Emmy episode analysis: Will Jonathan Banks (‘Better Call Saul’) be a ‘Winner’ with powerful season finale?

For Jonathan Banks, the role of Mike Ehrmantraut is the gift that keeps on giving. This summer Banks earned his fourth Emmy nomination for Best Drama Supporting Actor for “Better Call Saul,” the fifth he’s received overall for this role as an ex-cop turned drug cartel fixer. He previously competed in 2013 for the show’s predecessor, “Breaking Bad,” and additionally contended in the category for “Wiseguy” in 1989.

For his Emmy submission, Banks has chosen the season four finale, “Winner.” In this installment, Mike discovers that foreman Werner (Rainer Bock) has escaped from the construction site to spend time with his wife. In an attempt to save his life, he tries to locate him before Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) and his men do. But by the time he finds him, Werner has mistakenly given information about the underground drug lair to one of Gus’s enemies (Tony Dalton) over the phone. Knowing his fate is sealed, Mike gives him time to call his wife and send her back home before killing him in the desert.

SEE Bob Odenkirk interview: ‘Better Call Saul’

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

PROS

With six nominations under his belt, Banks is way overdue for Emmy recognition, especially for this career-defining role. He almost had another opportunity to win for the character in the Best Short Form Actor category, but his bid for “Madrigal Electromotive Employee Training” was rescinded on a technicality. So maybe voters who were anxious to give him a victory there will feel more inclined to vote for him here.

Though Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) looks likely to earn a record-breaking fourth victory in this category, he has to fend off two of his costars (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Alfie Allen), which might make it a tougher hill for him to climb. Sure, Banks has his own trouble with vote-splitting since Esposito is also nominated, but the overdue factor could give him a leg up.

The fourth season of “Better Call Saul” showed a softer side to Mike through his friendship with Werner, one that has to be quashed when business gets in the way. Banks proves his abilities by keeping these nuances perfectly in character, adding new layers to a role we thought we already knew.

SEE Emmy Episode Analysis: Michael McKean (‘Better Call Saul’)

CONS

Unlike in previous seasons of “Better Call Saul,” Banks has to compete against his own costar this time. Making matters worse, Esposito is himself overdue for playing Gus Fring, a role many think he should’ve won for in 2012, when he lost to “Breaking Bad” costar Aaron Paul. In fact, should he win, he’d be the first black actor to prevail in the category, a bit of history a lot of voters might want to make. So while Dinklage has a sizable leg up over his fellow “Game of Thrones” contenders, Banks and Esposito may actually be the ones who fall victim to vote-splitting.

Though “Better Call Saul” has been a consistent favorite with Emmy voters in terms of nominations (it earned nine bids this year, bringing its total up to 32 overall), it’s not exactly popular in terms of victories. In fact, it has yet to win anything, except for a 2017 victory for its short form series “Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training.” Given how unstoppable “Game of Thrones” looks — including in this category — it seems this bridesmaid may have to wait a little longer to become a bride.

PREDICT the Emmys now; change them until September 22

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 22. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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