AMC's "Breaking Bad" returned for its final run of episodes Sunday (August 11) and 5.9 million viewers tuned in, a series-high for the Emmy Award-winning drama about a former teacher (Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston) who decides to make money cooking methamphetamine after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Murs, a seasoned emcee and festival organizer who has also become a film writer, recently spoke with HipHopDX about the series, Walter White and other "Breaking Bad" characters, describing his thoughts in preparation for the next episode, set to air today (August 18) at 9 pm EST on AMC.
"Man, I think it's the process of someone going from an everyday, essentially good guy, to a monster," Murs said of how he became interested in "Breaking Bad." "I think anyone can relate to that, becoming the wrong person for all the right reasons."
The show, which has featured such songs as Gnarls Barkley's "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" and El-P's “Flyentology (Cassettes Won’t Listen Remix),” reminded Murs of decisions he's had to make in his own life.
"I've been at that point," the Los Angeles, California rapper said. "For me, it was like, 'Should I kill this mothafucker or not?' The only thing that stopped me from doing that is that once you start doing that, it becomes easier to cross that line again and again. And seeing my friends cross that line and literally become...I don't want to say homicidal maniacs, but homicidal...like, I know that it first just starts with you killing people that have beef with us. Then it turns into, I don’t know if I argue with you tonight, you might shoot me. And seeing someone go from having no one fear them, to having a couple people fear them, to having all of our enemies fear them, to everybody around them fearing them at all times [was compelling]. Watching Walter White go from that to [where] his wife is scared of him and even in the opening episode, even if he doesn’t know he should be scared of him, his brother-in-law, Hank, should be scared of him, because this man has nothing to lose now. He’s crossed every boundary...He has no morals. He’s lying about everything. He knows he’s going to die so he has no fear, no respect, no reverence for anything, except his daughter."
Murs Discusses "Breaking Bad's" Unpredictability, Walter White's Changes
Due to "Breaking Bad's" many plot twists and turns over the years, Murs said it would be difficult to predict how the series would end.
"I don’t know what to expect," Murs said. "I’m not going to try to predict it. I just noticed what I didn’t notice in the opening sequence of last year, that this motherfucker has hair. So either he kicks his cancer or he quits his chemo[therapy]. Either one is scary to me."
Having hair is only one of the changes Walter White has shown in Season 5. In the season opener, White is shown with weapons in the trunk of his vehicle, which Murs found uncharacteristic for the star of the show.
"He definitely has a heavy artillery, which to me is also unlike him because he’s definitely been more of a cerebral killer the whole time," Murs said. "He’s never outright gun-battled anyone to death. Like the ricin poison or the explosion at the senior citizen home [were cerebral murders], so that astounds me. That's what makes me think he’s going to lose in the end because he’s not fighting the Walter White way. He’s become 100% a street-thug, like the dude he killed in the first season or the second season, the big Latino dude...He’s become more like that, trying to be muscle, he’s not even in his lane. I think that’s when he’s going to lose because that’s not his battle. He’s not being cerebral. He’s become all muscle."
Murs On "Breaking Bad's" Jesse Pinkman & Skyler White
Walter White isn't the only main character who has undergone changes through the series' run. Aaron Paul's character Jesse Pinkman, White's longtime partner in the meth business, has also shown a shift in his development.
"I think [Jesse] is the humanity of the show," Murs said. "Like, what would we really do if we got caught up in all of this, you or I or anyone that’s trying to stay on the positive side of this? I think he’s fighting that battle. He’s dealing with the guilt. It shows that he’s still more human."
While Pinkman has become a character many viewers favor, Skyler White, Walt's wife played by Anna Gunn, has been generally disliked by many fans.
"I think anyone that comes from the inner-city would hate [Skyler]," Murs said. "I think with her support, she could have been the voice of reason. I think it’s definitely Walter’s fault for not including her early, but she would have reacted the same way either way. She just needed to be more understanding. He needed to tell her early and she needed to have had his back and encouraged him to do what was necessary for the family to get the money. The way she made him stop now, she could have made him stop earlier, had he chose to include her. So, it’s mostly his fault for lying to his wife. If she was going to divorce him or whatever, it was okay because he was going to die anyway. At least they [stay] with the money. All it would take was him to die and for her to start starving and he’d leave the money for her somewhere in the house and she would have eventually used it. No doubt."
Murs Explains Effects "Breaking Bad" & "The Sopranos" Have Had
"Breaking Bad's" Walter White is not the first anti-hero to lead a television show to success. James Gandolfini's portrayal of crime boss Tony Soprano on HBO's "The Sopranos" was another recent example of this working. White and Soprano have influenced Murs' perception of what a hero should be, something that has also been a part of the latest film he's working on.
"The film I’m working on now," Murs said. "I had a big argument with my director who’s writing with me, and my uncle, who wrote the majority of it. My uncle [Eric Bowers] has been writing for 40 years, known for television and film. So, the three main characters, myself, Tabi [Bonney] and Dee-1 have a dilemma. We solve it by robbing the thugs who robbed us, and they made me take it out of the script. They said, ‘No, the hero needs to be good all the way through. The hero has to be redeeming.’ And anytime a rapper does a movie with a cast of comedians and other rappers it’s related to Friday. Even in Friday, Craig never does anything wrong. He never does anything morally questionable and heroes throughout time have been that way.
"So I listened to them," Murs continued. "I took it out and then boom, I started the countdown for 'Breaking Bad' and I said, ‘Hold the fuck up. We’re living in a new era now.’ No, it was more when James Gandolfini passed. I was reading the effects 'The Sopranos' had on Television, media, and art. We want the hero to have a little bit of bad guy in him because that’s what people feel like the world needs. We want our president to have done cocaine and smoked weed before. It’s okay that he got head in the oval office. This is the society we’re becoming for better or for worse. This is who we are. The director is a Persian-Swedish guy who lived in Britain and my uncle is almost 60 years old, so it’s a different generation and a different culture, but I think the new youth want a little bit [of bad] if it’s going to be a realistic thing. They were right about the film we’re making, but it definitely lets me know that America is ready for a more realistic bad guy and a realistic good guy, because Jesse Pinkman, I think, is going to end up being the hero of the series and God knows he’s not innocent by any means."
Photograph By: Andres Tardio