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Tag Archives: 3.09

Playing Happy Families on Hannibal

2 Aug

Family and the different kinds that exist has been rippling under the surface of Hannibal since season 1 with plenty of opportunity for ‘my two dads’ references and this comes into focus once again this week in “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun.” Or rather this is a chance to explore Hannibal’s relationship with Abigail in the period of time between when he framed Will for her murder and when Hannibal did actually end her life.

The first half of this season dipped into Hannibal’s past; not too much so we feel like we know Hannibal, but enough to understand his desire to find a new Mischa through the connections he makes with people like Chiyo, Will and Abigail. The idea of family doesn’t just relate to Hannibal and instead it is a jumping off point to explore what these characters have been doing over the last three years while also reflecting the murders that are being investigated.

Hannibal 3.09 Will and HannibalFrancis Dolarhyde an accidental matchmaker as he has brought Will back into Hannibal’s orbit and immediately the game is afoot (oops wrong crime series) with Hannibal poking and prodding in the back of Will’s brain. He immediately gets under his skin by correctly assessing he has a child in his life by the smell of his aftershave – Hannibal tells Abigail “We have a basic affinity for our family. We can detect each other from smell alone” – and Hannibal has always been one for sniffing Will Graham. There is a touch of bitterness in Hannibal’s tone when he mentions how he gave Will a child; Freddie’s ‘murder husbands’ tag is pretty accurate when related to this conversation as Hannibal comes across as the ex who thinks they tried their hardest and was rejected nonetheless.

In an attempt to protect himself from Hannibal’s mind games Will attempts to stick to the case and only refers to him using the formal Dr Lecter (which also hurts his former friend). In fact Alana is the only one of the surviving house of horrors bunch who calls him by his first name to his face and her interactions with him continue to be dangerously playful (more on that below).

Hannibal taunts Will first with quips about whether he can see himself killing the families and then by making light of his ‘makeshift’ family and how this mirrors what their new killer is doing – “he needs a family to escape what’s inside him.’ Oh Hannibal, you are such a shitbag. Much of Hannibal’s tricks come from drawing out what a person is ashamed of and giving it legitimacy; generally this involves getting them to kill someone. We’ve seen the results of his time with Randall Tier, how he tried to push Margot into killing Mason (which she eventually did) and with Will Graham.Hannibal 3.09 abigail and hannibal The flashbacks to Abigail’s faked death and subsequent sessions focus on this notion of family love stripping away at the shame and hatred she feels toward her father and leaving her with an understanding of why he did those things. Using the ultimate prop to allow Abigail to exercise her demons by confronting her father, Hannibal digs up Garett Jacob Hobbs allowing Abigail to inflict the same wound on him.

This is one of two throat slashes this week; the faked Abigail one mirrors the manner in which both her father and Hannibal inflicted the real wounds and it is very intimate. Whereas Abigail’s turn with the knife is traumatic (and pretty gross) and she is left needing Hannibal’s calming hands on her head as he tells her “never be ashamed of who you are.” Hannibal’s just trying to make everyone feel good about their murderous impulses simmering beneath the surface.

Hannibal 3.09 GJHShame feeds into Francis Dolarhyde’s situation from the way he is looked upon at the dinner table in his brief flashback – maybe it is the eating with two forks thing that does it – to how he feels in the present about his hair lip and his voice. Don’t worry Francis, Hannibal is here to make you feel better about and the two get their first session at the end of the episode over the phone with Francis posing as Hannibal’s lawyer. After a week of no dialogue, Richard Armitage gets to flex his vocal muscles aside from guttural screaming and he continues to mesmerize in his performance of Dolarhyde nailing the ‘Great Red Dragon’ urges along with his crippling shyness.

Reba McClane the blind technician draws Francis out of his shell and this is the first real interaction we have seen between him and someone that isn’t a painting. She instantly likes him because he doesn’t pity her and he’s more comfortable with her because she can’t see what he wants to hide from the world. Don’t try and touch his face though Reba.

Hannibal 3.09 bus stopTheir meet cute goes from the dark room to a bus stop which features an ad for a dental product and the “Open Wide” is so on the nose, but also pretty damn funny. Good work art department. And so much snow! It wouldn’t be Hannibal without piles and piles of snow.

