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Tag Archives: 6.06

The Americans 6.06 “Rififi” Review: Henry Jennings, Marriage Counselor

3 May

It has all been building to this. Those operations that seemingly delivered nothing, other than a whole lot of wasted man hours and bloodshed are finally producing results. The net is closing in on Elizabeth, she knows this particular mission is going to be tricky, but she has no idea how close Stan is to figuring it all out. The diplomatic pouch X-rays has struck the goldmine, the contents being the other half of what Elizabeth has been trying to acquire. This links to the warehouse she broke into, killing three guards, but leaving with nothing. As the FBI gets results, everything is slipping through Elizabeth’s fingers, including stability at home.

The halfway line for this final season has been crossed; tension levels have been set to high.All is not well in the Jennings house. This has been the case for almost all of season six, but the opening scene had both Philip and Elizabeth looking at each other with a seething contempt previously unseen. Philip is disgusted with Elizabeth for murdering people in front of a kid, which she notes she didn’t actually do. Well, the murder part yes, but not in front of the child. He just had to see the bloody aftermath. Informing Elizabeth that he’s not going through with the Kimmy plan is met with the level of bitterness you would expect, Elizabeth digs deep with her choice of words.

First by noting that of course he wasn’t going to do it, then by saying he just wanted to fuck her because he wasn’t getting enough at home. Low blow, Elizabeth. And the first f-bomb uttered this week. A word that hasn’t been uttered before (to my knowledge) on this show. It feels like a twist of the knife. It is also a good example of how well The Americans uses words. The impact is felt here and later on because of how rare this is. The distance between Philip and Elizabeth has been vast; even when they inhabit the same space there is a wall. Whether a physical wall such as the one in their garden or the kitchen island, or a metaphorical one. They came back together briefly last week, but this is the worst it has been between the pair. Even when they were separated during season one it didn’t feel this bad because they still had to work together. They’ve slept in separate rooms before, but when Philip told her “it’s over” regarding the Kimmy op it, it feels like a very loaded phrases about them as well.

Not too fast though, there is still something that can save this marriage. And his name is Henry Jennings! Ah, Henry. Comes home for Thanksgiving to find it isn’t just freezing outside. First he thinks he is helping out with Philip’s business woes because he’s told his rich friend’s dad all about it. Philip is already feeling emasculated by one child, now the other one goes and mentions his business failure.* Then Henry gets offered a cigarette by his mother; she barely even reacts when he comes outside to see her. Henry might be somewhat oblivious to what goes on at home, but this tension is hard to ignore. Because he has been away for so long it is even more obvious that all is not well.

*Poor Stavos, he’s been at the travel agency for an age but he’s first on the chopping block as his sales are low. Capitalism at work in its most devastating fashion.Philip plays hookey from work to hang with Henry, if Henry hadn’t picked up on all the cues like the sleeping in separate rooms, then Philip’s frustrated “FUCK” response to his car going off the tracks at the slot-car racing is definitely enough for him to wonder what on earth is going on at home. Everything is crumbling. Philip tells Henry that “Everything is fine. I love your mother, she loves me. It’s just sometimes… Everything is fine.” This really isn’t all that convincing, but it is the second time this season they have reiterated this point to their kids, Elizabeth did this with Paige a few weeks ago.

The great Jennings kid duties divide is no more apparent than with Henry because his screen time this season has only been with Philip, whether over the phone or watching him play hockey. The running joke is of course the teen boy gets shuttled off to boarding school, but I have always thought that Henry would end up playing a vital part in their downfall because he is the most American of all of them. Plus he is still pretty tight with Stan. For now it looks like he might be saving his parents’ marriage and he doesn’t even realize it.When Elizabeth offers him a cigarette she says that he is an adult now, that she can tell him things. But she still doesn’t tell him every single thing. This would be a betrayal to Philip. Later while she is in Chicago about to attempt a mission that has very slim odds of succeeding, she phones Henry to have what most would consider a very normal mom/son chat. She asks about school, girls, how everything is going. It feels like goodbye. Henry recognizes how not normal this conversation is so when he tells his dad about it, Philip knows that things are bad. He’s just been poking around her wig cave, seen her vase drawings, sending a coded note to Oleg—it is very fun seeing the spycraft side of this all set to Tears for Fears. Henry also can’t understand why his mother is so unhappy when she has everything, if only you knew Henry, if only you knew.

Last week ended with a phone call that would cause this deep rift between husband and wife, this time it is a reconciliation. The last time they spoke it was less than cordial; Philip didn’t want to let this tension fester, Elizabeth responds with something more conclusive telling him “take your Forum bullshit and shove it up your ass.” Way to spill your feelings, Liz. She admits that what they are attempting in Chicago is probably not going to work, they need more people. He wants to know if she is asking him to come, she isn’t. He tells her to come home, she can’t. Leaving Philip with only one option, to offer his help.

