Tag Archives: 3.13

Hannibal 3.13 “The Wrath of the Lamb” Review: Twisted Romance

30 Aug

Boy meets boy, boy understands boy in a way no other person ever has and somewhere in the middle lots of people are maimed, changed and killed. Hannibal is what could be described as one hell of a fucked up romantic comedy and before you click over to another review just hear me out as this season has added to humor levels (albeit in twisted and super dark ways) and really upped the whole Will and Hannibal as a couple notion. Murder husbands might be their cheap tabloid name, but even Bedelia a so-called mental health professional – who by the looks of that closing shot is in desperate need of some serious saving – has been playing up the couple euphemisms going so far as to pointing out Hannibal’s love for Will last week.

Hannibal’s well versed in getting what he wants through manipulation tactics or using his influence to draw out a killer. With Will he has done both and as soon as Will was back in his sphere all he had to do was wait for an opportunity. This Will is very different to the one Hannibal met in season 1 and the game is a lot more complicated this time.

Hannibal 3.13 Will goodbyeThe life Will has been living ended as soon as Jack Crawford went to ask for his help and the attack on Molly and Walter at the hands of Dolarhyde via Hannibal is enough to taint it. This is what Will feared would happen and even though the hospital scene revealed a strength in the couple all Will is going to see is himself reflected as her killer. I am so mad at Hannibal for playing the bitter ex and poisoning this relationship as he tells Will to think about him when his relationship with Molly is so “maddeningly polite” sowing the seeds of doubt. Hannibal is playing a good game even if he comes across as the desperate reject; so sad that Will has replaced the family he gave him with another less fucked up one.

Even though Will knows it hasn’t been good for him seeing Hannibal he still goes along and creates the ‘get Hannibal and Dolarhyde’ plan because ultimately he does want to be rid of both men. Dolarhyde’s downfall means something on a primal level even if Will has championed catching him alive in the past; this man tried to kill his family and therefore he needs to die and if they can kill two serial killers in one then Jack Crawford is all for it. Alana makes up the conspiring squad and as with all their other plans this one has terrible written all over it. Drinking whisky at the same time as sorting out the details is not the way to keep a clear head, but booze is not to blame for their awful ideas and you would think after how it went last time this trio would leave the dangerous schemes to someone else. After all there are no advantages, just “degrees of disadvantage.”

Hannibal 3.13 RebaThis also happens to be where my one major criticism of this finale comes into play because the sequence of events is somewhat muddled and this is where a two-part episode would have served the story better as the Red Dragon arc and the Will/Hannibal stuff ends up interlinking in a way which makes it feel rushed. The speed with which Reba’s participation is wrapped up is a surprise even if it mirrors the source material and Rutina Wesley is particularly impressive in showing both Reba’s fear and strength in this scary situation.

Don’t get me wrong as it is so much fun seeing the sassing off between Will and Hannibal followed by how they come together to slay the dragon, but other aspects of the story fall far too quickly by the side.

Hannibal 3.13 Dragon SlayersIt really does look stunning.

As does this pair of winged images.

Hannibal 3.13 burning dragon Hannibal 3.13 Dead DragonIn a way the Red Dragon arc mirrors the first half of the season in how it doesn’t leave room for too many other characters; yes Hannibal and Will are the central figures but the supporting cast are just as vital in telling a strong story. Jack’s motivations over this half have presented him in a more callous manner and maybe the loss of Bella and what went down in Italy has left him cold, but it would have been beneficial to see more of this just to get a read on his feelings beyond the ones he doesn’t appear to have.

One love prevails and any regular TV Ate My Wardrobe readers will be more than aware of my strong feelings toward Alana Bloom. As with Jack during the latter part of this season, Alana’s relationship with Margot in those first few episodes could have done with some more fleshing out and this is the first time we see Alana’s wife after the three year time jump. They are leaving their home as a result of Hannibal’s actual escape and he isn’t backing down on the promise he made Alana. He coldly tells her that she died in his kitchen when she chose “to be brave” and that he owns everything that has come since mentioning her wife and child. Yes Hannibal is also a dick to his ex-girlfriend and essentially threatened their lives as well as hers.

