Advertisements
Archive | May, 2017

Scott Speedman Was a Disaster of a Boyfriend and Other Important Felicity Things

31 May

Yesterday Keri Russell received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was season 5 finale of The Americans and she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with former co-star and ex-boyfriend Scott Speedman. The two are still pretty tight, along with other Felicity co-star and former onscreen roommate Amanda Foreman aka Meghan and this pretty much ticks so many boxes. Not Meghan’s magical box, but those ones I talk about often on here (see the recent Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants reunion) about former co-stars still hanging out.

The back and forth banter between Russell and Speedman includes the fact that he was a disaster of a boyfriend with no real specifics, which considering how squirmy Speedman gets is probably a good thing for him.

Although he couldn’t have been too bad considering how tight they clearly still are. A Felicity reunion is quickly nixed and even though I’m a huge fan of the show I don’t need to see that unless Twilight Zone homages or time travel is at play.

The infamous haircut comes up (of course) and Russell also reveals that Speedman had no idea what ceremony he was actually attending.

The whole interview with both of them is delightful and earlier in the episode Keri Russell also reveals that she is going to appear on Running Wild with Bear Grylls and that IRL boyfriend (and on-screen husband) Matthew Rhys got an adorable gift for her that included some strong advice from her oldest son.

Rhys was also present at the Walk of Fame ceremony along with Americans co-stars Holly Taylor, Noah Emmerich and co-showrunner Joel Fields. Felicity co-creators JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves also spoke at the ceremony.
This might be the first time that I’ve really liked a deconstructed shirt and Keri Russell looks fabulous in this striped Johanna Ortiz number and pairing it with flared Chloe pants works like a charm. The Rag & Bone full suit is great on Matthew Rhys and for the occasion. Expect to see more from The Americans pair with Emmy FYC events in the works.

Advertisements

The Americans 5.13 “The Soviet Division” Review: It’s Us

31 May

There are a couple of threads running through season five of The Americans that culminate in some big decision moments; first the idea of staying together and this applies to partnerships and the family unit as a whole. The other is the impact on the teenage characters of which this show has a number of extending way beyond just Paige and Henry.

In fact both of these threads have been important for some time now and back toward the end of season 3 I wrote about how teen girls rule the world on The Americans (they just don’t know it), but this has now been extended to several boy teens. Boy teens are typically ignored or just sit and wave (oh hey Chris Brody) on prestige dramas so this is going against the norm in making them integral.Let’s start with the scariest boy teen there is and if Elizabeth is trying to make Paige in her own image, well there’s already a spy version who is even more committed to the cause than even she is. Tuan is terrifying because like a lot of teens he has strong opinions and he’s also super impulsive. Yes his plan worked, but Pasha did almost die and they can’t ever know whether he would’ve survived if Philip hadn’t stomped over there.

He sees weakness in Philip and Elizabeth and he has the perfect one-liners to throw at them including their “certain petty [or petit] bourgeois concerns.” Those concerns on this occasion being whether a teenage boy is going to live or die. Not whether to get McDonald’s for dinner.Tuan admits his own weakness in his report and also points to Philip and Elizabeth’s failings, ‘failings’ which can be attributed to their experience and the fact that a) they have been working on multiple operations and b) they work as a pair. So despite Philip’s potentially rash choice to break protocol and head over to Pasha’s house while a CIA agent is posted outside, Elizabeth is by his side in an instant.

Early in the episode as they discuss Tuan, Philip notes how young he is and Elizabeth wishes she could take him with them back to the Soviet Union. Elizabeth sees a lot of herself in him and despite his hard exterior she knows that he needs someone. When she has her one-on-one chat with him after he has attempted to ream them out – the side eye Elizabeth gives is magnificent – Elizabeth points to his weakness.

Telling him he will fail if he stays by himself is a very on theme message for this episode and season as a whole. After all they were very young when they started this dangerous life and they have always had each other, even when they weren’t together together.I keep coming back to the conversation at the end of “Lotus 1-2-3” and the unifying statement Philip makes telling Elizabeth he can’t let her take over the whole thing because “It’s us,” but ultimately the point they come to by the end of the finale is that this is the path they are going to take. Kimmy’s dad has been promoted and he’s going to be the head of the Soviet Division.

This is the spy jackpot and everything they have been working towards; Philip considers getting rid of the tape and whether it is duty to country or knowing that he can’t lie to Elizabeth he refrains from doing this. I suspect it is more the latter and the ‘normal’ life they have been dreaming of disappears as soon as he tells her about the tape’s contents.

Family is important to Elizabeth and yet she is a soldier for her country first and there is no way she can leave now they have this goldmine opportunity. But hey this means Henry can go to boarding school now. Elizabeth understands why Philip yelled at their son in the same way she totally got it when he tore out the pages of Paige’s Bible; it is a culmination of so many things and fun dad is not always fun. Especially when he is slowly being ripped apart from all the shit they have to do.This brings me to another theme of the episode with Elizabeth’s reasoning as to why moving back home will be great “All of us together without all of this shit on our backs” and Stan telling Renee that he is “tired of feeling shitty.” They’re all at a crossroads and the parallels are hard to ignore; different sides, but the same awful side psychological side effects. They all have to manipulate and put other people’s lives on the line. People have got hurt and worse along the way and it is getting too much to handle.

Stan’s situation is also running concurrent to Oleg’s (who sadly does not appear in the finale) and they are both good agents trying to do the right thing. This is something Renee emphasizes to Stan as a reason why he should keep doing what he is doing and she is definitely a spy, right? Or the writers are throwing up another red herring.

