Gold Derby Emmy MVP: Kit Harington (‘Game of Thrones’) stuns in ‘The Watchers on the Wall’

Kit Harington, you finally have that bona fide Emmy episode showcase we’ve been waiting for! 

On “Game of Thrones,” it has always been an uphill battle for its sprawling ensemble cast members to get a look in at the Emmys. As each episode traverses the epic landscapes of fictional Westeros and Essos, we usually get but a mere glimpse at the ongoing plotlines of each of their story arcs.

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But every so often, “Game of Thrones” focuses on one location, immersing the audience in a subplot that is so critical to the overall story that it demands our full attention. In season two, the celebrated (and Emmy nominated) ninth episode (“Blackwater”) focused on the epic battle of Blackwater, in which the armies of Kings Landing defended the city against the advancing armies of Stannis Baratheon. And now we have “The Watchers on the Wall”, the ninth episode of season four, and a stunning showcase for the characters of the Night’s Watch. They guard against the wildling hordes of the far North traversing inot the “civilised” world south of the Wall.

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The episode’s leading man and my Gold Derby Emmy MVP was Kit Harington as the heroic Jon Snow, forced to lead his men against the invading wildling warriors, barbarians, cannibals, giants and wooly mammoths of the icy North.

The Emmys are far from perfect. In fact, some people argue that the TV academy gets more wrong than they get right. That’s why it’s our job to help steer Emmy voters in the right direction.Throughout the TV season we have been recognizing underrated performers from your favorite TV series in the hopes of bringing them extra Emmy attention.

If Gold Derby Emmy MVP had been around in the past, you would have seen us go head-over-heels for Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), William B. Davis (“The X-Files”), Mary McDonnell (“Battlestar Galactica”) and, most recently, John Noble (“Fringe“). Those deserving folks were all skunked by the Emmys, and the wounds still sting. Let’s hop Harington doesn’t fall into the same trap and is finally shown some Emmy love.

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Does Harington have a shot at earning an Emmy nomination? Let’s analyze the pros and cons of this Gold Derby Emmy MVP.

PROS:

Harington, like past cast nominees Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, is one of the most beloved characters from the massive cast. Voters just need enough of a showcase to justify a nomination;

In “The Watchers on the Wall,” Harington is finally given a whole episode in which he shines brilliantly. Therefore, screen time should not be an issue. Normally, dozens of actors are usually clamoring for attention in scattershot episodes cutting back and forth between each subplot;  here, Harington is front and center for much of the episode’s main action as the heroic leading man;

Jon Snow boldly fights his way through one of the most incredibly presented battles ever produced for television and Harington gives us the kind of emotion, range and impact that will make Emmy voters swoon if they take the time to watch his performance; and

The show’s acting nominations are on the upswing. Dinklage has been nominated for all three seasons to date, winning the first time round with an episode that did not focus entirely on him, but still provided his character with enough impact. Last year, both supporting player Clarke (as Daenerys Targaryen) and veteran thesp Diana Rigg (who guests as Olenna Tyrell) broke through. The actors branch of the TV Academy might be even more welcoming this year.

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CONS:

The Best Drama Supporting Actor category is fiercely competitive, not only with co-star and sure bet Dinklage, but actors from Emmy faves like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” and “The Good Wife.”

As we’ve mentioned before, no Starks (even if Snow is Ned Stark’s bastard son) have ever been nominated, not even the dearly departed Sean Bean or Michelle Fairley; and

The episode is so spectacular and epic that maybe voters will look beyond the actors’ performances and only admire the action.

Do you think Harington can pull off an Emmy upset?

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