There are two reasons as to why Jon Hamm deserves this Emmy this year, one of them being sentimental, one of them being hard evidence. First, Hamm’s Don Draper has become one of the most iconic characters ever to have graced television. The character is an extraordinary combination of brilliance and complexity that Hamm balanced to perfection. He kept up the suave exterior of the character while also exposing Don Draper’s complex psychological makeup. The performance never stayed the same with Don Draper. Instead, the character slowly evolved with the era, sometimes staying current with it, other times failing to understand its implications. The performance was ultimately leading to this final season to present to audiences a newly evolved Don Draper as he walked out of the 1960s and into the 1970s. It is because of this beautiful metamorphosis of character that has earned Jon Hamm this Emmy, which would finally eject him from the infamous Emmy “losers party.”
The second reason as to why Jon Hamm deserves the Emmy is because his submission episode, the series’ finale, “Person to Person,” is everything one could ever hope and ask from an actor in an episode that summarizes his body of work. This particular episode doesn’t only summarize Jon Hamm’s last season work, but the entirety of his work on Mad Men. In this final episode, Don Draper is confronted with the reality that he no longer is able to be the man he once was, the man he believed could get by as, and realizes that he must find harmony and peace within himself if he wants to continue living. The episode further establishes the connections that truly kept Don moving forward throughout the years in the form of three person-to-person telephone calls. What is extraordinary in these three separate scenes is how Jon Hamm differentiated his performance, thus showing viewers the differing impacts these individuals had on Don’s life and what they truly represent to him. If Jon Hamm loses this Emmy, it not only will be denying him his final chance of winning an Emmy he has deserved many times over, but a complete rejection of the performance as a whole.
Jon Hamm does have competition, but a win outside of him would automatically be considered an upset in this category. Still, there are some threats to halt Hamm from finally earning what is rightfully his. Kevin Spacey is still riding high after winning the Golden Globe for his season two work on House of Cards. Spacey should be considered a threat in this category and shouldn’t be underestimated. However, his submission episode, “Episode 32,” is a relatively weak episode for Spacey’s season three work and does hurt his chances. Bob Odenkirk benefits from both a stellar first season performance and also having the post-Breaking Bad nostalgia on his side. His submission episode, “Pimento,” was regarded by critics and fans as the best episode of Better Call Saul’s first season primarily because of Odenkirk’s performance that was the perfect combination of hilarity and dramatic. Jeff Daniels submitted the series finale of The Newsroom as his submission episode, which primarily provided flashback visuals as to how Daniels’ character came to be the newscaster he was when the series began. It is a sentimental episode for Daniels, which may appeal to voters.
Liev Schreiber is the surprise nominee in this category and that puts him in a position of uncertainty since there is no real gauge as to how much his performance appeals with voters. His submission episode, “Walk This Way” is nothing short of extraordinary acting by how his character attempts to discreetly correct that he has forgotten his son’s birthday, maintains his violent demeanor with his job, and ultimately endures an uncomfortable screaming match with family and friends at the birthday party he managed to organize at the last minute. If there was ever a submission episode that captures all facets of a character it is Liev Schreiber’s, which puts him a great position to pull off an upset in this category.
That is if Kyle Chandler has something to say about that with his first season work on Netflix’s Bloodline. His submission episode, “Part 12,” is the penultimate episode of the season, to which his character is finally confronted with realities he has long tried to keep at bay. Chandler’s character encounters a complete disintegration of morality due to multiple family members demanding he step up to their increasingly dangerous situation. It is a stunning portrayal of a character met with stressful circumstance after another until he finally snaps and becomes reactionary. What makes this performance Jon Hamm’s biggest threat is the mere fact that Kyle Chandler’s acting within this episode comes off as flawless and so organic that one has to remind themselves that Chandler is actually acting. Lastly, the final ten minutes of Chandler’s submission episode, alone, when he confronts his black-sheep of a brother at the beach, is enough to potentially win the Emmy over Jon Hamm.
This category supposedly is a lock for Jon Hamm, but Liev Schreiber and Kyle Chandler should not be underestimated in the slightest.
Kyle Chandler – Bloodline
Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom
Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey – House of Cards
Will Win: Jon Hamm
Could Win: Kyle Chandler
Should Win: Jon Hamm
Could Upset: Liev Schreiber