his family's life than take a handout like that. He's that kind of a guy ... That's when he broke bad ..."

Walter White's ego was a prime element of the show

Immediately after the party, Walter White snaps at his wife and angrily confronts her, saying, "I don't like the way you talk about our private affairs to people who aren't even in our lives anymore." It's a very unsympathetic moment for him, where his pride and ego take control and overwhelm his ability to see that his wife and friends are just trying to help him.

According to the Empire interview, nearly all of Vince Gilligan's other favorite "Breaking Bad" moments chronicle key events further along Walter White's slide from a milquetoast teacher and dad to a bloodthirsty drug kingpin. Gilligan cites Walt's murders of former associates and confidantes Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) as some of his other favorites from the series.

Whether he was dealing with rival drug lords or fostering old grudges against friends from college, Walter White's ego was a powerful force consistently woven throughout the story. Even his closest allies, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), had their lives flipped upside down due to the rise of Heisenberg, with Jesse forced to flee to Alaska and Goodman ending up with a lengthy prison sentence.