Tag Archives: 3.02

Masters of Sex 3.02 “Three’s a Crowd” Review: Keeping up Appearances

20 Jul

Moving from 1965 to 1966 with yet another time jump for Masters of Sex this season, albeit a much smaller one than last week as the book goes from galleys to publication. Oh and there is a small matter of Virginia’s to deal with as “Three’s a Crowd” picks up from where we left off with Bill guessing Virginia is pregnant.

Getting straight to the point and this episode covers two of my least favorite TV tropes – getting pregnant from that one off hook-up and opting out of an abortion at the last minute (Mad Men did both of these things). Of course people change their mind when it comes to terminating pregnancies for a multitude of personal reasons, however it is frustrating when it is used to ramp up tension and as a twist when it is later revealed the character is still pregnant.

Masters of Sex 3.02 Bill and VirginaThe pregnancy bombshell that ended last week’s episode set off a whole bunch of warning signs as to where this story might be headed and for the most part it worked better than I thought it would. In part this is because I had briefly forgotten Bill had such a low sperm count that there was no way it could be his. Virginia’s decision to keep the child as a way to make up for all the mistakes she has made raising Henry and Tessa coupled with her signing over custody to George last season is a misguided choice by this character; a new baby isn’t going to make everything right with how she views herself as a mother. Conversations about what a family or being a mother means is what makes this storyline worth it; pitting Libby and George against Bill and Virginia when it comes to how they view these factors.

Libby for one is furious with Virginia when she finds out she is pregnant and is so not hear for Bill’s badly told story that he has only just found out. She sits smoking in silence as he blathers on about how he didn’t notice and their marriage is as fucked as the TV he is trying to fix. Libby’s cream cable knit sweater and pants look (which I pointed out here) is as perfectly put together as she always is and for Libby appearances are what matter here. Even though she knows the baby isn’t Bill’s (thanks to her experiences conceiving his children), this will be the conclusion everyone else jumps to. After all they are actually sleeping together.

Masters of Sex 3.02 LibbyTilted head sympathy look is Libby’s nightmare scenario and for her the image of the ideal family is what she strives toward even if she is being torn apart inside. The new neighbor asking their son if she is a single parent is her ideal of hell, so people believing her husband has fathered Virginia’s baby is next level social suicide. Self-interest divides Virginia and Libby as their voices grow louder as they discuss what plan if any Virginia has. Virginia’s concern is with correcting her mistakes whereas Libby worries about reputation. There is no happy solution to this situation and this love triangle turns into four’s a crowd with the inclusion of baby daddy George.

George still loves Virginia and the idea of getting remarried will only work for him if Virginia is all in, but he can easily be swayed by money to go through with it for the sham. But he won’t be happy about it. One person who is thrilled by the marriage plan all is Libby and she sees this as a way to get Virginia out of her relationship; the looks shared by Bill and Virginia while vows are being said reveal Libby’s dream is not going to pan out. The way things seem on the outside often betray what is really going on and even when the two couples pose happily together after their spouses have been heralded inner conflict and turmoil will always trump fake smiles. For all this outward projection I have a feeling Libby is still popping those pills from last week.

Masters of Sex 3.02 Bill and LibbyIf you weren’t already aware that there are three people in both marriages then this episode really nails home that point with the B story. The Shah of Iran and his wife visit Bill and Virginia in an attempt to conceive as it is vital for the bloodline and throne that they have a child. Unfortunately his highness/your majesty has a low sperm count and conception has been an impossible task so far. Bill has his capping technique which has produced three of his own kids and after this fails he discovers the Princess has her own medical issue preventing her from ever getting pregnant.