Hannibal 3.13 Alana entranceAlana doesn’t flinch in front of him and also gets one hell of an entrance; one great thing about their interactions is how she doesn’t let him get to her. Well at least not in front of him. She explains why she is here to offer the deal and not Jack – she knows him better and he would just torment Jack – and he in return tests out his threat powers once again.

Now there are no longer five locked doors between Hannibal and Alana she does the smart thing and gathers all her best lady suits, Margot and their son departing on their own chopper. This is one benefit of being crazy rich; you get a speedy and elegant escape route.

Hannibal 3.13 Bloom and Verger Hannibal 3.13 Family BloomAlana’s back to wearing red and bold prints in this episode after several weeks of muted (but still fantastic) outfits. It’s like she can feel the freedom around the corner as red is definitely her power color. It is interesting that she chooses a flash of this for her hospital trip to see Chilton as he points out that this is the first time she is visiting and how culpable she is. Once again guilty feelings mean deflecting onto Hannibal, but she doesn’t exactly protest when Chilton mentions how she is capable of doing these terrible things too.

Self preservation is something she cited to Will earlier this season and even though she wasn’t thinking of herself when she freed Hannibal, she was definitely doing this when she suggested Chilton last week.

Hannibal 3.13 Alana and ChiltonChilton’s chamber is similar to the one used on Georgia Madchen in season 1 and he’s already burned all over. He mentions getting new skin and how he wouldn’t mind wearing some of Hannibal’s; this feels like a nod to Buffalo Bill and Silence of the Lambs. It doesn’t get much easier looking at Chilton even if he looks less crispy this week and his speech is still distorted, but his anger toward Alana is palpable.

Every great (and not so great) rom-com includes a mid story break up that you know will most likely be resolved with a grand romantic gesture. In this version Will rejects Hannibal and Hannibal immediately goes big surrendering himself so he can assert dominance. Hannibal is playing the long game in getting his murder soulmate back and he can’t let Will get away with referencing their breakup and then returning to ask for help. And yes Mads Mikkelsen’s delivery of the mic drop line had me full on cackling. As did his ‘worry’ about Chilton being ugly. Sassy Hannibal forever.

In the end Dolarhyde is the accidental matchmaker as he takes the Hannibal bait in a manner which results in a lot more violence than intended – see you should never make plans over booze – and a brutal fight to the death. This brings Hannibal and Will together by having them fighting for each other as Dolarhyde shoots and stabs them making them weaker opponents. It is a whole big thing and as he does in the book, Dolarhyde delivers a rather horrific stab would to Will’s face. I have a feeling Hannibal digs scars.

Hannibal 3.13 Will and HannibalThis season has gone all in on the Hannigram factor and taken it to even higher heights; they are together in an embrace as Will leads them over the edge of the cliff. Tumblr is already magical gif heaven. Yes I did yell “KISS HIM” several times during this bloody hug which thankfully did not include Will’s belly getting sliced open. This is what it finally feels like to Will Graham to be free.

Bedelia might need her license revoking, but she is right when she tells Will that he can’t live with or without Hannibal Which is maybe why she has set a third place at the table in the end of credits scene. It is ambiguous as to who did this to her; my take is she did it to herself and she awaits the dinner guests who might never come. Meat is definitely back on the menu in her house.

Hannibal 3.13 BedeliaThat ending could be the forever end of Hannibal *sob* and while it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the house of horrors bloodbath (not that this doesn’t include gallons of fake blood and Dolarhyde’s wounds are very similar to Jack, Will and Abigail’s from that episode) I am not ready for this show to be over. Not that this is my decision and even though it doesn’t look so good for Hannibal and Will their fate is not so uncertain as Jack, Alana or Abigail’s at the end of last year.

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal in plaidCostume wise Hannibal served up another incredible take on his Italian styling in his mind palace with Will in lighter plaid mirroring the pants of Alana’s escape outfit.

Hannibal 3.13 WillIn the same memory palace location later on Hannibal sees Will enter in front of a group of mourners; just who is being mourned here?

