Emmy episode analysis: Robin Wright (‘House of Cards’) becomes most powerful person in the world in ‘Chapter 65’

Robin Wright has earned her fifth consecutive Emmy nomination for Best Drama Actress for her iconic role as Claire Underwood in Netflix’s “House of Cards.” While she has not won for the previous four years, her Season 5 storyline could push her over the edge and finally get her that Emmy.

Wright is also nominated as a producer on “House of Cards” in Best Drama Series, with this being her second consecutive nomination there. This puts her overall total at seven nominations without a win, so she has quickly attained overdue status. While Claire Foy in “The Crown,” Elisabeth Moss in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Evan Rachel Wood in “Westworld” are the hot, new contenders in Best Drama Actress, could the Emmys go in a different direction and finally select Wright?

Entering “Chapter 65,” the Season 5 finale of “House of Cards” which she also directed, Wright is hoping that Emmy voters will be impressed by her character’s big moment in the sun. After husband Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) resigns from his role as President of the United States, Claire as Vice President prepares to take over his job. After some initial confusion at Frank’s decision she is sworn in and becomes the first female President.

The episode features Claire assembling her cabinet and declaring war on terrorist group ICO. When Frank asks Claire to pardon him for his crimes, she declines to do so and boldly proclaims that it is her turn. Can Wright win the Emmy for “Chapter 65”? Let’s break down her pros and cons:


The storyline in “Chapter 65” is hugely beneficial to Wright’s chances. Longtime “House of Cards” fans who have been waiting for Claire to ascend to the presidency will likely love this episode as it features the character at her best: coolly dominating her opponents. She gets several long scenes throughout the episode where she is calculating what she should do next, like a chessboard in her mind.

She has flashes of anger at Frank’s resignation, she has a moment of confession where she admits she has killed her lover, she assesses a situation overseas, and she makes a confident speech to the nation. While “Chapter 65” also focuses on Frank and his machinations, it is Claire that ends up on top for once, refusing to pardon her husband and ignoring his calls. The last moment of the episode, where she turns to the camera and states, “My turn,” is chilling.

It’s a strong submission compared to what Wright has entered in the past, so this may be the material she needs to pull off a win. She is also having a strong year in general considering she is one of the stars of “Wonder Woman.” There, she plays Diana’s (Gal Gadot) warrior aunt Antiope, and considering the film’s immense popularity, she could easily benefit from this other exposure. Many stars have won Emmys while starring in a hit summer film, like “Mike & Molly’s” Melissa McCarthy, who had “Bridesmaids that summer, and “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Katherine Heigl, who also starred in “Knocked Up.”

SEE 2017 Emmy nominations list: All the nominees


Wright’s biggest issue is that she has already lost four years in a row. Even when “House of Cards” was fresh and new, the actress was always the bridesmaid. From this lineup she has only lost to Viola Davis in “How to Get Away with Murder,” but with Foy, Moss, and Wood all in this category hogging most of the buzz, it’s a tough road ahead for Wright.

Additionally, Claire Underwood has always been an ice queen type of character. She is heavily guarded and we rarely see her lose her cool. The TV academy is very rarely won over by this kind of composed character, preferring showy, almost theatrical performances. Even in “Chapter 65,” on what is supposed to be a joyous occasion for Claire, she does not express many big emotions. The subtleties of Wright’s performance may go unacknowledged by some voters.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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