Tag Archives: 2.02

New Town, New Wardrobe for Nora on The Leftovers

13 Oct

When somebody joins the Guilty Remnant on The Leftovers they must leave the trappings of their old life behind including the clothes they used to wear. Nora’s change of costuming and the way she wears her hair when they move from Mapleton to Miracle (or rather Jarden, Texas)is less dramatic, but noticeable nonetheless.

In season one the most memorable item from Nora’s wardrobe is her denim jacket because it is the boldest color she wears; everything else is in the neutral wheelhouse with plenty of grey, navy, beige and black. In fact her Mapleton costuming is pretty similar to Kevin’s in that he doesn’t tend to stray from this color palette either – throw in some white tees for Kevin – and their instant connection can been seen on both a surface and deeper level. Cut to Miracle and the change is apparent; Nora’s suddenly wearing a whole lot of red and pink and Kevin is still in the same tees and undone button down shirts.

The Leftovers 2.02 Nora and KevinKevin and Nora haven’t taken the traditional route toward moving in together and it is what you might call rushed. Before they had even been on a date Nora suggested they take a trip together and this idea of getting away from the town which holds so many bad memories was planted long before Kevin’s dad recommended the same course of action. Kevin also warned Nora before their first date that he is pretty fucked up and these two have been very forthcoming in the secrets they share. The fantastic confession scene at the start of this week’s episode “A Matter of Geography” is indicative of why the Kevin and Nora relationship works; even after they’ve revealed the parts they are ashamed of they still want to make a go of it.

Or rather it shows how Nora and Kevin are fundamentally different as he thinks his secret will be the bomb that blows this whole thing up and she sees it as a sign they can be okay. Kevin repeatedly hits the self-destruct button throughout this episode beyond this confession scene; he digs up Patti’s body and then purposefully gets pulled over by state police and then he reacts in rage to the state of the new house. Full disclosure is not an easy prospect even for the most transparent of relationships; Kevin’s secret is far bigger, but we don’t know how much Nora has told Kevin about the theory the MIT researchers have about why some people disappeared and that it might happen again.

Jill gets it and it is a matter of feeling safe which is why Nora has gone all in on this property and place. For Kevin, Miracle is no different from Mapleton as his demons have followed him here. And by demons I mean Patti and her presence is just as strong. Secrets can eat away at you and this one is doing just that and his spiraling takes him to an almost deadly place when he wakes up half drowned in a body of water that is no longer there with a cinder block tided to his ankle. Patti is there to keep him company much to his dismay.

He has told Nora so much, but this secret is just too big and I think he is probably scared what might happen if he reveals this humdinger. There is a certain element of denial he can maintain if he keeps it to himself and yet headphones and loud music can only drown out so much. The season 2 artwork puts the focus on this couple and actually points in part to Kevin’s new ankle accessory; he is reaching for Nora and there is a push/pull between his mystical darkness and her new found optimism. From what we have seen in the way of Nora’s reactions to Kevin’s secrets I think she will be able to handle this and the more he tries to deal with it alone, the worse it will get for everyone involved.

The Leftovers 2.02 KevinAll the trappings of Kevin’s old life are still there; the restlessness, secrecy and look of panic etched across his face. Nora does bring out some calm and this union could be soothing if he would only tell her what the fuck is going on.

They’ve made a pretty big commitment to each other and the child they have adopted, but even that was not smooth sailing thanks to a broken washing machine. Kevin doesn’t have much luck with household appliances this week. But they look pretty complementary costuming wise in their appointment and they are both emphatic about their relationship status. Yes, Nora sounded far more convincing.

Also this baby is the most adorable.

The Leftovers 2.02 Nora, Kevin and LilyNora has worn her hair straight for pretty much the entire run, all with the exception of the pre-departure episode “The Garveys At Their Best.”

The Leftovers 1.09 NoraSo it is significant that she has returned to this look when moving to a new town where they don’t know what happened to her family and now she has a new one.

The Leftovers 2.02 pieBetween the waves and the injection of red and pink tones into her costuming Nora’s look has been softened and moves away from her business wear styling from season 1. She is embracing motherhood and there is added femininity to her attire. Especially when she is holding both Lily and a freshly baked pie.

The Leftovers 2.02 Kevin, Nora, Jill and LilyNora isn’t all floaty skirts and dresses and it is worth noting there is some mirroring of Jill in the scene above wearing a vest (red once again) and jeans. Carrie Coon discussed Nora’s relationship with Jill in this wonderful Vox interview mentioning how Nora “wants to be cool! She wants to be the best pal” and this is evident here. Jill has moved from the dreaded annoying teen position to someone I want to spend more time with and part of this is down to dialing down her antagonism levels.