Either way there is no confirmation about her status, but Philip remains suspicious and also has times for jokes pondering what it would be like if they ever had kids quipping that Paige thinks she has it bad.It is good that despite his soul being shattered into pieces, Philip can still see the dark humor in their dark situation but the pipe dream of getting away and living a happy life in Russia as a family is over by the end of this finale.

Also this fantasy of a happy life together back home is of course a fantasy because there is no way that Henry (and even Paige) would react well to this massive change. And it is not just their kids who would find it hard and as Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” plays we see Elizabeth looking at her wardrobe full of clothes and kitchen appliances. Their petty bourgeois concerns.

In fact this relates to a scene from season 2 after Philip bought the Camaro and he asked Elizabeth if there was anything that she liked about this life. She denied it at the time, but her wistful glances at her beautiful shoes tells another story. It would be a massive lifestyle shift for all and even when they’re talking about planning a European vacation as their cover there is an end of The Graduate like moment where they both look a little unsure about the course they have set for themselves.Ultimately this is all irrelevant by the end of the episode because they’re staying put and when Philip apologizes to his daughter about not having the normal things like a dog or a regular boyfriend across the street, it is because he already knows what his wife will say when he tells her about the tape. It is a heartbreaking scene for a number of reasons as he slowly welcomes his fate. There is no escaping this life.

Paige is embracing certain aspects and like Tuan she’s a risk taker; parking her car in the same place where she saw her mother spring into full on defense mode and this feels like a test. A test to see if she can defend herself or at least confront her fears about getting attacked. It is also pretty dumb. Later on she takes a smack to the mouth from her mother and she’s still got ways to go before she is as tough as her teacher. Although she takes it pretty well, this is very Elizabeth Jennings of her.Because Philip and Elizabeth lost their father’s at an early age, they both know what a loss like this can do and they are on the same side when it comes to this notion of keeping a family together. This is why they both fight for ensuring Alexei returns to Moscow with his wife and son. He’s too scared despite Tatiana’s earlier assurances and it looks like he will be staying behind. Part of their attempts at reversing his choice comes from guilt feelings at the things they have done – see Young Hee – and because they are tired of ruining so many lives. Philip’s concerns are impacting Elizabeth in this way.

One person who has seen positive growth since the spy world unknowingly entered her life is Kimmy and Philip as Jim emphasizes how much she has changed for the better when he reveals he is moving to Japan. Guessing Jim’s job is going to fall through now and if Elizabeth gets her way this will be the only operation Philip will be running from now on. The fact that Kimmy looked like she was going to get out of this whole mess better off, only to unknowingly become a bigger part of their scheme is pretty depressing. Can she remain unscathed? And will her friend ever get to Japan? Oleg and Mischa Jr. are absent this week, but there is one Russia thread that managed to shine a ray of light and not only is Martha’s Russian coming on, but they’re also making sure she isn’t alone as they’re giving her a super cute (or adorable) orphan girl. This feels like a good thing and after all it was what Martha wanted with Clark, but there’s also part of me wondering if there is something more insidious at play because intentions are rarely pure on this show.

So what about that big conversation at the end? In true Americans tradition the conversation itself is rather sedate and a quiet end to a mostly quiet and meditative season. If season 1 ended with Elizabeth telling Philip to come home in their native tongue then in this moment she is setting him free. It is still proclamation of “It’s us” but in telling Philip she will go it alone from now on she is doing her duty to both country and her marriage. Plus he’s still going to be some pretty important work (as well as running the travel agency) and if he can look a little less sad in season 6 well then that will be a victory for Elizabeth.

This being The Americans it is probably not going to be as simple as that and while this year has seen a less explosive season than one might expect for the penultimate outing getting to the point where Philip is bowing out while Elizabeth stays in is pretty huge. Especially as they’re doing it together. “It’s us.”

When Not to Make Jokes“My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” This is from the news item Paige is watching (and Henry is oblivious to, because of course) and it also gives us a date in time around when this episode is set; August 11, 1984.

This shot is also an appropriate time to once again to give a shout out to the production design department for the Jennings family photos.

The Return of My Favorite Philip TopStill on the hunt for a retro Dunlop tee and Philip is once again taunting me with this perfect version.

 

Until next year and the final 10 episodes of The Americans. It has been a pleasure!

Music Monday: The Leftovers and the End of the World

29 May

There is no other show that has the ability to make me tear up at the sound of a few bars of music quite as easily as The Leftovers. Max Richter’s score is the number cause of my best Claire Danes chin quiver impression and this has been out in full force during this last season.

This isn’t to take away from the acting or the writing as I was a full ugly crying mess before “Dona Nobis Pacem 1” kicked in during the impromptu therapy session between Laurie and Nora in last week’s episode “Certified,” but there are few tracks that can conjure this kind of reaction later on when the music has been separated from the scene. In fact the only other track I can think of that has done this recently is The Gloaming’s “Allistrum’s March” from Fleabag.One of the things the score does best on The Leftovers is reach deep into your soul while also recalling previous scenes that have used these pieces of music; a cue to remember. Some of these are themes are for certain characters or emphasizing aspects such as Kevin’s internal struggle. Or in the case of every time Kevin crosses over to the other side the use of Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” signals the bizarro world aspects and the mission at hand.Blending contemporary with classic and genres across the board could become incoherent, but like a lot of things that makes The Leftovers so special the variety of song choices works because you don’t know what you’re going to get next. It might be trampolining to the Wu-Tang Clan or A-ha’s “Take on Me” becoming a poignant reminder of all that has been lost and might be found. Or it could be Max Richter’s score giving your tear ducts a cathartic workout.

