Emmy Episode Analysis: Kate Mara (‘House of Cards’) has a train to catch

Snubbed in the supporting category for season one of “House of Cards,” Kate Mara returned for just one episode in season two and earned an Emmy bid for Drama Guest Actress. Can she capitalize on the increased support for the series in its second year?

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SYNOPSIS: In “Chapter 14,” the season premiere episode, reporter Zoe Barnes (Mara) is in a relationship with colleague Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus). Along with him and a third reporter, Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer), Zoe is continuing her investigation into politician Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), with whom Barnes has been professionally and sexually entangled, but now she suspects he is guilty of corruption and murder.

She, Lucas, and Janine search for clues and witnesses, including a missing call girl who might have a connection to Frank’s crimes. During their investigation, Zoe maintains contact with Underwood, stringing him along in the hopes of learning vital information. During their final meeting in a subway station, Zoe expresses a desire to start their relationship with a clean slate, as long as he can convince her that he’s not a murderer, but he does quite the opposite, pushing her in front of an oncoming train to silence her for good.

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Will Mara’s shocking “House of Cards” exit jolt voters into awarding her an Emmy? Let’s consider the pros and cons:

PROS

Mara has significant screen time as Zoe puts more and more pressure on Underwood, and the actress holds her own opposite Kevin Spacey.

The tragic twist ending for her character was one of the most memorable watercooler moments of the past season. That alone might inspire some voters to check her name.

If judges on her panel are already familiar with the show – and considering its 13 total nominations they very well might be – they may view this as an opportunity to belatedly reward her for her work in season one.

CONS

All of Mara’s scenes involve her investigation, which means her performance is mostly spent delivering exposition. Without a strong emotional arc to play, she lacks both impact and range.

This category favors veteran actresses; at 31, Mara would be its youngest winner.

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Mara is an underdog in this race, ranking fifth in our predictions with 50/1 odds. Can she beat those odds? Make your predictions below:

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