“Mad Men” (AMC)
Episode: “The Other Woman”
Highlight: Don (Jon Hamm) shows up at the apartment of Joan (Christina Hendricks) to let her know he was against the partners’ proposal that she sleep with a client for the sake of the business. But viewers later find out the scene takes place after she’s already done it.
Sidelight: Though both Joan and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) make key decisions about their worth regarding money, the outward celebration in the office pertains to the cynical choice, while the woman who chose to actively better her situation leaves quietly with no fanfare.
Highlight: Brody (Damian Lewis) runs in the cold, blue early morning as dingy, orangey flashbacks to his captivity reveal just how much he’s already lied about meeting Abu Nazir and the death of his colleague, before the camera finally, ominously frames him in front of the Capitol.
Sidelight: We never hear the words “an American prisoner of war has been turned” when Carrie’s Baghdad contact whispers it in her ear in the prologue — only her repeating it when she tells Saul (Mandy Patinkin) 10 months later.
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Episode: “Face Off”
Highlight: A shattering explosion in a nursing home room, from which cool, calm and collected kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) miraculously walks out, only for a panning camera to reveal that half his face has been blasted off.
Sidelight: The catharsis of Gus’ death is followed by two ominous moments: the growling boast “I won” from Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), and a season-ending shot of an incriminating plant in Walter’s backyard.
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Episode: “Episode 7”
Highlight: The ethereally beautiful snowflakes seem to be dancing around Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) as they come to terms with the open path ahead of them. He kneels before her, and she accepts his proposal of marriage.
Sidelight: The longest episode covers the shortest span of time — Christmas to New Year’s — which seemed only to add to the dramatic richness of this particular installment.
Tim Van Patten
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
Episode: “To The Lost”
Highlight: A “Godfather”-style cross-cutting sequence in which Esther (Julianne Nicholson) rehearses the prosecution’s opening remarks at Nucky’s trial, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) marries Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) and Jimmy (Michael Pitt) murders the prosecution’s key witness.
Sidelight: As Jimmy dies, we see his final thoughts of the trenches of World War I, where we’re led to believe he left his soul originally.
Weide keyed to subjects’ needs
And the nominees are:
Comedy | Drama | Minis & Movies | Variety | Nonfiction