There is now a certain kinship between Jill and Nora; instead of eye rolling her way through her dad and Nora’s confessions Jill instead cracked a joke showing acceptance. The chemistry between these three actors is excellent and there is a strong sense of salvation in this second chance. Potential issues could occur down the road, but at this point Jill has Nora’s back because Jill knows what a good thing her dad has got despite the peeling wallpaper and lack of lights. So Kevin, please don’t fuck this up.

One item I hope Nora has brought with her to Miracle is her perfect hat for spying and head protection is vital in a hotter climate.

The Leftovers 2.02 Nora hatShopping montages and throwing out old clothes were absent so everything we see Nora wearing in Miracle could have been in the suitcases she already had packed ready for her escape. Plus there are items such as her denim jacket and penchant for wearing necklaces that have made the transition.

This isn’t Nora removing herself completely from her old life, instead this style change is indicative of a new location and embracing the family she is now part of. For Kevin despite the changes that have taken place there is still this firm grip he can’t shake so items such as his aviators and Apple earbuds are a vital shield. Plus those glasses do look really good.

The Leftovers 2.02 Kevin aviatorsFor the Guilty Remnant the white uniform is their way of shedding any kind of connection to their past and any form of personal identity. Nora’s costuming/hair evolution points back to the past as well as welcoming her present; it is why she is so desperate to get away from the town that took her first family to a place where there were no departures. Red is a powerful color and adds weight to the idea that Nora is the heart of this family unit while also showing the gulf which grows as a result of Kevin’s big dark secret.

Jill’s words to her father are worth repeating “Please don’t fuck this up.” Even if we know he’s gonna.

Masters of Sex 2.02 “Kyrie Eleison” Review: “You’re Not Your Worst Part”

21 Jul

Masters of Sex is interested in far more than the act that can lead to another life and “Kyrie Eleison” (Greek for “Lord, have mercy“) takes a look at the various life lessons that have been passed down from mother to daughter; stigma, loss and misunderstanding are all prevalent. While we already know so much about Bill’s own unhappy childhood and difficult relationship with his mother – so much more than he has ever shared with Libby – it is time to shine the spotlight on several of the other female characters. Part of this occurs through the teenage patient Rose and ethical quandary Bill finds himself in, but it’s also a lot more organic than every character interacting with Rose and spinning off this ‘case of the week.’

Masters of Sex 2.02 Bill and BettyBill is in a fight with Betty as she’s faking fertility treatments to keep her husband happy and Bill is not thrilled with his role in this charade. This is the second time Betty has blackmailed Bill while using the study as leverage – in season 1 she provided the brothel where Bill observed, now she holds the key to the funding – and despite threatening to tell Gene everything, Bill doesn’t want to jeopardize his new position in this manner. Betty keeps referring to his “dopey sex study” something Bill takes great offense to as this study could dramatically change how people view sex and the medical conditions that are currently referred to as “deviant behavior.”

Rose despairs because there is darkness inside her and she thinks sterilization is the only way to “fix” her problem; there are appearances to keep up as her mother wants her out and ready for cotillion. Once again the WASP way of sweeping everything under the carpet and the favors that come with a sizable donation look set to win this argument.* Greathouse already looks like he is going to be a problem as he completely misunderstands the point of the sex study and there’s clearly something going on between him and Bill’s new secretary Barbs (the amazing Betsy Brandt).

*It’s hard not to think of Dawson’s Creek and the reason Jen Lindlay was sent to live with her Grams; her parents caught her in bed with another boy at a similar age to when Rose was first caught. It’s a common tale of repressing sexuality in teens by sending them away and one that leads to far more shame. Basically don’t send your kids away for shit like this. It is not the cure. 

Masters of Sex 2.02 Bill's officeIt’s a ballsy move for Bill to go against orders this early in his job at Memorial, but Bill is not going to stand by and be told what is best for his patient just because privilege is at play. We rarely see Bill’s tender side and it often occurs when he has a patient who is being oppressed – in season 1 he helped a woman who had an abusive husband and he didn’t play by the segregation rules on a ward – here he sees what could be a hopeful future for Rose as long as she understands that “You’re not your worst part.” There is hope through understanding and this is why this sex study is so vital, so people stop calling others tramps and whores (sadly this still happens regardless of better understanding).

Betty has her own life lesson to impart on Rose and she’s been an eavesdropping bystander to the whole case; she also has her own experience when it comes to sterilization and she unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the procedure last season. Betty’s mother called her a tramp and a whore for as long as Betty could take before she snapped. Betty’s version of standing up for herself comes with dark consequences as she used the heel of her pump to strike her mother which resulted in blindness and a glass eye. Betty realizes that this might not be the best advice and she’s equally surprised when Rose mentions Bill’s words of wisdom. If only Bill would let others in beyond his patients and Virginia (on the rarest of occasions). No, Bill is more likely to let out his feelings when he is alone as we see when he emotionally reacts to what happened to Barton.

