Emmy Spotlight: ‘Game of Thrones’

Last year’s record-breaking Emmy winner Game of Thrones wrapped its sixth season tonight. Is another win in the cards?

Almost no one actively campaigns for HBO’s Game of Thrones to win the Drama Series Emmy. Don’t twist my words as I’m not saying no one wants it to win. I’m saying very few expend the energy to actively push the series forward into the winner’s circle. All types of campaigns exist on the Internet and in trades for other series – series whose biggest win would be to rank in the top seven on nomination morning. Yet, Game of Thrones biggest competition this year may be last year’s record-breaking haul: it received 12 Emmy wins in a single year. Will Emmy voters feel all that inclined to similarly reward the series this year?

The short answer? Probably “Yes.”

Game of Thrones won for its fifth season, a season that tested even die-hard fans’ patience. However, with Breaking Bad out of the way, the title clearly provided the next series for Emmy voters to rally around. Even the final season of once-favorite Mad Men could not dissuade them. It’s curious, though, to think that Emmy voters have fallen into the Breaking Bad pattern with Thrones already. Breaking Bad didn’t win until it started the descent into its series finale. With Thrones still plotting two additional seasons, will Emmy voters reward it another three times? It’s difficult to imagine that for a fantasy series.

Still, the merits of season six are hard to argue.

Apparently very confident in its sixth season, HBO submitted the traditionally battle-heavy ninth episode of the season for most Emmy consideration, and that was a very smart move. Even though it aired in the middle of the voting period, “Battle of the Bastards” provided a visceral and emotional experience, widely considered one of if not the best episode of the entire series. Why is that? The battle itself between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton ignited the screen with its incredible staging. The dirt and grime, the blood and gore – all of it effectively realized and difficult to watch. It was also hard to look away with so much at stake dramatically. And then that clincher of a final scene as Sansa Stark watched Ramsay get his. In the face.

As a good friend of mine put it, “Battle of the Bastards” offers the episode in which the good guys finally, irrevocably won. After years of misery where good guys died left and right, we finally saw an episode that pretty much featured a widespread victory (save poor Wun Wun). Sure, it was predictable as hell, but who cares? It was the battle we wanted and needed. It was the ending to the Bolton story line most everyone wanted. Maybe it’s perfect that it aired midway the Emmy voting cycle. The euphoria could carry Game of Thrones to a record Emmy nomination haul for the series itself.

One thing going against the notion of a record series haul is the relative lack of Guest Actors put forth this year by the series. Jonathan Price and Diana Rigg were not submitted in their Guest Acting categories. Rigg has received nominations for her role as Queen of Thorns in the past. Only Max von Sydow received a submission for his role as the Three-eyed Raven, a role I’m not sure anyone truly understands.

Personally, the rest of the year captivated 100 percent. The thrill and adrenaline rush of the “big moments” trained audiences to expect that on a weekly basis, but, to me, Game of Thrones excels equally in the quiet, sulking moments that pay off episodes later. That’s where Lena Headey lives and breathes, and, going into tonight’s season finale, I waited for that killer Cersei moment promised earlier in the season. She excelled in the scene illustrating the revelation of the recently deceased Myrcella, and she just needed one more scene to bring it home.

She got it tonight as she exacted her revenge against the High Sparrow (Jonathan Price) and her tormenting nun.  Now, Lena Headey’s most significant issue is the nature of her character as Cersei isn’t one for great emotional moments. On the contrary, Cersei’s heart appears as icy as the white walkers marching on Westeros. How else could someone watch as half of King’s Landing burned in a massive explosion? How else could someone stare mutely at the corpse of her latest dead child, King Tommen? Headey’s performance this season has been remarkable. Emmy will take notice with a nomination, but the win is unclear.

Game of Thrones ends its sixth season giving payoffs galore. The tension and filmmaking craft of the destruction scene that kicked off the season finale nearly equalled the great “Battle of the Bastards.” Perhaps “The Winds of Winter” gave us an even greater episode of television. Whatever glory Emmy bestows upon Game of Thrones this year won’t be the final opportunities. This is a series taking flight away from the chains of the source material, and I believe that to be a very good thing.

Guaranteed Nominations
Drama Series
Peter Dinklage, Supporting Actor
Lena Headey, Supporting Actress
Emilia Clarke, Supporting Actress
All The Crafts

Possible Nominations
Kit Harington, Supporting Actor
Sophie Turner, Supporting Actress
Max von Sydow, Guest Actor

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