Tag Archives: 4.09

The Americans 4.09 “The Day After” Review: Never Enough

12 May

After everything came to a head for Philip and Elizabeth on The Americans last week the pair were granted a vacation of sorts with no new missions and just the low level intel they had been gathering from Kimmy and whatever the Young Hee friendship has been leading to. Their breaking point was almost hit and it looks like the war between the US and USSR is reaching a similar stage albeit 7 months later and on a much more global disaster scale.imrs.phpLast week’s pop culture milestone was all about hope and recognizing freedom with David Copperfield’s Statue of Liberty spectacle and in “The Day After” we see everyone gather to watch the ABC TV movie event of the same name. This is wonder of a different kind and instead tracks the very real possibility of nuclear war as twitchiness levels grow. Oleg tells Tatiana of a case a few months prior where sunlight was mistaken for a missile launch from the US and luckily for them the person behind the controls didn’t go into full panic stations.

The Day After aired November 20 and just a few weeks prior to this a 10-day NATO exercise by the name of Able Archer 83 ran in Europe and had some convinced on the Russian side that this was actually more than just an exercise. I am glad I have seen Deutschland 83* as it not only gives a slightly different perspective on these events, but it also adds to the background of what was going on in Europe and why Russia was feeling a little on edge about their substandard technology in comparison to what the US had in their possession.

*It also means I am very familiar with one of the two standout song moments from this episode as Tom Schilling’s “Major Tom (Coming Home)” is Deutschland 83’s theme song (for the subtitled version – New Order’s “Blue Monday” is the theme song for the version shown to German audiences).

Everyone is on edge so while Elizabeth and Philip are feeling well rested there is still much work to do and the broadcast of The Day After underscores the importance of the Young Hee operation. Philip sides with William’s way of thinking in that if they tell the Centre about this brand new terrifying biological weapon it is only going to keep getting worse. The Lassa virus sounds even more horrific than Glanders as this one liquifies your organs and causes blood to seep through your skin. Thanks for that image and TV certainly teaches. William explains to Philip that nobody needs something like this in their lab and while he doesn’t really trust the Americans with it he also doesn’t trust his own people; he has seen how terrible the threads of their containers are first hand.

This level of escalation can be matched in the other kinds of weapons each country is producing and nervous fingers on buttons makes for nervous operatives. All you need is for one person to overreact and you’ve got farms in Kansas getting obliterated and Steve Guttenberg trying to stay alive (I watched some of The Day After prior to this episode and it is easy to see why people might have been even more terrified of nuclear war after).

Elizabeth views things differently to Philip as is often the case when it comes to these matters and she sees it as the US making this virus to use against them and their people; she does have a good argument as she points out the bombs they have dropped in the past. So while they are comfy and on ‘vacation’ there is this very real threat and they can’t just sit idly by while all goes to shit. This is why they are the perfect team as they come at things from very different places and ultimately they balance each other out. We saw this early on back in season 1 after the Reagan assassination attempt when Philip held off on giving some information over to the Centre so not to cause possible WWIII and his instincts turned out to be spot on.

With this he doesn’t argue against Elizabeth and her decision to go ahead and find out if there is anything they can use to blackmail Don. Don it turns out has access to the dreaded Level 4 (as I saw some speculate on Twitter) and this is why Elizabeth befriended Young Hee in the first place. This friendship goes way beyond anything we have seen with Elizabeth and any of her previous assets. Philip knows why this mission is hard for her and suggests looking for an alternative way. It is also worth noting they have gone around Gabriel with this meeting and it is like the next generation of Russian operatives are starting to show some level of disobedience to their elders. But pulling an agent out is not the same as concealing information and ultimately they only steer a tiny bit outside of the lines.

