The most talked-about TV episode of the year is now an Emmy nominee for Best Drama Writing. Of course, we’re referring to the famed Red Wedding episode of “Game of Thrones” — officially titled “The Rains of Castamere” — and written for the screen by co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. If you haven’t seen the episode, you’ve certainly heard about it as the buzz has been deafening ever since HBO aired it on June 2.
While it’s by far the best-known episode of this year’s nominees, by no means is it the only horse in the race. Competing against the bloody frontrunner are: the fourth episode of “Downton Abbey” scripted by Julian Fellowes, the intense “Q&A” episode of “Homeland” penned by Henry Bromell and two episodes from “Breaking Bad” — “Dead Freight” from George Mastras and “Say My Name” by Thomas Schnauz.
TV fans, this may be the best Drama Writing line-up we’ve seen in a long, long time!
As we know from studying Emmy history, only shows with writing and/or directing nominations have a real shot at taking home the top prize. Sure, there have been a few exceptions — the last show to win Drama Series without any writing or directing bids was “The Practice” in 1999 — but other than these rare cases, this rule holds true. Without recognition from at least one of the TV academy’s writing or directing branches, series contenders aren’t seen to have enough support to carry the show to a win.
All four of the shows contending for Drama Writing are in the series race, as is “House of Cards” which got nominated for Best Drama Directing. The sixth and final Drama Series nominee — four-time champ “Mad Men” — wasn’t so lucky as it got snubbed for both writing and directing.
Let’s examine each Drama Writing nominee for possible strengths and weaknesses:
“Game of Thrones” – “The Rains of Castamere” by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
What more is there to say about the red wedding episode? If the Emmy voters want to honor the most talked-about TV episode in years, they’ll give it to “Game of Thrones.” We already know that the TV academy loves this show, as it’s won eight Emmys over the course of its first two years including Peter Dinklage as Drama Supporting Actor in 2011.
The bad news for Benioff and Weiss? One major setback for taking home the crown might be the show’s heavily-serialzed nature. If voters aren’t regular viewers, they may not understand 100% (or even 50%) of what’s happening on screen.
“Downton Abbey” – “Episode 4” by Julian Fellowes
Fellowes is already an Emmy winner for writing and producing “Downton Abbey” back when it was competing as a Movie/Miniseries (2011). Last year, the show entered the more competitive drama categories. While he was nominated for writing and producing yet again, he came up empty.
The good news for Fellowes? Much of the competition in this category has a similar feel at the script level — they’re all intense, bloody, dark episodes — while “Downton Abbey” has a sophistication and class that could help it stand out.
“Homeland” – “Q&A” by Henry Bromell
Without a doubt, this was the best episode from “Homeland’s” shaky second season. Without giving too much away for those that are behind, the title “Q&A” comes into play literally as Claire Danes and Damian Lewis face off in an interrogation room for most of the episode. It’s a gripping hour of television that propells the story forward with heightened momentum.
The sad news about Bromell? This well-known TV writer/producer passed away in March 2013 from a torn aorta, so it would be a bittersweet victory for “Homeland” if the Emmys choose to honor this episode.
“Breaking Bad” – “Dead Freight” by George Mastras
A newcomer to this particular Emmy race, “Breaking Bad” scored its first-ever nominations in Drama Writing this year. Of the two contenders, Mastras might have the better chance at a win because his episode is slightly more self-contained. “Dead Freight” — otherwise known as the “train heist” episode — was riveting from start to finish, as what starts as a routine interrogation of a possible snitch leads to a heart-pounding train robbery straight out of a classic western … only with a methlymine twist.
The bad news for Mastras? The final shocking image involving the innocent youngster might leave some voters cold.
“Breaking Bad” – “Say My Name” by Thomas Schnauz
This episode may have a slight disadvantage with the uninitiated as it’s harder to follow than “Dead Freight.” However, both episodes were nominated by the Writers Guild of America this year so there’s clear widespread support for each. In “Say My Name,” Jonathan Banks‘s character is followed by the DEA, which leads to an unexpected showdown with Bryan Cranston‘s character along a riverbed.
The good news for Schnauz? Tons of emotion in this episode will help to differentiate it from some of the other high octaine entries in this category.
Without question, this is a tough category to predict.
What episode do you think will score with Emmy voters for Best Drama Writing? Use our easy drag-and-drop menu below to cast your vote.