Will Tatiana Maslany (‘Orphan Black’) win a farewell Emmy for playing various characters in final season?

After being ineligible at last year’s Emmys, Tatiana Maslany made a comeback this year with her surprise nomination in Best Drama Actress for the final season of “Orphan Black.” She now has a total of three nominations for the BBC America sci-fi series, her previous two being in 2015 and 2016, and even triumphing on her second bid in 2016. This year she’s on the ballot for playing – wait for it – a whopping 13 characters. Now that she’s back in the running, will she get a farewell hug from Emmy voters for the volume of her work in the show’s final season?

There are several reasons why Maslany’s return to Best Drama Actress is one for the books. Not only is she the sole nomination for “Orphan Black”‘s fifth and final season, but has throughout the years been the sole representation at the Emmys. In addition to that, the final season finished airing an entire year ago, which only speaks to the impact and magnitude of her performance. This time around she finds herself competing against reigning champ Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Claire Foy (“The Crown”), Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”) and Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”). Next to Maslany, Foy and Russell are also looking for farewell hugs — Foy for her last season on “The Crown” and Russell for the final season of “The Americans.”

This year, the category is wide open. A legitimate argument can be made for every single one of these actresses, which is the perfect breeding ground for an upset. For the reasons listed above, Maslany’s return to this line-up demonstrates significant support from the acting branch. Under the new Emmy system, where nominees are no longer ranked and only the winner is checked off, a performer just needs a core group of supporters to prevail. Let’s not forget that Maslany already won under this new system in 2016, when she pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the night, proving that a performer can win even if their show has no support elsewhere. Without even watching “Orphan Black,” a voter might want to embrace her for the sheer number of characters she plays, all of which are listed on the Emmy ballot. And if voters do happen to watch her episode submission, then they will be all the more impressed.

Maslany chose to submit the show’s series finale “To Right the Wrongs of Many,” in which she’s a force to be reckoned with. In it she plays six of her many characters: Sarah Manning, Helena, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Rachel Duncan and Camilla Torres. A scene toward the end of the episode, where four of the clones have a heartfelt and emotional conversation, is proof that Maslany has incredible range. Even if you’ve never watched the show and the storyline isn’t accessible to first-time viewers, you can’t help but recognize the immense difficulty of playing multiple characters at once.

Will her absence at last year’s Emmys hurt her chances this year? Not necessarily. We’ve seen cases in this category where a performer took home two statuettes, but not consecutively. Recent examples include Allison Janney (“The West Wing”), who won in 2002 and 2004, and Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”), who won in 2011 and 2014. Janney was still nominated in her gap year, while Margulies was only nominated in 2012, but was snubbed in 2013. But because “The Good Wife” had a buzzed about Season 5, she had enough momentum to return and prevail three years after her first win. With that in mind, Maslany has retained a lot of her “Orphan Black” buzz and may have enough goodwill to triumph after sitting out one year. Not to mention, there’s the possibility that she may have been nominated and even won last year if she’d been eligible.

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