Emmy episode analysis: David Harbour (‘Stranger Things’) goes full overprotective father in ‘Will the Wise’

David Harbour earned his second consecutive Emmy nomination this year in Best Drama Supporting Actor for his performance as Jim Hopper in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The beloved actor also won a Critics’ Choice Award earlier this year on top of an individual nom at the SAG Awards. While Harbour did not win the Emmy last year, the lack of a clear frontrunner in this year’s category gives him a good opening to take one home for “Stranger Things.”

Harbour submitted the “Stranger Things” episode “Chapter Four: Will the Wise” for consideration, which features Hopper angrily confronting Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) about her recent escape from his cabin. Hopper also pays a visit to a petrified Joyce (Winona Ryder) to figure out what is happening with her troubled son, Will (Noah Schnapp). The episode ends with him discovering that Will is attempting to describe his visions as a series of vines, which leads Hopper to dig his way into the Upside Down.

Will Harbour be able to scare away the competition and win the 2018 Emmy for Drama Supporting Actor? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

PROS

Harbour has become one of the most celebrated parts of “Stranger Things,” with viewers quickly growing to love the gruff but pure-hearted police chief. That love turned into admiration after his speech at last year’s SAG Awards, where he spoke on behalf of his ensemble-winning cast about standing up for the marginalized and punching bullies in the face. While he was not able to use this buzz and turn it into an Emmy win for Season 1, he was going up against an undeniable performance in John Lithgow for “The Crown,” who is luckily not nominated this year.

Moving to his episode submission, “Will the Wise” is a good showcase for Harbour’s many talents as an actor. Hopper expresses great anger at Eleven and calls her a brat, though we know he is coming from a place of protective love. The next morning he shows a softer side but still sticks by his convictions. He also shows more restraint when dealing with Joyce and Will, and while it may not be the flashiest acting, he fulfills the old adage of “acting is reacting” by listening patiently and trying to assess the situation.

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

CONS

Emmy voters tend to be more impressed by big, showy acting, and Harbour does have that at the beginning of the episode, but he doesn’t necessarily have that kind of showcase in the episode’s middle or end. If voters are diligently watching the episodes, it is possible that Harbour won’t be as memorable to some, especially those who aren’t huge fans of “Stranger Things” and might get lost in the show’s plot. 

Another factor weighing against Harbour is his series. “Stranger Things” did win five Emmys last year from 18 nominations, but all of those wins were for technical categories at the Creative Arts Emmys. Season 2 saw the nomination total drop to 12 and while it is still nominated for many top categories including Best Drama Series, it may be that voters are hesitant to reward such a stylized genre show in the bigger categories over more “prestigious” fare.

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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