Plus it leads to spectacular shots like this one:

Hannibal 3.09 the moonHannibal’s mind palace is not the only way in which they are playing with location and whereas Will’s cell felt like the walls were closing in on him, Hannibal’s has endless possibilities. From the way they transport Will and Hannibal to the crime scene to discuss the files to the use of Hannibal’s office as a space for them to discuss the case it allows for plenty of settings and costume changes.

Hannibal 3.09 murder houseIt’s not just Hannibal who envisions himself elsewhere and when Will calls Molly he also pictures himself lying beside her chatting about the new dogs they have both taken in. Just look at how warm this setting is in comparison to the locations drained of color.

Hannibal 3.09 Will and MollyHugh Dancy appeared in a stage production of Venus in Fur with Nina Arianda and the relationship between Will and Molly already feels very lived in. Hannibal is trying to infect this happiness (it is lovely to hear Will laugh) with suggestions of impulses and so Molly’s joke about Will having a criminal mind doesn’t go down that well. The conversation ends pleasantly, however the kind of sweat drenched nightmares which plagued Will during season 1 are back and this time he can’t blame them on encephalitis. The lid has been cracked; can Will keep those other urges under control while also successfully cracking the case?

Photographs and mirrors reflect our image, but they don’t always reveal what is really there. Photographs are a snapshot of a moment in time and the emotions expressed from that single image don’t always tell the truth. Will is looking for a connection between the two murdered families who live four states apart and the only thing he can summarize is they were happy. Will watches home videos or rather digital footage on a tablet, which is more likely to capture real sentiment over a snapshot. But these too can lie and digital is far easier to manipulate than actual film. Francis is old school with his choice of filming equipment and we see flashes of the home movie he made.

Broken mirrors distort the image, but what Francis wants to see is how he looks in his victims eyes as if he is part of them. For Will there is one person hovering behind the face of Hannibal Lecter and just as Will didn’t die in the kitchen nor did the stag.

Hannibal 3.09 wendingoBlood also acts as a mirror when Hannibal is staging Abigail’s death. Oh and isn’t it adorable that Hannibal doesn’t want to cut off one of Abigail’s fingers because he wants to teach her the harpsichord. Such a considerate father figure. I kid of course because isn’t an ear also important when it comes to playing instruments? Plus he was also setting the scene to frame Will, which is not a good way to treat family.

Hannibal 3.09 reflectionReflections also appear on the glass of Hannibal’s cell and I can only imagine what a nightmare it is to light these scenes and avoid the crew appearing alongside the actors. But you do get stunning shots like this one and it looks like there is a specter of Hannibal leaving with Will.

Hannibal 3.09 WillWhile I’m on the subject of stunning let it be known that this is at least the sixth time I have yelped and clapped my hands with glee at the sight of Alana Bloom’s costuming and Christopher Haggard is killing it this season with the lady suits (Alana is so far queen of #ladysuitwatch2015).

Hanibal 3.09 Alana and WillYucking it up with Jay Gatsby could be on the cards for Alana in this getup; a martini and cigarette holder is all that is needed to complete that look. At the same time it is a nod to Hannibal’s Italian striped attired and Alana’s sartorial choices are influenced by her former boyfriend. The last time we saw Alana chatting with Will it was far from cordial and they clearly have not kept in touch. Concern lingers with Alana taking her standard ‘worried about Will’ position and the warmth that previously existed between the pair has returned. He asks if she is still with Margot (she is) and they have a baby son, the all important Verger heir and Alana carried the baby. While Hannibal notes that Will doesn’t want children of his own because certain aspects might get passed on, Alana does not seem concerned that they will end up with a mini Mason. Just don’t let Hannibal anywhere near him.

Will asks the magic question regarding Alana’s motives in working here with Hannibal as her patient and her response is “There are only five doors between Hannibal and the outside. And I have the keys to all of them.” Control is important here as are boundaries, which Alana notes is not Hannibal’s forte. She also knows that her name is top of his kill list if he ever gets out and there is an aspect of keeping close to protect herself. Alana levels of dread when she talks with Hannibal are low and while he claimed she could never understand him, she knows him well enough to pinpoint what he fears the most and that is indignity. This scene between the pair is an interesting look at their shifting power dynamic and he never turns around to look at her in an attempt to outwit her, but she doesn’t back down either. Hannibal, you’re really missing out on an excellent suit here.

