Out of the Box: Look of the Week

17 Apr

The sun is shining and the influx of summer looking prints and hemline lengths at the MTV Movie Awards has me both fearing and embracing the ditching of tights. Plus the best sartorial moments of the week from other premieres and events.

Amy SchumerIt has been a big week for Amy Schumer with hosting the MTV Movie Awards, receiving a Peabody and being part of Time’s 100 Most Influential People (Tilda Swinton wrote this spectacular ode to her). Inside Amy Schumer returns next week and we have already been gifted with this. To top it off she looks really great in this monochrome Balmain mini frock, which is giving me all the Megan Draper feels.

Holland RodenShort hemlines were on trend as Holland Roden demonstrates in another take on black and white in this super funky Caterina Gatta dress. And this ensemble also wouldn’t look out of place on Mad Men this season. Cute blue pumps too (although it is a shame they blend into the carpet).

Anna CampAnother very fun dress and Anna Camp’s Peter Pilotto is a textured/pattern joy. Not entirely sure about chunky straps on the Stuart Weitzman sandals, but this is the kind of outfit that would also work at Coachella (without looking too Coachella).

Michael B JordanNow for a pair of dapper FNL boys and one thing I am really excited about when it comes to the new Fantastic Four is Michael B. Jordan on the red carpet and he is already killing it in plaid Vivienne Westwood.

Zach GilfordAll the Matt Saracen swoons are occurring right now and Zach Gilford’s got the whole cute smile thing down. Now to find him a decent TV project.

Ellie KemperMoving on to the Lilly Pulitzer for Target event with Ellie Kemper rocking a bob with bangs and an ideal dress for the warmer weather. This looks like an ideal Jane the Virgin outfit and I can see this collection popping up on this show (it is Jane’s favorite store after all).

Rose ByrneRose Byrne opts for a slightly longer cut at the Adult Beginners premiere in velvet (!) Christopher Kane and the 70s influence here is strong (and I love).

Elizabeth OlsenGoing for chic simplicity at the Avengers: Age of Ultron premiere and slaying it in Galvan is Elizabeth Olsen (I have to concentrate extra hard so I don’t end up typing a mashup of Peggy Olson/Elisabeth Moss). The white tee element is accentuated by the gold necklace and combined with midnight blue makes this a winning look.

The Americans 3.12 “I Am Abassin Zadran” Review: All in the Family

16 Apr

Family on The Americans blurs the line between truth and lies starting as one and becoming the other and Paige continues to struggle with what she was told a couple of episodes ago. Last week Elizabeth divulged more about her mother than ever before, which to us as the viewers is of great emotional significance, but to Paige it is another part of this web of deception. It doesn’t matter that her parents are now revealing the real parts of themselves when they have been lying for her entire existence. Paige isn’t Philip and Elizabeth’s only concern as the multiple operations they are running hit a critical juncture; the human element means that no matter how well they plan something there is the potential for things to go awry, which is what tends to happen on this show.

The Americans 3.12 Elizabeth CIAIn fact the operation with Abassin Zadran goes without a hitch (at this juncture) as Philip and Elizabeth successfully plant the seeds of doubt while having to hear a cheerful tale about how much satisfaction he gets from killing communists. Both remain composed while he talks about gutting and Elizabeth even takes a moment to massage his ego by calling him loyal and brave. As with most assets it is all about saying what the person wants to hear to get them to comply without even realizing it. This is the operation we have been following all season and it’s why Philip has been hanging out with a fifteen year old girl who isn’t his daughter and it is good to see them get a relatively straightforward win even if it comes with such brutal execution.

Teen girls and specifically Paige and Kimmy are at the heart of yesterday’s Americans post and one matter discussed was how Paige might act out. Instead of going for the traditional act of teen rebellion, Paige instead hits her parents where it hurts; with religion and her relationship with Pastor Tim as she left a note saying she was going to stay over after a lecture. A big hell no moment from Philip and Elizabeth mostly out of fear she might spill their secret and also partly because they are angry at her insubordination. So they once again leave Henry alone with just the company of TV and his beloved computer game; is this Henry neglect going to come back to bite them? It’s not like he will Jared them or anything but I do think they need to start paying some attention to child number two, well besides how much he might be able to hear when Paige is yelling about this family not being real.

“Don’t jump all over her.”
“What?”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, maybe I don’t. You wanna teach me how to handle my own daughter?!”

First of all this exchange between Philip and Elizabeth is a great example of what makes this show so special; it is a typical parental debate about how to handle a wayward child with a strong hint of implied knowledge that they will react unfavorably. Elizabeth proves that she can remain relatively calm in this instance and while nothing is really resolved they manage to get their point across that Paige can’t act like this. This is where The Americans deviates from the family drama as with this knowledge Paige now holds the key to their downfall and as they are high level operatives it will be a huge loss for the KGB. When they return home, the garage acts as a kind of holding cell as they block Paige in and reinforce how much they need to be able to trust her and because the space is so small it adds to the tension. The way they use this house and the familiar settings heightens the drama because everywhere is tinged with the family life that also feels pretty alien to Paige at the moment.

The Americans 3.12 Philip and ElizabethLater on Paige interrupts her parents who are discussing the Martha problem in the confines of their bedroom with Elizabeth and Philip remaining seated when she enters. Armed with a family photo album Paige questions the so-called relatives who feature and whether they are really their blood. Of course they aren’t; Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell do a stellar job of managing the awkward acceptance that this going to be just one in a long line of having to admit to things which they faked with quick glances at each other. There is also a strong sense of agitation from Paige as her voice gets louder and Elizabeth as she tries to remain calm.

The Americans 3.12 bedroomAnd then it all gets too much for Elizabeth and she does the thing that Philip warned her against doing as she literally jumps all over her trying to stifle Paige’s speech by putting her hand over her mouth. This of course goes horribly and Paige utters a very familiar “Don’t touch me” giving me flashbacks to fifteen and some dumb fight about whatever. If Philip was an asshole he might point out to his wife this is what he was referring to earlier, but Elizabeth is quick to register regret at how this escalated.

Philip remains seated and we get to see him framed in the center of the two most important women in his life trying to calm the situation and failing. It once again ends with Paige departing and at this point they haven’t really ended any conversations with Paige as she always exits first.

The Americans 3.12 PhilipGiving Paige space is wise, but this needs to be resolved so Philip goes to see Paige on her own turf. Like Paige did earlier, he uses photos as a way to reach her and when he enters he sits on the floor with her maintaining an equal level rather than going for a superior position. Philip is better at reasoning with Paige because at this point Elizabeth is incapable of completely controlling her emotions. Elizabeth tends to be the colder one of the pair but since she actually fell in love with Philip when it comes to their family her feelings are more intense and harder to dismiss. Photos are Paige’s tool to point out everything is fake and Philip uses this same tool to show her how real things are. Yes Cousin Roger and Aunt Helen are points of fiction – Philip mentions Elizabeth being unwell, not that she got shot – but everything in this house is real.

