With her nomination this year for Best Drama Actress, Robin Wright has earned her fourth consecutive Emmy bid for playing Claire Underwood on “House of Cards.” While she has yet to win an Emmy, she did take home a Golden Globe for the role in 2014. For this year’s race, Wright submitted to Emmy judges the episode “Chapter 49,” the 10th episode of the Netflix series’s fourth season.
With an open convention in progress, Claire returns to Texas with Tom Yates (Paul Sparks) to visit her dying mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn). Elizabeth says to Claire that she’s only there because it’s convenient, then later reminisces with Claire about her father. When Elizabeth experiences pain Claire tries to help her, but Elizabeth shoos her away. Claire talks with Frank (Kevin Spacey) and suggests that she might not be ready for the VP slot, but Frank reassures her that she is the only one he trusts to carry on his legacy should anything happen to him.
Elizabeth pleads with her to help her die, saying that it will even help Claire win politically. With Tom next to her, Claire administers doses of morphine to Elizabeth until she’s unconscious and dies. On the phone with Frank, Claire tells him to schedule the convention vote for the next day and to get everything in order. As Tom attempts to comfort Claire, the two end up sleeping together.
The next day Claire arrives at the convention and delivers a rousing speech to the delegates. The episode culminates with Frank and Claire being nominated for President and Vice President. Can Wright finally win an Emmy to match her Golden Globe? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
Wright has great material to play with in the episode with the death of Claire’s mother and she also is a worthy sparring partner for Burstyn in their scenes with each other.
“House of Cards” did insanely well with acting nominations this year getting eight total. In addition to Wright’s nod for Drama Actress there’s also Drama Actor (Spacey), Drama Supporting Actor (Michael Kelly), two for Drama Guest Actress (Burstyn and Molly Parker) and three for Drama Guest Actor (Sparks, Reg E. Cathey and Mahershala Ali). This shows huge love from the acting branch and could mean they’re eager to reward it.
The show itself is back up in nominations this year as well. After falling to 11 nominations in 2015 (from 13 nods in 2014), the show is back up to 13 noms, which corresponds to the good notices the show received for this season.
Wright’s performance is a very subtle one and several of her competitors have submitted episodes that contain performances that are much more expressive, including Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”) and Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”).
The field for this category is extremely competitive. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Wright, it does increase the chance that someone completely out of left field could end up taking this trophy home.
The season debuted back in February and was released all at once which might decrease the impact of the episode for those who saw it when it first came out but don’t remember it as well as they think they might.
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