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal and WillThis is a really great shot from a really fun scene of the pair trying their best to out sass the other. I really want to know what the orderlies say to their friends/family about the shit they see at work.


Hannibal 3.13 Will and JackWe’ve barely been there this season, but I am still going to miss the FBI building and hallway chats like this one.

Hannibal 3.13 Jimmy and BrianThere was definitely not enough of Brian and Jimmy in this episode or this year.

Hannibal 3.13 AlanaAlana says goodbye to her old life. Wearing killer red lipstick of course.

Hannibal 3.13 Hannibal sweaterHannibal is just as stylish in casual threads and I would love to look through the rest of his secret hideaway closet as he definitely likes to curate a look for a location.

Hannibal 3.13 StagThe stag burns and the one we saw unfurling towards the start of the season was so incredibly fucked up, but during the Red Dragon arc the stag has existed only in the background in offices and on walls. Hannibal’s power over Will no longer extends to this beast and Will is in control. Will is the one who chose to take Hannibal over the cliff and letting go in this situation was his decision. This isn’t typically how romantic comedies end, but it is a very fitting emotional climax to this twisted love story.

The Americans 3.13 “March 8, 1983” Review: “Why Are You Here?”

23 Apr

There is no denying that Philip and Elizabeth have done plenty of bad things on The Americans as we have seen them engage in activities which compromise them in a variety of ways. The very idea of good and evil can be rather abstract, particularly when dealing with opposing ideologies so the Reagan rhetoric which plays over this season’s final moments not only shows how precarious relations are at this point in the Cold War, but also taps into the state of mind of the three central players.

The Paige Problem which shifted into the Paige Revelation altered the balance and somehow raised the stakes further; the kitchen scene in “Stingers” is the defining moment not just of this season, but the entire run so far and everything that has come after feels even more fraught. Doubling down on fragile mental states in the Jennings household is Philip who has been teetering on the edge of the abyss and this talk of good/evil is pretty on point when it comes to his current status (‘Philip is feeling broken’).

The Americans 3.13 Philip and ElizabethElizabeth has never really wavered when it comes to duty to country; a few weeks ago Betty, the old woman who Elizabeth pretty much forced to kill herself used the word evil when Elizabeth justified her actions with the usual ‘making things better’ line. While Elizabeth is not simply a stone cold killer allowing herself a few tears shed in the darkness, the ends still justified the means. When it comes to killing for the cause Elizabeth is much better at shutting off her emotions, in the same way she told Philip that she doesn’t think about the sex training she also appears to do the same when it comes to the most brutal acts they commit.

It has been notable that Philip has not actually killed anyone this season, until this episode that is. Yes he could be considered complicit in the death of Annelise and he has certainly been present when someone else has pulled the trigger (or set the fire). Yousaf is the constant reminder of what happened to Annelise and he is under the impression that Philip has no real feelings about this; instead Philip tells him “I feel like shit all the time” and while Philip claims Elizabeth is the person who really knows him he tends to reveal more of himself in moments like this when he is in disguise. Pressure has been piling on Philip from a variety of sources including the relationships he is cultivating all in the name of the cause with Kimmy and Martha. Neither appears in the finale and the absence of Martha looms large after the huge de-wigging moment. About 25 minutes in I did write in huge block letters “WHERE IS MARTHA?” and while it is somewhat disappointing she didn’t make an appearance after such a jaw-dropping reveal, the finale is already overflowing and so it makes sense to imagine her squirreled away somewhere (I’m imagining with Hans) as she tries to process exactly what is going on.