At times the medical issue of the week is a little on the nose with how it acts as a mirror to the main action in the episode and this is certainly the case this week. And even though the whole three in a marriage talk is a little too neat for how it compares to Bill and Virginia’s situation it is still heartbreaking nonetheless. Tradition and duty can pull a person in a direction that isn’t what their heart wants for a number of reasons; in the case of the Princess who can’t get pregnant she knows her marriage is over even though this bond is one full of love. She can’t be the third person in the marriage (that Princess Diana interview springs to mind again) watching another woman raise a child with her ex even if she knows it all for pomp and ceremony.

Masters of Sex 3.02 Virginia and BillFor Bill and Virginia they can’t be together also because of circumstance and because of the still rather rigid temperament towards an unwed pregnant woman (and really I think even today the tabloids would have a field day with Virginia and Bill) the George plan is the only way Virginia can escape her temporary exile.

In Bill’s rather disastrous solo interview he gets tangled up as he tries to explain why sex is a physical urge in the same way as hunger and fatigue. This is the mid 60s and attitudes towards sex have moved on from when the show first started, but there are also morality based attitudes which remain the same and the work will be overshadowed if all anyone is looking at is Virginia’s bump questioning who the father is.

Masters of Sex 3.02 pregnant Virginia“We’ll see” is a well used phrase by any parent and it is one I have been on the receiving end multiple times and like Tessa I always saw this and the other go to answer of “maybe” as a yes, so while Tessa is an asshole in the car borrowing scene I also found myself empathizing with her. She doesn’t know that her mother has an abortion appointment and those Bob Dylan tickets as well as telling her friends she would have the car are the most important things to her in that moment. One reason why teen characters in adult dramas can irritate so much is because they are there as an obstacle and in my case it can sometimes feel all too real on occasions where they treat their parents like shit when their own self-interests are disrupted.

The time jump and sudden teen form Tessa takes has been hard to adjust to because she was this super sweet kid when we last saw her and so dealing with conflict and screaming is jarring. Showrunner Michelle Ashford addresses some of these concerns with The Hollywood Reporter and the credits disclaimer from the season premiere here and the vague comments about legal issues surrounding the kids has me more intrigued about what went down behind the scenes.

Virginia’s fears she will make the same mistakes with her children all over again and this is where tradition versus new ways of approaching motherhood come into play as Bill reassures her that maybe a working mother is not detrimental to raising children. Even when Masters of Sex stumbles there are scenes like this one which reinforce what makes the show work; when Bill and Virginia have these kinds of conversations the show sings. Much in the same way Bill does with his rendition of “Danny Boy” in an attempt to distract Virginia from painful contractions. She can be a good mother and work and the idea of a woman having it all is born! The last part is said in jest of course, but it is worth noting that Bill is told that he has it all “and I don’t have enough to stay” after he has informed the Princess there is no way she can conceive.

After several time jumps and another child added to the Masters and Johnson broods hopefully things will settle down in both of these areas as so far this has been a bumpy start to the season.

And finally a look at a fabulous and quite possibly Twiggy inspired outfit:

Masters of Sex 3.02 BettyMore Betty next week please!

The Return of Will Graham’s Glasses on Hannibal

12 Jun

When Will Graham was released from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane he underwent a change in style or a makeover if you will. He ditched his signature glasses and switched to a more tailored look as he mimicked Hannibal’s refined sartorial choices without entering plaid suit territory as Dr. Chilton made the mistake in doing. Last week’s Hannibal premiere featured Will Graham in name alone, but fear not as “Primavera” shifts the focus back onto Hannibal’s favorite companion (the knife to the gut might not agree with this assessment).

When we last saw Will he was left bleeding profusely while attempting to stem the blood spurting out of Abigail’s neck and the opening moments this week revisit this traumatic moment. Hannibal plays with reality and fantasy in its structure and it has done since the opening scene of season 1 when we first experience seeing a crime through the mind of Will Graham. This episode spends a lot of time within Will from his mind palace realization pointing him to Hannibal’s location to everything involving Abigail. Will’s glasses are an important costume choice which not only represents Will’s past and time with Abigail, but how he uses them to shield himself from the world.