The Americans 3.12 baby photoAnother fantastic job by the props/art department as they continue to kill it with the Jennings family photo collection. There is nothing more irritating than being taken out of a highly emotional scene by bad photoshop or personal pictures which are clearly from the promo department. We get an instant connection to this moment because it looks like a real family photo celebrating a very important arrival. It brings everything back to their family and the experiences which are not fake. A family camping holiday is the other reminder Philip brings and Paige mentions how Henry was afraid a bear would eat him, something Philip didn’t know because Henry had made Paige promise she wouldn’t tell (we all keep secrets). It is a really lovely scene between father and daughter without the level of fraught tension from their recent scenes. Photographs can create an illusion as a smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy and yet they also freeze a specific time/place allowing us to experience it again and see the truth.

Despite Gabriel saying no last week to Philip’s request for Elizabeth to see her mother, Philip is pushing forward with this plan and even goes so far as suggesting Elizabeth takes Paige with her. As before Elizabeth hesitates when it comes to this conversation and it’s like his chat with Gabriel lit a fire under him as he pulls the ‘if you don’t take her, I will’ card. A hard card to argue with and Elizabeth tells Paige about the trip idea (accompanied by Ultravox “Vienna”) making sure Paige knows that it is her choice if she wants to come or not. It’s like Philip and Elizabeth are finally on the same page (boom boom).

The Americans 3.12 Claudia and GabrielGabriel has an interesting conversation about the state of everything with Claudia (!) and it is so good to see Margo Martindale share a scene with Frank Langella discussing their long history, the amount of menu choice and what to do about the Jennings family. Jared is referenced and how this disaster caused a huge rift in the Centre and yet they still want to progress with Paige. Claudia thinks Philip is the problem and yet Gabriel also has doubts that relate to Elizabeth and her ability to deal with Philip since this plan has been set in motion. As with how Gabriel manipulates his agents, Claudia does the same to Gabriel telling him how much faith the Centre has in him. This is right down to how Gabriel reaches for Elizabeth’s hand, so does Claudia do the same to him. Oh Claudia, do you not remember what Elizabeth did to you when you tried to interfere with her family last time?

Doubt is creeping in all over the place and another photograph prompts questions. Stan makes a surprise visit to Martha’s and luckily Hans is watching the building as he tips Philip off that someone from the government is inside. Hans is not the loose cannon I thought he might be, but I guess there is still time for that to change. Martha’s wedding photo with Clark is safely hidden in her drawer and when she went to look at it, I figured she was going for her gun. This picture is the perfect example of the lies Paige was talking about and while their marriage is technically real (although not at the same time as Clark is an assumed identity); it means something far greater to Martha than it does to the person behind Clark.

The Americans 3.12 Martha bedMartha is beginning to fall apart and being driven out to the middle of nowhere to have secret chats with your husband is not reassuring. Alison Wright delivers a heartbreaking performance of monumental proportions first when she tries to pretend that everything is fine on the phone to her parents followed by her confrontation with Clark. She tells her parents she is staying there and Clark that she is going to her parents so what is she really packed for? If she leaves in this way the FBI are going to figure it was her who planted the pen and this trip has finality to it. Philip tries everything he can to convince her that it will be fine and none of his words help so he goes for the extreme option revealing not only his true face but pulling off the wig. We’ve only seen Philip’s wig removed twice; first during a fight, the second time he ripped it off in anger and this reveal is huge. There is something sinister about the slow, measured way he removes the pins slowly showing who he is and I can’t see Philip letting Martha out of this alive, not now he has revealed his true face. Yes I think he genuinely cares for her, but there is only one family he will protect and that is his real one. It is worth pointing out Philip has not had to kill anyone yet this season and this looks like it might change. Oh, Martha.

In other operations Arkady is already fed up of the chit chat they have to sift through with Operation Mail Robot/Zephyr and it takes Oleg and Tatiana to reinforce how important it might be. Tatiana is an intriguing character as she appears to be invested in Arkady keeping this position and she is worried if he pulls the plug this quick then it will look bad on him. Personal conversations can be used to exploit the agents who are having them; affairs can equate to blackmail potential. Also Stan and Agent Aderholt had a very heated chat about Nina and the distinctive beeping of ol’ mail robot can be heard in the background so I wonder if this back and forth will cross their desks. It’s not just Nina they talk about as Elizabeth is also referenced as the illegal Stan shot and who he thinks maybe beat up Gaad and Aderholt way back in the season premiere.

With just one episode to go of this exceptional season it is hard to see how they are going to tie everything up and I expect a lot of this will continue next year including the Lisa storyline which is briefly covered this week; Maurice continues to be a huge thorn in Elizabeth’s side and if looks could kill he would have been eviscerated by now.

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.12 kitchenThe reading of Paige’s note and I love how despite Elizabeth being slightly out of focus you can see the anger on her face and tension in her shoulders. Henry is the ultimate latchkey kid and his back is turned away from the source of contention with Philip puling concerned dad face. He hasn’t even taken his coat off yet.

The Americans 3.12 MarthaThe Martha/Clark chat of attempted ‘everything will be fine’ is framed in this wonderful light/dark way and I think it is safe to say it will not be.

Disguise of the Week

The Americans 3.12 big blue phoneElizabeth wears her CIA disguise for her phone maintenance worker hotel trip and there is no way Neil will suspect this is the woman he hooked up with last week. This is my favorite of the Elizabeth wig collection and this giant blue phone just adds a whole extra something to the shot.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.12 PaigeIn the wide shot the jeans are a little unflattering when the shirt is tucked in this much, but I dig Paige’s plaid shirt.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “Kiss and Tell” & “Raising Arizona”

16 Apr

Felicity, Episodes 4.13 & 4.14
“Kiss and Tell” & “Raising Arizona”
Original Air Dates: Mar. 27, 2002 & Apr. 3, 2002

Felicity 4.14 doorEmma: The baby drama continues as Ben moves from his original position of “I don’t want anything to do with this kid” to maybe moving to Arizona to help raise the baby over the course of two episodes. As we both predicted Ben doesn’t stick too long with the hands off approach which causes a whole lot of strain with Felicity as she finds it hard to talk to Ben about this predicament and old wounds are opened in the process.

