Will ‘Homeland’ remain winner with Emmys?

Last night, “Homeland” closed out its sophomore season with a literal bang. CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and ex-POW Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) are last seen getting Brody out of the country after a deadly explosion at CIA headquarters is pinned on him. This unresolved storyline sets up the pay cabler’s hot spy thriller for an even more intense third season next year.

We have already peered into the awards crystal ball last month as the show reached the half-way mark of its sophomore season. Now that it is over, can “Homeland” continue its incredible awards run of the past twelve months?

The first season “Homeland” was the grand-slam champion of last awards season, reaping accolades from the Golden Globes, DGA, WGA, Critics Choice and TCA before sweeping the Emmys. The lone holdout was an inexplicable snub at last year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Season two looks is shaping up to be just as beloved by awards groups as its freshman season.

Earlier this month, the WGA handed the show’s writers a nod in the Drama Series race, and singled out writer Meredith Stiehm for her applauded early-season effort, “New Car Smell.”

Last week, the SAG Awards atoned for their sins and handed “Homeland” three nominations, including for best Drama Ensemble as well as nods for Danes and Lewis.

A day later, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. continued to show the love, bestowing a category-leading four nominations for Best Drama Series, for its two leads and a nomination for Mandy Patinkin, his first for his role as the beleagured Saul Berenson.

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So what are the show’s best chances for Emmy glory next year?

Choosing six episodes to submit in the Best Drama Series category will be a difficult decision. The critical consensus is that the show really hit its stride during the earlier episodes, including the season opener “The Smile,” plus “State of Independence” and the game-changing WGA-nominated “New Car Smell.”

I would also suggest including the intense “Q&A” and “The Clearing” plus the explosive season finale “The Choice” as the best episodes of this season.

Danes is sure to be back to defend her Emmy title of Best Drama Actress. She has potential knockout episode submissions with “The Smile,” “State of Independence,” “New Car Smell,” “Q&A,” or the season finale “The Choice.”

My early (and easy) prediction is that Lewis will be a frontrunner next year in the Best Drama Actor category. He already has a knockout episode submission with the intense and emotional interrogation scenes in “Q&A” and could also submit “The Choice,” in which his character is forced to deal with the realisation that he is now an enemy of the state.

Now that Patinkin has a Golden Globe nomination under his belt, his chances at adding a fourth career Emmy nomination to his resume are looking good. As crotchety but loyal Saul Berenson, he has a great episode submission with the season finale, but I think he might have an even better shot with “The Clearing,” in which he interrogates and appears to bond with an incarcerated terrorist played by Marin Ireland, who might also be a contender in the Best Drama Guest Actress category.

Morena Baccarin has yet to receive any individual honors to date, but still could be a player in the Best Drama Supporting Actress race if voters see her standout scenes in “The Smile” or especially in “State of Independence” as she delivers a speech at her fundraiser, candidly speaking about the private struggle she has endured upon her POW husband’s surprise rescue after years in captivity.

“Homeland” will likely reap writing and directing nominations, probably for helmer Michael Cuesta, either for the show’s season premiere or finale, and Stiehm should see her name included in the writing category for “New Car Smell,” along with a possible nod (with co-writer and shorunner Alex Gansa) for the season finale.

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