Earlier he bitterly mentioned how she had somehow dragged him back into this, this time he is doing it of his own volition. No one is asking him to, but there is no way he can leave her with her neck on the line like this. He loves her, she loves him. Some sacrifices are worth making. This is what happens when Elizabeth asks her son how he is doing at school.I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thrilled that they will be working together again, even if it has a ‘one last job’ feeling. Philip and Elizabeth are the best agents they can be when they are working together. Her words to Tuan have come back to haunt her; you can’t do this work alone. But it is worrying that Aderholt has pretty much figured out all the ways to track down illegals. Including the cars they use, the garages they rent, how they keep safe houses and targeting priests. All the pieces are falling into place. It is going to happen fast.

Soon they will know the people they have been eating many dinners with are the same people Stan was talking about in his way too intense Thanksgiving toast. As a viewer it is fun to hear about how they have been acquiring so many cars, safe houses and wig caves. See also getting to watch Oleg with his coding kit.The episode title comes from the French movie, Rififi. AKA the greatest heist movie in history. I haven’t seen it so I’m going to have to take the word of this very Timothée Chalamet looking dude’s word for it. Elizabeth takes a break from killing anyone this week; instead she is in the recruiting business. It is unclear exactly what she wants, but it has to do with Senator Sam Nunn, Wikipedia tells me he had a lot to do with nuclear disarmament. A good indicator as to why Elizabeth is sniffing around this kid.

The Rififi trivia from not-Chalamet—because of course this dude has to correct her—was also relevant in the long battle between the Soviets and the US; it is a French film, but director Jules Dassin was American. He was blacklisted as part of the McCarthy-era trials.

A stomach churning episode that digs deep into everything that is so good about The Americans. The inevitable Stan discovery is so close, there is no happy ever after in this world. Everything is far from fine, but at least Henry got his parents talking again. Got to take those small victories where we can.

Teens in ’80s Jeans (Part III)Paige was frozen out of Elizabeth’s plan, she had to smile through Stan’s toast, but she did get to spend some quality family time with her brother. Including him giving her a look as if to say “What the fuck is going on with mom and dad?” Not that she could say. She also had to wear these less than flattering jeans. Great shirt though.

I Heart ’80s Athleisure Retro sports apparel is always my fave. This is no exception. It is also worth noting that Erica is having a major influence on Elizabeth. Instead of smoking, Elizabeth sketches in this moment of high stress.

MAIL ROBOT  After that bitter pre-credits exchange, the physical comedy that followed was welcome. Stan gives Aderholt some sass about how every time he goes downstairs someone dies, when Mail Robot gets in the elevator with them, Aderholt asks if he wants to blow off steam. Shout out to Agent Gad (RIP) and the last unprovoked attack.

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The Struggle is Politics: The Good Wife and Compromise

27 Oct

At one point in “Old Spice” Alicia comments that she “doesn’t like pretending to be someone she is not” as a result of the religion focused interview she has just taken part in. The question of who Alicia is or rather who Alicia wants to be (or even who she is perceived to be) is at the heart of The Good Wife from the title of the show itself to every move we have seen Alicia make from first-year associate to starting her own firm.

Alicia’s life has been entangled with politics since Peter entered this professional sphere, but it is the opening scene of her standing next to her disgraced husband that blurred the line between public and private; while we have seen glimpses of who she was prior to this our relationship to her has been primarily from this moment onward and it was only from this point that the press really cared about who Alicia Florrick is. Now there is a new update to the Alicia Florrick story and the media went crazy for the next chapter in Alicia’s life as she takes a leap from lawyer to political candidate.

the good Wife 6.06 interviewThere is a lot of talk about honesty this week as Alicia struggles with the idea of lying about her faith (or lack thereof) to secure votes and this ends up not only compromising her, but also Grace who has been helping her brush up on her religious knowledge (treating it like courtroom prep). It’s a bad position to be put in and when Alicia ponders whether she should simply refuse to answer the question she gets told there is no way around this; “it is none of your business” is not an option to this personal question, even if it should be enough. It is an interview that could sink or swim her campaign, a campaign she has only just entered and if she told the truth about her atheist stance as she has done in the past then she is torpedoing her campaign before it has even begun. Alicia complains to Johnny that the “political rules keep changing” but the religious question is one that has been prevalent for some time now and I’m surprised Alicia is surprised her lack of religion will be an issue (it shouldn’t be, but here we are).

Alicia talks of a struggle and when Grace presses the question wondering what this struggle is exactly; Alicia’s answer is “Politics.” Alicia doesn’t feel the need for God or faith and this circles back to her answer a few weeks ago about why she became a lawyer:

“I like clarity. I like rules.”
“And you wanted to help people with those rules.”
“No. I know I’m supposed to say yes. I just wanted to be inside something that made sense to me. I never thought about—”
“People?”
“Yeah.”

