Emmy episode analysis: Kelly Jenrette (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) makes emotional and faith-based plea in ‘Other Women’

Of the whopping eight acting nominations for “The Handmaid’s Tale” at this year’s Emmys, none was more unexpected than that of Kelly Jenrette, a now first-time Emmy nominee in the Drama Guest Actress field. Prior to her role as Annie on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Jenrette’s television credits were relatively low-profile, but in just two scenes in the Season 2 episode “Other Women” she has put herself on the map and into the Emmy history books.

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

In “Other Women,” June (Elisabeth Moss) returns to her captivity as handmaid in the Waterford house after a failed attempt at escape from Gilead. Over the course of the episode she flashes back to her life pre-Gilead, notably the point in time when she is confronted by Jenrette’s Annie in an emotional plea for June to back off from Luke and let Annie fix her marriage to him. It’s a pivotal scene in June’s life because adultery is the reason she is subjugated to her handmaidship in the first place, but also because in her plea Annie mentions their marriage vows under God, a direct comparison to the faith-based philosophies of Gilead that oppress June.

Can Jenrette win for this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

PROS

By all accounts, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a sweeping Emmy success and the reigning Drama Series champ. In addition, it won this category last year with Alexis Bledel‘s Season 1 turn as Ofglen. Though Bledel had more scenes series-wide than Jenrette, what Jenrette has going for her is the buzz of her surprise nomination, similar to the buzz Bledel had upon her surprise bid.

On a show that is told largely from June’s perspective and with her bias, Jenrette’s Annie is one very few characters that, in good faith, stands up to June in an effective way. The change in June that Annie’s plea triggers is one that reverberates for her throughout the rest of the season — does June deserve the hell she’s been put into? In that regard, Jenrette’s impact on the season is strongly felt and should be remembered by voters.

CONS

As one of eight acting nominees for the show, Jenrette is already at a disadvantage for any voter looking to spread the wealth. The bigger disadvantage is that Jenrette is one of three nominees “Handmaid’s” nominees in her own category, alongside Tony and Emmy winner Cherry Jones and Samira Wiley, a nominee last year for Drama Supporting Actress. As such, “Handmaid’s” fans will have to split their votes between the three in this category so for Jenrette to win she’ll have to be the overwhelming favorite among them.

As previously mentioned, Jenrette’s television credits prior to “The Handmaid’s Tale” will likely not have registered with Emmy voters. Now that she’s a nominee her profile is indeed raised, but she’s still a longshot when sitting next to former winners, nominees and acting legends. Can she overcome the even steeper odds to go from Emmy nominee to Emmy winner?

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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