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Tag Archives: 4.11

The Americans 4.11 “Dinner for Seven” Review: No Control

26 May

An FBI Agent moving in across the street from a pair of deep cover KGB spies posing as Americans was one of the initial setups in The Americans pilot. That FBI Agent went from suspicious to best friend, dinnertime crasher and video provider (well he can’t give them to Nina anymore). Stan is having a sort of crisis at the moment relating to those he has killed (Vlad) and those friends who have been killed by the KGB (Amador, Gaad) or because of the KGB and the FBI combined (Nina). Plus there is the matter of his co-worker who turned out to be a spy and his non-existent personal life.

Everything is spinning out of control for all the major players on The Americans and because events can’t be fully predicted or sketched out there is a lot of doubt seeping through the cracks.The Americans 4.11 Elizabeth and PhilipTake Elizabeth and the Young Hee operation, which ultimately was the Don operation. When Elizabeth started out with Young Hee she commented that it felt different, but she had no idea of the strong emotional impact that would come. It could’ve been Lisa who she bonded with in this way or Elizabeth could have stayed completely neutral on the whole thing. Instead Young Hee has left her mark in a big way. There are several reasons for this including Elizabeth’s state of mind after finding out her mother had died and Young Hee filled a very big hole in Elizabeth’s life. Also Young Hee is several levels of charming and fun so it is hard not to want to be her BFF. I’m going to miss Ruthie Ann Miles, but I am not going to miss those teary phone calls about why Don is behaving so strangely. Every scene post fake hookup has been soul crushing and I can’t bear to see Don’s confused/sad face anymore.

Gabriel gave Elizabeth the chance to ask for another way into Level 4 and while Gabriel could have done this prior to her seducing and drugging Don, it didn’t really matter in the end as the Centre turned down this request. It is important for us to see Elizabeth contemplate her feelings in all of this even if she thinks they don’t matter as it shows her humanity. All goes to plan from Elizabeth telling Don she is pregnant to Philip and Gabriel (with their new asset) gaining access to Don’s office by pretending Patty has killed herself (RIP Patty and all those fabulous clothes) and they need money to pay for her funeral. Here’s the kicker as they don’t find the codes, but they have copied all his floppy disc files so hopefully something will turn up otherwise all of this emotional turmoil and family destruction would be for naught.The Americans 4.11 Pastor Tim*A quick production design note about the above shot because I want to point out once again how much of a family home this is right down to the photographs that are pinned onto the kitchen phone.

Even something as straightforward as planning dinner can meet an unexpected turn. When Alice asks Elizabeth if she makes a big spread like this every night Elizabeth says she tries to but it doesn’t always go according to plan. This is what the grilled cheese and Sloppy Joe nights are for; for when you feel so shit after a mission and you just can’t be bothered to cook. Elizabeth invites Pastor Tim and Alice over for dinner as a way to maintain the position of power they now have over this couple after Alice accused them last week of having something to do with Tim’s disappearance in Ethiopia. As Elizabeth later explains it works to their advantage because both Tim and Alice feel bad about accusing them and making them worry about their safety. Whether the tape exists or not (I suspect that Elizabeth suspects the latter) they’re not going to do anything about it yet because of their new advantage.

The dynamics have shifted in favor of the Jennings, but there is something that Elizabeth can’t quite shift in terms of her current feelings and there is something inviting about Pastor Tim’s counsel even though she does not believe in God. Three separate conversations all with the convenient excuse of picking Paige up has Elizabeth talking to Tim about some deep and meaningful things. You can chalk it up to working an asset and sometimes it is hard to tell what is real and what part is the spy talking, but there is definitely an element of trying to work through Elizabeth’s current crisis. Not a crisis of faith (toward her country) specifically, but a crisis in letting her emotions impact her ability to complete a mission. One of these conversations focuses on this idea of control or the lack of and that faith helps Tim in these moments; what does Elizabeth have as her version of this?The Americans 4.11 Elizabeth, Stan and HenryFamily is probably the nearest thing along with duty to country and in a later discussion she asks what he does when he has something on his mind that he can’t stop thinking about. Tim’s answer is prayer and not one for the Elizabeth Jennings playbook; Tim responds that none of these things matter and it is how we treat each other is all that is important.

