To say that Giancarlo Esposito‘s Emmy nomination was a surprise wouldn’t be 100 percent correct. After all, “Breaking Bad” has become an Emmy favorite, and Esposito’s role of Gustavo Fring was an iconic role on the show for at least two seasons.
But just because the role was iconic doesn’t always mean that it’s going to get recognized (
Ian McShane, for instance, never got nominated for playing Al Swearengen in “Deadwood” Turns out that Ian was nominated once, in 2005). So seeing his name on the list of nominees was unexpected, but makes sense, given what we know about Esposito’s performance in the AMC show’s fourth season.
Now, as we look at the list of nominees in the supporting actor in a drama category, there’s a good chance that Esposito might walk home with the prize. Why? Well, the first reason is a doozy…
[Warning: spoilers about “Breaking Bad” seasons 4 and 5 will be spilled from this point forward!]
Gus Fring is the best TV villain… ever. Yes, better than J.R Ewing. Better than Ben Linus. Better than every baddie who’s ever graced a TV screen. Fring’s evil came through more in his silent, dead stare than in his words. He was a bad guy who very completely managed to look like a good guy on the outside, even palling around with the local DEA while he was distributing meth around the Southwest. And when, in the Season 4 premiere, he coldly slashed the throat of his loyal soldier Victor to send a message to Walt and Jesse, it was one of the most blood-curdling moments ever on television. He’s the only person in TV history who instinctually straightened his tie right before dropping dead from having half his face blown off.
“Breaking Bad” took a year off. Because of a scheduling quirk, the show wasn’t eligible for last year’s Emmys, and there’s a good chance that the academy is itching to give the show more awards this year. And as we’ve seen in the past, Emmy voters tend to split the baby in the tough decision between “BB” and its AMC cousin “Mad Men” by giving the acting awards to “BB” and the writing and series awards to “Men.”
There’s a vacuum in the show without him. While “BB” has been excellent as it hurtles towards its last set of episodes this summer, its lack of a Big Bad has definitely been felt. Gus had to go at this point in the story so Walter White (Bryan Cranston) could fully bloom into the bloodlusting psychopath he’s destined to become. But with Walt becoming the Big Bad this season, the show is searching for the person that will bring him down, and until that happens, his unfettered evil just doesn’t have the same dramatic pull as the chess game between Walt and Gus had.
But the supporting category is a competitive one this year, so here are three reasons why Esposito might not win:
Aaron Paul has won before. The academy loves repeat winners, and if they’re going to give the award to someone from “Breaking Bad,” why not give it to the guy they gave it to two years ago? It’s not like Paul didn’t have a great season as Jesse, who is increasingly becoming the moral center of the show and its most conflicted character. But Esposito’s performance is tattooed on the brains of every “BB” watcher, something we can’t say about Paul.
Peter Dinklage is still hanging around. Even though he was essentially the star of “Game of Thrones,” he is still in the supporting category, and his performance didn’t drop off from last year. Again, the academy loves repeat winners, and if they’re not going to give it to Paul, why not have Dinklage go for the repeat?
“Downton Abbey” may swamp every drama category. There are two nominees from the PBS series in this category, and the snowball of a “Downton” sweep may take every show, including “Breaking Bad,” along with it.
We sure hope not, because if anyone deserves an Emmy for a role, it’s Esposito, for one big reason: He may get more nominations in the years to come, but this is his last chance to get one for playing Gus.