Could third time be the charm for “Game of Thrones” scene-stealer Diana Rigg in the Emmy race for Best Drama Guest Actress? On the HBO fantasy epic, Rigg plays Olenna Tyrell, the icy grandmother who returned yet again to stir up trouble in King’s Landing. Dame Diana lost this race in 2013 to Carrie Preston (“The Good Wife”) and last year to Allison Janney (“Masters of Sex”). She’s back in the running this year with her Emmy episode submission “The Gift.”
SYNOPSIS: After her grandchildren are arrested, Olenna meets with the High Sparrow to argue for their release. He ignores her request, saying that they must be punished for their sins against God. When Olenna counters by saying she’s going to stop shipping food to King’s Landing, the High Sparrow warns her of what’ll happen if the many stop fearing the few. Later, Olenna and Littlefinger meet in his destroyed brothel (she calls it a “broken little flesh market”) for the first time since they conspired to murder King Joffrey. She tells him that she will happily expose his secrets if her family’s house ends up being destroyed.
Can Rigg, a past Tony (“Medea,” 1994) and Emmy champ (“Rebecca,” 1997) take home her first Emmy for this role for “The Gift”? Let’s consider the pros and cons:
Rigg is one of those actresses that commands every scene she’s in. If Olenna is on screen, it’s a safe bet that voters will be glued to their TVs.
“Game of Thrones” received 24 Emmy nominations this year, more than any other program, so the show is clearly an academy favorite. And Peter Dinklage won Drama Supporting Actor in 2011, proving Emmy voters aren’t afraid of giving this show top trophies.
With no obvious frontrunner to win this race according to Gold Derby’s exclusive rankings that combine the predictions of our Experts, Editors and Users, the new Emmy voting rules this year could help Rigg prevail because she’s on the most popular show.
Like any episode of “Game of Thrones,” there are many characters and locations to be served, meaning Rigg has minimal lines of dialogue. If voters want to reward Rigg for her character’s entire series arc, she could win. But if they’re solely voting on her appearance in this episode, she may be overlooked.
Some of Rigg’s dynamite scenes took place in the previous episode’s courtroom battle that resulted in the arrest of Olenna’s grandchildren. If those scenes had been in this episode, Rigg might have gotten an extra Emmy boost.
There’s no screaming fit, no passionate speech, no crying, no multiple personalities. In other words, all of the normal tell-tale Emmy signs are absent from “The Gift,” meaning Rigg could fall short at the finish line.
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