Emmy episode analysis: Gerald McRaney (‘This Is Us’) makes us cry all over again as Dr. K in ‘The Car’

After winning an Emmy last year for playing Dr. Nathan Katowski on NBC’s family drama “This is Us,” Gerald McRaney made his triumphant return in the episode titled “The Car” and earned another bid as Best Drama Guest Actor. McRaney must have squirted lemon juice in our eyes because we were all crying by the end of his five-minute encore. If McRaney wins a second consecutive Emmy Award in this category, he’ll make history as the first guest actor to prevail twice for the same role.

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations complete list: All the nominees for the 70th Emmy Awards

Though Dr. K’s appearance was brief, the emotional impact of the scene should help McRaney stick in Emmy voters’ minds. Shortly after the death of Milo Ventimiglia‘s Jack, Dr. K bumps into Mandy Moore‘s Rebecca at the cemetery. As she wonders whether she’ll be able to continue running the family without her loving husband, Dr. K gives Rebecca her own “lemons” speech, a wink to the pilot episode in which he consoled a heartbroken Jack after he lost a child.

“You didn’t just make something resembling lemonade, dear,” Dr. K told a weepy Rebecca while sitting next to her after the funeral. “You made one of the sweetest damn pitchers of lemonade I ever saw. So don’t you try and sell me on what you can’t do, because I’m too old, I’m too smart and I’m not buying it.” While Ventimiglia was nominated as Best Drama Actor, Moore was shockingly snubbed as Best Drama Actress.

Could “The Car” secure McRaney his second Emmy in a row? Let’s delve into the pros and cons.

PROS

Jack’s death was the talking point of the TV season and McRaney’s performance as Dr. K helped Rebecca, and thus the entire audience, cope with the sheer grief of the situation. Though he’s not a main character on the series, Dr. K is someone who fans (and clearly Emmy voters) can’t get enough of thanks to moments like this. By the end of his inspirational appearance you want to reach through the TV and give Dr. K a big ol’ hug.

Emmy voters love repeats, and McRaney should benefit from that. None of the other nominees in his category — Cameron Britton (“Mindhunter”), Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”), Matthew Goode (“The Crown”), Jimmi Simpson (“Westworld”) or F. Murray Abraham (“Homeland”) — have won an Emmy, and only Jones and Abraham have even been nominated before.

CONS

Screen time could be an issue. Last season McRaney appeared in five episodes of “This Is Us,” which made Dr. K feel like a supporting role rather than a guest character. This time around though he was relegated to only a five-minute scene in a single episode.

Since McRaney and Jones are both nominated for “This Is Us,” could vote-splitting be a factor? Jones actually has more of an impact throughout the entire second season than McRaney does, which doesn’t help his chances.

PREDICT the Emmy winners now; change them until September 17

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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