Felicity has spent a lot of this season feeling lost particularly with what she’s going to do after college. Her worries in this department get solved rather conveniently this week, which leaves just the personal clusterfuck looming over her. The art world is not for Felicity. Shocker I know and after Noel starts going through the course guide to see if there’s anything that jumps out he strikes gold very early with architecture. It’s lucky zoology isn’t Felicity’s secret passion. It actually makes a lot of sense that Felicity would be drawn to this and as Noel points out it combines her creative sensibilities with her science background. But it still feels too easy particularly as she gets involved with a project which has instant success as soon as she signs on.

There are of course complications as the guy she has to work with is super mopey abut a recent breakup, he then doesn’t tell her what she is supposed to do which renders hours of work as useless and then he tries to kiss her at the random party they are throwing. Adam has misread Felicity as she hasn’t mentioned Ben, but it is also highly inappropriate as he’s her supervisor and really the dudes on this show find it really hard not to cross that line. Also Felicity is wearing a rather hideous satin shirt in this scene which isn’t really relevant to this discussion but I felt it needed mentioning.

It’s a little awkward between them but I don’t think he’s going to try anything like that again and unlike some of the other creeps on this show, Adam seems well meaning.

One reason this new venture is so good for Felicity is that it’s a distraction as Ben’s repeated assertion that nothing will change is far from reassuring – the more he says it the worse it makes her feel. It’s such a messy situation and I can understand why Felicity pretty much shuts down especially as they’ve only just got back together.

What did you make of Felicity’s actions post big reveal?

Felicity 4.13 Felicity Julie: If everyone followed Noel’s advice, everyone would be an architect.

I’m with you that this all seemed to come VERY easy. Architecture is not necessarily something you can just jump into, even if you’re George Costanza. I don’t think Noel’s wrong that it’d be a good fit for Felicity, but it’s her senior year of college. This feels a little late. (As did Ben’s pre-med 180). Think of how much trouble and time she would’ve saved if she’d have just gone through the course catalog two years ago.

Adam seems like a decent guy, but he’s still in that same mold as the guy she met in the art studio (what was his name again?). They’re both dippy and bumbling and dorky. The kiss moment was unfortunate, but I can’t completely fault him. He was in a bad place. And she invited him to the party, and she said she’d have a drink with him, and he didn’t know she had a boyfriend. Also he stopped when she told him to, so all-in-all, a fairly stand-up guy. I’ll give him a pass on the boss thing, too. He’s only a year older than her and they seemed to be collaborating more than her working under him.

I, however, loved Keri Russell’s reaction to him kissing her. It’s was the best moment of WTF. Solid acting on her part.

The fashions in these episodes, since you pointed out her satin shirt, were not great, Bob. From Zoe’s ombre mohair sweater to Felicity’s baggy jeans, these clothes had early-aughts written all over them. Felicity’s hair, however, looks great. Zoe’s? Not so much.

As far as Felicity and Ben go, man I felt for her during these episodes. She’s the one who’s been dragged into this mess. It’s such a bizarre place for a 21-year-old girl to be in. She’s not even out of college; but she just got back together with this guy, with whom she feels she could have a future. And he’s going to be a dad. It’s just too much. And she has no one to talk to about it. You can feel the stress wafting off of her. Javier’s busy with Meghan. Noel’s off-limits. Elena’s nowhere to be found. And all she wants in her life right now is a little stability. The one constant she thought she had, Ben, is no longer so constant.

Obviously, we’re not surprised that Ben is manning up to take care of his kid, but how did you feel about his journey from absentee father to possibly moving to Arizona?

Felicity 4.14 WTFEmma: Keri Russell does have an excellent reaction face and while this jumps ahead to a conversation I’m sure we will discuss in detail later on when Ben basically blames her for this entire thing (because if she hadn’t slept with Noel then Lauren would not have been a thing) her reaction is incredible as it is pure “Are you fucking kidding me?!”

I maybe screamed a little at those baggy jeans because I definitely had a pair, Felicity’s red jeans also made a reappearance but luckily this time she did not pair them with a matching jacket. And you’re right, her hair does look great. I wonder if people were pissed that it isn’t as curly as her pre-chop hair.

The lack of Elena is really bothering me, we get a smidge of her in these episodes (it would appear she is still with Trevor, who by the way is in my bad books for planting the seed with Ben that Noel is trying to get with Felicity) and she is one person Felicity really needs at the moment. I kind of like that the party was for no reason because that’s what you do at college, but really I need more of Elena than a brief hello.

Like you I really feel for Felicity too, like it’s a super shitty thing for Ben to deal with after a long list of super shitty things and it keeps on piling on when Lauren tells Ben she’s moving to Arizona. Her reasons for going are good and after all she was having this baby alone up until Ben changed his mind. Her priority is this child, but I also can’t help but understand why he is so desperate to get her to stay. Ben is trying to do right by everyone which means he ends up doing right by no one. From his own experience he doesn’t want his child to experience the same absentee father, but if he moves to Arizona will he end up completely resenting Lauren anyway and maybe impacting his relationship with the child?

Arizona becomes a source of contention as he asks his professor (who he now has a father/son relationship with) whether he can transfer. When Noel hears an answer machine message (this device again) and mentions it to Felicity it causes old wounds to be opened when Ben accuses Noel of involving himself in their business so he can drive a wedge between them. The way they made up in the Christmas episode was too easy and I don’t mind that conflict resurfaces here because it makes sense that it would.

Later on Ben walks in on Felicity and Noel hugging in her room blowing things up further. Which leads me back to the remark I mentioned about where Ben blames Felicity for everything. It’s shit and an awful thing to say raising the question of whether Ben can ever move on from this. They look like they might be dunzo, but Noel steps in and tells them both to stop being so ridiculous and I for one cheered at this moment. This triangle has always leaned much further in the direction of Ben and Noel earned this moment to tell them how dumb they are. Do you agree with what Noel said?

Felicity 4.13 satin shirtJulie: Things are so messy right now. I think they will be able to get past this eventually, but maybe the two of them need a break, like a real break, for a while. I think it’s very important for Felicity to figure out for herself what she wants to do with her own life.  The “easy” answer would be to follow Ben wherever he needs to go right now, but I don’t think that’s good in the long run for her. That’s kind of what her mother did, in a way. Her mother got pregnant and put the rest of her life on hold so that Felicity’s dad could go to med school and become a doctor. For Felicity, it would mean giving up the great architecture opportunity with Adam in New York to follow Ben to Arizona (and, gross, who wants to live in Arizona?)

They are both dealing with some really heavy stuff here, but I’m, honestly, not on Ben’s side in this instance. This whole season for him has been about him making rash choices without taking any time to consider Felicity’s feelings. He got upset with his dad a few episodes ago for being selfish in his relationship with Ben’s mom, but Ben is kind of doing the same thing to Felicity. He jumped into pre-med without considering her feelings, and now he’s making major life decisions without consulting her. They are not partners at this point, and she could consider living her life as such. If things are meant to work out, they will, but Felicity should not put her life on hold for Ben.

