Emmy episode analysis: Anthony Hopkins (‘Westworld’) reveals a shocking secret in ‘Trompe L’Oeil’

Esteemed thespian Anthony Hopkins has two previous Emmy wins for the TV movies “The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” (1976) and “The Bunker” (1981). But it is the Oscar winner’s first stint in a dramatic series that brings him to the 2017 Emmys. Hopkins portrays Robert Ford in HBO’s “Westworld.” Ford is the genius director and founder of the Westworld theme park, where his lifelike robotic “hosts” allow wealthy visitors to live out their Wild West fantasies. With last year’s Best Drama Actor winner (Rami Malek) out of the running, there is room for someone new to claim this top category. Hopkins is hoping the episode “Trompe L’Oeil,” with its shocking water-cooler moment, will win over Emmy voters.

In the hour, Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) tasks Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) with obtaining the code to the hosts, before they push park creator Robert Ford out of his own business. In a bid to demonstrate that Ford’s “reveries” can cause the hosts to override their safety protocols, they program one robot to assault a technician. As a result, top programmer Bernard (Emmy nominee Jeffrey Wright) is fired. Bernard later comes to Theresa with concerns about Ford’s behavior and leads her to a secret facility in the park. Theresa shockingly discovers blueprints for a host that resembles Bernard, but Bernard cant see the drawings. Ford emerges from the shadows with a sinister grin and mutters, “They cannot see the things that will hurt them,” confirming that Bernard is a host.

Theresa is terrified but lets Ford know that the board will get rid of him. Ford, unafraid, imposes on her that the hosts and park are entirely under his control. While he isn’t concerned about the board, he acknowledges that a “blood sacrifice” must be made to set things right. He orders Bernard to kill Theresa, who pleads for mercy before being beaten to death by her former lover. Is “Trompe L’Oeil” strong enough for Hopkins to win? Let’s examine the pros and cons:

PROS

“Westworld” tops all dramas with 22 Emmy nominations, and Hopkins gets to close out this pivotal episode with his big scene. It was arguably the most talked about moment of the season, and is sure to stick out in voters’ minds once again.

The actor is able to project an air of power and dread, simply by walking into frame. Few performers have the presence to pull off this impressive feat.

The four nominated “Westworld” actors — Hopkins, Wright, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton — submitted the last four episodes of the season, starting with this one, in a clear attempt to give voters a strong story arc to consider. If Emmy voters watch all the episodes, they will see more of Hopkins in his co-stars’ submissions, including his powerful monologue in the season finale.

SEE 2017 Emmy nominations list: All the nominees

CONS

Ford does not appear until the 24-minute mark, and then disappears again until the final scene. That is a serious lack of screen time for a lead category.

If voters do not view the four submitted “Westworld” episodes together, they will probably be wondering why “Trompe L’Oeil” is Hopkins’ submission. He is essentially relying on one pivotal scene to win.

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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