Well that’s a whole lot of awkward because Elizabeth has done some very terrible things to a lot of people. Whereas Philip has found EST as a way of walking through his anguish at the very terrible things he has done, Elizabeth has yet to find her outlet, but I think her just talking about it is a big step.The Americans 4.11 Philip and StanBack to the serendipity of having a neighbor who is an FBI Agent and Stan is also feeling adrift much like his KGB pals. Stan tells Philip about Gaad’s murder and how he doesn’t buy the ‘robbery gone wrong’ theory and he suspects it was the Russians who did it. He doesn’t know why they would target him, but he is certain those ‘animals’ played a part. Philip’s face stays impassive throughout as it does at dinner when Stan’s occupation comes up with Henry enthusiastically telling Pastor Tim and Alice what Stan does – Tim questions the happenstance of this and Elizabeth points out that they lived there long before the Beemans – and Stan is at a low ebb. Philip for his part is concerned that by mentioning Gaad’s trip in one of his Stan reports he might have accidentally planted the seed of this operation and this is another example of a lack of control; Philip simply thought of it as a throwaway remark and Gaad wasn’t even supposed to end up dead. It was just bad luck.

Rather than go all in on the Oleg plan as I suspected Stan might he instead calls a meeting to tell him about the original plan to blackmail him using Nina or his brother. Stan has a lot of guilt with what happened to Nina and how he killed Vlad in retaliation to what happened to Chris Amador (another wrong place, wrong time death). This also goes a long way in showing how deep The Americans storytelling well is as names like Gregory, Irina and Chris are all important long after their last appearance on the show. Consequences stretch back and Stan is feeling the weight of the conscience that Gaad warned him about. The Americans 4.11 mail robotThere is what you would call a lucky break at the FBI and the return of Mail Robot both hanging out in the background as if on cue and in one of the Martha reports gives them a new lead. Aderholt notes a curious note as when Mail Robot was being repaired a 911 call was made from that building and a woman was found dead of ‘natural causes.’ Aderholt is rightly suspicious of this cause of death and this is another case of a past event coming back to the forefront.

Stan told Philip that he couldn’t tell him stories because they are classified, but he has far looser lips with his son Matthew who in turn told Paige some things last week. Paige tells Elizabeth about the spy secretary as they are walking back to the car in a notably sketchy and deserted looking neighborhood. In a bit of foreshadowing Elizabeth tells Paige that they will “do anything to keep this family together” and she doesn’t just mean with the Pastor Tim situation. As they approach the parking lot it is clear something is going to happen as very little of the episode remains and no amount of driving lesson talk can subdue the tension. What does happen is Paige gets to see who Elizabeth really is as a spy way beyond the ‘social action and making the world a better place’ party line; she gets front seats at the Elizabeth is a deadly and badass spy up show.The Americans 4.11 Paige and ElizabethYou can see Elizabeth assessing the situation straight away going for tempering with handing her wallet over so they can get away without having to resort to violence. Unfortunately one of the would be muggers makes a would be rapist suggestion and there is no way Elizabeth is letting that happen to her daughter so she pulls out some swift self-defense moves that turn deadly when one of the guys pulls a knife. Big mistake there buddy and the end results are what you would expect, except Paige did not expect this and has wide eyed horror all over her face. Now she’s getting a look at who her mom really is and I’m not sure Philip and Elizabeth will be able to talk their way out of this one. Time for Paige to step up once again and the question of trust will come into play once again. Also this is a good time to point you in the direction of my essay over at Collider where I discuss in detail the teenagers on The Americans and how this is one drama that gets this age demographic right.