Hannibal 3.09 Hannibal and Alana Hannibal 3.09 Alana and HannibalLike Mason he is crass when it comes to her relationship with Margot and once again I am amazed that they got something like “I love a good finger wagging” followed by a reference to Margot by Standards and Practices. The camera focus shifts between them as we see them both trying to psych the other out with Will as the object between them. Hannibal snarks about the “moral dignity pants” Alana has him wearing and how Will is always free from fault. He treats her like a teacher telling him off for being a bad influence on a good kid.

Alana gives no fucks to Hannibal’s petulance in this situation, it helps there is a protective wall between them even if that wall is not visible.

Hannibal 3.09 Dr B and Dr L Hannibal 3.09 Dr L and Dr BShe threatens to take away all of his comforts and it is wonderful; “I’ll take your books. I’ll take your drawings. I’ll take your toilet. You’ll have nothing but indignity and the company of the dead.” I’m glad they have stuck with a fearless Alana (and Hannibal’s drawing of Alana last week points to this) rather than a quivering wreck, even if I am concerned that he will get an opportunity to follow through with his promise. I am also happy she is still with Margot and I hope their family unit can escape the shadow looming over every relationship on the show.

One person who has questioned Hannibal’s set up and Alana’s relationship with Hannibal considering she escaped the massacre at Muskrat Farm is Freddie Lounds. Yes Freddie is back and Tattle Crime provides an important service in letting Francis Dolarhyde see Will Graham’s face in relation to his case.

Hannibal 3.09 Tattle CrimeWill’s glasses! They remain off for the majority of the episode when he is interacting with those who know him and they come back on as soon as he leaves the facility.

Hannibal 3.09 Will glassesFreddie is back with her devious methods, insinuations and as a reminder of a long ago plot to capture Hannibal. Thanks to inferences about Alana Bloom and the nickname ‘murder husbands’ Will has no time for her shit even if she is spot on when it comes to how much serial killers love to read about themselves in the press. Freddie would make a good partner in this case despite her lack of boundaries or sense of ethics. She does continue to have an excellent coat collection.

Hannibal 3.09 Freddie LoundsIn the same way Will saw turning to Hannibal as a necessary evil, can he come to the same conclusion with Freddie before it is too late? She gets under his skin, but not into the back of his skull as Hannibal does.

The lengths we go to form and protect our families vary; the unique qualities are similar to how Hannibal discusses love with Abigail. Hannibal discusses honesty as he manipulates the shit out of everyone around him by using strong emotionally charges notions of love and family to pivot into a position of power. Francis Dolarhyde is a different kind of beast and yet Hannibal is curious enough to reach out to him and recognize his desire for a happy family. Reaching out to Dr. Lecter can give some benefits as he has experience in evading capture and he is nothing if not honest, but he also has plenty of self interests. Everyone is coming to him, some reluctantly and even though they know he is self serving there is an inevitability to it all. Hannibal will play the game and things are about to get very messy all over again.

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The Americans 3.09 “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” Review: “Loving, Devoted, Adoring”

26 Mar

Faith on The Americans is about far more than Paige’s recent religious discovery and Elizabeth and Philip have a strong belief that what they are doing is for good even if it causes them to act in horrifying ways. They honestly believe their actions will make the world better and it’s all very utilitarian viewing the big picture rather than the smaller collateral damage along the way. Not that this means they aren’t emotionally affected by what they do as we saw from Philip’s erosion of his soul last season as his body count piled up and Elizabeth has a very strong reaction – well strong in comparison to what we have previously witnessed – to the encounter she has in “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

The Americans 3.09 Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric SheepMarriage and trust are two topics which come up on multiple occasions in this episode and considering where our starting point was with Elizabeth and Philip way back in season 1 the pair has progressed in leaps and bounds. They are still incredibly stunted when it comes to talking through their feelings as Elizabeth showed when she clumsily tries to sympathize with Philip regarding the Martha situation. She is very much on the outside of this one as he has a strong belief that Martha won’t betray Clark with Martha showing just this by preparing a very regular meal and feeding him information regarding the mail robot repair schedule.

