Emmy Episode Analysis: Can Maggie Smith (‘Downton Abbey’) pull off a hat trick?

After two consecutive triumphs at the Emmys (2011, 2012), Maggie Smith was bested by Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad“) last year as Best Drama Supporting Actress. This time around, Smith submitted the two-hour “Downton Abbey” season finale and could win a third trophy for playing fan-favorite Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

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SYNOPSIS: In the season finale “The London Season,” the characters all travel to London to attend Rose’s royal coronation ceremony. Cora’s American mother (Shirley MacLaine) and brother (Paul Giamatti) travel across the ocean to join in the celebration, and Violet and Martha immediately start up their catty feud again. Some of the servants are curious as to Lady Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) tiredness, but Violet knows the truth, that she briefly moved away to give birth to her secret child.

Meanwhile, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) gives away Mr. Bates’ (Brendan Coyle) coat to charity, not knowing that it had evidence in the pocket suggesting he murdered her rapist several months prior. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) uncovers the ticket and decides to burn it so that Anna will never find out the truth about her husband. The season ends with the servants all enjoying a rare day off at the beach.

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Can Smith take home her third Emmy for this role for “The London Season”? Let’s consider the pros and cons:

PROS:

Smith shows off a bit more range in this episode than we’re used to seeing from the Dowager Countess. In her first scene, she reveals awkward embarrassment when Lady Edith accuses her of downplaying the fact that she had a child out of wedlock as merely an opportunity to learn French. And when she is readying to leave for London, Violet is jealous that a suitor is seeing Isobel (Penelope Wilton) off and then admits to being worried that she’s traveling without a maid for the first time.

She gets the benefit of submitting the double-length season finale to judges and when it comes to episode submissions, size often does matter. Plus, don’t forget that voters will be seeing Smith perform in Froggatt’s episode submission too.

Some of Smith’s scenes are opposite fellow Oscar champ MacLaine, and their sassy back-and-forth relationship may be too enticing an opportunity for Emmy voters to pass up.

CONS:

Smith is absent for most of the episode as there are seemingly dozens of performers and storylines to address. This didn’t seem to hurt her in the past when she won, but it’s definitely a factor here.

After winning twice for this role and being nominated four times now, Emmy voters may be interested in moving on to newer actresses in the interest of spreading the wealth.

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Smith is currently in fifth place in our predictions with 50/1 odds. Do you agree with those odds, or are we underestimating this acting legend? Make your own predictions below.

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