Hannibal 3.02 Will GlassesHannibal doesn’t like to kill its characters, well not the recurring cast anyway so when Abigail walked into Will’s room alive and well there was a small part of me that took it at face value. I mean if Doctor Chilton can survive having his insides taken out and getting shot in the face then who is to say Abigail couldn’t live through two deep cuts to the throat? Except there is always a sense from the outset that she is not really here; other than the doctor with the tea cup filled with water no other person acknowledges her and who is to say this moment in the hospital was real? Or maybe Will had another visitor all together. The return of Will’s glasses 8 months later when they venture to Norman Chapel in Palermo, Italy signifies a barrier being put up between him and the world.

Hannibal 3.02 Pazzi and WillInspector Rinaldo Pazzi is introduced this week and he has also been chasing Hannibal; his has been a long one spanning 20 years and while the broken heart symbolism is for Will alone there is significance for Pazzi who has been witness to Hannibal’s murder tableau making ways. Will’s glasses remain on for their first few meetings once again acting as a shield of sorts.

Hannibal 3.02 Will eyeEven going so far as wearing them in the black and white flashback as Will visualizes Pazzi’s encounters with Hannibal or ‘Il Mostro’ as he refers to him. This feels very much like season 1 Will and the presence of Abigail heightens this further.

Hannibal 3.02 Hannibal photoA brief interlude and oh, hello photo of Mads Mikkelsen from 20 years ago* that Pazzi shows Will. Another occasion where a show uses a real photo instead of a terrible photoshop version joining The Americans on my list of shows that do this well.

*Update – on Twitter Bryan Fuller notes that this is a photo from Mads Mikklesen’s Danish show Rejseholdet “with the hair from our production designer Rory Cheyne for a younger look.” Rejseholdet aired between 2000-2004 making it shy of the 20 years mark so the hair switch makes sense. Also this now falls under ‘good photoshop’ because this very much looks like his hair.

Hannibal 3.02 this is my design spaceAt the crime scene Will removes the glasses; first in his vision of how the body came to be which then turns into a twisted nightmare of the shell of Dimmond combined with the good old fashioned Hannibal stag imagery. Quick observation time – this is a perfectly okay beast to show on TV:

Hannibal 3.02 stagBut when it comes to art certain things have to be blurred out to get through Standards and Practices. Network rules confuse me a lot.

Hannibal 3.02 blurred buttsThe repetition of this notion that there is “some other world” where things have turned out in a different manner is a direct clue that Abigail is all in Will’s mind. If he could change things he would and there is a version where “no one had to die.” At this point we still don’t know whether Alana or Jack is alive, but the previews and promo photos suggest they both survived, but without this clarification there is still the chance that they are referring to either one of them. Alas it was always going to be Abigail as the sacrificial lamb; she is Will’s punishment for his deception and the breaking of the tea cup. Abigail’s appearance is different from how we have seen her in the past as her clothes are more grown up as if she has been given a chance to live and mature.

Hannibal 3.02 Abigail and WillSaying goodbye is hard to do, even when the person is not really there and it is important that Will takes the glasses off breaking the spell. The only place Will could make for Abigail is in his head and he did this in the past when he thought she was dead the first time. Fishing peacefully was how he pictured it before and there is a flash of this as it is revealed what really happened with Will after he was stabbed; he sees Abigail’s dead body lying on Hannibal’s floor and this is followed by a sequence which cuts between Will in the hospital and Abigail in the morgue. It is heartbreaking, but Will can’t hold onto this delusion if he wants to find Hannibal even if it is unclear what Will is going to do if and when he finds him. Despite what has transpired his loyalty is vague and his declaration of forgiveness could be seen as sincere or as another trick to draw Hannibal out. Whatever it is this high stakes game of cat and mouse has a way of drawing multiple players in.

It has been said many times and yet it is worth repeating that Hannibal is a show like no other on TV at the moment and there are a couple of other visual moments I would like to discuss.