Young Hee has given Elizabeth something she has been lacking since who knows when (I guess her last real friend was Leanne and she was a colleague as well) and that is friendship. There is also a strong nurturing element which I discuss in this piece for Collider regarding Elizabeth and motherhood. The entry point to this relationship wasn’t real and neither is the way Elizabeth looks as Patty (who is wearing SO many amazing outfits this week including her purple seduction number), but everything else is. This is a lighter Elizabeth; one that doesn’t look burdened by everything so it is really hard to watch her come to the conclusion of what she must do in order to complete the mission. She offers to watch Young Hee’s kids while she and Don enjoy a romantic night away. This gives Elizabeth plenty of time to find something on Don, but as Philip posited he is pretty clean. The only vaguely incriminating thing Elizabeth finds is a porn video, but that is not enough to blackmail him with. As the hours tick by and nothing is found the grim look on Elizabeth’s face is telling.

It is a heartbreaker for us to watch too because we know how unlike Elizabeth it is to become attached to an asset in this way and Ruthie Ann Miles is so charming as Young Hee. Plus her relationship with Don is solid and Elizabeth’s attempts to seduce Young Hee’s husband are met with a hard drunken pass on his side and then a hard drunken passing out so Elizabeth can stage a hook up. This is an evergreen remark but once again Keri Russell crushes the emotional devastation and elevates her performance with how disgusted Elizabeth is at herself for the things she has to do; I don’t think we have seen Elizabeth look this conflicted. Even when she has had to kill someone she hasn’t looked this broken before and it rivals last week’s post-Lisa kill for self-loathing. No extra vacation time now.

Also I really would not want to get on the wrong side of Elizabeth when it comes to fucking up a booking and it was fun seeing her taking out her stress with something travel agent related. This is when Philip notes that she doesn’t have to go through with it; not because of him but because of how this will impact her. This comes back to strength in numbers and his support here is vital. Philip has her back no matter what and this is why William comes to him with his dilemma as he has no one to talk these things through. Philip opened up to him both about what he would want from life if this job was not in his way (Elizabeth) and with the Martha situation (we find out here that Martha made it to Moscow) and my desire for these two to become besties is happening.

William questions the notion of the freedom Martha now has and also scoffs at the idea that they get vacations, but at the moment Philip is all he has. He also likes Philip’s new disguise (and one Keri Russell discussed on Late Night with Seth Myers). I am more partial to Elizabeth’s raspberry beret and glasses combo (pictures to come).

Speaking of friends and Philip has some much needed bro time with Stan over racquetball. Here we get to see excellent early 80s gym fashion such as Philip’s Dunlop tee and some short shorts. Stan wonders why Philip is so on fire at the moment and he explains about all that extra sleep he is getting and the clients they have ditched, ahem. Stan meanwhile tells him about his shitty time at work and his new boss who refers to as a Munchkin (also the title of next week’s episode) because he is very much by the book and way more than an kiss ass. Sad Stan is still sad because he has broken up with Tori, but hey him and Matthew do come over to the Jennings house for the TV event of decade (the viewing figures for The Day After were over 100 million and Super Bowl levels).Philip and StanOne relationship in focus this week is Philip and Paige with some bonding over driving lessons. This injects some humor into proceedings and this season continues to deliver on the funny front in these unexpected places. First of all this gives Philip a chance to brush off some dad jokes and it is also quite possibly the most petrified this character has looked. Sure he has been involved in knife fights and exposed to deadly viruses, but nothing prepares you for sitting in the passenger seat next to your teenage daughter. It also shows just how good he is at teaching and when he tells her to relax and blink he could also be talking about the spy side of their life.

After The Day After Paige is understandably worried considering how close this all feels to home and it gives Philip not only the opportunity to sell what they do a little more, but also gives him the chance to be honest regarding his own fears. Paige wants them to be together if something like this does happen and at the moment they don’t have to worry about her going against them. Pastor Tim is a different story as despite her best efforts and fake smiles, he has been getting sadness vibes off Paige and he wants to have a sit down with them all when he gets back from his Ethiopia trip. Alice is looking very Princess Di in her maternity frock and she would have just given birth to Prince Harry so this influence would have been strong at this time.

