Quick and Vague Context: This is a single FaceBook message I just sent to my friend and fellow BrBa-Bro, Hady Matar, explaining how I saw the veiled Gretchen, Elliot, and Walt back-story It then got a little (more) nuts. A copy-n-paste of the message [sic included] will follow this really awesome promo for the Breaking Bad series finale...
because we don't know the exact origin of his days back in Chile (there are enough hints to presume that he must have been a junta leader, but the specifics are vague...in line with the elusive stoicism of his character). With Gray Matter, we more or less already have every needed piece of the puzzle. Walt and Elliot were grad-school colleagues and friends. Walt dated Gretchen, who likely also took classes with the two.
This would have been in the early eighties, a hay day of "the-sky-is-the-limit" excess and creativity. We seen Gretchen dating Walt in the 1X03 flashback. Anyway, there are likely clashes of ego between Elliot and Walt as they form their company, based on the group research they all did (the one that lead to something that one a noble prize, denoted in the plague in his bedroom, seen in the pilot)
So, anyway. During this time, there is likely some tree-way romantic tension between Elliot, Gretchen, and Walt (colleagues that work in close proximity tend to develop deep affections, particularly when there is immense intellectual respect and admiration). So, Walt...being a baby, just storms out. Maybe she hadn't even officially feel out of love with Walter yet, but the tensions (according to 2x06, Walt abandoned Gretchen at a fourth of july outting had at her family's place). So yeah, Walt also then burns bridges with Elliot, but in a subtle way (...bowing out of Gray Matter with the buy-out he discusses in 5x06...I doubt he went out in too big a blaze...since he and Elliot were clearly on decent terms at the party in 1x05...on the surface at least).
So yeah, likely Elliot was a bit of a dick (since even best friends tend to be)...but honestly, based on the true nature of Walter White (and, on the broader scale, of unhindered human nature in general), the bad blood he had wasn't as extreme as he plays. However, Gretchen and Elliot still represent the phony status-quo capitalism that he resisted with his outlaw beginning as a meth cook (his "rebel" against the system quest got muddled once he developed a taste for the kingpin life).
He gets upset when he sees them on the screen at the end of the last episode. But not just because of how they "stole his son's birthright," but because of what they say. Because of how much they remind him of the corporate bullshit he sees with people like Gus and more-fittingly Lydia (hence, there is no thematic need to mention Gretchen and Elliot ever again...since Lydia is the stand in for what they represent to Walt).
Their bullshit p.r. move is just the beginning. It's when Charlie rose asks the metaphoric question, "Is Walter White still out there," this hits Walt right at his existential core. To have Gretchen, and woman that broke his heart and reacted with maternal concern after-the-fact (in 2x06), once again make an identity claim (remember his seething "FUCK YOU!" when she told him, "I don't even know who you are anymore...this isn't you"...though that was very accurate) and say that the "sweet, kind, and brilliant" man they knew is no more....this is what makes Walt decide to bring forth the good parts of his Heisenberg persona (Cranston literally morphs from a weary old-man Walter White to a sort-of-powerful hybrid of Mr.White and Heisenberg at that very moment...it's crazy...reminded me of the face contortions he did right after Jane dies; though way less evil).
He isn't returning to Albuquerque to literally get vengeance against Gretchen and Elliot, but rather to prove them wrong.
Those rich pricks think they're gonna solve the Southwest's drug problem through some tax-dodging rehabilitation foundation, thereby fixing all the boo-boos that their sociopathic ex-partner caused?
Seriously? Fuck them, and fuck Ken Wins, the only thing Walt may never regret from his Heisenbergian path of uncertain destruction is that time he blew up "Ken Wins."
I mean, how are Gretchen and Elliot gonna respond to the Neo-Nazi presence that now haunts every corner of Albuquerque...with feelings and highfalutin theories?
No, Heisen-Walt would likely crash the gates of their compound, make things go boom with science, and spray automatic fire indiscriminately.
How would Gretchen and Elliot's foundation fix the corporate control. Lydia hasn't even been fully spooked by the ferocious toughness of guys likes Mike.
No, Heisen-Walt grams a goblet of ricin-wine down her gullet like she was lady Hamlet, all the while dancing through Coca-Cola metaphors of corporate-capitalism deconstruction. Though, Lydia could either survive...or be done in by Todd.
Walt sees on the screen that Gretchen and Elliot think they have all the symbolic power (they're on "Charlie Rose" for christsake, that is an accomplishment). He doesn't even take the time to finish his classy drink, because, well....FUCK THEM.
So see, Walt's still pretty petty. But since he could never successful out-worth Gray Matter...he'll at least have a chance to beat them at something!
In the process, he might accidentally save his family and home-town from the ruined hellscape he caused. He brought Uncle Jack and the Gang to power; he, and not some silly neo-liberals like the Schwartz, is the only thing that could and should stop them.
It's the least he could do; his karmic checkbook is more imbalanced than the actual accounting back at Beneke Fabricators. Time for Walt to do something real. At this point, he has nothing left to do but wait around to die....