Everything keeps on spinning and with just two more episodes left of this season there is a chance that some of this will come crashing down; in good news it was announced yesterday that The Americans has been renewed for two more seasons with the 10-episode sixth season as its last. While I am sad that my favorite show has an end date, I am also happy my favorite show has an end date and 23 more episodes to complete the story after this year. This means the writers can carefully plot the conclusion and there is nothing better than a show that can control its own destiny.

Shot(s) of the Week

The Americans 4.11 Elizabeth, Alice, Tim and PaigeStarting with one that made me laugh for a number of reasons; first of all because Stan made a very terrible ‘roast in the oven joke’ which everyone is politely reacting in good humor to. Second because of the biggest salad bowl in the world as an IRL pregnancy bump cover up, when Alice is holding a tiny bowl over the actresses’ fake but very large bump. There’s several references to pregnancy throughout with Patty pretending she is pregnant and it all gets a bit meta as we know Keri Russell is really pregnant. For those who listen to the Slate Americans podcast I am assuming this episode is the one they referenced a few weeks ago when pointing out that Keri Russell was still doing stunts this late in the game.The Americans 4.11 Philip and ElizabethAnd to the heartbreaking as Philip tells Elizabeth they didn’t find the Level 4 codes in Don’s office and she asks him whether he thinks Don will tell Patty. He doesn’t think so, but it is hard to really know. The Jennings bathroom mirror has been put to good use this season and this is another great shot of the pair.

Disguise of the Week The Americans 4.11 Philip and GabrielThis is a disguise we first saw way back in season 1:

 The slightly rough around the edges blonde hair/glasses dude is making a reappearance as Patty’s brother. Also along for the ride is Gabriel as Patty’s father and new recruit Kathy Geiss (she doesn’t have a character name yet so I’m going with her 30 Rock name).

The Elizabeth Jennings Coat Parade The Americans 4.11 Elizabeth coat 1It’s winter so it makes sense that Elizabeth is wearing a lot of coats and there is a secondary reason for this garment particularly in the second half of the season to cover up Keri Russell’s bump and like myself Elizabeth is a woman of many coats. All of which I would probably wear in 2016.The Americans 4.11 PattyThe saddest coat of them all and this Patty stuff is such a heartbreaker that I’m gonna leave it there.The Americans 4.11 Elizabth purple coatThis purple number is one Elizabeth has worn for quite a few seasons now and I am always fond of a bit of wardrobe repeating.The Americans 4.11 Coach coatAnd to the coat of the season and the tan Coach trench which I am coveting hardest of all.

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New Girl 4.11 “LAXmas” Review: Love Actually and All That

10 Dec

New Girl Christmas episodes* tend to be a chaotic affair and “LAXmas” continues this trend switching out the multiple parties of season 2 and inserting travel plans. Ah yes the traveling over the holiday season frenzy that is usually further hindered by the weather and in this case a storm is majorly delaying almost everyone’s flights. Winston and Nick are traveling back to Chicago, Cece’s mom wants to hand deliver a card to Matt Lauer and so she is on the same flight as Schmidt who is returning to Long Island. Coach is attempting to get some ‘me time’ and instead of going back to Detroit he has booked a vacation to Hawaii. Taking the next big relationship step is Jess as she has been invited to London to spend Christmas with Ryan and his family; cue all the anxiety.

* There was no Christmas episode last season, most likely as a result of New Girl’s post Super Bowl slot in January. New Girl is very good at the holiday themed episodes and so I’m glad to see them back with a strong outing this year.

New Girl 4.11Holiday episodes (and particularly Christmas ones) function in a variety of ways; by addressing the larger issues in a heightened and most likely schmaltzy way, pop culture comes into focus by making fun of movies like Love Actually followed by their own slightly skewed Love Actually moment and because there is a single purpose (on this occasion getting on multiple flights) the obstacles are going to keep coming. Switch out the string of festive parties from “Santa” back in season 2 and there are still the same new boyfriend/girlfriend anxieties, just with different suitors (Julian Morris takes the position of both Olivia Munn and David Walton in this episode as everyone else is single or in Nick’s case it has only been a one episode thing so far and he’s already pretty content, that will change).