Philip takes on what Pastor Tim says and treats Paige to a spin in the Camaro and this is the second time in this episode where a Paige/Philip sequence is intercut with Elizabeth’s Patty/Don mission. The first track used is “Winter Kills” by Yaz and this band will forever be connected to Kimmy and I wonder if this is another reminder we will be seeing her again. The second track as I have already mentioned is “Major Tom (Coming Home)” by Tom Schilling and it underscores Paige’s fear and then thrill at driving. The joyous high five juxtaposed with Elizabeth’s completed mission is pure Americans happiness intercut with something terrible. And Elizabeth can’t fake too much enthusiasm for Paige’s triumph when she gets home; instead crying off with a headache and going upstairs where Philip joins her.

“Major Tom” is replaced by the strains Philip and Elizabeth’s melancholic theme and it is heartbreaking when as he takes her hand she tearfully tells him “I’m gonna miss her.” Me too Elizabeth, me too.

Meanwhile in other relationship updates Oleg and Tatiana are very much doing it and I still don’t trust her. Her motivations seem to be all over the place and she definitely seems to resent his comfy circumstances growing up. They do watch The Day After together and it is sad to see that William and Arkady are the only ones watching alone. Maybe they need to be pals too.

Even with the brief moment of respite which for these characters is the lengthy 7 months and for us just a week, tension continues to build as the threat goes from small scale to global.


Faking Everything on Girls

17 Mar

There has been a lot of back stepping and moving sideways for a season which proclaimed there is “nowhere to move but up” and yet it does feel like some progress has been made amidst the flailing on Girls. Professional and personal crisis go hand in hand for Hannah, particularly during the first half of the season when she was in Iowa. Admitting this academic program wasn’t right for her felt like a victory in defeat, which quickly hit a different rock bottom upon arriving home to find her boyfriend Adam had already moved on to someone else.

Upheaval has been a key component of season 4 both emotionally and geographically as Hannah come to terms with this next stage of adulthood. Faking it isn’t relegated to just one period of time in your life; however acknowledging this unhappiness could lead to the upward momentum the key art suggested would take place this year for Hannah Horvath and her friends.

Girls 4.09Hannah has since found a job she is good at with a few caveats pertaining to boundaries, but her personal life remains chaotic as she navigates both singledom and the news her father is gay. Dealing with the latter in a fashion that isn’t very Hannah as she isn’t making it all about her and while she doesn’t want all the details she is supportive to both of her parents in crisis. One new friendship Hannah has developed highlights her inability to fully embrace being an adult as she gets into an argument with her student and new bestie Cleo in the hallway over unanswered texts; I know most of your friends are awful Hannah but hanging out with teens is not the way forward. The fake collar/real collar thing is definitely working for you though. Plus that’s a nifty boater hat (good work Shosh).

The final scene in “Daddy Issues” perfectly sums up not just this season, but the four years we’ve been following this group of friends as Marnie in typical Marnie awful fashion makes a night that has nothing to do with her all about her, while maintaining how she is sorry to interrupt. Hannah rather astutely comments on this moment with “She is so not sorry to interrupt” and the comments which follow are super honest and bleak; these two characters are not really real friends and therefore don’t feel the need to soak everything in bs. Ray for a brief moment pretends he is really happy for Marnie before conceding that yep he is faking this reaction. Hannah goes one step further with “I’m faking everything” and we’re going into the season 4 finale on a somewhat nihilistic note.

Master manipulator and probably the person who is faking it the most is Jessa and in a rare moment we get to see through this facade. Jessa has been The Worst for most of this season (Marnie takes the crown this week) and she gives us insight into why she behaves in this way; Jessa doesn’t do well when she thinks linking back to her addiction issues. Ah yes they made Jessa such an asshole this season and bordering on sociopathy – she broke up her best friend’s relationship just so she could get with a guy – that it has been increasingly hard to empathize with her and also understand why they hell anyone is still friends with her, even with all that history. History only gives you a certain amount of free passes and Jessa used those up a long time ago and yet here she still is. And I did feel an ounce of sympathy for her in this moment, good work show.

One pair who doesn’t feel the need to lie to each other and have become this whole non-romantic thing (even if I still ship them) is Ray and Shoshanna. Shoshanna has been set adrift post college as she struggles to find something she wants to do and faking it through interviews has worked in her favor and been unsuccessful all at once. Shoshanna is the ultimate chameleon switching up her look depending on the theme of the scenario. Take how she has been dressing while helping Ray with his campaign in red, white and blue.