Shoe observations represent more than just a violent act for Betty as her expensive heel break when a past client bumps into her in the hospital corridor. Betty utters that $50 shoes are just as poorly made as $5 ones and despite her expensive furs (which she wears several of this week) there is always someone lurking to remind her of who she used to be. Betty mother was the first to call her these names and it is hard to escape something that ingrained, even when you’ve freed yourself from those ties.

Masters of Sex 2.02 VirginiaVirginia is still facing dirty looks and unwanted attention as a result of the study and the one doctor who appeared to be different from the other multiple leery advances turns out to be the kind of guy Virginia accused him of being last week. Under the guise of finding out about their research techniques Virginia gives a detailed explanation of how Ulysses works to Dr Ditmer and he ends up getting more than just a little turned on by scientific terms like “vaginal sweating.” Yep the dude lets it all out and if it wasn’t so scuzzy then it might make for an interesting write up for the study. Instead Virginia is rightfully horrified at this encounter and then pissed when an elevator full of woman ignores her calls to hold it for her. If that sweater wasn’t so cute I would probably suggest Ginny burns her clothes to get the skeeze off.

There is one doctor who is not pursuing Virginia’s romantic attention; his horndog status is well publicized and he hits on patients and yet Dr. Austin Langham has no interest in Virginia. Austin like Virginia has had his private affairs aired publicly and the big difference here is that assumptions are being made about Gini and she’s either ostracized or leered at, whereas Austin can still hold a booze soaked party in his office and get a good attendance. Ah, those classic double standards (the Friday Night Lights season 1 episode “It’s Different for Girls” demonstrates this perfectly) and instead of refusing Austin’s offer to dance, I’m glad to see Virginia driving into the skid (to borrow Austin’s metaphor) and not hide herself away. I’m not sure I agree with his lone wolf analogy and it sounds like Austin has been getting more therapy, but this pairing as just friends is so utterly delightful.

Those who dislike Virginia extend beyond those who work there; Vivian Scully makes sure her opinions are well and truly heard by everyone within a 50 meter radius when she comes to get her broken arm checked out. Vivian is still reeling from her own family tragedy and Virginia’s attempt to act like BFFs riles her and she gets an emotional release by berating Virginia about Ethan. What this conversation does is give Virginia information, however limited that something has happened to Barton as he has taken a leave of absence, information that she imparts on Bill who in turn goes to see Vivian about what really happened. Even though Vivian doesn’t know and really doesn’t want to hear it most likely, Virginia helps her out even after she tells her that she will end up “old and ugly and alone.”

Masters of Sex 2.02 Lillian and GinnyThis brings me to my favorite relationship of the show; Virginia and Lillian. Masters of Sex creator Michelle Ashford spoke to Time last week and this quote really resonates:

“I think sometimes female friendships tend to be portrayed as either ‘We’re best friends and tell each other everything’ or ‘I did like you but now we want the same man, so I hate you.’ But the truth of female friendships is they are often as complicated as romantic relationships, sibling relationships, mother/daughter relationships — there’s competition between women, and envy, women can be both very judgmental and incredibly selfless in the love and support they offer one another. There are a million emotions under the sun that play out in female friendships, and I think we’re just committed to making the women (and their friendships) that we portray on our show as very specific.”

The Lillian/Virginia relationship is incredibly complicated and we see it in yet another light in “Kyrie Eleison” as Virginia takes on a motherly role with her boss. Lillian’s getting more and more words mixed up and Virginia is concerned this has something to do with her cancer (my booze theory was way off). Virginia takes charge and books an appointment with Lillian’s oncologist and the prognosis is not great; they are both fighters and so Virginia refuses to see this as a defeat. Virginia takes Lillian’s “every good fight begins with pizza” as another word mix up, far from it and I’m totally with Lillian.

Prior to this the pair have a bathroom chat (and anyone who read my My So-Called Life discussions knows how much I adore a TV bathroom chat) to do with the film Virginia wants Lillian to make rather than plain old pamphlets. Virginia goes a bit stage mom as she insists Lillian wears makeup to reduce the shine – “What does makeup have to do with medicine?” – with Lillian playing the part of reluctant daughter (this is good advice and something Richard Nixon will regret not knowing very soon in this timeline). It brings up their own mothers with Virginia describing a woman who had big dreams for herself and her daughter (and it sounds like mother did not get her own) and Lillian’s had a passion for bridge, or rather she killed herself off a bridge and it suddenly becomes clear why she is so guarded and driven. Hugely different experiences, but they are drawn together in this incredibly tender friendship that started in a combative place.

Masters of Sex 2.02Bonding over tales of childhood occurs in the Masters house too; not between Libby and Bill (which really would be a shocking moment), but with the nanny Libby has hired to help with baby Johnny after Bill sent his mother packing. Coral lost her mother at a young age like Libby and Libby shares a whole lot about her fears regarding Bill’s distance and discomfort with the baby. There is a sisterly vibe as Libby takes Coral’s hand and what fun things they have planned. The atmosphere changes when Libby can’t find a solution to Johnny’s crying in her Dr. Benjamin Spock book and starts to fret. It’s compounded further by Bill’s arrival home and his inability to hide his annoyance at the loud crying. Swaddling is the solution, something Coral does and Bill is all “well, duh, I did tell you that.” Not helping, Bill.

