A moment of revelation. A slide into magical realism. A character whose story arc perfectly illustrates the show’s creator’s goals with a series. All of this – and more – is the stuff of “key scenes” in nominated episodes. And each of them can be the turnkey that convinces an Emmy voter to cast a vote a certain way. The Envelope spoke to nearly every writer of the Emmy-nominated 2022 drama and comedy episodes to find out what scene this is for them.
“Better call Saul”
Consequence: “Planning and Execution”
Here is the key: Howard confronts Jimmy and Kim about their elaborate plan when Lalo walks in the door.
The big thing: “Jimmy and Kim thought they did everything right,” says author Thomas Schnauz. “But they didn’t think about it [cartel heavy] Lalo Salamanca would go to her apartment. Everything they thought they were in control is gone; Their life as they knew it is over.”
Consequence: “A Hard Road”
Here is the key: Ruth gets a glimpse of a life she might have led if the Byrdes had never shown up.
The big thing: “It’s a moment of calm in the midst of all the craziness,” says author Chris Mundy. “There is a peace in it, as it would have been if the Byrdes had never come to the city. While there’s a sad ending, it’s cushioned a bit by the fact that she had that in mind earlier.”
Consequence: “That we are us”
Here is the key: “Innie” worker Helly meets her “outie’s” father and is confronted with the truth of who she really is.
The big thing: “The show is so much about what constitutes our identity, and this episode answers that question for Helly,” says writer Dan Erickson. “Her father thinks he’s talking to his daughter and it’s a very different experience on her part.”
Consequence: “A happy day”
Here is the key: Gi-hun tells Frontman over the phone that he’s not a horse on a track.
The big thing: “Society makes us feel like horses at a racetrack, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re acting that way,” says writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk. “Why do we just work like racehorses and run towards a goal? Is this a just world we live in? Those are the key issues I wanted to highlight.”
Consequence: “All the bells say”
Here is the key: Kendall reveals a secret to siblings Roman and Shiv in a scene directed by nominee Mark Mylod.
The big thing: “Revelation may act as a solvent that begins to dissolve the hardened walls of mutual animosity and distrust that have grown between these people,” says author and creator Jesse Armstrong. “The end of the episode and the season only really works when new relationships are built there.”
Here is the key: An unknown girl runs through the forest, pursued by invisible pursuers, and meets a bad end.
The big thing: “We love the idea of teasing where these girls would end up and then spending the rest of the episode in a completely different tenor,” says Ashley Lyle, who co-wrote the episode with Bart Nickerson. “We wanted to smack the audience in the face a little bit.”
Here is the key: Scenes of a plane crash are punctuated by a flashback to a prank call to group outcast Misty.
The big thing: “In a way, Misty spent her entire childhood trying to escape a plane crash,” says Jonathan Lisco, who co-wrote the episode with Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson. “We tried to put social and psychological scars on a similar level to physical ones.” “The prank call feels as intense as a plane crash,” adds Nickerson.
“Abbott Elementary School”
Here is the key: At a meeting in the library, young teacher Janine is confronted with the fact that she admits that she is the cause of the chaos at school.
The big thing: “It proves what we can do as a workplace comedy,” says writer and creator Quinta Brunson. “It’s about how our characters interact. Maintaining the pacing in the episode was one of my focuses, and the pacing in this scene sets the tone for what the show can do to shed a light on this chaos.”
Here is the key: Barry, Sally and NoHo Hank each seek advice from beignet maker Mitch.
The big thing: “Each character is about to do something catastrophic that changes their life forever,” says author Duffy Boudreau. “Mitch tells them exactly what path to take to avoid pain and suffering. But it’s clear that all three will go out and do the opposite because it’s not what they want to hear right now.”
Consequence: “Starting Now”
Here is the key: When Barry is taken away by the police, Jim (whose daughter was killed by Barry) is left alone on the front lawn.
The big thing: “It sums up the whole season, this idea of forgiveness and redemption,” says co-creator and co-writer (and star) Bill Hader. “Barry spent the whole season convincing [Gene] Cousineau is sorry for killing Janice, but really only because he wants to feel better. For Jim, living in this empty house with the memory of his daughter, it’s all about her.”
Consequence: “The One, The Only”
Here is the key: Deborah shocks Ava by firing her so Ava can pursue her own career opportunities.
The big thing: “This scene shows how far Deborah and Ava’s relationship has progressed,” writes and creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky said in a joint email. “It’s this journey that allows Deborah to see, in this moment, that the best thing she can do for Ava is to let her go, otherwise she may never tell her own story.”
“Only Murders in the Building”
Consequence: “Real Crime”
Here is the key: Mabel and Charles find an engagement ring on the roof that signals hope.
The big thing: “In that hope, they find hope in their own lives,” says John Hoffman, who wrote the screenplay with star Steve Martin. “All three [the leads] find an answer to this new clue in the mystery, giving them hope for their future.”
Consequence: “No Weddings and a Funeral”
Here is the key: Keeley, Sassy, Nora and Rebecca have a heated conversation in the waiting room at a funeral.
The big thing: “It’s such a cool way to show multiple generations of people having a fun, dynamic conversation and getting everyone [person’s] personality into the scene,” says author Jane Becker. “It felt like a big moment, not just for the episode, but for me in my career.”
“What We Do in the Shadows”
Consequence: “The Casino”
Here is the key: The vampires sit down for dinner with friends while their confidant, Guillermo, is interrogated about his personal life.
The big thing: “The development of Guillermo’s relationship with the vampires is at the core of the series, and that’s where we need to push this emotional story forward,” says author Sarah Naftalis. “Do the vampires see him as a familiar? As a bodyguard? The questions gave us a lot of jokes, but also a way to propel Guillermo through the episode.”
“What We Do in the Shadows”
Consequence: “The Wellness Center”
Here is the key: In the midst of an existential crisis, vampire Nandor joins a cult, but his confidant Guillermo pulls him out and back to the family.
The big thing: “Nandor asks Guillermo if he ever thought that he was happy for the first time in hundreds of years,” explains writer Stefani Robinson. “This is one of the first times we’ve delved into his emotional headspace and examined the emotional baggage that comes with being a vampire.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-08-10/key-scenes-heart-of-series-emmys Key scenes in the writing nods get to the heart of the series