Elizabeth has her own Martha in some respects with Hans as he shows just how far he is willing to go to carry on serving the cause and by extension her. Todd doesn’t get the second chance Elizabeth and Philip gifted him last week and this isn’t the first time where they have tried to let someone go only to have them end up dead anyway. Hans puts equal weight on doing things for the cause and Elizabeth; Hans has pledged he will do anything for her but I worry his infatuation will become a liability. Killing Todd isn’t as simple as shooting him and he notes how it didn’t go exactly as planned. Elizabeth is quick to point out that it seldom does and it is very rare for something to go without a hitch or someone dead by the end of it on The Americans.

Case in point is the trip to the factory which is fixing the mail robot, a factory which by all accounts should be empty at this time of night but this doesn’t take into account the many unknown whims of people. Philip coldly brushes off this hiccup as “she picked a bad time” while Elizabeth develops a connection with the woman who will become collateral damage. It is unclear if the positions were reversed what Philip would do in Elizabeth’s place, but I don’t think he would have a long conversation about marriage with Betty in the same way Elizabeth does. Betty hits a nerve with Elizabeth on several levels; first as a woman who is probably around the same age as her own dying mother and also as a wife/mother herself. Playing comforter and executioner Elizabeth gets to be there for Betty in a way that she can’t be for her own mother. She is also the reason this is happening to Betty in the first place so it’s not all kind words but also being forced to acknowledge the why of her actions.

The Americans 3.09 Elizabeth and BettyThe wise old woman chat includes some anecdotes which might be considered a tad convenient considering what is going on between Philip and Elizabeth including their conversation just prior about Martha; it also gives us the chance to see a softer more compassionate Elizabeth than we have maybe seen in the past when dealing with a witness who needs to be silenced. A couple of questions to be addressed first including why are they only in the lightest of disguises? The answer here is covered by the fact that a) they believed the place would be empty and b) if anyone did stumble upon this operation they would have to kill them so the FBI remained clueless about this new bug setup. The other question is why did Elizabeth prolong killing Betty? In part Elizabeth had to come up with a plan to make it look as natural as possible and simply because Elizabeth isn’t as stone cold as she sometimes comes across in these scenarios.

Elizabeth also gets to bare her soul to Betty in a way she can’t do with her mother back home or Philip or even Gabriel. I’ve talked on multiple occasions about how they both use their cover identities as a way to filter the noise of their actual lives so they will both use real experiences and work through them when they are Michelle or Jim or whoever they are playing. On this occasion Elizabeth gets to be as much as herself as possible because Betty is not going to live to tell the tale. So this includes showing her real face, talking about her real parents, her husband and where she is really from. As soon as Elizabeth mentions Russia, Betty knows there is no getting out of this for her and the conversation weaves between talk of the personal and the why behind Elizabeth’s actions. War, religion and family are all on the table and while Betty’s experience is from the conflict which preceded the Cold War there are parallels between the two.

The biggest mirroring comes when Betty mentions she had two goes at marriage with her husband Gil as they divorced then remarried after his second wife dies in an accident. They no longer had “sugar in our eyes” and the latter attempt was far more joyful than the first. The same could be said for Philip and Elizabeth though with perhaps less joy and more stressful spy related deeds, but they too have been apart and then come back together. Far different circumstances of course and yet they are different to how they were before. Philip’s discussion with Gabriel later on about marriage is contentious because of what is going on between them and yet Philip’s notion that his reaction to Elizabeth was like a bolt of lightning he hasn’t experienced with anyone else still rings true.

The Americans 3.09 Philip scrabbleFor her it has taken longer to get to this position but it is clear that she has fallen hard for him over the past few years; there is a jealous streak and her actions this season despite their Paige conflict show just how strong her feelings are. Philip might not necessarily see this and he is wary when talking to Gabriel about her saying that he doesn’t believe Elizabeth felt this way when they first met. Gabriel reveals how Elizabeth rejected the first officer who was presented to her and therefore she also chose Philip, but like Philip I find it hard to trust anything that comes out of Gabriel’s mouth as everything presents itself as emotional manipulation. This game of Scrabble is educational when it comes to the origins and meanings of certain words such as ‘amatory’ – loving, devoted, adoring – while also giving Philip an opportunity to tell Gabriel how he really feels. He is tired of his bullshit and he no longer trusts Gabriel; he knows Elizabeth is lapping it up still but he will do what it takes to look out for his family and this feels like a not so veiled warning to back the fuck away.