Masters of Sex 2.02 LibbyThe atmosphere changes and what started as gal pals shifts to a more traditional employer/employee definition in the most cringy way possible. Libby feels scolded and stupid for the swaddling incident and so she lashes out in an extremely passive aggressive manner as she patronizes Coral by pointing out how she pronounces things incorrectly. Libby uses the guise of being a team and having to present themselves in the same way, but no this is her exerting her power through her privilege and it’s pretty ugly. One other shift is that Libby is wearing a whole lot of pants – something she barely did last season – and there is still a strong feminine style with the choice of capri pants and soft color sweaters. Coral’s attire reflects her young age and has a school girl innocence to it, particularly the white ankle socks in the first photo. Race was briefly addressed last season, though in no kind of depth and while Libby has liberal views her jealousy and insecurities could provide their own conflicts in this area.

Masters of Sex 2.02 BillBill has already started using his new job as an excuse to avoid home and the affair they say isn’t an affair continues as the episode is bookended with trips to the hotel. The research is now taking a more psychological direction which will have implications on both a personal level and on a grand scale that could change how people see certain types of behavior. Bill still stands in the shadows making his excuses to his wife even as he tries to shine a light on what some consider to be a sinful act. You can still be your own worst enemy even when dishing out great advice like “you’re not your worst part.”

TV Rewind: Felicity, “Sophomoric” and “The List”

11 Apr

Felicity, Episodes 2.1 and 2.2
“Sophomoric” and “The List”
Original Air Dates: Sept. 26 & Oct. 3, 1999

N.B. Julie Hammerle (of the blog Hammervision and on Twitter as @juliehammerle) and I have been writing about Felicity for the past several months over at This Was Television. To start the second season, we’re moving our posts over to TV Ate My Wardrobe. We hope you enjoy all the ’90s nostalgia. Please feel free to comment and relate some of your own college stories. 

Felicity 2.02 selfie

Julie: I’ve only seen Season 2 of Felicity once, so I think I keep getting the events of this season confused with what happens in Season 3. I have a vague idea of what to expect, but I am by no means a sophomore year expert. It’s kind of fun to watch it that way.

The season kicks off with everyone back at school. Felicity and Meghan are RA’s and roommates, which really defeats the whole purpose of being an RA, i.e. getting to have your own room and having it paid for. The girls’ room is basically the same as their room last year; it probably is the same room. So, as far as living conditions go, not much has changed for Felicity.

Ben is still living with Sean, and Julie has moved into the loft as well, because 1) Sean has a crush on her and he’s friend zoning himself and 2) Julie pretty much wants to make Ben’s life a living hell. I mean, she moves in under the guise of the fact that she hates her freshman cheerleader roommates, but really the chance to make things awkward for Ben is a major selling point.

Elena has moved into an apartment with Noel, which…did she consult Felicity before agreeing to this? The whole thing is so incestuous, but also so college. Felicity’s best friend is living with the guy whose heart she trampled on.

I feel like the tone of the show shifted between the first and second seasons. There’s a lot more angst already. Maybe it’s because the living situations are so emotionally charged. People are taking sides. It’s Noel and Julie vs. Ben and Felicity (with Elena and Sean in the middle). And now that Felicity has decided to ultimately choose herself, how will that affect the dynamics?

What did you think about the start of Season 2?

Felicity 2.01 Ben

Emma: So season 2 of Felicity and thanks back of the DVD box for ruining an integral plot point that doesn’t happen until episode 2 (that she becomes single). There are better ways to tease the dramatic hair chop than pointing out the why of it all. I’m still bitter that NBC recently ruined a MAJOR plot point in a press release, so this is adding to my spoiler frustration. Take a hint from Mad Men, vague is good – ok maybe not too much of a hint.

The flimsy excuse for sharing (asbestos) is perfectly fine with me, especially as Felicity and Meghan are back together again and for all the angst (which I also noticed has been increased) at least we have this comedic pairing. Meghan brings me so much joy, even when she’s being a jerk and openly discussing Felicity’s sex life in front of all the advisees. At least she sees the error of her ways and apologizes for that major dick move. Meghan’s styling is as wonderful as ever including nude shimmery lipstick and an endless supply of animal prints. I have more on Meghan, but first all of the other living arrangements.

While it comes across as contrived, considering how Elena reacted to Noel post-Hannah, I’m down with this living arrangement as they bounce really well off each other. They didn’t get a whole lot to do with each other in S1, but they did have a notable conversation when Elena almost quit over financial issues. I also don’t think there will be anything vaguely romantic here and I’m always happy to see platonic lady/dude friendships and I think they will be good for each other.