Season 3 also saw a shift in how the opening credits music has operated with a song of the week instead of the typical one song. “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” dove back into the well using the original theme from season 1 causing me to burst out laughing quickly followed by tears. Aka The Leftovers way; the absurdity levels of aspects like penis scanners coupled with Justin Theroux’s ability to crush me with his eyebrow emotions was off the scale this week.  Instead of using the score during the dramatic double Kevin surgery as blood spattered all over the tailored to perfection white suit – so much boot envy too – music supervisor Liza Richardson opted for The Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows.” In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, Richardson talks about using a song that has connotations with another show (in this case Big Love) and ultimately this was a showrunner decision:

“I find that my show runners in general don’t usually care about that. Whenever I see something scripted or they request a song, I always look it up to see where it’s been used before. I would rather a song have sort of a fresh use, so I always warn them and say, “Oh this has been used in this, this, this, and this. Are you sure you want to go there?” I find that usually they don’t care. It doesn’t matter. There’s so much TV out there, everybody has a unique experience of it.”

It is a fascinating interview and includes how they landed on which Wu-Tang Clan track to use, the Kevin karaoke moment and what songs missed the cut for one reason or another.Bringing me to the final credits track choice from the penultimate episode of The Leftovers and this is a strength of many HBO shows. It is also one I have discussed on numerous occasions in relation to why this final song of an episode is so important.

Here it plays out after Kevin Sr. has asked the most rom-com movie question of them all – “Now what?” – and there is a definite leaning into these romantic elements as we hit the final stretch. The opening scene of “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” flashes back to when things between Kevin and Nora were good; they’re sharing a candle lit bubble bath while talking about what they would like to happen to their remains after they die.

Not the most romantic conversation per se, but there is tenderness, intimacy and dark humor here that gives weight to why Kevin and Nora are the OTP of The Leftovers world. Damon Lindelof has described this show as a love story with these two characters at its heart and my shipper loving heart is hoping they find their way back to each other. Even if the final scene of the season 3 premiere suggests something far bleaker.

Kevin spends his time chasing Nora or the idea of her at least when he is in this alt-universe; she is the image that keeps flashing up and there’s even the untitled romance novel he has written that concludes he is to blame for the end of their relationship. Is this “The Book of Nora” that the title of the finale alludes to? He’s removed one heart in another world, but does this mean he can save himself, his relationship and the small circle of broken souls who have put so much faith in him?

The grand question of “Now what?” for Kevin Sr. has nothing to do with his son’s ex, but as the strains of Patty Duke’s “The End of the World” plays over this rooftop chat it is all I can think about.

Everything looks the same, but the internal struggle continues.

With just one episode left can Kevin et al find some semblance of peace?

Bonus Leftovers content via Instagram and director/producer Mimi Leder shared a couple of delights.

Mind bending Spectacular!!!

A post shared by Mimi Leder (@mimi.leder) on

Alt-American Gothic

The most BRILLIANT cast. EVER!!!

A post shared by Mimi Leder (@mimi.leder) on

The second time I’ve used this in a week – much to my dismay – but #SquadGoals. And yes I am coveting Carrie Coon’s striped top, because of course.

And for all your Leftovers season 3 playlist needs:

The Americans 5.12 “The World Council of Churches” Review: What’s In a Name?

24 May

Lines between make believe and reality are intrinsically blurred on The Americans because Philip and Elizabeth’s cover lives are so entwined with who they are and were that it’s impossible to separate the two at this point.Small acts of defiance such as getting married in secret, in a ceremony that used their original names is important to the series as a whole, not because it’s going to bring down the Berlin Wall or end the Cold War, but because it gives Philip and Elizabeth something that is actually theirs. Mikahil and Nadezhda are now really married and it doesn’t matter that their American marriage certificate isn’t legit. And now they have got from that point of brief contentment (because crowns and okay, commitment) to wanting to go home.

But it’s not as easy as that and while Claudia is surprisingly receptive to the idea, it’s their kids inherent Americanness that is ultimately going to be the issue. Maybe this is why Claudia is so receptive; she knows they have other things to consider and the journey home is long. Also, Philip continues his pattern of never sitting down at these meetings.Names come up on countless occasions; first when Paige asks about how they came by Jennings. They explain that Philip Jennings was a real person (as was Elizabeth’s maiden name) and the KGB take the names of real (and now deceased) people to strengthen their covers. This was how they cracked the Clark code and realized Martha’s husband was KGB. Philip admits that he misses his old name and there is a wistful tone when he says this. Wistful because this is the first time home has felt this close. 

But it is far from easy. They can talk all they want about what names they will go by when they return to Russia and the Jennings marriage has never been stronger – remember “it’s us” – but they are living in a fantasy land if they think that Paige and Henry will be fine with any of this. Sure Paige is adjusting to life as a junior spy and soon the weight of Pastor Tim (and the cross around her neck) will be gone, but she’s going to be just as alienated there as Pasha is in America. And Henry. Well Henry is another story as he’s got his hopes set on an entirely different dream. Seeing first hand what has happened to Pasha and the lengths Tuan is willing to go to when it comes to completing their mission is chilling. He’s just a teen in a Marty McFly like gilet and rotating pop culture tees (this week featuring Knightrider), but he might also be the most ruthless of them all. He’s the king of manipulation including convincing Pasha to slit his wrists as a way to get back home. He told him how to avoid the artery, but there is no guarantee. And this is why Philip (dressed as Brad) storms out of the house in a bid to stop this plan.