Going back to Betty and Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s justification that what she is doing by killing her is the right thing. The two-handed scene between Keri Russell and Lois Smith is brutal in a very different way to the many harsh actions we have witnessed this season. It is rare for The Americans to hit me in this way, normally it stabs my soul while leaving my eyes dry; not on this occasion and misty eyes took full effect. Both Russell and Smith let their characters teeter on the edge and it is far more effective revealing fear and sorrow in this subtle way without landing into hysterics. The stillness of Elizabeth combined with the inevitable end which is prolonged due to the method in which Elizabeth has opted to dispatch of Betty is heartbreaking and as Betty’s breath becomes labored Elizabeth gets to feel the weight of actions even if she ultimately thinks it will make the world a better place. It is not quick and easy and Elizabeth doesn’t usually react with tears when she kills people who happen to get in their way.

Elizabeth doesn’t suddenly unleash a torrent of tears, her wet cheeks are hidden in by the shadows and instead of answering Philip’s question of concern she instead points out they have to get out of there. We don’t see the pair discuss this matter any further instead the aftermath is between Philip and Gabriel with Philip laying down how he really feels. This is in part why Philip and Elizabeth are so dysfunctional as they find it so hard to share with each other at times. Maybe they need to get stoned together again.

The pressure is piling on both of them from multiple angles and as we enter the last third of the season the tension is only going to increase as Kimberly and Paige have both been pushed to the side, they are sure to come back to the forefront and I have a feeling Philip might regret telling Gabriel exactly how he feels about him as everything is still very much at stake. Yes, I think Philip can trust Elizabeth and at a push she would have his back but Gabriel is very good at manipulating Elizabeth particularly as he can dangle news of her mother as a way to reach her emotionally.

Oleg and Stan have to put their trust in each other in their attempt to save Nina and Oleg is now convinced there is something off about Zinaida. This plan involves fake ambushes with very real head blows and a debrief session over beer. This pairing has been unexpected and despite their animosity I think we might have the BFF equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. It is probably not going to end well knowing this show.

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.09 snowSnow! Oleg meeting up with Stan post phase one of their plan is made all the more covert seeming by the everything grey and cold location. I do want to see what the sunny warm weather version of this show looks like but for now I love what the snowy conditions add to the look of The Americans.

Disguise of the Week

So there isn’t a photo to accompany this as Oleg was in the shadow as he threatened Zinaida, but let it be known that he had the whole menacing thing down with slicked back and glasses.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.09 ElizabethNot much on offer this week but I am always partial to Elizabeth’s sweater tees.

Scandal 3.09 “YOLO” Costume Review: Power, Protection and Manipulation

6 Dec

In what has become a standard Scandal tradition, that last moments of this episode had me yelling “WHAAAAAAAT?” at the screen. The torture opening sequence elicited the same response and even though the promo had prepared me for Huck’s lick of crazy, it was still pretty disturbing; most of the Quinn scenes were coated in a sheet of ick. This is more than I can say for Quinn who only had an outfit made out of duct tape and while Lady Gaga could maybe make this work it felt like a step too far to have Quinn sans clothes as part of this torture; would Huck really do that?

It’s an episode that featured very few costume changes by Scandal standards, but we’ve still got plenty to talk about as a lot of the characters use clothes as a form of protection (except Quinn who can’t). Olivia wraps herself up in another big, beautiful coat, Jake pulls out his uniform and James mimics the color that Cyrus picked out for him when he set him up with Daniel Douglas.

Scandal 3.09 Mama PopeThe team get all caught up on the no longer Dead Mama Pope situation and as you can see white items of clothing run in the Pope family. Ok not really as this is Maya’s hospital attire, but Maya is wearing a white top/black skirt combo in the flashback sequence that is reminiscent of Olivia’s present clothing choices.

Scandal 3.09 breakfast bondingIn what you could call a strained breakfast catch up – and none of that food really looked like breakfast, not a waffle in sight – Olivia is surprised to hear that her mother thinks she doesn’t have much laughter in her life. For someone who has been locked away in a cell for 20 years she’s pretty perceptive. Maya has been given a wardrobe change and like her daughter it’s all neutral tones. Only one of the Pope women has a Prada purse.