The Americans 3.13 PhilipWhen Philip showed his true face to Martha I figured it was an act of ‘kindness’ before he has to kill her and while I can’t see how Martha is going to make it for yet another season, Philip’s desire to avoid any more collateral damage is strong. Instead he frames Gene, the computer dude and stages his suicide. No need for a forced handwritten note when a computer sits in the center of the room. Philip’s typed words of “I had no choice… I’m sorry” double as his own apology for this and Matthew Rhys giving a masterclass in playing self-loathing and quiet desperation throughout the finale. When he comes home to an empty house towards the end of the episode it is one of the lowest points we have seen him at as he rotates from listening to the radio to lying on his bed in silence. He enthusiastically bounds down the stairs when Elizabeth and Paige get back from their trip reads as an attempt to cover up his melancholy; it is only later on when he is alone with his wife that he tries to explain how he is feeling. I’m pretty sure if Philip started crying he would never stop and so far he has been pretty incredible at only hitting pre-glassy eyes.

EST has played in the background in a seemingly inconsequential manner as a failed attempt for Stan to win back Susan. Instead it has tapped into a part of Philip and he returns to the meetings alone bumping into Susan in the process. These are two characters that have barely spent anytime onscreen together and at first it is jarring seeing them sharing such an intimate discussion. Susan suggests being honesty friends, which would be fine except Philip, can only really share a small part of who he is with her. It is also interesting that Philip has chosen the seminar on sex as his refuge as honesty is such a big part of the EST philosophy and so many of his sexual interactions involve the notion of ‘making it real.’ Sex with Elizabeth is also complicated as while they have a strong intimate bond, Philip has told his wife that in the past he has used this technique with her too. I would very much like to see Elizabeth’s reaction to one of these seminars as I’m pretty sure she would be as open to this as she is to church.

The Americans 3.13 Philip and ElizabethPhilip is looking for an emotional tether in the same way Paige has been when it comes to religion; father and daughter have this in common and by the end of the episode they reach out to the person who they believe they can trust the most. Finding it hard to formulate his feelings, Philip struggles to tell Elizabeth exactly what is going on in his mind. She thinks he isn’t necessarily seeing things clearly and yet she is also distracted by the big Reagan speech playing on their bedroom television. This is Philip really opening up about the emotional toll of all this as he awkwardly explains how he needs to know what he’s doing better. It is not entirely clear what he means by this but with the moral terms being used by Reagan, I think he needs to know that what they are doing is positive and not just destroying multiple lives. Elizabeth doesn’t register his pain, or doesn’t want to acknowledge that yes there are flaws in their organization. It is the same way she brushes off Paige’s discomfort at lying and tells Philip how the trip has been really beneficial.

The Americans 3.13 PaigeInstead Paige is having her own moral quandary as she lies on her bed sobbing and boy is Holly Taylor destroying my soul in every way possible. Really they should have take that phone out of her room the instant they told her the truth, but they are both convinced she won’t spill their big dark secret. Spill she does and the tension is almost too much to take as we cut between Philip and Elizabeth’s missed connection talk with Stan and Henry happily playing a board game oblivious to what is taking place across the street. Paige can’t take the lying and in her mind her parents are trying to infect her with their lies. Seeing Elizabeth with her mother could have been a bonding moment and in Elizabeth’s mind it was, but she is only seeing it from her own POV. Paige questions how Elizabeth’s mother let her go like that and Elizabeth reassures her that nothing like that will happen to her. I’m not sure this is the answer Paige is seeking as she tries to reconcile everything she knows now. Seeing her mother ‘at work’ as she checks to see if they are being followed is an eye opener and even though nothing comes of it, seeing her mom in full spy mode has got to be unnerving. Paige has not had to live in the moral grey area before; this is all Philip and Elizabeth know and because they see family loyalty as being stronger than Paige’s feelings of what is right and wrong I don’t think they even consider Paige uttering this

“I’ve been having a really hard time and I’m hurting a lot. And I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried praying and it doesn’t help. Please, please help me. I can’t take it, they’re just, they’re liars. They’re liars and they’re trying to turn me into one. They’re not who they say are. They’re not Americans. I’m not supposed to say it, you can’t tell anyone. They’re, they’re Russians.”

