After winning the Emmy for Best Drama Supporting Actor as Danny Rayburn in Netflix’s family drama “Bloodline” last year, Ben Mendelsohn is once again nominated in the role (his third consecutive), but this time as Best Drama Guest Actor. Killed off in Season 1, Mendelsohn’s Danny existed in flashback scenes throughout Season 2 and returned briefly this year as a hallucination in the emotionally packed bottle episode “Part 32.”
Having drowned at the end of the previous episode, Danny’s brother John (Kyle Chandler) wakes up in the hospital at the beginning of “Part 32” disoriented and with a foggy memory of what has transpired. As the episode progresses we learn that John is in a dream-like hallucination cycle where memory and reality are mixing to create scenes from his past and present, involving both the living and the dead.
One of the dead that visits John in these dreams is Danny, who John killed at the end of the first season. Since the murder John has been tormented by the deed, as well as the memory of seeing their father beat Danny in their childhood and failing to stop him. Serving as a cathartic moment for both John and the series as a whole, John dreams that Danny tells him all he’s ever needed from him is to hear that John is sorry for what Danny went through as a boy. The scene is perhaps the richest Mendelsohn has been given throughout the series, putting aside the toughness and humor of Danny in order to show his vulnerability and desires for a change.
Will “Part 32” earn Mendelsohn his second Emmy as Danny Rayburn on “Bloodline”? Let’s examine the pros and cons:
Mendelsohn is given some of the best material of the series here, a perfect bottle episode that is compulsively engaging even with only a loose familiarity with the series. For those who are familiar with the series, “Part 32” is the culmination and exhale of a tightly wound and fraught relationship between Danny and John that has been at the center of the entire series. To watch it play out in such an emotionally charged way by two great Emmy-winning actors is a television lover’s dream.
Because 2017 was the final season, this is voters’ last chance to recognize Mendelsohn in a role and for a show that they fell in love with for the last three years. Now in the Guest Actor field, voters’ familiarity with a role that was larger in past seasons could give him a boost compared to the less known roles of his competition.
Mendelsohn’s film career has a had a major boost, making him an even more familiar name than we was when he won. Last December, Mendelsohn was one of the main villains in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and he can be seen in upcoming awards prospects Joe Wright‘s “Darkest Hour” this with Gary Oldman this Fall and Steven Spielberg‘s “Ready Player One” in 2018.
In the last two years Mendelsohn was nominated along with leading man Chandler, but this year is the show’s lone nomination. This could suggest that voter interest in “Bloodline” has declined to make room for newer shows.
Because he won for this role last year, albeit in another category, voters could feel like he’s gotten his due and bestow the award on another actor instead.
Mendelsohn is up against last year’s winner in the category, Hank Azaria in “Ray Donovan,” a first time nominee, BD Wong in “Mr. Robot,” and three actors from NBC’s 11-time nominated “This Is Us,” Brian Tyree Henry, Gerald McRaney and Denis O’Hare, any one of whom would also be worthy of a win here.
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