It doesn’t matter that this might jeopardize the entire op, because Philip has had enough of this shit and his parent brain kicks in. And when she catches up with him, Elizabeth is there to grab him by the hand and be all in this together. It’s all in their vows. Plus she’s got to make this surprise visit look more natural than it currently is.
With one episode left to go this season it looks like breaking point has well and truly been hit. And it’s only going to get worse.

Note – this week’s review is much shorter because I am traveling. Will be back to the usual essay length for the finale next week. 

TV at Cannes: ‘Top of the Lake’ Photocall

23 May

I’m loathe to use #SquadGoals, but the Cannes photocall for Top of the Lake: China Girl is exactly that. The above photo looks so relaxing.And I am fully in love with Gwendoline Christie’s choice of heels that look like a red version of the Black Lodge floor (Twin Peaks  is penetrating all). Just because she’s already tall doesn’t mean she can’t indulge in another few inches. 

All three women are enjoying success with multiple projects including other TV hits such as Nicole Kidman’s Big Little Lies and Elisbeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale. Plus Christie has season 7 of Game of Thrones premiering in July. Oh and this amazing new Vanity Fair cover for The Last Jedi

Here is the first trailer for Top of the Lake: China Girl.

It is safe to say that this is one of my most anticipated shows of 2017. 

Updated to add this Instagram delight.

You're welcome:) #Cannes #totlchinagirl

A post shared by Elisabeth Moss (@elisabethmossofficial) on

Hopefully there will be a whole lot more promotion from these ladies. 


Out of the Box: Look of the Week

19 May

 

Ah, May. That time of year when EVERYTHING is going on including the Cannes film festival and TV upfronts. This means plenty of red carpet moments and I would usually break down each network with their own post. Unfortunately (or I guess fortunately) this week I have been stacked with other work (see herehere and there’s more exciting stuff to come) and so it all comes down to “Out of the Box.”

So this is a bumper edition that also includes Emmy FYC events, premieres, the BAFTA TV awards and more. Also continuing the trend of all the color and pattern.I’ve talked on numerous occasions about how thrilled I am when cast members remain friends long after the project has wrapped and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ladies are a prime example of that. Often popping up on each other’s Instagram posts in a way that doesn’t feel phony or like they’re doing it just for the content boost. Basically it is their “just like us” moment and I never feel this way about Blake Lively.

They all turned out for Amber Tamblyn’s directorial debut Paint it Black and there’s no upstaging here; it isn’t a one black blazer fits all situation and three out of the four have gone this route. Alexis Bledel continues her super hot patterned streak and this whole situation is making me want to rewatch those movies.

Also whoa that I just found out two Twin Peaks links – yeah I’m late to this – as Amber Tamblyn’s dad is Dr Jacoby and Lively’s half-sister is Lana. Michaela Coel’s mother might be new favorite designer and at the BAFTA TV Awards she went mini in this very fun geometric number. Also going short is Michelle Williams at the Wonderstruck Cannes photocall and this is my favorite of her recent Louis Vuitton looks. The shape and pattern are fabulous; it manages to be the most Michelle Williams with a slight edge.

Obligatory bathroom selfie but I'm missing my bff Michelle. 😭❤️🌈

A post shared by Busy Philipps (@busyphilipps) on

It has been too long since our last Michelle/Busy bathroom selfie, but Busy’s Alice + Olivia rainbow frock is a delight.

Sadly, there was no Busy Philipps at the upfronts and NBC are still yet to make a decision on her pilot Sackett Sisters so here is my obligatory #MustSeeSackett shout-out.At the ABC upfront, Kerry Washington gives great color blocking cuteness in Fausto Puglisi and nailing the whole daytime event styling.More ABC darlings and Tracee Ellis Ross also got the red memo wearing Ryan Roche (and styled by our fave Karla Welch). Ross’ TV husband, Anthony Anderson also looks super swish and I still need to catch up on Black-ish, much to my TV watching shame.At the EW upfront party, Yvette Nicole Brown is giving me so much jumpsuit inspiration in polka dot Corey Lynn Calter. Such a fun look and also pockets!

As a big Madewell fan it thrills me to see one of their clutches on the red carpet (because it is nice to see things I can actually afford). A floral explosion at NBC and more Karla Welch stylist delights (see also America Ferrera) with Amy Poehler in Warm NY. It also pleases me immensely that Poehler is wearing a colorful pump with this colorful frock.Double America Ferrera this week and she’s taking a page from her Sisterhood co-star’s book in Saloni.

Ferrera’s current co-star, Ben Feldman looks great – that shirt! – until you get to his shoes. I’m actually okay with sneakers with a suit (especially for a daytime event), but not these sneakers. Confession – I really dislike the bottom of Mandy Moore’s skirt and everything I love about this look is above the knee. The lace is too much and it distracts. However, the top of this DVF ensemble is amazing and ticks so many boxes – collar, pattern – and I am also feeling very emotional about Ron Cephas Jones standing next to Moore.

It wouldn’t be This is Us if I wasn’t getting teary.More florals and this time of the maxi dress variety from Gina Rodriguez in Milly at the CW upfront. What a delight.