Guest stars pop up along the way to help, hinder and skeeze with Billy Eichner’s beleaguered airport worker Barry turning from snark and sass at Jess’ attempts to get Nick and Winston on their flight to new BFF when she gets hit on by the super creepy Santa (played by Saved by the Bell’s Dennis Haskins, no I can never look at Mr Belding in the same way after this proposition). Eichner doesn’t do the whole screaming bit and this is the most sedate I have probably seen him; it would have been easy to go for that route but it sets this character apart from his Parks and Recreation and Billy on the Street style and I hope Barry is a return fixture. The withering looks he gives pretty much everyone give me so much life and this character instantly feels part of the New Girl universe. Barry helps Jess out in the end by getting Winston and Nick on their flight and in first class seats (and in a win by karma the super sleeze from the first class lounge is the person bumped, plus some other random guy); however there is more in this airport saga.

Jumping to the first class lounge and another of the creepy dude characters with Barry Bostwick turning from Schmidt aspiration to a reason to leave the luxury that Schmidt craves in one indecent proposal. Schmidt has decided this season that his millionaire dream is still tangible and while he might pretend he is from Manhattan (with a view of defecating Central Park horses) his inner Long Island will come out under the right circumstances. Invoking all things Billy Joel is pretty much the best amount of Schmidt nonsense “New York. Long Island. Billy Joel” and is the perfect exit statement to this scenario. Schmidt doesn’t tell Cece exactly what was said, just that he had disrespected something important to him – Cece’s guess is Daniel Craig’s tailoring – and I’m really liking how New Girl is dealing with this relationship. Cece tells Schmidt she really likes being his friend and he returns this sentiment, yes something romantic is likely to happen in the future, but I appreciate how they are slowly rebuilding what was previously fractured by Schmidt’s infidelity.

With each mention of Coach’s niece in Detroit, it becomes clear he will definitely ditch his alone time super sweet Hawaiian vacation and go back home to his family. No matter how crowded it is, plus the inevitable family squabbles that will take place there are certain things better than lying on the beach. Even if last week’s clip of Coach’s sisters cutting off their own hair was mildly terrifying. And as Coach finds out airport phone charging stations are a nightmare of different appliances and battery needing desperation.

In fun airport hijnks Winston and Nick set about getting on their flight by trying to scare off other people with tickets with Winston going all in with his fake baby and Nick doing things like ripping up tickets that would most likely get him arrested (or at the very least detained), but hey it is Christmas and his “Debbie, don’t start with me, you’re in a mood” was enough hilarity to negate the plausibility of it all. Also pretty sure Nick would get in some kind of shit for his not turning his phone off, ignoring the flight attendant and then getting off the plane shenanigans but like I said it is Christmas and they need their Love Actually moment.

Jess gets the Ryan related fear thanks to the photos of his Downton Abbey style house – Barry is a fan of this show even if he knows it is a soap opera – and his super moody looking family. The McDuck amount of money is one factor and there is too much pressure, so Jess bails. Or at least she tries to and as is traditional with the Nick/Jess pairing advice is given with a bit of pep and reassurance and all is well. This is what was missing when they were a couple last season and it is why I’ve got the Nick/Jess warm and fuzzy feelings again. As I have already mentioned in previous reviews, I really don’t think they are right for each other at this moment but their strong connection is undeniable and it works best in a personal crisis such as this.

Taking the rushing through the airport cliche and cutting to the super slow cart followed by hugs and love declarations as She & Him’s version of “God Only Knows” starts up is more than enough to leave me warm, fuzzy and very satisfied with this festive outing. Oh and Jess when you tell someone you are no longer coming a) at least end the text with one ‘x’ (that was cold) and b) mention you got on the flight in the end.

New Girl 4.11 Jess and BarryNew Girl Style Watch

This Equipment sweater almost made the Wish List after Mindy wore it (instead I went for this LBD from the same episode) so I am glad I get to showcase it here as it is sweater plaid heaven. And if you want something on the less splurge scale then you can pick up Jess’ duck phone case for the very affordable $4.99 here.

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