First Will Graham’s mind palace as he discusses Hannibal’s own imaginary construction of this name.

Hannibal 3.02 bedBy placing the hospital bed between the two chairs which are steeped in so much history between Will and Hannibal it not only holds a strong emotional connection, but also points to a version of this show that no longer exists. It is unlikely we will see them in this location again (flashbacks/imagination aside) and yet it is definitely not the last time they will be sitting opposite each other.

Hannibal 3.02 paperAs paper rains down Will experiences the burning session and the moment Hannibal realized Will had deceived him (he smelt the not dead Freddie Lounds on him). For Will it gives him the clue as to where Hannibal might be hiding. Not that Hannibal is really hiding as we saw last week.

For Alana and Bedelia inky water consumes them whether through choice or as a kind of poison. Will’s experience in Hannibal’s kitchen leads to a different kind of drowning as he is consumed by the blood of Abigail, the stag and his own deep wound.

Hannibal 3.02 Will Graham blood Hannibal 3.02 kitchen Hannibal 3.02 Will drowningAs Will sinks down into the depths he is alone and his face cannot be seen; the shot is not quite as bleak as Alana’s entire consumption, nor is at romantically lit as Bedelia; once again placing Will Graham in the blurry point between going to Hannibal and wanting to stop him. Just what will he do when they finally comes face to face?

The Americans 3.02 “Baggage” Review: For Mother and the Motherland

5 Feb

Much like Elizabeth’s jaw injury and tooth pain, the Paige issue is not going away on The Americans and this second episode cements some of the overall themes set to dominate this season. Paige and how they address the second generation illegals program bubbles under the surface from the gruesome task Philip and Elizabeth complete at the start of “Baggage” to pretty much every other interaction between the pair. There is a white elephant in the room and her name is Paige.

Afghanistan is also going to play a big part this year as the Russians attempt to wade through the mess of this offensive strategy with the US using it as an opportunity to highlight a weakness in their enemy. “Propaganda is more important than anything” as Oleg is later told by new character Tatiana and both sides are trying to outdo the other in this department. Elizabeth’s relationship with her mother coupled with her own maternal feelings and duty to her country continue to influence her choices impacting her relationship with Philip.

The Americans 3.02 PhilipAt the end of last week’s premiere Philip took a tragic moment and used it as a way to keep a valuable asset in their pocket with Yousaf. Philip drew him by using “we” and offering assistance to help clear up this problem and in doing so he immediately earns his trust. To make sure he will stay on side Elizabeth also snaps a shot of Yousaf helping stuff Annelise’s body into a suitcase in what is probably the most disturbing scene this show has done so far. The level of horror we witness as they each break one of her bones and then zip up her makeshift coffin is extreme and it further backs up Philip’s reasons for not wanting his daughter anywhere near this career path; he doesn’t want her either putting people in suitcases or being the one to end up with this horrifying fate.

Philip and Elizabeth come at things from different perspectives and in part it is why they are ideal partners as they cover all the angles; however it also opens them up to this kind of conflict and while Philip is thinking about the practicalities, Elizabeth is looking at it from a more abstract ideological point of view. The locations of the repeated discussions – basement, bathroom, office – are private but also small spaces and because of the intense nature it feels like there is nowhere for them to go as neither of them are backing down. Elizabeth has the full support of the Centre and Philip is the outlier so at the moment he is fighting a losing battle. He has always been the one who seemed like he could turn, in the pilot he even suggested defecting so this puts him in a very precarious position. Things have changed in their relationship as Gabriel notes so love is complicating things further and while Elizabeth is still very much Motherland first these feelings have a habit of throwing up problems.

