Gold Derby: Emmy Episode Analysis: Kate Burton (‘Scandal’) makes a killing as scorned vice president

kate burton scandal emmys

Veteran character actress Kate Burton is nominated for Best Drama Guest Actress as Vice President Sally Langston in “Scandal.” It’s her first nomination for the role but her third overall; she earned two previous bids in this category for another Shonda Rhimes series: “Greys Anatomy” (2006-2007).

SYNOPSIS: Her episode, “A Door Marked Exit,” opens with its most dramatic scene: Vice President Langston confronts her husband, Daniel (Jack Coleman), over his gay affair with James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), the husband of White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry). When Daniel threatens to leave her and tell all to the press, she stabs him to death.

Langston calls Cyrus to clean up her mess, which he does, but she’s so overwhelmed she can barely maintain their cover story – that he died of a heart attack – in front of the examining doctor. After later receiving condolences from the first lady (Bellamy Young), she finally breaks down and rants to political consultant Leo Bergen (Paul Adelstein) that her husband was a sodomite who is in hell. Far from shocked at her confession, Leo wishes she had called him first after the murder.

Will Burton win her first Emmy for her murderous role? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:


The episode hits the ground running, delivering Burton’s most impactful scene right away: condemning her husband during a highly charged shouting match, and then losing control and killing him. Such big, impactful scenes are often the key to winning Emmys.

Going from maniacal to nearly catatonic and back again, Burton shows plenty of dramatic range.

Shonda Rhimes’s shows have pulled off surprise victories in guest acting races before – for Loretta Devine (“Grey’s Anatomy”) in this category in 2011, and Bucatinsky for Drama Guest Actor for “Scandal” last year – so voters clearly respond to her style of drama.


“Scandal’s” heightened emotions and soap opera storytelling may be divisive.

In-between her dramatic outbursts at the beginning and end of the episode, Langston is largely silent, letting other characters pull attention from her.

Voters won’t feel much empathy for her ruthless, intolerant character.

Burton ranks third on our racetrack with 50/1 odds.