Girls 4.09 ShoshBeing brutally honest is a Shoshanna trait so while she can make herself seem like the perfect candidate for a job she will follow it up with a statement regarding how much she doesn’t want to work for your blog. She also has no problem showing her disdain for the crush you are harboring and this actually made me snort laugh


Perhaps the truest words spoken all season. And what about Marnie and her big news? Marnie is the only one in a long-term romantic union, but considering how awful her relationship with Desi is it doesn’t have signs of longevity. Starting with being the woman Desi cheated on his girlfriend with – there is no way Desi was the dumper in this situation – how they are on opposing pages when it comes to the sound they are creating or what they should do with their money and realizing that he is an asshole should be enough alarm bells, but nope Marnie is diving into this whole musician couple fantasy with both feet.

Everything is scattered emotionally going into the season finale and the release from admitting how much Hannah is faking (all of it) opens up the potential for this character and what direction she might go in. This year has been messy in structure and story; it also happens to be the most I have sympathized and understood Hannah with this final gut punch exchange with Ray delivering an unexpected heartbreaking tone. Last season ended on a semi-triumphant tone with a win in the career column and uncertainty with Adam now both these things have shifted dramatically so while Hannah might not consider this year to be a triumphant one, I do think she has come a long way and she will hopefully end the season moving onward and upward.

New Girl 4.09 “Thanksgiving IV” Review: “Life Moves Really Fast”

26 Nov

New Girl’s Thanksgiving episodes are always chaotic – dead people, Parent Trap plans and fish with psychotropic properties – and by bringing the whole group together it showcases the best of New Girl. Jess disrupted what was the loft Thanksgiving tradition back in season one and with each passing year this holiday gets even messier for everyone involved, but this is a sitcom so life lessons are imbued and it all ends well. “Thanksgiving IV” follows this route, even if Schmidt has decided to call it by another name this year and so ‘Bangsgiving’ is born.

New Girl 4.09 ThanksgivingThis is Schmidt’s second attempt this year to get everyone laid at one event; the wedding was a total bust on this front, but now Schmidt is super serious about the whole “Winter is coming” business. A Secret Santa of sorts is part of Schmidt’s Thanksgiving plan with everyone bringing a date for someone in the house by picking names out of Schmidt’s pilgrim hat. Throwing in a bunch of new and recurring characters could be a bust to the usual New Girl Thanksgiving formula (usually there are only one or two additions) and yet it works as it brings into focus some of the wider stories they have been telling this season.

Take Nick who after picking himself brings his old friend Tran to the party, much to Schmidt’s anger that he isn’t taking ‘Bangsgiving’ seriously. Instead this is what has been building over the past few episodes from the introduction of the term ‘uh-ohs‘ to his confession last week that he doesn’t know how to love. Before they have been dancing around the whole Nick and Jess of it all and it takes someone like Cece to address this head on. Schmidt wonders why Nick didn’t just bring one of the terrible women he has been sleeping with recently and the answer is more than obvious to Cece as she points out this pattern is all about him not wanting to get hurt again.

Jess is also holding back and in part this is because she isn’t technically allowed to have a relationship with Ryan. In a rooftop conversation echoing previous Nick and Jess life advice chats Nick tells Jess that she is probably scared of what Ryan actually represents as this is a guy who wants more than something casual. There is an intimacy to these conversations and tension that goes beyond the romantic; ultimately I think Nick and Jess are perfect for each other but they both stand in their own way and there’s a lot to work through before they even dare to commit to anything together again. This conversation is a prime example of New Girl’s ‘stupid shit/real shit’ balance as the chat turns to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with Jess reading the film in a completely different way as she takes Principal Rooney’s side (he’s ‘her people’) – I would like to see the Ferris chat from You’re the Worst intercut with this one please – and then Nick quotes the film to emphasize his point. Life really does move fast.