It isn’t all flowers and stripes will forever take my heart; Constance Zimmer’s Tracy Reese frock looks like it is from the same collection as Susan Kelechi Watson’s sweater from earlier this year. Perfect panel attire.How much do I want to see Judith Light to guest star on The Good Fight wearing this caped dress? I think you can guess the answer. At the Paley Honors: Celebrating Women In Television event, Judith Light crushes everything, as always.

 

The Americans 5.11 “Dyatkovo” Review: Paying for the Past

17 May

You can’t escape the past and season 5 of The Americans has constantly been looking back to explain the present. History repeats and this impact is felt on both a micro and macro level; individuals and organizations are at risk and real change is hard to implement. Especially when authorities have a different face/name and yet continue with their shady shit. Corruption seeps down to every level.

Post-WWII turmoil in Russia has been alluded to with Philip learning the truth about his father’s profession, Oleg finding out about his mother’s imprisonment and Gabriel discussing the work he did. You can make a new life, get a new name and yet the scars run deep. Memories threaten to bubble to the surface and ruin the facade of perfection that has been constructed.A seemingly unconnected operation to everything Philip and Elizabeth have been doing brings everything to a head in an unexpected way. In a sequence that is reminiscent of the equally brilliant “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” Philip and Elizabeth interrogate someone the KGB believes killed their people for the Nazis in the occupied town of Dyatkovo. As this is The Americans this is not a simple case of good versus evil and first they must determine whether they have the right person.

Philip has to be sure that this isn’t a case of mistaken identity and early on the evidence they have isn’t particularly conclusive. The photo could be her, but this isn’t enough and Philip reinforces his point by mentioning the conversation they had earlier this season. He can no longer shoot first only to find out that they were wrong. It seems like a good marker, to be honest and Elizabeth is aware that he is close to breaking point; which is why she does what she does later on.Paying for the past is a complicated business and after some back and forth with Natalie about whether she is really Anna, she confesses. At first I thought this was a fake confession as a way to save her husband, but it turns out that she really did all the things she was accused of. But these were far from the actions of someone who took pleasure in committing these atrocities. This is one of Irina Dubova’s first acting credits and she is incredible in this role delivering pain, guilt and fear.

Natalie’s confession takes place in front of her husband with horrific details such as watching her family get shot and being forced to dig their graves. She was saved and she doesn’t know why, “nothing made sense.” And after this she did what she had to in order to survive – echoing what Oleg’s mother told him about prison – which included killing her own people. The first time she did it she was so drunk she could barely stand and all of this began when she was just 16. Elizabeth was 17 when she joined the KGB. And now Paige is at this age too. Too young to be embroiled in all of this.

This is The Americans doing what it does best; hitting us in the gut with the lack of options available. Before this moment Elizabeth calls Natalie a monster throwing back the word that Pastor Tim questioned whether they are. As I already mentioned this episode is reminiscent of “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” particularly the conversations Elizabeth has with Lois Smith’s Betty as she coerces her into taking too many pills. Betty also brings up this notion of Elizabeth being a bad person. In fact she calls her out on her “to make the world a better place” reasoning by saying that’s “what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things.”

This is the most Elizabeth has previously been effected by an on the job kill – I got super teary rewatching these scenes – and the whole thing with Natalie is enough for Elizabeth to make a huge decision; she wants to go home.When Philip hesitates in pulling the trigger, Elizabeth steps up as she said she would. It is an awful moment and even though it was clear they were never going to let them live – they’d seen their faces after all – there was part of me that hoped otherwise. It doesn’t matter that Natalie had made this new life where she was doing good, those actions of the past sealed her fate in the present. Even if she committed these war crimes in order to survive.

So what makes Elizabeth think they can just go home? Everything has been building to this point of quitting the spy biz in one way or another; it is getting too much for both of them. Philip is the one who has been showing the obvious signs of reaching his breaking point and despite his fractured psyche he’s in it for as long as Elizabeth is.

They don’t know the Soviet regime is also crumbling, but the misinformation regarding missions and how they keep pivoting away from doing good is having an impact. The virus sample they extracted, the sample that effectively killed both William and Hans has been weaponized and William’s legacy is having this version named after him. The exact opposite of what he would’ve wanted. They’re both fed up the honey traps and Pastor Tim’s scribblings have had an impact.Thankfully The Americans has never been concerned with the prestige TV trope of “we’re good people that did a bad thing” instead they are people who have done very bad things in the name of duty/country and feel conflict about it. It is why the wordless interactions between Philip and Elizabeth hold so much weight; everything is etched on their faces. Cue my “give Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys all the awards” broken record.

Philip right now is a giant exhale of sadness in human form and seemingly happy childhood memories are doing nothing to free him from the increasing worry lines on his face as they are tainted with the truth. Even something as mundane as watching TV and eating McDonalds with Tuan is far from freeing. He leaves his real son all preoccupied and happy to join his fake son only to have the past eat away at him. To him his father brought some light into his life and likely a lot of darkness and pain into others; is he getting a glimpse of how Henry will view memories of Philip in the future?

Processing other photos gives Philip reason to bring up Paige’s* motivation behind the whole diary reveal. They don’t come up with a definite answer, but Philip wonders if she wanted to see their reactions to reading what Pastor Tim had said about them.