Now as you mention it gets complicated when you factor in Felicity and Elena’s BFFdom and it’s so unbelievably awkward when Elena leaves the two of them to chat in the apartment. And it goes so, so bad. Noel’s hurt and this is the first time he’s spoken to Felicity since she didn’t go to Berlin and he pretty much says all the worst things – he’s mean in a gross vulgar way and it’s very un-Noel. After dealing this low blow he then tells her he never wants to see her again and even though he knows this won’t be the case, he wishes it were true. I’m guessing Felicity won’t be hanging around there anytime soon. It escalates to a whole new level later when they go to the same bar and I didn’t realise you could say dick on the WB, I’m not sure why but I thought it was a relatively new insult network TV could use. This is awkward scene number two, but I want to talk about Julie’s new living arrangement first.

Moving in with Ben and Sean has bad news written all over it, I mean she did pretty much live there last year but under very different circumstances. It also makes it clear that Julie has very few friends which makes me sad. What Felicity did was not a good friendship move and yet I find myself siding with Felicity (if I had to pick one). Of course this could be down to the fact that this is her story, but as we talked about a lot last year the Felicity/Julie pairing was always lacking something. While I find Sean’s friend zoning to be rather icky, they at least have a friendship spark that started with the fruit selling during finals.

Considering they couldn’t keep the living arrangement the same as last year, this seems like the most organic way to deal with that. It’s also a good way to increase conflict and build on new relationships. Oh and it’s very cool to have both Amanda Foreman and Greg Grunberg in the opening credits. The dynamics are different and it’s definitely unsettling and kind of exciting. The first two episodes back have to deal with so much relationship dramaz that it does bog it down a tad and it’s having address such a life changing decision for Felicity in terms of her relationships so some of the momentum gets lost. Did Felicity chose well? Both between Noel and Ben, coupled with what happens at the end of episode 2?

Felicity 2.01 Meghan

Julie: There has to be a happy medium between spoilery promos (I’m assuming you’re talking about Hannibal? I heard some things) and what Mad Men does. And it’s just silly that the Felicity boxed set would give away the cliffhanger from Season 1 like that. Actions have consequences, blurb writers.

Because I had seen on Twitter that you were peeved about what you read on the back of the DVDs, I purposefully didn’t look at the wording. Since I kind of don’t remember much about Season 2, I didn’t want anything to be “spoiled” for me, as well.

I’m completely with you that I love the Elena/Noel friendship dynamic. I do wonder, however, if Elena rooming with Felicity’s ex (without consulting her first?) wasn’t a little rude of her, but I do get that Elena and Noel are friends and that she’s the type of girl who looks out for #1. I can respect that. Also, she and Noel have a great rapport. Remember when they went to the Halloween party dressed as Subway employees? And then she met Blair? We hate that guy.

I also want to point out (since we’ve talked about the evolving friendships on this show) that at the start of freshman year, these characters became friends due to convenience and proximity. Julie and Felicity got together because they happened to sit next to each other in class. Noel and Felicity hooked up because they lived on the same floor. Now, as everyone on the show is growing and maturing, they’re starting to pair up with their actual best matches. Julie hanging out with Felicity and Elena never really made sense to me. Julie hanging out with a guy like Sean, who totally worships her and will do whatever she asks, totally makes sense. At least from Julie’s perspective.

And, of course, I’m completely on board with Amanda Foreman’s elevation to regular cast member. Felicity is such a wet blanket sometimes. She’s always so serious and trying to do the right thing, she needs someone like Meghan around to instigate her. Because they are such good foils and because Meghan ended last season revealing how impressed she was with Felicity sticking it out in New York, I think there’s potential there for a very interesting, very fun friendship. And that’s something this show definitely needs — more fun! What was college if not fun?

For that reason, I think Felicity made the right decisions all around, regarding Ben and Noel. She owed it to herself (and the girl who moved cross country because of a crush) to see if things could happen with Ben. She also knew that going to Berlin with Noel would be a pretty serious relationship step that could set her up as “Noel’s girlfriend” for the next several years. As much as I think she liked Noel, I don’t think she was ready for anything serious. Just like Ben is not ready for anything serious, so her dumping him at the end of the second episode felt right. I’m so glad she was the one who did the dumping.

What did you think about her reasons for ditching Ben, that she wasn’t being herself around him? Along the same lines, how did you feel about the man-grabbing advice in that one girl’s magazine? Would putting blush on one’s nipples really make a big difference in the grand scheme of things?

Felicity 2.02 red dress

Emma: The happy medium between over and under sharing in blurbs is a tricky one to navigate and The CW are the experts on this one, they some how reveal so much without revealing anything at all. So I just went to read the rest of the back of the box as I thought I was safe, guess again as it spills more plot details that haven’t happened yet. When will I learn?!

