Emmy Awards breakdown for Drama Supporting Actress: Lena Headey, Maggie Smith, Maisie Williams …

This year’s Emmy nominees for Best Drama Supporting Actress feature only one prior winner in this category: Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey,” 2012). She faces off against Maura Tierney (“The Affair”), Constance Zimmer (“UnReal”) and a trio of “Game of Thrones” stars — Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams. After watching our editors’ slugfest on this race above, you can find links below to each contender’s episode analysis where we dive into their Emmy pros and cons.

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After two previous nominations for playing Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Clarke comes roaring back to the Emmy Awards. The Mother of Dragons has yet to claim victory, but she has wisely submitted the fiery Season 6 episode “Book of the Stranger” for consideration. READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

Many Emmy watchers were shocked last year when “Game of Thrones” star Headey failed to claim the gold, as Cersei Lannister’s infamous “walk of atonement” showcased her character at her most vulnerable. Headey has shifted gears this year by submitting the season six finale “The Winds of Winter.” Instead of relying on vulnerability, she is placing her bets on a performance centered on strength and power. READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

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Smith has selected the sixth episode of the final “Downton Abbey” season (titled “Episode 6.06”) as her episode submission for Emmy Awards voters to consider. Smith already has two Emmys for playing Lady Violet Crawley, plus one more for “My House in Umbria” (Best Movie/Mini Actress). Chuck in two Oscars, three Golden Globes and five SAG Awards and you’ve got yourself one of the most awards-decorated actresses of our time. READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

Tierney was cited in the competitive Best Drama Supporting Actress category for “The Affair” after being nominated here for “ER” in 2001. She chose “204” as her episode submission to Emmy judges, in which her character Helen suffers through a series of devastating revelations and copes by getting drunk and high. READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

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Williams scored her first Emmy nomination this year for playing Arya Stark on season six of “Game of Thrones.” At just 19, she is one of youngest-ever Drama Supporting Actress nominees. She is hoping to become the first actress to win for “Game of Thrones” with her Emmy episode submission “No One.” READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

Can Zimmer take home the Emmy for “UnReal” on her first nomination? She stars in this Lifetime series as Quinn King, the manipulative, hard-as-nails producer of a reality dating competition show who will stop at nothing for good ratings. With a win from the Critics Choice awards under her belt, Zimmer is a strong contender for her episode submission, “Mother.” READ EPISODE ANALYSIS

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