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‘Breaking Bad’: Cooking Humor and Humanity Into a Tense Brew

Creative team likely make a mark on TV biz after series ends

Like “The X-Files” before it, “Breaking Bad” promises to be the gift that keeps on giving to the creative community.

A clutch of writers and directors are poised to make their marks after learning the trade — drama, not meth — from Vince Gilligan and his team.

The two writing noms that “Bad” received this year went to George Mastras and Thomas Schnauz, who also directed their episodes. Michelle MacLaren earned a directing nom for the final episode of the first half of its fifth season.

Both episodes vying for writing honors are examples of “Bad’s” unique brew of tension and suspense — Who will Walter White whack next? — leavened with dark humor and flashes of humanity from even the most extreme evil-doers.

Mastras’ “Dead Freight” revolved around the brazen theft of a tanker full of methylamine from a train stopped in its tracks. The episode had elements of a classic heist pic, but the euphoria comes to a crashing halt when one team member shoots a preteen boy on a bicycle.

Schnauz’s episode, “Say My Name,” was perhaps the most emotional of the first half. It encompassed not only White’s killing of enforcer Mike Ehrmentraut, but also the steely decision by Aaron Paul’s Jesse to break with White for good.

Mike’s denouement is beautifully crafted into a moment of vulnerability for “Bad’s” central figure, who babbles his apologies after shooting Mike. That also gives the audience the satisfaction of seeing the grizzled drug-biz veteran seize one last chance to bark an order: “Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace.”

MacLaren’s directing nom came for the action-packed “Gliding Over All,” which galloped at the start with the rapid-fire sequence depicting the prison killings of 10 people White was eager to be rid of, and ended with the reveal of White’s big secret to his DEA-boss brother-in-law, Hank.

MacLaren’s “Bad” nom comes on the heels of her helming high-octane segments of “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” in recent months. “Bad” exec producer Mark Johnson has been effusive about MacLaren’s flair as a director, and her ability to deliver movie-quality material on a TV budget and timetable.

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