Emmy Hopefuls: Outlander star Sam Heughan and the case for season 4

OutlanderWith today marking the official kick-off for the month of May, that also means it’s a prime opportunity to explore the various ins and outs of the best performances on television. This is where the Emmy campaigns start to get serious, and that is the genesis for our CarterMatt Emmy Hopefuls series. Throughout the month, we’re going to be singling out notable performances that the Television Academy should be considering.

What better way to kick things off then with someone we think is long over due for some Emmy recognition –  Outlander star Sam Heughan. He’s been a favorite of ours for years and he also just so happens to be someone immensely deserving … and unfortunately snubbed egregiously. There’s been a Groundhog Day factor to the Emmys in how we wake up every year and the results for Sam are the same; we relive the same snub over and over, and you can stretch that out to the Golden Globes as well.

So why is Sam ignored for the major nominations, in particular when you consider the breadth of his performance? What more does he need to do? To answer the second question, we don’t think that there is anything he hasn’t done already to be nominated, and we don’t want to make this article about how the Emmy’s promote or our issues sometimes with media coverage focusing on the aesthetic of Sam in Outlander as opposed to some of the power underneath his incredible performances.

Instead, we want to focus on the shining moments — the scenes that took our breath away, or the moments that shattered a part of our heart. This is about the pieces of greatness and the moments that constructs Sam’s performance and makes him a contender.

Jamie’s presence – Through much of season 4, Jamie is a man of certain status. He’s a husband, a laird, a mentor, a friend, and someone others look to in order to lead a path forward. The performance does require a lot of strength and resiliency, especially in the face of trauma. Sam brings that, in particular in the aftermath of the attack in the premiere and also in the eventual decision to depart River Run and head towards Fraser’s Ridge. There’s a comfort in the strength of Jamie and Claire both, and the way in which both he and Caitriona Balfe play these scenes shows a tremendous sense of contrast — think about their leadership, and then think about their vulnerability.

Jamie’s vulnerability – Speaking of which, looking at Heughan’s performance in “Blood of My Blood,” “The Birds and the Bees,” and “The Deep Heart’s Core.” When Jamie is broken, all of the memories come rushing back in between Wentworth Prison, his time as Red Jamie, and the sense of hopelessness and fear that he felt without Claire in his life. Because he has lost before, that pain manifests itself into anger or devastation when he fears that he will lose again. When he gains, it’s an experience like no other, hence why the Jamie/Brianna meeting scene is considered some of the best of what season 4 had to offer.

Jamie the action hero – The physicality of this role is something that critics tend to take for granted — think in terms of the action scenes in the early going, but then also Heughan’s work in the finale. Even when Jamie is not fighting, it takes a certain stance and a presence to believe that he could. This is a man weathered by his past wars — some of the body, and some of the soul. Even though there are so many years of his life we have not seen, Sam plays into some of his history and understands some of the suffering he may have felt. He channels that into the man he is and makes others believe, as well, that he is a formidable opponent.

The full picture – “The Deep Heart’s Core” is really a phenomenal opportunity to witness everything that Sam can do, largely because it fixates in part around one question: What happens when Jamie finds himself defensive? His actions towards Roger came about via a misunderstanding, but he finds himself challenged and confronted in a way that he rarely does. Some of those walls of him as an idealistic hero are broken down, and this is where Heughan reminds us that through all the memorable quotes, the romance, the heart, and the commitment, that Jamie Fraser is just a man. He’s an exceptional man at times, but a flawed man. That range, and that ability to show this character’s weaknesses as prominently as his strengths elevate Heughan to a level we rarely see with other actors on television.

For more Outlander news/discussion in video form, check out some of our recent thoughts about the Netflix deal below! Meanwhile, subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for some other news, and remember to view our official show playlist for more.

Will he be an underdog in terms of an Emmy nomination?

More than likely he will be, if history is an indicator. What we’d implore Emmy voters to do is think about range, something that often is a prerequisite through much of their voting process. Through season 4 Heughan brings you a heroic Jamie Fraser, a loving Jamie Fraser, but also a Jamie that is cracked and the metaphorical yolk is running over. You see him joyous, and you see him in pain. He’s so much more than a romantic hero or an action star; he’s a man fighting every day to make his life work amidst difficult circumstance. Time and time again, Sam brings it.

For some more Outlander coverage now…

Check out our most recent edition of Outlander notes right now over at the link here!

Do you think that Sam Heughan should be an Emmy contender for 2019? Be sure to share right now in the comments! (Photo: Starz.)

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