Gabriel is also a sneaky bastard with Elizabeth as he subtly suggests Paige trusts her more because she thinks Philip is having an affair while layering on the compliments about how proud her mother is of her work. Previously Claudia tried to exploit what weakness there is in Philip and Elizabeth’s relationship only to learn they are better agents when they are working together and I wonder if Gabriel is also trying this same power move by reinforcing Elizabeth’s faith in what she is doing. One problem when real emotions come into play as I discussed last week is objectivity is hard to maintain and because Philip is viewing the second generation illegals program through personal experience rather than as duty to his country he is a volatile presence.

The conversation that takes place in the bathroom lays all of this out and is the crux of both their arguments; Elizabeth thinks Paige will be sat behind a desk and even if this is the case Philip is concerned this will change because “it always changes.” There is a hardened outlook mixed in with optimism from Philip as when Elizabeth scoffs “What do you want, Philip? A guarantee life’s going to be easy?” he responds with a simple and firm “For my daughter? Yeah.” It is unlikely that he can make this happen as it impossible to protect from everything, but he also isn’t going to put her near the danger which has consumed his life.

Pragmatism or this bleaker world view from Elizabeth is further backed up by the flashback from her childhood where we learn her father died as a deserter, not a hero and her mother has no time to honor the memory of a man like that. It is why Elizabeth is so stoic when it comes to the cause and why she was so disgusted with Philip’s suggestion of defection in the pilot. Well they do say you marry your father and turn into your mother. It’s funny when Elizabeth talks about her mother’s serious disposition as she really isn’t a barrel of laughs and it goes a long way to show why she is like this. “Baggage” ends with Elizabeth telling Philip about her mother’s reaction to her KGB call up and how she didn’t hesitate with telling her daughter to go serve her country. Now Elizabeth wants to tell her daughter the same thing and at this point neither parent is backing down; they end the episode at the same impasse and it is unclear how they can move forward.

Once again I want to reiterate how little we know about Philip’s past in comparison to Elizabeth; we know he had sword fights with icicles when he was a kid and there was that half told story about getting beaten up for milk from the finale but other than that we know very little about Mischa’s childhood. At the moment the theme of mothers and daughters is strong and the way Philip looks at Paige when she is chatting about the paper is with fear in his eyes that he is losing her. Fathers do come into play as we see Stan reaching out to his son via the most depression “I almost got shot” voicemail. We also meet Oleg’s father who visits Nina in a Moscow prison and he lays out an important point about parents and children:

“Parents are always trying to understand our children better. To do what’s best for them. It’s our greatest misfortune.”

When Nina asks why it is a misfortune, his response shows how he feels about his son falling in love with a traitor “Because we’re so often disappointed.” Nina does want a message relayed to Oleg, that what they had was real and this confession will hopefully hit Igor in the compassion spot and somehow secure Nina her freedom as she sure isn’t enjoying having a new cellmate. Nina is hardened to the reality of her situation unlike Evie who thinks someone will come for her soon and just why is someone from Belgium being held in this prison? A streak of naivety runs throughout some behavior this week; first with Evie and then with new defector Zinaida who is really into American candy bars and wants to see the Washington DC sights not quite understanding the danger she is still in. Also from Henry who briefly pops up to say he wants to go to Coca-Cola College and both of his parents ignore him.

Even Philip has a streak of this when he suggests Elizabeth could see her mother to which she sternly replies “We can’t go back.” Is this because she doesn’t want her mother to see her like this? The all-American woman with the nice boots and glorious hair. It is interesting to note Elizabeth mentions her mother’s blue dress and not the detail of the conversation she was recalling as she uses the material to deflect from the actual memory.

Elizabeth is also acting impulsively after losing the list last week and she is taking a lot of risks at the moment. First she deflects her anger by implying she could have handled the Yousaf thing a lot better than Philip and he is not letting her give him any shit on this because unpredictable things happen. The desire to make up for the lost list could put both of them in the line of fire especially as the FBI suspect she is the illegal they have been after since season one. No matter how good their disguises are the FBI are going to be on the lookout for a couple again, so Elizabeth needs to proceed with caution as she doesn’t want Paige to find out the truth after she has been arrested.

