Emmy Episode Analysis: Robin Wright schemes her way to top on ‘House of Cards’

This is Robin Wright’s second straight Emmy nomination for her role as Claire Underwood on “House of Cards.” While she lost last year to Claire Danes (“Homeland”), she prevailed at the most recent Golden Globes. Will TV academy voters also reward her for her work? Let’s take a closer look at her episode submission — the season two finale “Chapter 26 — to the Emmy judges. 

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SYNOPSIS: As Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) continues his plot to undermine President Walker (Michael Gill) in his quest to become president, his wife Claire (Robin Wright) consoles Megan Hennessey (Libby Woodbridge) following a suicide attemp. Clearly upset about her involvement in Megan’s breakdown, Claire talks to the First Lady (Dani Englander) on the phone who consoles her, not knowing that Claire had so much to do with the downfall of her husband. This gets to Claire, and she breaks down on a stairwell, crying in her hands.

As Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) works to secure votes for President Walker’s impeachment, Claire pushes Frank to reconcile with the President. After the Walkers retreat to Camp David, Frank works tirelessly to win back the President’s trust. In the end, Frank is sworn in as President, with Claire stoically by his side as his dutiful wife and co-conspirator. For Frank’s birthday, Claire gives Frank a replica of his class ring that he buried at a Civil War memorial earlier in the season. The gesture is not lost on Frank.

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PROS:

House of Cards” improved its Emmy showing this year with 13 nominations (versus nine), including repeat bids for both Spacey and Wright. 

“House of Cards” has that snob appeal to which voters seem to gravitate. And Wright, coming off that Globe win, is a film star with name recognition.

Wright’s big money scene towards the beginning of the episode is a winner as she cries her heart out. It’s rare to see the stoic and calculating Claire Underwood let her guard down, and it’s a shot that will stick with many Emmy voters.

CONS:

Wright’s screen time is very limited. Even when she’s on-screen and (apart from that crying scene) the story is not about her character. There are long periods where Wright is off-screen, which could mean she’s out of sight, out of mind.

There’s a lot of crying in this category, as her rival nominees Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”), Claire Danes (“Homeland”) and Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) all break down in tears in their episodes. Depending on what order voters see Wright’s performance, they might be all cried out to really take to yet another teary performance from a leading lady.

According to Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users, Wright is currently in second place to win with 10/9 odds. Do you agree with those odds? Make your own predictions below, then discuss all the episodes in our Emmy forums.

3 thoughts on “Emmy Episode Analysis: Robin Wright schemes her way to top on ‘House of Cards’

  1. Okay, seriously, what’s the deal with GoldDerby’s obsession with crying scenes? I get the desire to see actors emote on-screen, but it’s like there’s a tears fetish going on here.

  2. I am a big fan of this show and her performance but considering what Rob said about her screentime I really feel like she should be in the supporting category instead and has no chance here without that interview episode

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