*A Paige-less week, but you can read my thoughts on Paige and the use of horror on The Americans over at Collider

The lasting damage they are having on their children is hard to ignore and Philip has conceded in letting Henry go to boarding school if he gets in. This of course is all academic, if they do indeed decide to go home to Russia and there is no telling how either Paige or Henry will react to this bombshell. Because Paige sure as hell was not chill about the suggestion last season.Ah, Henry. Sweet, smart, oblivious Henry. Listening to his Walkman while doing homework, having a girlfriend and getting a guided tour at the FBI. The latter brings up another interesting point in Philip and Elizabeth’s basement convo about how Stan or the FBI is not getting Henry. They’re also pretty disparaging about Matthew. Way harsh, guys.

Henry does seem very interested in what Stan does at work and is fully delighted when he gets to meet Mail Robot. This is the appropriate reaction. Later on Henry reads Stan his paper that pretty and exclaims that working at the FBI sounds like the “best job in the world” and Stan is quick to inform him that this is far from the case. Way to crush young enthusiasm Stan, but he does his best to explain the big drawbacks and one of those is never being able to truly trust anyone. Not even your wife and kids. Across the street this is not the case and because Philip and Elizabeth have each other it makes this difficult world a tiny bit better. If only they could all retire to a secret island and live happily ever after.

Everyone is feeling the strain of their jobs, but Philip and Elizabeth have never been more in sync. Even when they don’t quite agree they have been finding middle ground recently. The secret wedding last week doubled down on their commitment to one another and maybe it really is time for this part of their life to be over. However, I can’t see the KGB agreeing to let some of their best deep cover operatives go without a fight. Especially when you factor in just how many operations they have in play right now.

And if they go on the run they could be the ones starring down the barrel of a gun in a few years time for being traitors. Talking of in sync and how they enter Natalie’s home ensnaring her in a terrifyingly efficient way; they catch their prey without a sound.Over in Russia, Oleg continues with his investigation and even though they find evidence against Lydia that could put her away for fifteen years she is steely as fuck when facing their questions. She notes that this is how their country runs and it is not going to change. She calls the KGB “high and mighty” and it is hard to have a good comeback when Oleg has his own fancy supermarket he gets to shop at because of who his father is.

Two episodes remain this season, twelve in total and with Elizabeth’s “I want to get out of here. We should just go. I mean it. Let’s go home” everything suddenly feels very much near the end. The sound you just heard was my stomach churning from dread and anticipation of what’s going to happen next.

Fun Spy Equipment The camera in the bag is a classic and I’m glad we got to see Elizabeth toting this tote.

Family Photos and Owl Lamps

Family pictures act of reminders and the Jennings house is littered with these happy memories. Once again I am so pleased they use photos that are neither photoshopped or production stills. Also that owl lamp always catches my eye in how perfect and pretty ugly it is. And thanks to Twin Peaks all I can think is this lamp is not what it seems.

Be sure to check out my essay over at Collider discussing the use of horror on The Americans including a deep dive into the Jennings House of Horrors and whether Paige is the ‘Final Girl.’

Laura Dern Talks Big Little Lies, Enlightened and Working with David Lynch

16 May

The gap between film and TV award season chatter feels like it gets smaller every year and I am thrilled that this time of year is upon us. To the extent that I even wondered out loud (or rather on Twitter), which Big Little Lies cast member will take part in The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable discussion.

Another go to source for all things awards is Goldderby and their interview series constantly delivers on in-depth interviews with actors and creatives who might be hearing their names called come nomination day (July 13). This is when I fall down a YouTube hole and the next thing I know it is a couple of hours later; they tend to run around the twenty minute mark and this is pretty much the ideal length for getting sucked in.One of the best shows from this awards year is Big Little Lies and it is one I keep returning to in terms of how much time it is occupying conversations and thought space. Plus I’ve been pretty much listening to the soundtrack on a daily basis. It is also one of the reasons why the mini-series category looks set to be one of the most interesting and while there is talk of a potential second season (this gets touched on in the interview below) it is pretty much perfect as it is. Even though we live in a time when anything can be resurrected it doesn’t mean it should.

Which brings me to this interview with Laura Dern and unsurprisingly Dern is a delight offering up thoughts on why Big Little Lies resonated, everything she loves about playing Renata and working with a lot of the Wild team again. Dern also talks about characters it has been hard saying goodbye too and what she says will likely please fans of Enlightened.

There is also the small matter of teaming up with David Lynch again for the Twin Peaks revival and as I already mentioned any TV show can come back.

Award recognition and what this attention means in terms of the visibility of a project also comes into play especially as there are so many shows to consume right now.

Laura Dern also reminds me that I still need to watch Enlightened and I don’t know why I haven’t done this already.

Look out for more award season chatter on TV Ate My Wardrobe in the next few months.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

12 May

After last week’s pattern extravaganza we’re not backing away from print; in fact there’s a lot of mixing textures and the newly titled MTV Movie and TV Awards delivered in a big way on this sartorial front. Plus fabulous suits and more putting a bird on it.Happiness in one photo and a sequin spectacle of the highest order. Dripped in rose gold Emilio Pucci is Taraji P. Henson and a super colorful patchwork Rosie Assoulin number has me smiling as much as Tracee Ellis Ross.

Tracee Ellis Ross and Congresswoman Maxine Waters presented Taraji P. Henson with the award for Best Fight Against the System and this continues Henson’s hot streak of delivering super passionate speeches about important matters.Yara Shahidi can make any outfit work even when it is doing as much as this Gucci skirt and top number is. Shahidi is not overwhelmed by these two pieces and I’m particularly in love with the mirrored skirt which is giving me disco ball adjacent feelings. Also with a talent for making any look work for her is Zendaya and off the back of this stunning Met Gala gown she is now making me like something sheer; there’s something very ethereal about this Zuhair Murad embroidered dress.