And that sound you just heard is my screaming “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” at the length of time it is going to be until we find out the resolution of this HOLY SHIT confession. Oh, Paige. That speech is heartbreaking on its own but intercut with Philip’s own attempt at revealing his pain it takes on the level of brutal soul crushing The Americans excels at. Elizabeth is so focused on the cause that she can’t see her husband and child are not exactly feeling it. This is not to say Elizabeth doesn’t feel anything as demonstrated by the scene with her mother and this is some extraordinary stuff from Keri Russell (this review could quite simply be two thousand words on how great all the face parts acting is from Russell, Rhys and Taylor). The Elizabeth we have seen this season has been far more connected to emotions including flashes of jealousy towards Philip’s other women to the tears we saw not just with Lois, but post the very close call early on this year.

The Americans 3.13 ElizabethElizabeth has known her mother has been sick since Gabriel’s return and while their handler has been using this connection to keep Elizabeth on side, Philip has seen it as an opportunity to assert his power. The plan Philip came up with was to get Elizabeth and Paige into West Germany and go from there with Gabriel calling this move childish; Philip said he was going to look out for his family and this is him doing just that. The tension between Philip and Gabriel is far from resolved and it is one of the many storylines which looks set to explode next season with Elizabeth placed in the middle of this rumble. This isn’t about the cause though and Philip was simply trying to do what he could to help his wife see her dying mother, a woman she hasn’t seen in over 20 years. The scene itself is rather brief, but manages to do a lot connecting three generations in this space and time, inviting Paige in but holding her at a distance as she remains standing. As Elizabeth clings onto those last glimpses, Paige is in the bathroom praying once again emphasizing how different Elizabeth and Paige are. Elizabeth can’t bring herself to pray with her daughter, but she does join her in this moment of reflection.

The Americans 3.13 prayingThe use of space in this hotel location helps demonstrate how alone Paige feels whereas for Elizabeth this experience is all about coming together. She gets to see her mother when she didn’t think that was ever going to happen again and if Elizabeth believed in miracles then she would probably call this one. For Paige it simply overwhelms and adds to her feeling of discomfort at who her parents really are. When she asked them for their real names or to speak Russian it was a test to see if they were telling the truth, being in this room in West Germany seeing her real grandmother and hearing Russian spoken so freely is an entirely new level of comprehension. It is also worth noting that Paige is not only wearing her cross, but she is also wearing a t-shirt with footprints in the sand, which has strong religious connotations. Paige is very much holding onto her beliefs.

The Americans 3.13 footprints teeOne person who is through with compromising herself is Nina and she can’t keep buying back her life. Nina isn’t going to get saved by Stan and Oleg’s partnership, a partnership which Stan is using to get leverage so he can flip him or expose his treason (more on this to come) and she also doesn’t want to sell Anton out. Anton is actually doing a lot more work since Nina’s arrival so she might inadvertently get her freedom if he comes through with something. It is all about asserting control where they can and the opportunity to explore this technology through the photos Lisa got is too exciting for Anton to ignore and there is always some hope that one day he will see his son again. Something romantic might take place between this pair, but they share a connection on a much more intimate level as their fates are entwined and they both know what it feels like to be used as a bargaining chip. Nina having some amount of agency makes me very happy and even though this story has been on the periphery it is one of many that I am looking forward to returning to.

The tension at the FBI is ever increasing as Agent Gaad is still smarting from the pen incident so Stan’s off books work means he gets the brunt of Gaad’s frustration and anger. If it was up to Gaad, Stan would be dunzo, but red tape doesn’t stop everything and his work has been recognized from higher up. Getting the go ahead to continue with this operation but without Nina’s freedom as leverage means he is going to have to find a new way to get to Oleg.

What we are left with at the end of this season is a lot of questions and unresolved storylines; this could be considered anti-climatic in one respect, but that doozy of a final sequence coupled with how strong the narrative has been throughout means I am so close to curling up in the fetal position under my desk thankful for a bleak break. Not every plot has been entirely successful this year and at times there has been too much going on with Stan’s marriage/divorce being something that could easily have been trimmed down this year. Overall this has been one incredible season without a single weak episode and even though it is only April it is going to be hard for any other show to top this one for me this year.