The proximity thing is definitely a factor and I can say from my own experience that moving out of a dorm meant that there were people that I never spoke to again. Luckily it wasn’t because I’d broken one of their hearts.

Meghan is the ray of light these two episodes need – which is probably ironic considering her love of all things dark – she’s the voice of reason Felicity needs to hear when she starts to over analyze everything. Which she does a lot. I also adore the conversation about Felicity’s tape vs Meghan’s box and I’m sorry, Felicity, but yours does sound kinda lame.

I’m with you on the Felicity choice, narratively and for her character it made sense. If she had chosen Noel, I think it would have been very difficult for anything Ben and Felicity to happen. She’s already had coupledom with Noel and yes it’s the safe, sensible choice. Ben is THE guy after all and even though I was Team Noel last year, my position has shifted. Actually my position is now the same as Felicity’s and that is choosing singledom. She didn’t date in high school and she’s far too young to be tied down; road trip adventures and super cute selfies on photos you have to get processed (I loved waiting to pick photos up and seeing how great/terrible they were, this is something that had definitely been lost with digital) are fine, declarations of love less so.

Now while I think Sean is terrible at advice (my notes once again state NEVER LISTEN TO SEAN) and he plants the seed of doubt in Ben’s head about how serious it is, in the long term this is probably better. As we saw last season Ben is really susceptible to other people’s influence and if he’s going to get dissuaded this easily, then now is definitely not the right time for this to happen.

Ben listening to her Dear Sally tape prompted some yelling at the screen, as this is akin to reading her journal and really Felicity didn’t get as mad enough at this invasion of privacy as I would hope. Ben feels bad, but the damage is done. Now to the magazine (the made up ‘Girl World’ – this sounds like a tween publication) and I think this goes to highlight that no matter how self assured you come across, no one is safe from the suggestibility of these magazine advice columns. We have all probably been a Gretchen or a Ben at one time or another. We might roll our eyes at the super dumb suggestions (like blush on nipples) and yet we might try some of them out as Felicity does and justify it by claiming we would have done that anyway. Felicity does look smoking hot in her very on point (then and now) red slip dress. I can’t think of a specific example and it pains me to admit it but I’m sure I’ve read a dumb magazine article like this and maybe applied it to my life. Have you ever followed a magazine advice column?

To Gretchen, Felicity is the wise and experienced RA and yet Felicity is new to all of this and she doesn’t have a whole lot of advice options – Meghan can only last a minute, Julie is no longer her friend, Sally is on the other end of a tape making service and while she still has Elena, Elena’s new housing arrangement puts a kink in things and she’s now helping Noel out with his romance issues.

I’m glad Felicity didn’t stick with the adjustments she was making to accommodate Ben as it’s not a good sign if you’re having to alter your entire behavior. Yes comprise is essential to making a relationship work, but not when you’re compromising yourself this much to make something work.

Now that Felicity is single, do you think the super awkward encounters are going to increase or simmer down? What did you think of the Noel’s attitude/reactions to seeing Ben and Felicity together both at the party and in the season premiere at the bar?

Felicity 2.01 Elena Julie: That’s such a good point about how dire Felicity’s friendship options are right now. She’s very much alone, even more alone than she was back at the beginning of freshman year. It’s going to be hard for her to mend fences with Noel and Julie. She basically can never go back to the loft again (except it’s TV, so we know she’s going to eventually have to go back to the loft again). And Elena is great, but kind of caught up in her own stuff/living with Noel. This is the time where Felicity really needs to start branching out into new endeavors.

I definitely remember reading and following some relationship advice stuff from magazines, especially back in high school. None of it ever worked for me, so I don’t put a lot of faith in these kinds of articles. And, yeah, while it did seem to work for Felicity for the time being (and she should definitely continue to dress smoking hot just for herself, because it was totally working for her), how long would she have been able to keep that up with Ben?

As far as Noel’s behavior at the bar, I loved it. Snarky, pissed off, funny Scott Foley is my favorite Scott Foley. We recently saw this on Scandal when he complained about the contents of Olivia Pope’s refrigerator. I hope he continues to be “exactly the amount of dick he needs to be,” both on Felicity and on that Shonda Rhimes show.

Let’s see. What else haven’t we discussed…Oh! Javier’s back! Welcome back to America, Javier. And how cute/silly was Michael Pena as one of Felicity’s freshman advisees? And where was Richard Coad? We need Richard Coad.

Felicity 2.01 NoelEmma: I noticed that both Felicity and Noel are generally being more assertive in these first two episodes back, whereas Ben is resorting to his passive ways. Felicity does briefly lose this assertive quality when she goes back to Ben, but generally she’s saying what she thinks and she’s not shying away. Ben leaves when things get super awkward at the bar and while I think it’s not the best choice Felicity has made, by staying she’s confronting things head on.