Scandal 3.09 draped coatOlivia spends the episode in this double grey ensemble and the draped coat is reminiscent of the Donna Karan one that got blown up earlier this season. Like all of Olivia’s outerwear it’s beautiful and the oversized trend is coming in useful this season. It also gives Olivia something to wrap around herself and we’ve seen her do this in the past as a form of protection. Grey is also the perfect color to show the insanely messed up situation that Olivia has found herself in this season. Election rigging has got nothing on this.

Scandal 3.09 hugMaya gets her own camel coat of glory and a hug from her daughter after Abby pretty much forces Olivia to reach out in a physical way. The hug from Abby a few weeks ago was part of the emotional preparedness training. This also prompts another piece of the flashback puzzle for Olivia and like everyone else who has seen Alias I am getting every single “Spy Daddy is always good” related feeling. So Maya is actually Marie Wallace and Eli was just protecting his daughter and now his life is in the hands of Quinn?! Well that’s a whole lot of uh-oh going on. This show likes to create six twists for every one so I’m not going to put all my eggs in the “Eli is good” basket; however his comment about not enjoying killing at the start of the episode is pointing towards some white hat intentions.

Scandal 3.09 palazzo pantsHarrison thinks that Olivia is “handling it” and I don’t know who is in more denial as I’m pretty sure she’s a mess, even if she can cover it up most of the time. Abby spends most of the episode sassing people which I’m fine with because some straight talking is required and her palazzo pants are magnificent in the shot above. Abby also gets to be the connection to David Rosen and this is pretty flimsy in the attempt to use him with their get Maya out of the country plan, the dude needs his owns storyline. Speaking of guys who need their own story a mystery unnamed associate of Harrison’s, helps with some documents and lets him know the dreaded Adnan Salif is back. She also refers to him as H and doesn’t care to introduce herself to Abby.

Scandal 3.09 quickest walk and talkIn what might be the fastest walk and talk I’ve ever seen on TV making everyone on The West Wing look like they’re taking a pleasant stroll (which they are in comparison) Cyrus and Mellie discuss all things operation Daniel Douglas. Well not all things as Cyrus is trying to keep James’ infidelity out of it all. The infidelity that he set up and believed would never happen as he snarked to Mellie that his marriage is nothing like hers. Mellie is wears her political power color (complete with pearls) of red throughout the episode and instead of playing the “I told you so” card she offers the limited amount of comfort that she has to offer – that “it hurts and then it doesn’t.” She doesn’t go so far as offer him a hug, but this really isn’t a hugging kind of show unless someone is coerced.

Scandal 3.09 JamesJames wears a similar plum shade to the one he wore in his intimate interview with Daniel Douglas. James spends the first half of the episode passive aggressively taunting Cyrus using phrases like “got him to go deep” and “quick and dirty.” Cyrus eventually cracks and tries to blame James for going through with it. Cyrus doesn’t have an ethical leg to stand on (does he ever?) and James spells it out loud and clear what he wants to happen.

Scandal 3.09 loud and clearIt’s certainly not a cryptic message and so Cyrus puts the photos of James and Daniel into play. Well he only shows them to Sally and she doesn’t blink an eyelid, that is until she gets home and murders her husband. Everyone in political power on this show seems to have a killer instinct. Cyrus asks James for forgiveness, could this honey-trap scheme be a manipulation too far for James? The whole murder aspect isn’t going to help either.

Scandal 3.09 posturingIn another posturing match Jake pulled out the big guns by switching out his hoodie for his military uniform, which he must keep in his car as surely his apartment is being watched. Regardless it’s a clothing choice to try and assert some power with Fitz and also emphasize why he is so pissed off with the current situation. Jake might have had time to change clothes, however he’s rocking some light stubble. There’s no time for shaving. I’ve been writing about Felicity a lot recently for This Was TV and this is the first time I’ve had Scott Foley character whiplash; it might be down to the hilarious goatee that Noel was growing in one of the recent Felicity episodes I have discussed. The stubble looks a lot better on Foley here.

Next week is the mid season finale! Expect a whole lot of plot crazy and probably more coats to add to my covet list.

