Emmy episode analysis: Michael Kelly (‘House of Cards’) is ever loyal to the President

After scoring his second career nomination for “House of Cards,” can Drama Supporting Actor contender Michael Kelly win the Emmy with his episode submission “Chapter 44?” Kelly plays White House chief of staff Doug Stamper on the Netflix drama, whose unwavering loyalty to President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) leads to often drastic measures.

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SYNOPSIS
Frank clings to life after being shot by Lucas Goodwin (Sebastian Arcelus), and requires a full liver transplant in order to survive. An FBI agent informs Doug of a suicide note left behind by Goodwin airing all of the Underwood’s dirty laundry. Meanwhile, Claire (Robin Wright) secretly guides Donald Blythe (Reed Birney) through a tense exchange with Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), boldly pushing him to reveal the severity of her husband’s condition to the Russian President, much to Doug’s dismay.

Later, he finds out that Seth (Derek Cecil) leaked the controversial photo of Frank’s father with a clansman, and seeks to fire him. Yet Seth makes a desperate play to keep his job, informing him of Heather Dunbar’s (Elizabeth Marvel) secret meeting with Goodwin prior to the shooting. This ends her political campaign, but Doug wants to make sure his cohort will remain loyal, threatening to choke him with a glass. As the search for a suitable liver continues, Doug offers up his own, but is denied because of his alcoholism.

Can Kelly win for this episode? Let’s look at the pros and cons:

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PROS
Stamper’s devotion to the President leads to some dynamite acting moments for Kelly, from his suffocating Seth with the glass to his selfless offering of his own liver to save his boss’ life. That he managed to stand out in an episode with so much going on is a testament to his abilities, one that could be rewarded with Emmy gold.

Right now, all eyes are on battling “Game of Thrones” nominees Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington. A vote split could benefit Kelly, or Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”) and Jon Voight (“Ray Donavan”) for that matter.

With both Spacey and Wright in good standing to win their first Emmys, could Kelly get carried away in a “House of Cards” sweep?

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an election going on this year. Will politics be on the mind of Emmy voters?

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CONS
While Doug Stamper continued to grow in interesting ways, he didn’t have quite the compelling getting-back-on-his-feet-again narrative of last season. Overall, he had a little less to do, with much of the focus shifting to Claire’s ascension into the Vice Presidency. Will this hurt his chances?

Although vote splitting is a possibility, with “Game of Thrones” predicted to be an Emmy juggernaut, last year’s winner Dinklage or newcomer Harington could easily prevail.

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