Shot(s) of the Week

The Americans 3.13 GabrielDirector Dan Sackheim delivers plenty of amazing shots that could be included (and a lot of them appear in this review) and this scene at Gabriel’s uses space in the way I have discussed further up. There is so much distance between them with Gabriel only coming close to Philip when he wants to lay down some father like words of warning/disappointment.

The Americans 3.13 hotelThe light from the large windows in both shots helps frame those within the room and even though Elizabeth is standing she looks childlike before her mother in her blue nightdress (the blue dress links back to the one Elizabeth mentions to Philip in “Baggage.” Even though we hear about her tough her mother is, there is nothing but love in this scene.

Disguise of the Week

The Americans 3.13 Philip disguisePhilip has definitely borrowed one of Elizabeth’s wigs with this blonde number when staging Gene’s suicide. Maybe he thinks he can channel her ability to compartmentalize (he can’t).

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.13 NinaNina’s attire has been a whole lot of beige, grey and brown but her knitwear game is strong. Probably a must for how cold it is where she is.

Scandal 3.13 “No Sun on the Horizon” Review: Through the Looking Glass/Behind the Curtain

14 Mar

Absolution is sought by many on Scandal and everyone is guilty of something – David Rosen might be the only exception. The theme of this week is light and dark (timely after the True Detective finale), with confession topping the agenda for many. This includes wanting to confess in publicly for wrong doings, as well as sharing truths that might destroy relationships and yet some are made stronger from the truth.

As always I will be looking at the episode through the prism of costume and Olivia Pope’s wardrobe is forever drenched in the battle between black and white.

Scandal 3.13 Olivia in D&G“No Sun on the Horizon” opens with Olivia learning the truth about Daniel Douglas’ murder and who all the players are in both the cover up and subsequent plan to reveal the whole thing to the world. Olivia is incredulous at first and she doesn’t believe that Cyrus would have done such a thing without calling her first. This Dolce & Gabbana floral embroidered top is pure Olivia Pope and while I’d like to see the whole thing, I know that certain camera angles and prop placement is necessary to avoid Kerry Washington’s bump. They’re doing a good job of this so far, even if it is a tad distracting at times and it means that we miss out on full costume shots, but hey I get it.

Scandal 3.13 D&G coatMore Dolce & Gabbana and another coat to add to the covet list as Olivia confronts Cyrus, finding out that David was telling the truth about Cyrus’ level of involvement. In terms of lighting Olivia is bathed in it in this shot as she rails against Cyrus and tells him that she will not help him; she wants to walk in the light. This comes after a hysterical laughing fit as she realizes they have a “Murders’ Row” of presidential candidates and really there are very few people on this show who haven’t killed someone. Olivia has lived in the moral ambiguity for so long that this desire to be free of this lifestyle is understandable, but I’m not sure how much I buy her longing for the normal life.

Scandal 3.13 wine cardiganOlivia puts on her best TSE wine cardigan and heads to Jake with a bottle of wine (all for her) and burgers (that don’t get eaten, shaking my head at the waste of good food). The question of a normal life and wanting to be free from this one is raised once again, with Jake role playing as the paper seller that is B613’s cover and all I can think about is Michael Scott’s screenplay in The Office and how Jake is the Agent Michael Scarn that Micheal Scott dreamed he could be. Scranton this isn’t and Jake points out that this is a pretty dull conversation. Then he asks Olivia to run away with him as he doesn’t really love what’s through the looking glass.

Scandal 3.13 all the wineRunning away isn’t really an option, instead drinking all the wine and sleeping with Jake is the conclusion Olivia comes to. Once again taking a quick look at the lighting of this scene and while all the kitchen lights are on Jake and Olivia are both shrouded in darkness, just like they are in life. Quick note – Jake’s wine glasses are nice, but they are nowhere near as impressive as the one in the next shot.

Scandal 3.13 confession callMore wine and Olivia is bathed in blue light as she rings Fitz to tell him the sordid details about Cyrus and Daniel Douglas’ murder. Olivia wants to lift the curtain and make this election an honest one, but they are way beyond that point now. Olivia asks Fitz to throw the debate, something he initially refuses to do. This is an act of dishonesty, but it’s one that serves the greater good of getting Fitz re-elected in a sorta clean election. Everything is a big blurry moral mess behind the curtain. Olivia’s pajamas are even spelling out the whole black and white thing; what you can’t see here is that the bottoms are black. Olivia also shows her superior wine drinking skills by not spilling a drop.