I’m also peeved at him about the Noel stuff. How long is he going to keep punishing Felicity for what happened? I get that he might not want to be BFF with Noel, but he needs to let go of the anger. Besides, I have a hard time believing he and Felicity would have made it through the fall without a breakup. They were headed in that direction. Maybe they’re only together now because Felicity slept with Noel and the whole thing forced them to deal with the fact that they weren’t doing well as a couple.

I’m still trying to figure out how/where Team Noel will come back into play, because I’m pretty sure it does. At this point, I don’t think Felicity would EVER consider hooking up with Noel again, because that would certainly mark the end of her relationship with Ben. Besides, he has Zoe, which, gross.

How are you feeling about Noel’s life choices in these episodes?

Felicity 4.14 Noel, Ben, FelicityEmma: I hadn’t even considered the parallels with Felicity’s parents but your spot on here and in a roundabout way she is teetering on the edge of making the same choice/mistake without being the pregnant one. If Ben were to go to Arizona I can’t see Felicity going with him at this point even though they are both prone to making impulsive choices. I think this is part of why they are so great and so terrible for each other in equal amounts.

Another Ben thing I wanted to bring up is how easy he is to influence first with Trevor stirring the Noel pot and then with Sean suggesting he plays the “I can keep you in this state” card which is all kinds of ick. Ben is skeezed out by this and then yep he semi plays the card. Gross dude.

The only point that had me thinking that anything could ever happen between Felicity and Noel again is how she wistfully looks at him with Zoe at the end of “Kiss and Tell” but I read this as being envious of their relatively uncomplicated relationship. They’re in the beginning part so everything is fun. Or is it?

Zoe gets all funny about their relationship pretty damn quick including being really unreasonable in a meeting at work and then attempting to hide their relationship. I get the latter point because work and personal life mixing is complicated but she’s so obvious in her attempts to hide it that they’re clearly dating. So it turns out that she fell for someone hard and they didn’t feel the same way. She thinks it sounds dumb and Noel falls even harder because somehow he has found a girl who not only looks like one ex but also fits his own sorry love story. The big difference here is that Noel did not end up in the hospital. It’s already so dramatic that I can’t see this ending well.

At least for Noel things at home are okay again and like you mentioned I really can’t see how they are going to pivot this love triangle back the other way. And I really don’t want them to either.

Others are having relationship drama including Meghan and Sean with more super irritating bickering. I thought we were done with this. I was wrong. Did you care just as little as I did by this next chapter in the Meghan/Sean saga?

Felicity 4.14 baggy jeansJulie: Before we move on from Ben, I want to point out how way harsh it was for him to look that little brother kid in the eye and then walk away. Oh, Ben. I am much disappoint.

As far as Zoe goes, I think I’m predisposed to hate anyone on this show who dates Ben or Noel, so obviously she gets a no from me. Also, I can’t figure out at all what he sees in her, or why she’s special. Other than the fact that she’s blond and cute. There’s no there there.

I really did not care about anything anyone who’s not Ben, Noel, or Felicity was doing in these episodes. The Megan/Sean stuff might have been interesting if a) it didn’t feel like a retread of things we’d seen before, vis a vis the sexy calendar shoot or b) if the writers had the balls to break the two of them up. I loved Meghan and Sean together at first, but now they’re just boring. There’s a ton of story to mine in a relationship between two people who marry so young and are still in college with actual roommates, but the Felicity writers are not digging anywhere deep enough.

I feel like Meghan and Sean should also be having an “oh shit” moment like Felicity. Meghan’s graduating, she doesn’t have her family fortune to fall back on. Sean is an “inventor” with no visible means of income. How are they going to live? If she actually wants to start pursuing acting, then the show should get serious about her pursuing acting. The way her theater class and the commercial auditions are portrayed in this show are comical. It’s as if no one on the writing staff has ever met an actor before.

And then there’s Elena, who basically doesn’t exist anymore. I wonder what the story was there. Was she working on something else? Did the writers just lose interest in her? Did Tangi Miller do something to piss them off? Because it’s ridiculous how little she has to do as a full cast member. Also, where’s Richard?

Felicity 4.14 triangleEmma: Oh yeah that was a really cold moment from Ben and I’m surprised they were waiting for him at the end. And of course he suggests basketball. Hopefully this kid won’t break his finger.

The Meghan/Sean story is so eye roll worthy in how repetitive it is and it’s probably a bad sign that I didn’t care if either of them ended up cheating on the other. If they did it would feel like a change in the bickering cycle at least. It is a complete retread of everything we have seen before and the shoe cover idea was indeed the dumbest. And your ideas of what they could do with this pairing sound far more interesting. If they did split it would put Meghan back at Felicity’s which I am all for.

Javier and Meghan’s acting storyline was essentially the comedic interlude for all the heavy shit which is going on right now and it was fine, but yeah it does come across like the writers are spinning their wheels with this pairing. The trying to hug moment was a delight thankfully.

Other disappearing cast members also include the two annoying roommates. I’m not sad they’re absent but it’s like they never lived there in the first place. And yeah I have to think Tangi Miller maybe had other commitments. Like you it is really just Felicity, Ben and Noel who are compelling at the moment and I’m really missing Elena’s presence.

Felicity 4.14 Meghan and JavierJulie: Ha! I totally thought the same thing about Meghan and Sean. Just cheat on each other already. Break the cycle, kids.

I don’t have much to add here, but right now I feel like Felicity in Season 4 is one of those shows that would’ve benefitted from a shorter episode order. TV today has it right. 10-13 episodes is the sweet spot.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

Teen Girls Rule the World on The Americans (They Just Don’t Know It)

15 Apr

Paige Jennings is having one hell of a year on The Americans (and still two episodes to go) and there is something impressive about the importance of teenage girls to the central plot and balance of this season. The Paige Problem has been at the heart of pretty much every argument between Philip and Elizabeth ever since they were informed of the KGB’s second generation program plans. While Paige has been relatively protected up until now there is another fifteen year-old who has been less fortunate at falling prey to those targeting her father.

The Americans 3.11 PaigeThere are plenty of parallels between Paige and Kimmy particularly when it comes to absentee parents; however Kimmy has been searching for connections from a more traditional teen source with booze and boys. Or rather weed and a dude pushing 40. Exploiting weakness is one way to make an asset more complicit and Philip has tapped into Kimmy’s desire for someone to be close to and in this case her hormones are driving the situation. Paige has gone in a more spiritual direction and both are essentially dealing with identity. Fifteen was a long time ago for me now, but that feeling of not knowing who you are or whether what you are feeling is normal is hard to wipe clean from your memory. That’s the kind of shit that might stay buried until you are given a prompt – in my case it happens when watching/writing about teen shows (see My So-Called Life/Freaks and Geeks) and these pit of your stomach awful feelings can be quick to resurface.

