Will drama directing and writing Emmys go to the same episode for the fourth straight year?

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is the odds-on Emmy favorite to win Best Drama Directing, for the episode “After,” and Best Drama Writing, for the episode “June.” This is not surprising since it won both last year and is the reigning Best Drama Series champ, but looking at recent history, we could be a wee off base here. The last three directing and writing Emmys have gone to the same episode from one show.

In 2015, “Game of Thrones” swept both with “Mother’s Mercy” and repeated the feat in 2016 with “Battle of the Bastards.” “Handmaid’s” took directing and writing last year with its pilot. Note that this trend started the first year of the expanded voting system, which replaced the old one in which select peer group members voted for these categories. Before 2015, the last time drama directing and writing went to the same show with the same episode was 1998 with “NYPD Blue,” which won directing in a tie with “Brooklyn South.”

SEE Emmys: Will overdue Jeremy Podeswa (‘Game of Thrones’) finally win for directing Season 7 finale ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’?

Here are this year’s nominees in both categories:

Directing
“The Crown” (Episode: “Paterfamilias,” Stephen Daldry)
“Game of Thrones” (Episode: “Beyond the Wall,” Alan Taylor)
“Game of Thrones” (Episode: “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Jeremy Podeswa)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Episode: “After,” Kari Skogland)
“Ozark” (Episode: “The Toll,” Jason Bateman)
“Ozark” (Episode: “Tonight We Improvise,” Daniel Sackheim)
“Stranger Things” (Episode: “Chapter Nine: The Gate,” the Duffer Brothers)

Writing
“The Americans” (Episode: “START,” Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg)
“The Crown” (Episode: “Mystery Man,” Peter Morgan)
“Game of Thrones” (Episode: “The Dragon and the Wolf,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Episode: “June,” Bruce Miller)
“Killing Eve” (Episode: “Nice Face,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge)
“Stranger Things” (Episode: “Chapter Nine: The Gate,” the Duffer Brothers)

There’s not as much overlap like in years past — “Ozark” really threw in a curveball there — and the only two episodes nominated in both categories are “The Dragon and the Wolf” from “Game of Thrones” and “Chapter Nine: The Gate” from “Stranger Things.” “The Crown” and “Handmaid’s” are contending in both with different episodes.

Given the recent trend and “Game of Thrones”‘ Emmy success and general popularity, could “The Dragon and the Wolf” actually be the favorite here? It’s instantly recognizable as the the Season 7 finale — and the show’s longest episode ever — and voters could have the impulse to check one thing they know straight down the ballot. You don’t have to try to remember which episode was “June” and which was “After,” you know? Plus, the popular and now plurality voting system surely is a huge factor of these recent identical wins (lbr, “Game of Thrones” is not the best written show on TV).

SEE Kari Skogland (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) would be fourth woman to win Best Drama Directing Emmy

Historically, when the categories split, directing, not unlike the Oscars, went to showier, technical achievements (think the tracking shot in “Who Goes There” from “True Detective”). Writing, meanwhile, tended to go to cerebral, dialogue-driven scripts (see: “The West Wing,” “Mad Men”). This is likely why “The Americans,” “Killing Eve” and “The Crown” are ahead of “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things” in our odds. The first three are far more writerly shows, and “The Americans” in particular has that killer 12-minute garage scene that rests on Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich delivering the written word.

If “The Dragon and the Wolf” does win directing and writing, that puts “Game of Thrones” in great position to win Best Drama Series, where it’s in second place right now. The last three directing and writing winners went on to claim the top prize.

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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