This is a pragmatic answer rather than an empathetic one and Alicia tends to work at things from this angle including her reasoning last season for why she ended things with Peter aside from their marriage as a political tool bump “It’s a decision. I like decisions.” This is pretty much Alicia’s mantra on life as she likes to know what the boundaries are and it is why she is thrown when someone is dishonest with her from Kalinda’s long ago betrayal to Zach’s more recent indiscretion and subsequent cover up. Now she is making these compromises herself and while this walking around the religion question by claiming she is open to the idea of it, is of course a barefaced lie it means she is still a viable candidate which is of course the goal of this entire exercise. There are two points where Alicia bristles during the interview; the first is when Will gets brought up and she doesn’t deny that she searched for faith at this time. Instead the opposite is true as when Grace approached her mother and told her that Will was with God now, Alicia rejected this notion and the idea of why this tragedy happened.

The second moment of looking uncomfortable during this interview and attempting to sidestep the question is when Grace is referenced and it is one thing twisting the truth entirely about her own beliefs, but it is clear she feels extra shitty when her daughter’s beliefs/guidance is mentioned. It’s not like Alicia can come clean to using her daughter as a religious cheat sheet for both this interview and earlier this season for a case. Grace gets praised at her Bible group and she looks extra guilty for this lie she is caught up in as her friends are so happy she has ‘reached’ her mother. Grace uses the same ‘struggling’ euphemism to sidestep how she reached her ‘hardened’ mother and this further compromises Grace.

the good Wife 6.06 Alicia and GraceAlicia’s ability to answer these questions without committing too much to anything shows she is already learning one of the all important tricks to the trade, in fact it is something she has been good at for a long time; it’s just she doesn’t normally have to use her daughter to notch up a win. Whenever Peter has run for anything Alicia has always been insistent that their kids are not involved and inadvertently both Zach (because of the oppo research) and Grace are already part of the SA campaign. It was inevitable that they would be a fixture of questioning and sadly the family/work balance is a question a woman is more likely to get than a male candidate and her role as mother/wife is something that will be taken into consideration even if it has nothing to do with the position she is running for.

The Saint Alicia brand has nothing to do with religion of course, but it would be a dent in that persona if she had stuck to her atheist guns and I can’t help but wonder when the other accusations of infidelity are going to be unleashed. My money is still on some kind of iCloud hacking ‘ripped from the headlines’ scenario.

Elsewhere, Cary is still getting himself into bother as he technically breaks his bail conditions landing himself a list of stricter terms including a ban from interacting with Kalinda; this is what she gets for calling him “the most honest person I know.” If Cary is going to break any of these restrictions this is going to be the one. Alicia hasn’t been very present at work and particularly with Cary as she wasn’t even aware that he had been rearrested until the next day and despite their many recent disagreements she refuses his suggestion of taking a break from work; in it together and all that. There is a lot on Alicia’s plate at the moment and as the season/her campaign progress I wonder what will fall by the wayside first.

While it was a meandering episode for the most part and even though I love Elsbeth I am finding it hard to care about the case she is part of or even the flirtation/hook-up with the just as kooky Josh Perotti. Except for the part where she got him with the single party consent, which was pretty awesome. Oh and every frilly shirt is an Elsbeth costuming dream.

The end is what really sells this episode and the return to their former Lockhart Gardner (& Canning) offices that have been trashed by the previous inhabitants (taking all the ‘F,’ ‘A’ and ‘L’ from the keyboards) is full of former ghosts and references to where they have come from.

the good wife 6.06 AliciaInsisting that Alicia takes her old office, Diane is turned down and there is something fitting about Alicia taking the office that holds so much meaning. I had reservations about the return to this office space, but the look shared between Alicia and Diane as she sits at what was once Will’s desk it is enough to convince me that this isn’t regression at all. This is all through very misty eyes of course and I don’t know why I hadn’t considered who would get Will’s office, but this hit me like a sucker punch of emotions. His name isn’t even uttered in this episode; however his presence is clearly felt.

The Good Wife 6.06 DianeDiane standing defiant in her office while wearing yet another magnificent pin is something I will never get bored with; she thought she was doing the kind thing by offering to take Will’s former work abode by suggesting she needs a new start, but she sees Alicia will be more than fine in these surroundings. The slight mirroring between Alicia and Diane in this scene comes in part from their attire as both are working a zipped look, with Diane’s No. 35 jacket being far more showy with fur cuffs and trimmings than Alicia’s Akris belted grey dress and this fits their style as Diane tends to lean towards opulent detail whereas Alicia sticks to clean lines. Emotions are running high for both women and it is a big moment for them and us as an audience watching this exchange.

The Alicia we met in that pilot episode is so far removed from the one we see now and while Diane has been an influence on her, Will’s impact was far more than just romantic and when Alicia references how different things are from six years ago in her interview Will is a big part of that. Returning to the place where she started is not a step back for Alicia, it might be a regression for Cary who has been pushed to the side once again as his legal problems continue. Cary has always played second fiddle in these offices and it is understandable why he voted against moving back here no matter how many infrastructure problems their current home has. All control is getting wrestled away and while Alicia reassures him that they are in this together with him tucked away in David Lee’s former office and Alicia being so close to Diane they are aligned in both proximity and most recently with their decision making. Cary is the one making all the work compromises and it probably won’t be long before Cary makes a terrible hook-up decision as he did in “Old Spice.”

 

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