Noel’s anger masks his confidence issues that we see Elena coaching him on and he’s been through enough with Felicity that it’s not surprising that he has no issue speaking his mind with her. Forming coherent sentences with other women is an issue, and I properly laughed out loud as Elena role played using Gwyneth Paltrow as the suggestion. Not because she isn’t hot, but just because of how much we both appreciate GOOP.

Javier’s return made me very happy indeed and I love that he’s pro Noel. I also can’t wait to see how he reacts to Felicity’s haircut as I’m sure he will have Opinions. Speaking of which, surely D&D is going to get super awkward now they’ve split, different shifts ahoy.

Yep, Michael Pena is adorable, if not a little too attentive; and while Felicity shouldn’t have used him, he probably needed it so he would back off. Not sure that’s going to happen. Gretchen broke my heart, partly because he sexy outfit looked like a whole load of nipples rather than flowers and ooph her attempts to walk in crazy high heels (which I thought she’d borrowed from Meghan) was so tragic, especially when she ended up dumped.

One relationship update I was glad to hear about was Elena losing the good doctor, it’s just a shame that he did the dumping (and over the phone, showing the zero class he possess). It does provide a nice bonding moment with Noel.

Yeah where is Richard?

Couple of other things, first Felicity’s khaki Capri pants gave me SO many flashbacks to my wardrobe (including this photo I recently put on Instagram of khaki green pants that got ripped and I then fashioned into cropped ones instead). While I wore a lot of halter tops, I didn’t have any like Felicity’s knitted number – love that even her summer wear is made from wool – there’s a sexy twist as she’s not wearing a bra with it. And yes the smoking hot dress can stay. Oh and I spotted Felicity’s iBook, ensuring she will never have to go I Noel for Photoshop ever again. She totally got it in the same color as Noel’s. Another late 90s reference is the discussion about whether they should go watch Blair Witch Project. Any thoughts on the late summer wear?I’m pretty sure Julie needs to set her top collection on fire.

Oh and the photo Ben moons over is a Felicity selfie, long before the term entered everyday discussion – did we even have a name for those kinds of photos back then? All I know is that arms always looked super long or you’d get super squashed up faces, normally half cut off.

Felicity 2.01Julie: Again, I think this all reflects back to Ben’s social chameleon personality. He can’t handle the conflict. I think he genuinely likes Felicity and wants to be with her, but he’s so susceptible to other people’s opinions, he automatically balks when Sean tells him that’s what he should be doing (Never listen to Sean’s advice!). The only way things will ever work between Felicity and Ben is if he figures out who he really is and what he really wants.

Your black and white photograph reminded me that I wanted to talk more about the photograph thing. I just cleaned out a drawer in our house and I found about a million old pictures from high school and college. As much as I love the convenience of being able to take decent photos on my phone, I do miss the surprise of having film developed, and I miss the hard copies of the pictures. (I found a ton of black and white ones as well, that I know were supposed to be “artistic.” They’re mostly just hilarious.)

Felicity was a tad too braless for my taste, maybe that’s just me talking as a fairly well-endowed lady. This episode was from late summer of ’99, and I had a favorite halter top at the time — it was red and from J. Crew, I think. Most of my wardrobe was from J. Crew back then.

Felicity was so ahead of the curve with her selfie-taking. Also, her tapes to Sally are basically podcasts. I’m trying to picture how Felicity would be, social media-wise, in 2014. I’d bet she’d be one of those girls who are simply too busy for Facebook and Twitter. Maybe she’d have a Tumblr dedicated to knitwear or something.

And yay for the Goop reference! She was fresh off her Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love at this point, and was probably preparing to do press for Talented Mr. Ripley (which I keep meaning to watch again, but keep forgetting to do so). Everything was coming up Goop, which should come as no surprise.

The Americans 2.02 “Cardinal” Review: “How are we Going to Live Like This?”

6 Mar

There is a strong ripple effect reverberating through this week’s episode of The Americans as a result of the still unexplained murder of Emmett, Leanne and their daughter Amelia and the tension has increased ten-fold as they try and figure out the why of it all. Part of this is because they could fill a book with how this family is ‘just like us’ right down to the number and gender of their children. It’s a huge wake up call for both Philip and Elizabeth, even more so than the events at the end of last season that has already seen Elizabeth return with a slightly less rigid belief system. It’s not just Philip and Elizabeth who are taking note of these murders as they are all over the news (with no mention of course of their real profession) and Martha’s getting a gun for protection because of it – an early front-runner for Chekhov’s gun if there ever was one.

We are going to be looking at this episode once again through the lens of costuming and how this heightened paranoia is impacting the framing of certain shots.

The Americans 2.02 cream topWe open with Elizabeth still in full surveillance mode with everything and everyone posing as a potential danger; even the woman picking up children could be more than she seems. It’s all too close to home now and Elizabeth’s overall concern has switched from her duty to her country to her role as a mother. This ensemble is in tune with Elizabeth’s at home clothes and it’s the parallels it draws with another character which is why it stands out.