Gold stacked heels were all the rage at the MTV Movie and TV awards much to my delight and I think Zendaya’s Le Silla sandals are my fave. One of the best dressed characters on TV right now is Insecure’s Issa and off screen Issa Rae delivers too. This Off-White frock is a really fun play on leather mixing edgy with feminine textures like pleating and boob ruffles. Great styling from H to T.While we’re on the subject of Insecure and fabulous style; here is Rae’s co-star Yvonne Orji crushing it in matching printed Dries Van Noten.This Jonathan Simkhai gown looks like something you would find in a fancy drawing room of an old manor house and I mean that in the best possible way.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead also adds drama with a berry lip color. She’s the best and also hair goals for if I ever let mine get slightly longer.

Bonus Mary Elizabeth Winstead as this is pattern clashing to perfection.

At a screening/Q&A for I Love Dick, Kathryn Hahn put a bird on it and paired it with plaid. And it works! I have new and yet to be worn pants that look similar so this is giving me ideas.

Also in things I have already written about; Lucy Liu also wore this Alice + Olivia blouse on Elementary recently.Harry Styles is on the promo train for his new album and he is already killing it with his suit choices working his way through the color spectrum. Performing on Today and giving me so many Beatles vibes with that guitar. Pink looks great on you Harry and I can’t wait to see what he’ll be wearing next.

 

The Americans 5.10 “Darkroom” Review: Heavy Wears the Crown

10 May

Manipulation is one of the biggest weapons a spy has and to get someone to do exactly what you want without them even realizing it is an important skill to master. On The Americans we have seen different levels and techniques; pretty much every episode is a demonstration in how to assert some level of control over a situation to get the outcome they want.

At the start of “Darkroom” Tuan explains how he got the new group he’s hanging out with to put dog shit on Pasha’s locker and that he did it without them even realizing it. This comes just after Elizabeth has praised Tuan for how good he is at this work. A point of subtle manipulation in itself as this encouragement is to make him feel better after he strayed from the path last week by telling him he is special and she admires him.

In a way it is like a parent praising their child mirroring their cover story and Elizabeth also wants to maintain the good work he has been doing through positive reinforcement. One thing Elizabeth doesn’t do is bullshit him into thinking this life is going to get easier and she doesn’t go for the “it gets better” speechifying that she delivers to Evgheniya about Pasha. Instead she tells him that it won’t get easier, but he can be great at it. Plus they didn’t report him so he doesn’t have to be concerned about that aspect.

Calling something manipulation makes it sound calculated and underhand, which it quite often is on The Americans and yet there are times when certain things are done to protect. One such case is the potential path for Pastor Tim as it has become clear that his presence is doing more damage.

They never made it to EPCOT – The Americans version of the farm – and there is also the matter of the tape that Alice made when he went missing in Africa. It isn’t a simple case of sweeping him under the rug by a well timed car accident or faulty piece of electrical equipment at home. They know they would lose Paige forever if they went this route and we all know that Philip has had enough of killing.But something has to be done as Paige’s is teetering closer to the edge and finding entries in Pastor Tim’s diary about being worried about Paige’s soul is doing nothing to help their situation. This is a burden they don’t want to place on their daughter and while they have ops that run for years it doesn’t mean Paige should endure this challenge. The solution here is to get him sent far away and make it look like this job opportunity has nothing to do with them. And yet the damage might already be done by Pastor Tim’s private thoughts and what Philip and Elizabeth have put Paige through.

Pastor Tim was the reason why Paige asked the big questions in the first place and it is hard to see how even with all of their skills they could have avoided getting to this place. They can keep repeating to Paige all they want that Pastor Tim doesn’t know her and even if this is the case it doesn’t stop the weight of the words he has written down niggling away.

Paige takes a page (boom) out of her parents spy book and takes photos of his diary to help with picking what country to send him to, but also to show exactly what he has written about them. It isn’t a good look for the Jennings family as he questions whether they are monsters and suggests their actions are worse than the sexual abuse and affairs he has been witness to.This is a lot to take in under the red light of the makeshift darkroom, as the family develops these pictures together and Philip has already been having a hard time reconciling everything he has done and this includes the idea of bringing Paige into all of this. He has been reluctant from the off and Gabriel’s parting words further reinforced his fears. Elizabeth has always been the more optimistic and this mirrors how they both feel about the cause; Philip is far more pragmatic whereas she is the true believer.

Reactions are wordless in this scene and in a way it feels like that moment when the hero detective stumbles upon a serial killers murder wall. But instead they are finding out that they are the real villains of the piece.

Let’s not forget that Pastor Tim has seen Philip at his lowest ebb and scariest. This was a glimpse into the broken man Philip was in “Martial Eagle” after another innocent lost his life and this was before Pastor Tim even knew who the Jennings really were.  These comments in his diary use spiritual language and even though they are atheist and scoff at his protection from God, these words don’t have to be connected to religion.

Philip through EST is exploring aspects of himself and particularly his past that were buried and the principles are similar even if the methods and language is different. Even Elizabeth works through things while in disguise using real experiences to sell the fake one and while it never goes particularly deep she is still using it to help process emotions.Truth is the thing at stake and while Philip runs it intercuts with his EST meeting; we are all machines and we are mechanically programmed to respond to stimulus. Enlightenment is knowing truth. Pastor Tim is concerned that because of how big the deception was that Paige will never be able to trust anyone again and he actually has a point.