I am drawn to teen TV/movies and not just the ones which prompt nostalgia (related – I saw The Duff yesterday and Mae Whitman is a treasure). Like pretty much everyone I had my fair share of soul crushing teen moments where I longed to be in my twenties and everything would be far less complicated and my skin would be great (nope and nope). Teen girls getting their moment to shine in adult drama doesn’t always play out well and can often be a source of contention – I think Morgan Saylor was excellent on Homeland but Dana’s storylines did not hold up to Saylor’s performance – however when they do play a pivotal role that goes beyond just being an obstacle for the main characters it is something I find incredibly compelling; there is something so raw and open about this period in your life.

This season of The Americans has been brutal on a physical level – suitcase, dentistry, necklacing – but it is the emotional weight which has left me drained and invigorated after each episode. The story truly sings when the focus is on the relationships at the heart of it all; Philip’s small nodding gesture which sets in motion the huge revelation in episode 10 is indicative of this as a huge emotional weight is lifted and comes crashing down all at once. The spy stuff is a big draw, but the dynamics between these characters going far beyond the wigs is why The Americans is so compelling.

The Americans KimmyNeither Paige nor Kimmy are aware of how significant they are in the grand scheme in the fight between the Soviet Union and America. It sounds somewhat ridiculous when typing it out like that, but without Philip’s semi-seduction of Kimmy they would be without good access to the main operation they have been running this season with the CIA Afghan group. With Paige her relevance comes on both a macro and micro level; we know how the Cold War ends but at this point this is still over six years away for these characters and if Paige were to get on board she could access the CIA in a way Philip and Elizabeth never could. On the smaller scale Philip and Elizabeth have been experiencing disagreements aplenty regarding the fate of their daughter and even though they ended up telling her together it isn’t necessarily a quick fix for their relationship.

One teen is easier to control at the moment and this makes Kimmy’s story all the sadder for how she is being manipulated. Philip’s not a complete shit and there is a paternal quality to how he treats her with a side order of frowny face because of how much she wants to sleep with him. This storyline is far from over and it is hard to seeing it getting resolved in a way which will benefit Kimmy; the better for her would be to have her heart broken with plenty of tales to tell when she is older of the guy she listened to music with who ended up being an asshole with issues. Alternatively this story could end with far more than her heart getting trampled on and while Paige is the one who knows the truth about who her parents are, I fear if Kimmy is to find anything out about who Philip really is she will end up paying a grave price. That’s far more than the typical identity issues your average teenager might experience.

Paige’s power has shifted from in the dark and passive to a more dangerous and unpredictable place. She has questions aplenty and picking a time to ask them is not her strong suit. Being pissed off at your parents is pretty standard teen behavior and in this case Paige has earned all snark privileges. While it is easy to write off her sniping as bratty her entire foundation has been destroyed; figuring out who the fuck you are is hard enough without the extra bonus of everything about your family being a giant lie.

Rebellion for Paige has so far included the odd lie here and there coupled with her religious journey. What if this moment leads to Paige rebelling in a much more familiar manner? There are only two more episodes to go and plenty of ways for her to add to her parents already stacked roster of shit they have to deal with. Something as simple as Paige going out and getting wasted is going to compound things or she could start poking around the real family business. Whatever they have planned for these final episodes it is not a stretch to say this season of The Americans has been exceptional and devastating television with the two teen girl characters playing a big part in this. Special mention to both Holly Taylor and Julia Garner for their performances which cut straight to my soul and have me longing for happy endings for these characters however unlikely that is. What sets this apart from other drama shows with a teenage girl character of this kind is they feel incredibly relevant to the story as a whole; they are not here to remind us solely to remind us the leads have children or as another obstacle for them to overcome (see 24Homeland).

Cliches are avoided and Kimmy could have easily come across as the sad, whiny, horny girl with daddy issues (see The Fall) instead all of these aspects are part of who she is, but those are not the only things that define her. Kimmy is the parallel to Paige and the writing/performance is just as strong for each character. Even Henry avoids total second child/teen boy insignificance as others have (waves at Chris from Homeland) thanks to his interactions with Stan and his accidental awkward timing when it comes to doing impressions. Henry hasn’t been the cause of every argument ever between his parents, but they still have found time to give him a personality.

Oh and Paige if you need a therapist I have a really great idea for a spinoff/crossover thanks to Betty’s decision to go study psychology on Mad Men; after all she knows a lot about living with someone who hid their true identity for years. TV world make this happen.

 

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

15 Apr

A whole array of last day snaps including shedding tears and hair. Plus new Game of Thrones cast members and the new Orange is the New Black season 3 trailer.

Oh yes I did!!!

A photo posted by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on

 

Alan Cumming lops off his Eli Gold locks as a way to mark the end of the current Good Wife season.

YOU CAN KEEP YOUR SIDE BOOB. #noflowercrown #nofringe #coachella

A photo posted by Hannah Simone (@therealhannahsimone) on

 

Coachella style has a tendency to make my eyes hurt (far too much fringe) and Hannah Simone’s outfit is a pretty delight in a sea of “WHY?”

 

Very misty looking eyes on Nina Dobrev’s last day and the cast of The Vampire Diaries has done a thorough job of documenting this big departure.

honeypie

A photo posted by amandla (@amandlastenberg) on

 

#TeensTakingOverTheWorld

Puppy love …… 💛

A photo posted by Sophie Turner (@sophie_789) on

 

As is the tradition when I watch Game of Thrones let it be known that I just yelled ‘wolfie’ at the screen.

Gallapremiere på #GameofThrones – heads will roll….

A photo posted by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (@bhjortsorensen) on

 

While I’m talking GoT here is one new cast member I can’t wait to see appear and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen is a TV Ate My Wardrobe favorite from her role on Borgen. Very into her super 70s looking dress and excellent Iron Throne poise.

Bumped into this one @daniebb3 in #Paris #Happy #OITNBsista #Lovemygirl #OITNB #sorrynotsorry

A photo posted by Jackie Cruz (@msjackiecruz) on

 

Orange is the New Black cast adorableness on the streets of Paris. And Netflix released the S3 trailer this week and it looks set to be another very funny/emotionally draining season.

The Wish List: Joan Watson’s Zara Outfits on Elementary

14 Apr

Joan Watson’s wardrobe is full of stunning outfits on Elementary and this character has featured multiple times on The Wish List. The most recent entry was this incredible Victoria Beckham ensemble which practically had me drooling over my keyboard while I wrote about it. Joan’s costuming tends to come from high end stores and there is an aspirational quality to these outfits. There is not an expectation that Joan will wear pieces that fall into what I would call affordable and I don’t expect to watch Elementary and think I could pop online and buy whatever she is wearing. In recent episodes however, Joan has worn several items from Zara and this store does fall into my budget range.

