If the reaction to Monday night’s “Chernobyl” finale is any indication, Jared Harris could be in the mix for this year’s Emmy Awards for the first time since his acclaimed run on “Mad Men.”
The HBO limited series, called by some one of the most harrowing series of the year, aired its last of five episodes, bringing to a conclusion a tale that highlighted the missteps and mismanagement that led to the tragic 1986 nuclear disaster.
In the finale, Harris’s Valery Legasov and others testify at the trial of three men who are accused of causing the accident.
Legasov uses his time to explain the men’s shortcomings and, more boldly, the flaws in the country’s whole nuclear system – a huge embarrassment for officials.
“Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Soon or later, that debt is paid,” he says in powerful courtroom testimony that will very likely live long in GIF form on the internet.
His candid account ultimately leads to his personal downfall – the loss of his career and his reputation – and, as seen in the first episode, ultimately his life. (Legasov’s death by suicide was shown in the season premiere.)
“[The show is] about the cost of lies,” executive producer Craig Mazin told Entertainment Weekly in an interview about the finale. “It’s about what happens when a culture and a government and a people begin to lose touch with the importance of the truth, and when that happens, there are costs.”
Actors Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson have also drawn praise for their roles as Boris Shcherbina and Ulana Khomyuk, respectively, in the show. (As revealed in a post-script at the end of the finale, Watson’s character was created by producers to represent a team of scientists who helped uncover the truth about the disaster’s cause and devastating effects.)
“Chernobyl,” which just squeaked in to make the eligibility deadline, faces stiff competition in the limited series race. Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” HBO’s “Sharp Objects,” and FX’s “Fosse/Verdon” are among those considered strong contenders in the category. But Harris, who was nominated in 2012 for his role as Lane Pryce in “Mad Men,” could very well find himself in the best actor in a limited series or movie race. In that category, Sam Rockwell, Benicio Del Toro and Mahershala Ali are gaining some attention.
Emmy nominations will be announced next month.
At the very least, if Emmy voters see fit to send accolades toward the not-so-bright male characters of HBO, let’s hope they also throw some love toward a brilliant scientist with morals.