Emmy episode analysis: Will Carrie Preston win a bookend Emmy for ‘The Good Wife’ final season?

Carrie Preston returns to the Best Drama Guest Actress category three years after winning this race for her role as effervescent and cunning attorney Elsbeth Tascioni on “The Good Wife.” This show treated audiences to some truly memorable guest turns over seven seasons, including Elsbeth, who comes across as ditzy, scattered and dithering but is really a razor sharp and calculating legal eagle. Preston has submitted the episode “Targets” to Emmy voters.

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Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) approaches Elsbeth Tascioni to act on behalf of Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), who is being investigated by the FBI. After discussing the potential case against the Governor, Elsbeth realizes that the charges of vote rigging are serious and starts to prepare her case with zany color-coded place cards. Elsbeth continues her own investigation, but she later tells Eli that she can’t act for Peter and recommends that her equally eccentric ex-husband Michael Tascioni (Will Patton) take on his case as her replacement.

Can Preston win a bookend Emmy for her performance as the incomparable Elsbeth Tascioni? Let’s take a closer look at her submission:

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Of all of the high-profile guest stars to have featured on “The Good Wife,” Preston’s character is the most memorable. The actress is so genuinely lovable as the affable, offbeat and shrewd attorney that often comes to the rescue of the lawyers at Lockhart Agos & Lee. Her is by far the most “huggable” performance.

Emmy voters eat up this kind of quirky role, which feels like something from a law series by David E. Kelley, the legendary TV writer/producer whose shows have won 38 Emmys in various acting categories.

Emmy winners in acting categories often repeat; the only other time Preston has been nominated, she claimed the prize.

A cast member from “The Good Wife” cast won an Emmy for five years running: Archie Panjabi for Best Drama Supporting Actress (2010), Julianna Margulies for Best Drama Actress (2011 and 2014), and both Martha Plimpton (2012) and Preston (2013) for Best Drama Guest Actress.

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“The Good Wife” under-performed at the Emmys this year, missing out on nominations for last year’s nominees Baranski and Cumming, as well as for Margulies, who was expected to return to the Drama Actress race. Since voters don’t appear to be feeling particularly sentimental about “The Good Wife,” they may not care about giving it any farewell hugs for its swan song season.

This performance is relatively low-key compared to appearances by Preston in previous seasons. And it is impact that tends to win acting awards.

Yes, Preston is a previous winner in this category, but so are three of her fellow nominees; Margo Martindale (“The Americans,” 2015), Allison Janney (“Masters of Sex,” 2014) and Ellen Bustryn (“House of Cards”) who won in 2009 for “Law & Order: SVU.” Also standing in her way are three-time Emmy champ Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) who is nominated in three different categories this year and Emmy newcomer Molly Parker, one of seven actors nominated from “House of Cards” this year.

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