Emmy episode analysis: Can Ann Dowd redeem ‘The Leftovers’ after inexplicable snubs?

After more than 30 years in showbiz, Ann Dowd has finally been recognized with not one, but two Emmy nominations, as Best Drama Guest Actress for her role as the menacing Patti Levin on “The Leftovers,” and as Best Drama Supporting Actress for her role as the sadistic Aunt Lydia on “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

For “The Leftovers,” Dowd has submitted the penultimate episode of that show’s exalted final season for consideration, titled “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother).” Watch our recent webchat with Ann Dowd.

In this anticipated sequel episode to last season’s highlight “International Assassin,” Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) returns to the warped alternate reality world of the dead. He appears as two versions of himself, the international assassin and the President of the United States. In an underground bunker, he is urged on by a manipulative and menacing Patti Levin, his demanding Secretary of Defense, to launch a nuclear attack that will destroy the entire world.

Is this the year that Dowd finally takes home some hardware after decades on screen? Let’s dive deeper into “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother).”

PROS

Dowd is a beloved actress with over 30 years under her belt. We all know her face from “that film” or “that TV show.” After knocking out a critically acclaimed performance in the film “Compliance” in 2012, Dowd has been wowing audiences with memorable roles on TV like her signature Patti Levin role on “The Leftovers,” and her devastating Aunt Lydia on “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It was only a matter of time until Emmy voters finally cottoned on. Emmy voters often reward veteran actors after years of working in the trenches, especially in this category, like Margo Martindale (to whom Dowd is often compared), Loretta Devine and Martha Plimpton to name just a few.

There appears to be so much love for Dowd that she has not one, but two noms this year. Multiple acting nominees often do really well at the Emmys, like Sarah Paulson last year (nominated for “American Horror Story: Hotel,” won for “The People v. O.J. Simpson”), Kathy Bates (nominated for “Harry’s Law,” won for “Two and a Half Men,” 2012), Jon Hamm (nominated for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” won for “Mad Men,” 2015), Neil Patrick Harris (nominated for “How I Met Your Mother,” won for “Glee,” 2010), and Tina Fey (nominated for “30 Rock,” won for “Saturday Night Live,” 2009). Multiple nominees don’t always win (sorry, Laurie Metcalf last year, going zero for three nods), but receiving more than one nomination absolutely demonstrates that Emmy voters are paying attention to particular performers that are having particularly good years across the board.

If episode submissions mean anything anymore, then voters watching these submissions will marvel at Dowd’s screen presence not once, but twice. We know that she is dynamite in “The Leftovers” as the aggressive and manipulative Patti Levin. But she also features prominently in “Late,” the episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” submitted in this category by Alexis Bledel. Aunt Lydia stands over a broken Offred (Elisabeth Moss) as she is being interrogated, and violently attacks her with a cattle prod after Offred’s answers don’t meet with her approval. It will remind Emmy voters about the impact that Dowd has made in both series this past season.

SEE 2017 Emmy nominations list: All the nominees

CONS

It takes some time for Dowd to appear on screen in “The Most Powerful Man (and His Identical Twin Brother),” as the episode builds slowly to Patti Levin’s eagerly anticipated return to the show for one final curtain call. Emmy voters might be impatient watching an episode that might be completely indecipherable to viewers unfamiliar with the show, as it largely takes place in an alternate reality that is so off the wall and bizarre, that many voters might not fully buy into the premise.

Another negative for Dowd is that Emmy voters clearly don’t watch or don’t like “The Leftovers.” After three years on the air, and the best reviews of any show on TV this season, the show has only managed this one nomination, and nothing else. Dowd doesn’t have the luxury of banking on TV academy support for her show, like some of the other contenders in this category can, like Bledel, Shannon Purser (“Stranger Things”) and Alison Wright (“The Americans”).

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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