Stunning Shot of the Week 

the Americans 3.02 officeThe way they are using the tiny office space to pull Elizabeth and Philip together and then show the distance between them is impressive; last week they were so divided a brownie peace offering couldn’t tempt Philip and it took Elizabeth telling Philip her mother is dying to bring them back together. This week Elizabeth came down to the floor where Philip was working to try and reach him on a personal level and instead her confession only cements how far apart they are with the Paige issue that isn’t going away as Philip returns to his chair and doesn’t say a word.

Disguise of the Week 

The Americans 3.02 aviator moustache dudeThe Americans doesn’t tend to lean towards humor but Philip’s “We should do this more often” coupled with his excellent Tom Selleck moustache and aviators disguise made me chuckle. The situation is so ridiculous; taking photos of a covert meeting in a bar but hey at least they get to have a beer on the job and spend some time together. Date night with the Jennings.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

the Americans 3.02 OOTWOkay so I already have several plaid shirt dresses in my closet and worn something very similar in 2015 so I’m not sure if this one is cheating. If only my boot collection was as impressive. I also love this shot as Paige is looking even more like her mother with her hair like that and Philip is less than thrilled to sees his daughter evolving into her mother.

Scandal 3.02 “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”: It’s All About the Coats

11 Oct

On the season premiere of Scandal Olivia wore a very striking white Burberry trench coat and in this week’s flashback episode she gave the audience at least 3 more reasons to have some serious coat envy.

So let’s get straight to it as we look at the costume design on “Guess Who’s coming to Dinner?” and the various coats from Olivia’s past and present

Scandal ep 2 Olivia StellaThe first flashback reveals this is five years ago and the light in the scene is softened to differentiate form past and present. It’s immediately clear even without this chyron that this is some time ago as Huck is homeless and living in Union station and this is the only point in the episode where we get a date stamp. The first flashback coat is a grey tweed Stella McCartney funnel neck and while Olivia is giving off a relaxed attitude to Huck as soon as her back is turned her expression changes and we find out that Sunday’s are dinner with dad day.

Scandal 3.2 Prada PurseThe coat that Olivia wears for most of the flashback scenes is a traditional looking camel Burberry trench coat and in the shot above you can also see the Prada purse that costume designer Lyn Paolo got shipped in for the episode. It’s the black version of the bag that Meryl Streep has at the start of The Devil Wears Prada. Last week’s big bunker moment saw a completely different Burberry coat/Prada purse combination and shows that Olivia is consistent with her designer choices. In this scene Olivia is so transfixed by her dad’s possible deception that while searching for the pen she literally throws the other contents on the floor.

Scandal 3.2 BurberryHere’s another close up shot of the Burberry coat and pretty much all of Olivia’s coats and jackets have amazing buttons on them (I’m a sucker for great button details).

Scandal 3.2 McQueenIn the present Olivia is also having frantic and threatening phone calls and here she is showing off both her old school looking Fitz only phone and her white backed (off course) smart phone. The navy blue Alexander McQueen jacket is what I want to focus on and once again it’s all about the buttons. This the kind of tailoring we expect to see from Olivia when she is in full crisis mode and it also reflects how buttoned up her character is as she rarely lets anyone in.

Scandal 3.2 white pantsThis is paired with white trousers and the light/dark motif is repeated in the flashback scene where Olivia meets David Rosen for the first time.

Scandal 3.2 Meeting David RosenThe difference here is that Olivia is wearing a skirt and this goes against her pants only work wardrobe. This is prior to Olivia’s big dad discovery and involvement with Fitz and a lot has changed in the last five years for this character and her clothing has evolved with these personal changes. David looks different too, his suit isn’t tailored showing he isn’t making all that much money – he jokes that he should have gone into corporate law. His glasses have heavier looking frames and yes that’s a goatee. It’s a small scene but I’m glad to see how these two crossed paths and how David inadvertently helped Olivia discover the truth about her dad as he’s always a strong purveyor of the truth.