Other Wish Lists have covered this notion of characters wearing clothes which don’t make you weep when you see the price tag with Jane the Virgin doing an excellent job of mixing designer with lower cost items and it is refreshing when this is the case.

In last week’s Elementary “One Watson, One Holmes” Joan wore a couple of printed Zara delights. First a mixed fabric top sticking to her general muted color palette.

Elementary 3.19 topLater when she decided to actively hang out with her friends instead of crying off with excuses she went fancier in a floral printed frock with the all important pocket detail. The coat Joan is wearing has appeared in previous episodes and fits into the higher end bracket (a fancy coat is an investment piece and the brr cold weather we have seen on Elementary this season shows how vital good outerwear is even if the price makes my eyes bulge cartoon style).

Elementary 3.19 dressAnd here is a closer look at this beautiful dress and one which is perfect for the changing season.

Zara dressZara has been on trend for Joan and in the previous episode “The View from Olympus” she wore a matching patterned top and skirt; it is sadly no longer available in stores although it might be the kind of thing which will pop on eBay.

Elementary 3.18 JoanFor all things Joan Watson costuming related head here.

Femininity, Menswear and Pattern on Mad Men

13 Apr

It’s May 1970 on Mad Men and the message is that some things change, some stay the same. Don’s penchant for brunettes in pain is one staple you can rely on and “New Business” opens with the exception to this rule. Yes Betty has been in pain, but she is never going to admit it and now she’s going to be studying psychology. Betty is smart remember (“I speak Italian“) and there’s part of me that would love her to be my therapist. No, really.

The tableau Don looks upon is the family he once had and he can’t go home as this family has moved on. So has Betty’s style as there is a softness here with frills and pattern.

Mad Men 7.09 Betty kitchen“New Business” showcases the women of Don Draper including Megan as she is in town to finalize their divorce and get the rest of her things from the apartment. Megan is as stylish as she has ever been doing Cali cool in a hoodie peasant blouse and flared jeans looking nothing like her more traditionally dressed mother and sister.

Mad Men 7.09 MeganFor her meeting with Harry, Megan dresses up in her “Welcome to LA” blue baby doll number prompting Harry to call her every man’s fantasy and that she looks like Ali MacGraw and Bridget Bardot had a baby. Harry does what Harry does and is the worst by hitting on her and then running to Don to call Megan crazy. Megan is incredibly fashion forward so it is strange to see her wearing something from a year ago, but it is obviously a look she feels confident in despite her lack of good acting fortune recently.

Mad Men 7.09 Megan and HarryPast and present collide for Don with elevator awkwardness and I don’t think Arnold would be cracking so many jokes if he knew what his wife Sylvia, had done with Don. Here we see sadness through the prism of the wealthy and the not so financially secure as Di has nowhere near the amount of money, but just as much pain. Di remarks to Don that he can’t know the amount of heartbreak and boy he should dish out the Dick Whitman routine. Don later gives Megan $1 million dollars and the feeling of ennui can’t be cure by money alone and there’s a whole lot of dissatisfaction running throughout this show.

Mad Men 7.09 awkward elevatorAnnie Hall before Annie Hall and celebrity photograph Pima Ryan sashays in with all her sexuality and confidence in a range of amazing tailored menswear. Pima seduces Stan after he is rude and abrupt when he first meets her and she tries her hand at Peggy delivering the super cheesy ‘I want to photograph you’ line. Mimi Rogers is incredible in this role as she plays Stan and Peggy sees through the hustle. On both occasions Peggy wears bold colors with strong patterns and while her style isn’t ever going to match the sartorial highs of her colleagues it is definitely improving. Peggy is still in control and showing her femininity at the same time.

Mad Men 7.09 Peggy and Pima

Mad Men 7.09 Pima and PeggyAnd because I can’t resist Pete Campbell in sportswear I will leave you with this beauty to round things off.

Mad Men 7.09 Pete and DonFrom these first two episodes alone I am so happy to see what Janie Bryant has already managed to do with the end of 60s fashion with a push into my favorite clothing decade.

Repeating the Cycle on The Good Wife

13 Apr

Alicia Florrick has tried to break the mold in how she ran her campaign on The Good Wife including not going negative and up to now she has managed to win by using this slightly unconventional method. This all ends in “Winning Ugly” as she tries to go against the system and prove she won this race fairly. What she finds out is you can only be so much of a political outlier and the needs of the party far outweigh those of the individual. And for all Alias viewers you know you should be cautious if Ron Rifkin is representing you; the Arvin Sloane backstabbing is to be expected and here he replaces Rambaldi with the Democratic Party. Less prophecies and fancy devices involved.

The Good Wife 6.19 Winning UglyThere is a sense of déjà vu in the goings on at the firm thanks to Kalinda’s tampering with evidence in Cary’s case and now they are back in a similar position with Diane facing jail time unless she testifies against Bishop. Now they have Finn in their corner rather than opposing them, but even he can’t find something to get out of this hole despite his best efforts and the magnificent use of the word ‘exquisite.’ The judge remarks how there has been more remakes of this case than Spider-Man as they are back in the same position we left them in earlier this season. One thing this does is give Kalinda, Cary and Diane a storyline with purpose as ever since Cary was cleared they have been in plot limbo; the somewhat manufactured conflict with Alicia and babysitting Bishop’s son has been far from compelling. Cary has particularly suffered since he has been released in terms of being insignificant and while I don’t want to see him putting himself in a dangerous position with Bishop it is better than standing still.

Diane’s statement jewelry was missing for most the episode as she stuck to bold jackets and simple dresses. There weren’t even any brooches in sight. The black and white jacket she wore when admitting the evidence she submitted had been falsified is chaotic and distracting; the symbolism extends to the blurring of right and wrong in this instance.

the Good Wife 6.19 Diane black and whiteLater on in court Diane has her trust chunky chain necklace on, but she’s paired it with a pale pink blazer and this is a very un-Diane Lockhart color. Cary delivers such an excellent WTF squint here.

The Good Wife 6.19 Cary and DianeThe recent email hack has led to division at the firm and something as monumental as this could fracture matters further. At the moment everyone is in protection mode with Cary and Kalinda both positioning themselves in a manner suggesting they will sacrifice themselves (remember Archie Panjabi is leaving at the end of the season). This tableau mirrors the one from a few weeks ago and instead Finn is now on Diane’s side and Alicia is not present at all; how will she take it when she inevitably returns to work and finds herself on the outside of everything?

the good wife 6.19 officeReturn she must as Alicia’s winning dream has crashed and burned; her attempt at winning in a fair and just manner has failed. The device placed in those machines almost circled back to the voting fraud from Peter’s election, fraud which Will knew about but an investigation that died along with him. Peter was placed in the firing line several times throughout the episode from this moment to the threat that if Alicia didn’t step down then she would be destroyed and Peter could also be collateral. In politics it is all rather utilitarian with decisions made factoring what will be the most beneficial to the party. Alicia is far down that pecking order and so she must be sacrificed.

