“House of Cards” fans rejoiced when Michael Kelly was nominated as Best Drama Supporting Actor at the 2017 Emmys. It’s his third consecutive bid for playing Doug Stamper, the fiercely loyal Chief of Staff to President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). He has submitted the fifth season episode “Chapter 54” for Emmy consideration.
In the episode, Frank is facing impeachment, and things get worse when he learns that “Washington Herald” editor-in-chief Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver) is uncovering evidence that he and Doug murdered journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). Frank and Claire (Robin Wright) summon Doug to dinner, where they demand he take the fall and implicate himself in her death. Initially put off, he wonders how far he can take his loyalty. Doug then goes to Leanne (Neve Campbell) and “confesses” to the murder, but she doesn’t buy it.
Can Kelly win for this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
Last year’s winner, Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”), is absent in this category, having moved over to Drama Guest Actor. Kelly is now competing against prior winners John Lithgow (“The Crown”), Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”) and Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”), past nominee Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”), and newcomers David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) and Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”).
With three nominations under his belt, Kelly is certainly overdue. He’s the kind of working actor Emmy voters love to reward. Plus, it’s clear they like the character of Doug Stamper, given his constant presence in this category.
“Chapter 64” finds Doug at a crossroads, with his unwavering devotion to Frank causing him serious jeopardy. It’s the kind of meaty material that gives Kelly a lot to work with.
Suffice it to say, politics have been in the news a lot lately, and the TV academy may want to reward Doug Stamper for being a better Chief of Staff than either Reince Priebus or John Kelly.
“House of Cards” received 13 nominations last season, eight of which were in acting categories. This year, it’s down to just seven, three of which are for acting. While it still managed to stay in Best Drama Series despite a crowded field, its support has nevertheless waned.
Kelly’s work is often subtle, and while this may perfectly fit his character, it makes it more difficult for his performance to stand out in a competitive field.
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