Throwing caution and pie to the wind (all I can picture is Natalie Portman eating multiple donuts in No Strings Attached when Jess talks about all the pie she ate on the drive over) Jess goes to Ryan’s house to apologize for her “bang one out of our system” approach. Ryan at this point still seems too good to be true – he’s super dreamy and is pretty much the ideal guy for Jess – and there is only a certain shelf life to the guest star romances on any sitcom so it is likely that the ‘no dating’ rule will be their undoing, but for now I am enjoying this new relationship. Going slow doesn’t take and they do end up sleeping together. In fact everyone ends up hooking up except Schmidt and Cece, which is definitely notable considering this whole ‘Bangsgiving’ party was his idea.

As soon as Cece and Schmidt pick each other, Cece is certain that Schmidt won’t even bother bringing a date for her and his flimsy sounding story about why Geoff is late convinces Cece she is right. Schmidt doesn’t argue his case too hard so this really does seem to be the case, until handsome Geoff shows up with an excellent apology and he appears to have come from the same perfect dude land as Ryan. Cece has already mentioned how pleased she was by her lack of date, but when presented with this guy it briefly looks like she might leave with him, instead she pretends she doesn’t speak English and ends up playing board games with Schmidt. This is taking things slow and I really like how they are treating the Cece/Schmidt relationship. It goes way beyond the physical attraction that made them hookup in the first place and it is significant that Schmidt is also on her ‘never’ list. Just remember what happened when he slept with Nadia after his breakup from Cece; bad penis karma.

Moments that are ridiculous weave in with the touching and prior to the conversation about Nick’s dating anxiety he is attempting to make Schmidt jealous by flirting terribly with Cece. Nick realizes that this whole setup is ‘insulting to everyone involved’ and even though the rules are blurry when it comes to someone Nick can barely remember dating; he would never hit on Cece. So many dating rules, but some are more defined than others.

Winston and Coach both find issues with their dates pertaining to their jobs; Pearl (oh hey Shauna Malwae-Tweep!) is a lunch lady and Pepper is from the Police Academy. Winston had a bad experience with a lunch lady once (which is better than what I figured was a snobbish reaction to her job) and Coach can’t deal with the fact that Pepper is probably stronger than him. Both get over these issues and themselves realizing Pearl and Pepper are really great and I hope this isn’t the last we see of either. Coach does also deliver a terrible/hilarious impression of Ryan that sounds even wonkier than Dick Van Dyke’s Mary Poppins accent, while Winston reveals some all too personal things about himself at the start of the episode (he just wants to be slapped around).

New Girl continues its streak of fun episodes balancing the absurd with the sweet and season 4 is doing a good job of course correcting the not so stellar previous year.

New Girl Style Watch

New Girl 4.09Sometimes an LBD is all you need to make a killer outfit and Cece’s Cynthia Vincent is a classic take on this look. If you want to go for something more reminiscent of the ’90s with a Victorian twist then the Candice Gwin velvet dress Jess is wearing is available here.

The Wish List: Olivia Pope’s Wine (and Dancing) Cardigan on Scandal

25 Nov

Top shelf, ultimate wish list time as Olivia Pope’s most recent wine cardigan of glory goes way beyond the month’s rent splurge, but it sure is a knitwear dream. On this occasion the wine cardigan turned into a Stevie Nicks-esque shawl as it slouched down off her shoulders while she span around and Olivia indulging in goofy dancing like this is rare. I have a hard time watching spontaneous dance scenes such as this one, even if it is kinda adorable so focusing on the outfit through my cringe fingers was a much need distraction.

Olivia dancingBecause of all the dancing it is hard to get a clear or full shot of Olivia’s attire so here is a full shot of the ‘Rib-Knit Ilia Cocoon’ cardigan from The Row (also available in grey and worn by Olivia in “An Innocent Man” earlier this season) so here is a full length shot:

The RowThe price tag is hefty and because of how incredibly warm it looks, I’m pretty sure I would never take it off. This includes in bed (I might make an exception for the shower). An everything cardigan for more than just wine and impromptu dance parties. And for whatever other dangers Olivia is about to experience. At least it is black and therefore avoids the ultimate Olivia Pope spilling dilemma.

Julie Hammerle

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