Alicia winning the race was not a surprise, but it didn’t occur to me during the build-up that she might win and then not get to take the SA position. Chicago politics is full of corruption allegations so it should not have come as a shocker and The Good Wife is all about the twists and turns along the way. Her lawyer, Spencer Randolph appears to be a good guy who Alicia, Marissa and the panel are all enamored with and his betrayal is swift and brutal. As I mentioned in the introduction anyone who watched Alias is familiar with Ron Rifkin playing this kind of character and yet I was still taken back when he went for Alicia’s jugular.

In terms of costuming Alicia flips between her power color of red when they first appear in front of the panel, to dark muted colors and ending on dress/jacket two piece which resembles and apron from the top half (ooh back to the whole wife imagery) and as with Diane’s jacket is rather chaotic in appearance. The smiles in this photo are not representative of how Alicia ends the episode; she steps out of the elevator (!) where her eyes have been brimming with tears and she collapses sobbing into Peter’s arms. After their more than civil chat over wine last week followed by this embrace, this relationship is the best it has been in a long time. All they needed was a political scandal to bring them together.

The Good Wife 6.19 Alicia and EliAt the start of the episode we see Alicia obsessively watching the news as she sits close to the TV alternating by turning the volume down when it goes full negative to turning it up when in her favor. What is important here is Alicia is wearing her sadness sweats and the last time we saw her in this attire was just after Will died and she told Peter their marriage was over except for in name. This is how we know Alicia is in a bad place mentally despite how much of a brave face she puts on. In part because of the fraud allegations, but also because her relationship with Will is playing all over the news and internet and she keeps having to repeat a lie.

The Good Wife 6.19 AliciaEverything is falling apart both for Alicia and at the firm; will they come together in this time of need?

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

10 Apr

Another magazine heavy week with Mad Men and Orphan Black doing the final promo push. Plus pretty dresses aplenty from various panels, premieres and events.

Tatiana Maslany AdweekTatiana Maslany gives good face on the cover of Adweek and a thoughtful response to a question relating to Strong Female Characters:

“The characters all have a complexity to them, an unapologetic individuality. They’re not physically superhuman and emotionless and without flaws. Having a strong female character doesn’t mean she’s beyond suffering and fragility. There’s a fearlessness. That to me is strong writing for women. It defies gender.”

Not the first time I have swooned (nor will it be the last) at how she talks about the multiple roles she plays on Orphan Black and what it means to be a Strong Female Character (and why this terminology is outdated). Maslany also discusses whether the show is a feminist piece and while she doesn’t thing that’s how it begun life she believes that it is now adding “Women aren’t often the default in movies, TV, media—there’s often very limited space for them. But it’s exciting to mine these stories and see a show that puts women at the center of it.”

Tatiana MaslanyBonus smiley Maslany and her favorite show on TV is one we definitely agree with “I love Broad City. It’s that unapologetic approach where the characters are not defined by their gender. It’s all about their personalities, sense of humor, flaws and friendship.” For more from this Adweek interview head here.

IMG_1497A stylized Stylist cover with Kiernan Shipka going full 1960s with a Twiggy homage. This makeup looks great on Shipka even if it ages her up by quite a bit. Not too sure about the velvet headscarf but I’m guessing Shipka didn’t want to go full pixie (and there are plenty of Twiggy headscarf modelling shots). In the interview Shipka reveals that she has the necklace Don gave Sally with SD on it, although she hasn’t found an occasion to wear it yet. There was sadly no Sally (or Betty) in the mid-season Mad Men premiere so I’m holding out hope she will appear in this Sunday’s episode.

Julia Louis-DreyfusJulia Louis-Dreyfus goes full leopard print at the Paley Center ‘Evening with Veep event and as is generally the case with JLD she is killing it. I’m a little so so on the footwear, but when wearing a bold print nude heels are fine I guess.

Lake BellNow here’s a pair of fantastic shoes and Lake Bell’s choice of multicolor Christian Louboutin mules work wonders with her equally bold orange Dior tuxedo inspired frock at a New York screening of Dior and I.

Lily JamesAnother pair of so-so shoes with a fantastic dress as Lily James does the final leg of the Cinderella promo tour in Tokyo. James has worn plenty of princessy frocks recently and it is good to see her in something with a shorter hemline, but just as pretty in star covered Valentino.

Vanessa HudgensVanessa Hudgens is ditching crochet attire and Coachella this year for Broadway and at the Gigi opening night after party she makes a dramatic impact in a stunning Alice + Olivia gown. A sleek blunt bob and dark lip color all add up to create one of her best looks yet.

The Americans 3.11 “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov” Review: “We Do Hard Things”

9 Apr

Questions come in many forms on The Americans this week including the emotional fallout from last week’s huge revelation and trust is not something that comes easily across various storylines. Philip and Elizabeth continue to juggle multiple operations while dealing with their fraught situation at home and the scrutiny they are under has increased. In an episode with Anton Baklanov’s name in the title he remains on the periphery with the Jennings still very much at the heart of the story, especially after that bombshell last week and Paige has something Anton’s son Jacob does not have; answers.

These answers don’t completely satisfy Paige with half snatched conversations and the inability to fully believe what they are telling her. The foundation of her entire world has been destroyed and we are entering uncharted waters.

The Americans 3.11 Snow!Philip and Elizabeth have spent the season at odds over this decision with Gabriel acting as the master manipulator. Tension has been simmering between Philip and Gabriel with Philip telling him exactly how he feels about his methods a couple of episodes ago over a not so friendly game of Scrabble. This continues this week in both their solo conversation and when Elizabeth is present. Gabriel keeps asking how they are and it seems less out of personal concern and more to do with their positions as highly valued agents. Later Gabriel questions whether Philip is falling apart and all I have to say to Gabriel on this one is you should have seen him last season because right now Philip is incredibly stable. In fact Philip is doing a better job of compartmentalizing his emotions than Elizabeth is right now, maybe he is doing it too well and he should concerned with his mental state.

