On last night’s Breaking Bad, Walt staged an impromptu dinner by inviting Jesse to join him and his seething spouse Skyler for steak and store-bought green beans. It predictably resulted in a cringeworthy gathering in which Walt smugly enjoyed everyone’s silent discomfort. We’ve seen the One Who Knocks’s evil, conniving, and ruthless sides before, but this was the first time we saw his dickish side. And so when Vulture bumped into show creator Vince Gilligan this weekend at an exhibition of Breaking Bad fan art at Los Angeles’ Gallery 1988 (a peek of which we’ll be presenting later this week), we asked him, “So in addition to becoming a drug kingpin, has Walt also become just a straight-up jerk?” Pretty much. “He is really not a nice guy anymore,” Gilligan told us.
The idea for the awkward meal came together when the writers decided it was time for Skyler and Jesse to reunite; they met for the first time exactly fifty episodes ago when Skyler confronted Jesse, thinking he had been selling weed to her ailing husband. (“I had to be reminded they had met!” Gilligan admitted.) “We wanted worlds to collide, characters who didn’t really belong together being forced to spend time with each other by the monstrous behavior of Walter White,” he said. “You could see the gears turning in Walt’s head, couldn’t you? When he says, ‘Hey, why don’t we have dinner together?’, he clearly just wants to torture the two people who in his mind have betrayed him. It’s nasty, nasty stuff. Totally childish.” Walt sat silent and smirking while Skyler drowned in her wine and Jesse in his own hilarious soliloquy about frozen dinners, scabby lasagna cheese, and “Yo, whatever happened to truth in advertising?” But the line that still makes Gilligan laugh happened after Skyler leaves and Walt begins to work Jesse’s heartstrings. “He tells him, ‘You know, my kids aren’t around anymore,’ and Jesse interrupts. ‘Thank God.’ That was perfect.”