New Girl 3.09 “Longest Night Ever” Review: “I’m Fine”

20 Nov

Thanks to the recent return of Coach on New Girl it means that the regular cast can all be paired off into three different storylines and while I don’t think “Longest Night Ever” is one of the better offerings this season it shows the kind of scope that is possible. It’s a bit of a bizarro episode with Jess trying to contain Schmidt, Coach attempting to be cool around Cece and a hunt for Ferguson that takes Nick and Winston on a slightly odd journey.

NG_Ep309-Sc29_0195New Girl started with Jess being the ‘quirky’ (ugh that word) one and the guys were originally presented as relatively normal. This has evolved and really they’re all a bunch of weirdos. Jake Johnson has mentioned on several occasions that in the early drafts Nick was intended to be the smartest in the room and while he’s no dummy, they definitely moved away from this notion. In “Longest Night Ever” Nick is the character who is meant to hold everything together, but this comes more from his close and long standing relationships with both Schmidt and Winston. Nick has had enough moments with Schmidt to know that when he says he’s fine he’s anything but and we get a flashback to college with Schmidt attempting to strangle himself. We also get a shot of a Fight Club poster on Nick’s dorm room wall and once again the set dressers nail the details of a college room at this time.

To Jess it sounds crazy that Nick would consider a dog cage for a moment like this, whereas Schmidt mentions it like it’s the most normal thing in the world. We already know how solid Nick and Schmidt are even with their recent issues so it’s refreshing to use this as Schmidt and Jess bonding time. It’s understandable why Jess isn’t the most sympathetic to Schmidt’s plight and why she so desperately wants him to move on, after all it was her best friend who was hurt by Schmidt’s actions and he did try to sabotage her relationship. Schmidt declares that he loves Cece, but it’s too late and he has to let her go. This is an occasion where it would have been advisable for Jess to stick to Nick’s containment plan and Schmidt ends up getting hit by a car twice (which he asked for) and he sees Cece and Coach getting hot and heavy outside their building.

Schmidt’s been problematic this season, though he’s been a lot better since moving out and while I don’t see the Cece/Coach relationship turning into anything significant it will certainly have an impact on the group dynamic. Season 3 has been playing around with the roles of the characters and at times this has made the show feel disjointed. Last year everything clicked into place and the same can’t be said for this season; this episode has pacing issues and while I’m glad to see them try a variety of different things something doesn’t feel quite right. It’s funny that Nick and Jess mention watching Homeland as this is another show that is having a difficult third season (the New Girl and Homeland writing rooms are next to each other), though I would say this is a very different beast. This reference comes as Nick and Jess are discussing date night and for anyone who is concerned that the focus has been too heavy on this coupling recently (something I don’t agree with) then this is the episode for you as Nick leaves to help find Ferguson the cat.

The return of Ferguson after some relatively non-crazy Winston episodes is a little jarring and this plot would have worked a few weeks ago after he set up the cat date. Considering Ferguson hasn’t been mentioned in the last few episodes, Winston’s attachment to his cat (including taking showers together) feels like it comes out of nowhere. It does lead to some awkwardly funny moments and gives Jake Johnson the opportunity to pull some of his best horrified/bemused expressions, but this is probably the one part of the episode that didn’t work for me. Nick gets to pull a variety of these faces this week and if this was The Office he’d be deadpanning to the camera while in Bertie’s apartment or when Schmidt and Coach get stuck in their endless high fiving.

Coach is still being developed as a character and by now we know that there is a whole lot of bravado to cover up his lack of confidence. This is another story that has some pacing problems, but it makes up for it with the reveal that he has been texting his mom. Thanks to the Schmidt two timing story, Cece has been pretty isolated this season and while I’m not sure how much a romance with Coach is going to help things in the long run if it means more screen time for Hannah Simone then I’m on board.

It’s not the strongest episode of the season, but it feels like an important one in terms of acknowledging that Schmidt really isn’t fine and bringing Coach further into the fold. It’s also given me another coat to covet, last week featured this lovely J. Crew pea coat and now Jess is rocking a red toggle Juicy Couture jacket that is giving me all the outerwear envy. If you hadn’t noticed TV Ate My Wardrobe is currently in the midst of a coat obsession.

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Cultural Learnings

Television Reviews and Analysis

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film, tv, popular culture, higher ed, unicorns

Rookie

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ScreenFad

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The Frisky

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