Emmy episode analysis: Hank Azaria is out for revenge in ‘Ray Donovan’

Hank Azaria first guested on Season 2 of “Ray Donovan” as Ed Cochran, FBI Director of the LA Office. However, because of a new Emmy rule that year (2015) Azaria was deemed ineligible for a guest nomination because he appeared in too many episodes. He returned this season seeking revenge on the title character, played by Liev Shreiber, and was nominated for Best Drama Guest Actor. He submitted the episode “One Night in Yerevan.”

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While working at a security firm, Ed Cochran is performing background checks on the owners of the NFL team that Paige Finney (Katie Holmes) hopes to buy. This gives him the chance to seek out revenge on Ray Donovan (Schreiber) for destroying his life in the second season. As he seeks vengeance he discovers that Andrew Finney (Ian McShane) had murdered his son-in-law and Ray had assisted him in covering it up.

Will Azaria’s performance be enough to put him in the winner’s circle? Let’s consider the pros and cons:

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Azaria appears throughout his episode giving a menacing performance as the disgraced former Los Angeles FBI Director out for revenge. This gives him plenty of time to impress voters with his performance as he taunts McShane and Schreiber.

Including his nomination for “Ray Donovan,” this Emmy favorite has been nominated 12 times and is a five-time champ: Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for “Tuesdays with Morrie” (2000) and Best Voice Over Performer for “The Simpsons” (1998, 2001, 2003, 2015). Other on-screen nominations include Best Drama Actor for “Huff” (2005) and as Best Comedy Guest Actor for “Mad About You” (1998) and “Friends” (2003).

“Ray Donovan” premiered two years ago and received one Emmy nomination for its inaugural season for supporting player Jon Voight, and in 2015 it only earned a nom for leading man Schreiber. With its third season it reaped five bids: Drama Actor (Schreiber), Drama Supporting Actor (Voight), Drama Guest Actor (Azaria), Drama Directing (“Exsuscito”), and One-Hour Sound Mixing.

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Azaria might appear throughout the episode but many of these scenes are of him doing research at his desk and putting the pieces together. Voters might get bored and tune out before they get the chance to see him shine.

Why is Azaria’s character out for revenge? That’s a question voters might be asking themselves if they should fast forward through the “previously on” or aren’t familiar with his character from Season 2.

Rival nominees are: Michael J. Fox (“The Good Wife”), Max von Sydow (“Game of Thrones”) and “House of Cards” players Mahershala Ali, Reg E. Cathey and Paul Sparks. Azaria and Fox are the only contenders whose shows are not up for Best Drama Series. This could put them at a disadvantage.

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