Emmy episode analysis: Lena Headey (‘Game of Thrones’) rises above walk of shame

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Can Lena Headey win the Emmy for Best Drama Supporting Actress on only her second bid for playing Cersei Lannister on “Game of Thrones“? Last year she lost out to Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”), but with Gunn gone we are guaranteed a new winner in this race. Headey submitted the Season 5 finale to Emmy judges “Mother’s Mercy.”

Click here to see the updated list of all 2015 Emmy episode submissions

SYNOPSIS: A broken and imprisoned Cersei “confesses” her sins to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) in order to get out of her jail cell. She admits to sleeping with her nephew, but lies and says there is no truth to the rumors that she slept with her brother. Cersei is then stripped naked and washed clean, and most of her hair is cut off.

To atone for her sins, Cersei must walk through the center of King’s Landing completely naked. One of the Sparrow’s aids follows her through the city shouting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and ringing a cow bell. As Cersei walks deeper through the capitol, people spit on her, throw things at her and shout vile phrases. Finally, she arrives at the castle and is welcomed by a guard who says that they’ll do everything they can to make sure the Queen’s enemies are punished.

Will Headey’s buzzed-about scenes help her win her an Emmy? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:


Headey shows incredible emotional range in her short 15 minutes of screen time, from manipulative and cunning to broken and afraid.

At Gold Derby we often say that a performer needs to have one major impact scene in order to win an Emmy. Well, there was arguably nothing more impactful on all of television last year than Cersei’s naked walk of shame.

As the show’s major villain, Headey submitted an episode where her character goes through the beginning stages of what appears to be a redemptive arc. That character reversal will allow voters to see her in a new light.


Headey does not appear until the 40 minute mark of her episode. Will voters get bored waiting for her to show up?

Only one actor from “Game of Thrones” has won before — Peter Dinklage back in 2011. That’s likely because the show rarely focuses on a character long enough in a single episode for Emmy voters to get attached.

Headey was pregnant during the filming of this episode and used a body double for her character’s nude scenes. Might voters hold that against her?

Experts Emmy predictions: All 32 categories

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Photo: Lena Headey. Credit: HBO

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