Scandal 3.13 Jake blue lightJake tells his family story to an unseen person and I’m guessing whoever it is, is instrumental in the events that occur at the end of the episode. We learn that Jake had a pretty shitty upbringing – abusive father, dead sister, mother who was emotionally absent – and he views B613 as family. He can’t imagine another life, which contradicts his earlier running away suggestion. So who is Jake spinning his origin story to? The obvious choice is Quinn as he’s brought her back into the B613 fold and Quinn has already mentioned Olivia’s family speechifying, but it could it be someone else. The lighting used here is reminiscent of the previous scene I discussed as Olivia tells Fitz everything and Jake is also making a confession of sorts as he justifies who he works for; spilling your secrets should always come with a blue or green tint.

Scandal 3.13 pink pradaNow I’m sure Olivia has worn this baby soft pink before, but it’s rare and this Prada coat is ultra feminine and really stunning. This is Olivia telling Fitz that she’s not going to say sorry for what they have done to keep him in office. Fitz mentions that he is the only adult around here, which has to be a joke considering his whisky glass throwing tantrum a couple of weeks ago. They’re all culpable in this as “There is no clean. Just like there is no Vermont.”

Scandal 3.13 window kissThere is still smooching and doing it in front of window is probably not the best idea. The cuffs on this coat are amazing.

Scandal 3.13 secret meetingsAlso not so subtle is all the open locations that everyone on this show holds their secret meetings in, has no one watched All the Presidents Men? Here Cyrus and Jake are illuminated by the Washington Monument (light and dark again) and while I enjoy a good Cyrus monologue, I also admire Jake’s quick mouse on a wheel analogy followed by his dismissive “I don’t have the time and you wouldn’t understand.”

Scandal 3.13 jake shootingJake’s got crazy/sad eyes going on here as the episode closes with the mystery of who Jake shoots. My prediction is that it is someone behind David and James; Jake is here to save them and someone else called the meeting. He’s wearing the perfect all black spy/assassin outfit, available at all good spy stores.

Other moments of note that you can see in the gallery below include Mellie in regal purple as she plays Sally in debate prep, complete with a southern accent. As with Josie Marcus, Sally’s flag pin gets a feminine spin as it’s been made into a bow and Kate Burton delivers yet another excellent performance as Sally mental state is less than stable (“Yum yum crispy piggy. Yum yum”). Quinn unhappily plays receptionist and then remembers that she probably shouldn’t sass off the boss, not always the smartest are we Quinn?! Oh and David comes up with a side business idea while in bed with Abby – a range of What Would Olivia Pope Do bracelets – right before he pisses Abby off by making jokes about his current situation. David definitely doesn’t end the episode laughing as his glasses have been sprayed with someone else’s blood and now he has a gun pointed at him.

New Girl 3.13 “Birthday” Review: Great Expectations

22 Jan

The first birthday as a couple can lead to all kinds of anxiety; in fact birthdays in general can lead to this state. For some the idea of a huge party is enough to cause nightmares, whereas some revel in this day of celebration and want the works. Jess falls into the latter camp and after years of disappointment – this is the first time New Girl has shown her birthday – she has a new routine of going to the movies by herself to temper these feelings. This year is going to be different because Nick has a whole surprise planned; except he forgot to plan anything for before the party and now he has a whole day to improvise.

NG_ep312_sc40pt_0242 (1)This birthday party is a sign of Nick’s growth even if he still fucks up by forgetting the pre-party distractions and his stalling tactics include a free diabetes test and a really long uphill walk. Sex as a distraction doesn’t help either, as much to Nick’s chagrin it’s the quickest he’s ever been with her. Awkward. The no expectation thing takes a turn for the worse when they stumble upon a birthday party set up in the park and Jess is so taken aback by ‘her surprise’ that Nick just lets the horrorshow play out in front of him.