The Americans 2.02 NinaLike Elizabeth, Nina is leading in a double life and there is a noticeable difference in their styling. Elizabeth is playing the all American mom, whereas Nina is still very much a Russian in her surroundings and clothes. This cream sweater is not revealing in any way and the bow adds a hint of femininity. Nina does exert her sexuality outside the Embassy with Stan, but inside she is very much about toeing the company line, complete with the right look. Last season she also had to resort to sexual favors in the Embassy for information, however she holds her ground with Blondie loving Oleg with steely and determined fashion. White tones reflect innocence and both Elizabeth and Nina know how to work this angle to their advantage. There is also a level of detachment that Elizabeth has lost in light of recent events and yet Nina is still in possession of this; for how long?

The Americans 2.02 brown trenchAny good spy has a trench coat and Elizabeth is no different, she is rocking the slightly shorter length and as with a lot of clothes in the early 80s the color brown is very popular. Bold patterns and neon doesn’t come in until later and we’ve got the ’70s to thank for all the beige tones.

The Americans plaid and spotsPhilip’s taking the Harrison from Scandal approach with plaid and polka dots and this emphasizes not the slick tailoring as it does in Scandal, but rather how unassuming Philip is at work. Philip’s a travel agent not a threat, right?

The Americans 2.02 PhilipWell that’s when Philip’s not donning this delightful wig and moustache combo as he goes for a workman look and as I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere, he looks like he could play 2012’s Rust Cohle’s brother with this getup. Philip definitely gets the skeezier looking disguises and this is reminiscent of his revenge outfit from the pilot. This is far removed from Philip in dad gear as evidenced by Fred not recognizing him from their moment at the theme park, though that was incredibly quick and there was probably very little eye contact.

the Americans 2.02 playboyTo get some 1980s context here is a Playboy that Philip found on his Fred house search and Fred must be a Bo Derk fan as this issue is almost two years old (the date on it is March, 1980). Other headlines of relevance to today is the debate to legalize marijuana and this is when it still probably sounded cool to call it grass.

The Americans 2.02 LifeMore 1980s references ahoy as Elizabeth plays Life with Henry and Paige, I used to love this game and I’m pretty sure the spinning wheel was the reason why. Henry is less interested and wants to watch TV because that is real life. Henry is oblivious to everything once again and earlier in the episodes he explains his theory as to why two tests in one day is a bad idea. Paige is still suspicious and what she witnessed last week hasn’t deterred her snooping.

The Americans 2.02 Elizabeth phoneElizabeth’s wearing more from the brown color spectrum and here comes another ’80s pop culture reference as she suggests a trip to the movies to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. Despite having come out in the summer of 1981 (we’re now in January 1982), it’s not all that surprising that a movie this huge is still playing in theaters; it didn’t get a VHS release until 1983.

The Americans 2.02 baseball capThe movie decision is so Elizabeth can respond to a call and rather than leave the kids in the house alone, the movie works as a suitable ruse. This is a dark shot, but Elizabeth’s only disguise is pulling back her hair and sticking on a baseball cap. She is dealing with a friend of their cause and this woman is also high on a range of substances so it’s unlikely she will remember much of anything, but it still feels like a bold move when things are at this heightened state of danger.

The Americans 2.02 leather glovesThere are so many tight shots throughout this episode, none tighter than Philip as he talks to Elizabeth, followed by Martha. He’s meant to be going back to Martha’s but down to a combination of what is going on at home and the mark that has been left on his hand after he’s been electrocuted there’s only one place he wants to be. It’s worth noting that Philip puts on the leather gloves while he is on the phone to Martha, as if he is trying to cover the mark even when she can’t see it.

The Americans 2.02 mirrorThis is another interesting use of framing as the closing shot of the episode features Elizabeth and Philip off to one side, shown in the reflection of the mirror. This discussion has Philip once again lamenting his decision to use Henry last week and Elizabeth tells him he didn’t have a choice. Philip’s response is that he did and it’s another occasion where the camera pushes in hard on their close up and it’s like everything is closing in around them.

It’s an incredibly intimate and telling conversation as Elizabeth brings up Jared, Emmett and Leanne’s surviving son and Philip reveals he saw him and heard his screams upon discovering his murdered family. “Taken care of” is a phrase that is lacking any real empathy, it sounds cold and like a transaction. There’s no real answer to this mess and Elizabeth has only just realized the impact that this could have on their children. She asks “How are we going to live like this?” Philip thinks they will get used to it and this is where the question of choice comes up. Elizabeth and Philip decided to become what they are, but Paige and Henry are a product of this and they have no agency of their own. We end on this shot and this line of thought knowing it’s going to have implications for the rest of the season.

Julie Hammerle

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