Scandal 3.2 white dressAh yes Eli Pope the man who is Command and this episode filled in a lot of the blanks about Olivia’s fraught and estranged relationship with the man who didn’t really raise her. In the scene above Olivia is in her defiant color – she’s wearing a white dress so we know she means business and this is where she threatens her father to get Huck back. Of course Eli has his way of showing his daughter just how powerful he is and that involves hurting Edison. Eli Pope might look meek in his Sunday sweater but he’s one scary dude.

Scandal 3.2 HarrisonHarrison isn’t as scary as Eli but he’s pulling a face to suggest that Olivia needs to do something and do something now. All while looking snazzy (standard) in another power clashing ensemble. Now that we know pretty much everything about Huck can we please find something out about Harrison? He’s still pretty much a blank slate right now.

Scandal ep 2 AbbySame applies for Abby and while we know more about her than say Harrison, her background is still full of holes including what exactly prompted this awesome new look. This is a lot funkier than anything we have seen Abby in before and it could be as a reaction to everything that happened with David, whatever it is I hope we continue to see more of this side of Abby. That’s a nice flash of leopard print.

Scandal 3.2 DKNYAbby also gets to join Olivia in the amazing coat club with this DKNY wine colored cashmere shawl collar coat and it compliments her amazing raven hair. Good scarf accessorizing too.

Scandal 3.2 shoppingEverything is about perception which is why they take Jeneane shopping and they need something current but classic and professional yet relatable. This is what Olivia is an expert in and it’s why she has been so good at creating an armor for herself out of the clothes she wears.

Mellie cobalt blueRandom observation time but is it more than just a coincidence that Mellie and Quinn are wearing the same cobalt blue color? Mellie is aware that all of her snooping is bad – when Cyrus calls her evil she simply responds with a “You’re welcome.” Whereas Quinn is tapping into her dark side and not realizing the consequences of her actions; this involves Olivia’s emails and accidentally revealing that Olivia’s father is actually the head of the program that ruined Huck’s entire life. Pretty sure Olivia is going to be super angry when she finds out that Quinn has been looking through her emails. Mellie is learning the hard way that her meddling is having the opposite effect of what she hoped.

Scandal 3.2 MorgueOne final coat and it’s in the present viewed through the smeared windows of the morgue that Olivia checks throughout the episode for the missing Jake (he turns up at the end beardy, bruised, bloody and alive at the end of the episode). This is a grey Max Mara belted shawl coat and it’s another one to add to the “Olivia Pope Coats I Covet” list (see also the “Virginia Johnson Coats I Covet” list).

What is your favorite outfit from the episode?

New Girl: Balancing Emotional Stories with the Absurd

25 Sep

When high school is over you can still end up in situations that mirror the awful not fitting in feeling and Jess ends up in this position on this week’s New Girl after she finds herself friendless in her new teaching job – where is Mary Lynn Rajskub? The adult version of the mean but cool clique isn’t anything particularly new, but it gives the Nick and Jess relationship a chance to breath and shows how they can make them work as a couple without losing the tension that made season 2 so much fun.

I’ve mentioned before how New Girl works best when it walks the line between the ridiculous and grounded emotional moments; this happens multiple times in this gag-packed Kay Cannon script (you can see the rapid fire approach of jokes per page from Cannon’s 30 Rock background at work). There’s a discussion between Nick and Jess about whether he would have noticed her in high school and this leads to Nick’s “Miller Sack Pack” revelation. This coupled with Winston’s big Daisy decision as he now wants to be exclusive and tell her that his “heart is a two man bike and I want you in the rear” demonstrates the many tawdry jokes that exist within the emotional framework.