It’s a case of Jess underestimating Nick, she’s not doing this in a cruel manner and she totally appreciates everything he does for her (including picking up rubber bands for her ponytail, oh Nick), it’s just that she can’t help but run off and cry. She’s not chill and really the more someone repeats that they are, the less this is true. Jess mentions the cool girlfriend trope from movies, which is much like the MPDG and is completely unrealistic. Pretty sure this is a nod to the criticisms that have been leveled at both New Girl and Zooey Deschanel in the past. Regardless, this isn’t who Jess is as she does care about things and she spends a significant portion of this episode crying for one reason or another.

Jess’ sofa sobbing is particularly funny as New Girl enters farce territory with Winston and Coach hiding the crazy amount of decorations with Jess in the room. Coach’s superfluous cartwheel is a nice touch, as is his response to Jess’ baking question “Bakery downtown exploded. Don’t look into it, it’s not on the internet.” All while he has flour smudged on his face. This takes place as she is spilling her soul to them about how she’s disappointed in herself for being disappointed in Nick. Jess knows that she needs to temper her anticipation, if only she could see what was going on behind her in this scene as Winston clutches onto a bunch of surprise balloons.

Despite the rocky start to the day, Nick manages to pull it all together in the end (let’s not look too closely into the logistics) and it leads more tears from Jess. These are the happier kind as it’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for her and Jess apologizes for her earlier reaction. It’s a really heartwarming conclusion and circles back to the “real shit and some stupid shit” core of what New Girl is. The video testimonials feature who you would expect and some faces from the past (Tran! Sadie!), so happy to see both Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner popping up “When you were born I got a deli sandwich at the hospital cafeteria and then there was a baby.” It’s Nick’s message that sends me over the feelings cliff as he reveals he still carries the coin that was in his pocket the first time they kissed. Ol’ Nick Miller is definitely a romantic at heart. Oh and Schmidt blows up a car and runs away from dinosaurs in his message, because of course.

It’s an episode that is bookended with the ensemble and shows the writers have got a handle on the different pairings that make up the three individual stories. Jess and Nick are pretty solid at this point and while it doesn’t have the same intensity as this time last year, as a couple they are working for me. This is the first episode to feature prominent Cece and Schmidt interactions since their breakup and further adds to my theory that Nick and Cece are rather alike. Not the bartending skills as Cece is far from being a natural – her version of an old fashioned is gin in a mug with a peanut in it and she somehow set fire to soda water – but with the lack of self-belief. Strength and confidence are skills and Schmidt tells Cece that she should use them, she could also be a little meaner. The plan works and in return Cece refers to Schmidt as her friend; I’m not going to be too thrilled if the Cece/Schmidt romance starts up anytime soon, however this plot is a good reminder of how these characters can bounce off each other.

Ben Falcone is pretty great as Mike, another crotchety employee of this bar who isn’t too thrilled that Nick has traded shifts with Cece, more of him please.

The Coach/Winston rivalry is revisited first as decorations vs. cake (cake always wins) and then as cake vs. cake after Winston gets the wrong (and very scary looking) one from the bakery. It finally feels like all the pieces of New Girl’s third season are falling into place and this is probably the funniest of the three storylines in “Birthday” and one that takes an unexpectedly sweet turn with oven glove handshakes and hugs when the two cakes become one (cue Spice Girls). Coach invoking the word moist is both hilarious and horrifying, though nothing beats a moist sponge – let it be known that writing moist this much has given me a very icky feeling.

New Girl might be the name of the show, yet it’s been clear for a long time that it’s not one individual that holds everything together and this episode has a pay it forward way of showing this; Winston and Coach’s bake off results in one cake, Winston reminds Nick that everyone’s here to help and he can still pull off the birthday surprise, Schmidt gives Cece the boost she needs and Jess ends up with the best birthday surprise. It’s not about what one person can do and these ever changing dynamics reveal that no one person on this show is the level headed one and the guy who is terrible at organizing might just deliver the best present when least expected.

Julie Hammerle

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