Earlier on in this episode, Philip and Elizabeth explain their loophole about this secret and lie as they only did it to protect their family. A family that only exists as part of their spy cover; it is something I keep returning to but there is no way to extrapolate one from the other and this is where real and fake merge on The Americans as the Jennings do not exist without the KGB.How do they make it real then?

Let’s go back to season one and a conversation between Philip and Elizabeth dressed as Clark and Jennifer in “The Oath.” This takes place just after Clark and Martha just got married and at this point Philip and Elizabeth are still separated with Elizabeth showing some early rare emotion:

“It was touching. No, it was. I didn’t expect it to be. You and I were never really married”
“No”
“It’s funny, I know they’re just words people say. Do you think things would’ve been different between us if we would have said them?”
“I don’t know”

A lot has happened since then and the cracks in Elizabeth’s super cool exterior have been slowly forming since and what better way to reinforce what is real than making it so. So much of their lives is performative and their relationship for a long time was part of this.

This hasn’t been the case for some time now and they are in a stronger place than ever before and this big romantic gesture by Philip does a couple of things; it solidifies what they already have and things are not going to get any easier for them professionally. In fact it looks like it is just going to get harder. It also gives them something real to hold onto as this ceremony is done in their native language and using their real names bringing in Gabriel’s Russian Orthodox priest contact.

Plus they get to wear crowns and boy do they look good in them. Philip and Elizabeth for Game of Thrones, please. Also a good place to tip my hat to Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as it is not often they get to play this level of contentment and happiness. It is a moment to breathe for both them and the audience – even though the pit of dread is never far away – and it is an incredibly tender scene. The whole thing is performed in Russian and despite the presence of religion, which Philip apologizes for, it is actually perfect. This ceremony provides a connection to their home and past while cementing their relationship in the present. It is a renewed commitment to each other before everything else.

Later they must return to their ‘real’ lives and their actual wedding bands get locked away in the laundry room cupboard of things from home. Ah yes the same room where Pastor Tim’s words are going to get burned into their brains.

Because there is also still Topeka and tai chi as the plant they got needs years of research. When Claudia tells them they have to continue working their honey traps they don’t say no with their words, but their body language speaks volumes about how unhappy they are at this prospect. Another reason to remind each other that it is this united front that matters.

Protecting family isn’t just a Philip/Elizabeth concern and it is what they are using to try and push Evgheniya back to Russia. Elizabeth tells her to fight for her family and as with the wrecking of Young Hee’s marriage (*sob*) last year it is extremely unpleasant (to put it mildly) what Pasha is being put through. For everything they are doing to their own daughter, psychologically they have destroyed so many people in ways that go beyond just killing. The trail of destruction is long all in the name of this Cold War. Just look at the dinner table scenario with Oleg; they have a lot to work through and instead no one is saying a word.After their double date – yes I want to see karaoke with these guys – Elizabeth asks Philip why he is so bothered by the notion that Renee might be one of them. For Philip it is a simple answer; he doesn’t want Stan to be like Martha. I think when Stan finds out the truth about their real identities it is going to be far more devastating but I appreciate his efforts to shield his friend.

To send Henry away to boarding school would be getting him as far away from any fallout and Paige fights her brother’s corner by suggesting it isn’t too late for him. She says that Henry is different and he knows what he wants; she’s right as well and I wonder if Pastor Tim’s words no matter how much they try to ignore them will have an impact on this decision. Sometimes protecting someone means sending them away.What “Darkroom” managed to do was somehow magnify the sense of infinite dread, but in a different way than before; this wasn’t about how broken Philip’s soul is and instead Paige becomes the focus again. Now she is stress cleaning and while this is better than stress sleeping in her closet it is far from good. It is also a nice callback to when Elizabeth made her clean the kitchen floor in the middle of the night. This time Elizabeth is highly concerned about this late night activity.

Philip and Elizabeth are already bound by vows made to their country and by making their marriage real at this late stage in the game it puts another point in the column for choosing family over ideology if push comes to shove. We already know Philip would defect in a heartbeat if Elizabeth was to say yes and while the motherland is why they fight it is becoming increasingly clear that all might not be as it seems. And by making their union real on every level it strengthens them in ways the KGB never can.

Fabulous ’80s Knitwear 

There’s a lot of great vintage sweaters on The Americans and this one reminds me of so many from my mother’s closet.

Retro Sportswear AppreciationYou know I am always down for period specific sportswear. Philip’s polyester zip up is no exception.

Ex-aspirational

Depression, creativity and the pressures of growing up, as told by a twenty-something not living her best life

Julie Hammerle

Nerds Need Love Too

Sofa and Remote

I love talking about TV as much as I love watching it

Ellie Writes Stuff

About this and that

Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Authors, Bloggers, Fashion Assassins

Twitter Music Club

A rotation curation music club, based on Twitter, mainly for Kiwis

INTO ROW Z

If you enjoy a challenge, like Claude Makélélé, read my blog. Its about sport.

lost somewhere in new york city

We rock a lot of polka dots

sankles

We rock a lot of polka dots

frocktalk.com/

Just another WordPress.com site

Cultural Learnings

Television Reviews and Analysis

judgmental observer

film, tv, popular culture, higher ed, unicorns

Rookie

We rock a lot of polka dots

ScreenFad

TV show news, reviews, recaps, spoilers, and photos

The Frisky

We rock a lot of polka dots

irkyle.wordpress.com/

I review this shit so you don't have to.