NG_ep302-sc28_2599

This isn’t the first time Nick has tried to give advice to Jess*, the difference now is that Jess is “his old lady” and so the stakes for him are higher (though I’d argue that even if they were still just friends he’d offer free drinks at the bar to help out). Having Nick and Jess’ first real challenge as a couple not being about them is also a good start and while I suspect there will be other relationship drama around the corner it doesn’t need to happen this early. Nick’s original idea is to give some free school supplies to the cool clique, because who doesn’t want $15 and a halfie worth of stuff? Luckily Nick also works at a bar which doesn’t seem to have a problem with him giving away drinks so this alternate suggestion is a big hit.

*Kay Cannon also wrote the season 2 opener “Re-launch” which saw Nick comforting Jess after she was made redundant. On this occasion he gave her better advice than just drink lots telling her “Life sucks and then it gets better and then it sucks again and then it just sucks.”

Following on from Nick’s observation that this is like high school all over again, with Jess being a nerd in both scenarios she takes this to heart and gets wasted. Drunk Jess dances in toilet bowls, sings 4 Non Blondes and gets accepted by the other teachers. The drunk Jess singing moment is topped by the guys performing a rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly,” this is reminiscent of them singing “Time of my Life” in the pilot but under very different circumstances of course. This is where Zooey Deschanel gets to show off her excellent comedic timing as she pulls a good hangover face of pain and discomfort. The guys really should get the band together.

Winston points out that Nick is basically imprinting himself on Jess with his getting drunk suggestion and instead of sending Nick in a tailspin of doubt it spurs him on to rectify this. When Nick gets caught between Jess and Winston both acting impulsively it hilariously ends with Nick stuck in the middle between two potential crimes. When Nick is the sensible one in the scenario it adds another level of chaos as he yells in an exasperated fashion.

Nick is of course smitten with Jess and while her idea to break into her new bosses garden is not the best; this doesn’t matter as Nick tells her that “If you’re going to do something that’s obviously very stupid then I’m going to do it with you.” He’s also willing to take the fall for her and when she steps out from her hiding place the absurd kicks in as the Dawson’s Creek theme “I Don’t Want to Wait” begins to play – I will never not love a gag that features this song (see also Urban Legend).

The Schmidt love triangle plot is dragging along and because there is a short shelf life on Merritt Wever’s guest starring role it’s now entered slightly tedious territory. I think Wever is great and I liked how she reacted to Schmidt’s terrible role play idea, but I also think this whole narrative is tired. The one surprise is that Schmidt didn’t get caught and Max Greenfield played this moment well as it seems he really wants to get caught as this resolve this mess even if he ends up with no one. The 2/3 replica of Don Draper’s office gag worked like a charm as did the competitive chemistry with Beth, reprising a work rivalry from early season 1.

Winston is also having relationship drama and this is the episode where they have to write Brenda Song out because of her Dads commitments (giving me all of the sads). This was another play on the “Winston is crazy” angle but unlike last week’s puzzle adventure there was a point to the crazy even if it did involve potential cat murder. Now there is pet in the loft and the cats love Schmidt’s nipples visual only got funnier as the episode went on (yes there are already gifs).

Everyone being back in the loft gives a sense of familiarity that was missing last week, even if the dynamic has shifted. The scene in the elevator that turns into a relationship discussion between the guys is hilarious because they all forget to press the button; too preoccupied with their romantic entanglements. By the end of the episode Schmidt is still stuck in two-timing hell, Winston goes from having a girlfriend to having a cat and Nick is the only one who is content – this might be a first for him.

One criticism I would have with the Jess plot is that while the guest stars did the best with the material they didn’t really get all that much to do. This can be a problem with these small roles that are serving the central characters and so I hope both Angela Kinsey and Dreama Walker will return later in the season.

This is a much more cohesive episode even with the amount that is going on and while the season premiere was a bit of a disappointment I would say that this is more like the New Girl that was raved about last year.

And because it’s now stuck in my head it can be stuck in yours too!

Julie Hammerle

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