With Elizabeth, Gabriel holds a certain level of control with his access to the tapes from her mother and he informs her there might not be too many more. There is something about the way he takes her hand that really puts my back up and I am very much on Team Philip on this one. Prompting Philip to suggest once again that Elizabeth has one last face to face meeting with her mother before she dies and both Gabriel and Elizabeth think it is impossible. This request from Philip is not out of character and much like Elizabeth’s desire to get Philip’s son home from Afghanistan it shows a deep level of love between the pair that goes beyond their inability to always share how they are feeling with each other. The difference here comes in Gabriel’s response as when Elizabeth asked he left it open and managed to come through; with Philip it is a straight no. By pushing Philip like this it unleashes the sassy strop off which is more than fair as Philip points out how much he has done for the Centre and he’s getting nothing in return. This includes a detailed description of what happened with Annelise – “I had an agent I slept with for three years and then I got her killed. I broke her bones and I shoved her in a suitcase” – the Paige problem and the Afghanistan issue.

In a way it feels like they are having two conversations which comes back to the repeated use of the word fine; Philip says “we’ll be fine” when Gabriel asks how he is specifically and then this switches to how this whole situation is not fine followed by Philip barely containing his disdain when he snarks “I’m fine.” Basically Philip wants Gabriel to stay out of anything to do with his family and he also wants him to do something in return to make up for this clusterfuck of a life they are living. Earlier on when they tell Gabriel that Paige knows, it is Elizabeth who emphasizes how fine they are and they are less convincing the more they say it.

Philip sells it much better with Yousaf as they have a heart to heart about the aforementioned suitcase incident with the party line being that what they do doesn’t get any easier but the thought of what the world could be like is what gets him through. This sounds a lot like the version of their job description they told Paige about last week, which was a highly edited and unspecific description. They can only tell Paige a certain amount about what they do and I doubt they will be sharing recent activities with her such as sleeping with hotel managers or the other wife that Philip has.

The Americans 3.11 pancakesThere is some transparency and instead they focus on personal details which means we get far more information about Elizabeth’s childhood (still Philip is pretty much a blank slate) and the discussion in the car between Paige and her mother is heartbreaking. Elizabeth essentially monologues with her daughter sitting there listening to this tale of hardship; what appears to be a potential bonding moment ends with Paige explaining that she doesn’t know how she can believe anything they say anymore. Elizabeth does not have a sharing disposition, but as we see here and in the past when she is talking about her mother it taps into a reservoir of emotion. Paige starts the episode with a series of questions and she is quick to find out they are not willing to talk about this when Henry could come in at any moment. Luckily Henry is too busy practicing his Eddie Murphy impression that while he is aware there is tension he is also not that bothered by it.

At the end of the episode Paige knocks on her parents’ door – after last time she has definitely learned that knocking is key – and asks what they are talking about. Philip is honest and mentions how her grandmother is sick; Paige is overwhelmed and leaves without saying much as if she still can’t process all of this information (she has a grandmother now), which is more than understandable. Initially leaving the door open we are left with a shot of Philip and Elizabeth in bed, but she comes back to shut the door and we are left with Paige on one side and her parents on the other. The divide in the Jennings house continues to grow.

The Americans 3.11 ElizabethIn the past we have seen Philip and Elizabeth reconnect through sex and Elizabeth uses this tried and tested move with different results. This season has featured several occasions where Philip comes in late at night followed by either stoned confessions or shared sparking up sessions. The intimacy level has been high but in different forms from what we see this week; when Elizabeth comes home from the hotel (where she made her excuses with Neil) she strips and wakes Philip with a passionate kiss. As Elizabeth drops out of the frame we stay on Philip’s face which remains impassive and this attempt at connecting falls short. This is the first time in an age where Elizabeth has been used as a honeytrap and the earlier encounter with Neil is all about him giving her pleasure and it feels like this is her way of making it up to Philip. Elizabeth has been experiencing jealousy for the first time this season and while I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that Philip is projecting similar feelings he is concerned about the hotel operation.

Going back to Philip’s conversation about ‘making it real’ when it comes to sex and despite the sexiness of Elizabeth’s underwear and Neil’s “I want you wet” there is an awareness in these scenes of how fake it is as Elizabeth takes a moment to sell it and sell it she does when she experiences a real moment of pleasure. However when Elizabeth comes home from her sexual encounter with Neil she looks so fucking depressed as the consequences are far higher now her daughter knows who she is and there’s a lot more feelings to be considered beyond just Philip.

Anton talks to Nina about how he was traded like a slave and he is fed up of being used in this way. Nina connects with him by using his son and her own experience of being traded back and forth. Everyone on this show is being used in some way and it is all about controlling how this is done; Philip is attempting to limit this with his conversations with Gabriel, Martha is being used and Paige doesn’t have a clue what could be in store for her. And what of Nina? She is so good at getting people to trust her and as with last season it is hard to tell exactly what is for show and what is real. They have tried to get to Anton with a series of women for him to sleep with and I am thrilled that Nina is using charm of another kind to obtain her freedom.

What The Americans also teaches us this week is how to look like you’re making eye contact with someone as Philip preps Martha. He tells her to stare at the end of Taffet’s nose as this will create the illusion of looking into someone’s eyes. Martha passes this test with Taffet as she confidently answers his questions although I am concerned for her safety now that Hans knows where she lives.

Speaking of unstable entities and Maurice wants in on Michelle’s money making plan. Lisa hasn’t made an appearance for a few episodes and this reminds us just how many missions they’ve got going at the moment. There are plenty of ways for any of these plans to go wrong and there is a strong look of concern (and loathing) when Maurice is upfront about knowing Elizabeth is the mastermind of this plan.

One story that continues to tick over is at the rezidentura and the bug they put in the mail robot is up and running. Arkady has given Oleg and Tatiana the task of going through the transcripts and I have a feeling the beeping which causes them to crack up is going to be very important.

This episode was very much a table setter after last week’s major shift with Philip and Elizabeth attempting to keep control of their inseparable home and work life. It feels like it is only going to get harder for the pair as they are now in deep in every facet of their life and there still remains some distance between them emotionally; is there couples therapy for spies?

Shot(s) of the Week

The Americans 3.11 Philip and ElizabethElizabeth and Philip are poised waiting for Gabriel to tell him about the big development and this shot represents how fine they are trying to pretend they are while both looking like they want to throw up. When Gabriel enters, Elizabeth pulls up a seat close to Philip putting on a show of unity.

The Americans 3.11 Anton and NinaThis looks like an Edward Hopper painting.

Disguise of the Week

The Americans 3.11 ClarkPhilip causes extra confusion as Clark by wearing a turtleneck AND a sweater; perhaps this is his way to distract Martha from asking any other questions. Although unlike Paige, she hasn’t shown any desire to delve any further.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.11 Elizabeth kitchenSpeaking of sweater game and Elizabeth gives good serious face while wearing this purple number. I would probably leave the high waisted polyester slacks for another occasion.

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