Tag Archives: costume design

The Battle Between Truth and Power on The Good Wife

25 Apr

Funeral flowers and a buttload (an official measurement) of wine is all that is needed to get a Good Wife celebration going and there are a lot of moving parts this week what with divorces, engagements and Peter’s looming trial. Reasons to talk stack up and Alicia is in demand while she tries to play happy host for Howard and Jackie’s ketubah, hence all the wine. There are Jason problems, kid problems, parent problems and of course Peter problems. Although the latter isn’t so much about the end of their marriage, but more about the allegations against him. The Good Wife 7.20 Alicia and PeterAlicia at the moment doesn’t have any work concerns and all of that is going rather smoothly because David Lee understands brands (and will be getting the same amount of money regardless of not having his name in their fancy new title). What they probably need to do is cool it on the reshuffling; this should be the final one because otherwise the brand means nothing. It is fun seeing Diane so giddy at this new name now they have a letterhead and everything.The Good Wife 7.20 Lockhart FlorrickNow for the various messy dealings Alicia had this week, which were plentiful. First up Jason and “Party” employed a Good Wife narrative technique favorite; starting the episode on the question/statement where the last one ended. Alicia tells Jason that the thing she wants is him and in return Jason gives her a very random gift that causes Alicia to question everything about their relationship. He thinks it would be bad if she is getting a divorce because of him and I believe her when she says she isn’t and this is about taking a moment rather than blaming things like bad timing (*sob*).

The timing is bad and their very important conversation is interrupted by a hollering Grace – I don’t understand why she doesn’t just come inside, but then I guess that would kill the comedy/drama – who is having flower issues. They leave it in this weird place with Jason giving Alicia a deed to some land on Mars and it is a bizarre gift which he makes even worse by badly explaining his thought process. The Good wife 7.20 GraceMeanwhile Jason is also much in demand with Eli as he still has him investigating the investigation into Peter, despite Peter’s disapproval and the potential awkwardness here. What Jason does is show they have a strong case against him as his involvement on the Richard Locke case was unusual and it can be spun to make it look like he was overbearing with regard to evidence. Peter has a good explanation for all of the suspicious behavior and says he was so involved because he feared this case would be their OJ (hot topic reference alert). The lab technician does have a history of sloppy mistakes and even though Jason’s services are no longer required after Eli confronts him about whether his feelings for Alicia are interfering, he returns to the crime lab and lets the technician know he is onto her and whoever is trying to set Peter up.

The battle between truth and power is something Matan – always happy to see you! – talks about over drinks with Cary; in this case they are the truth and Peter is the power, but there could be someone else pulling the strings with Peter as the fall guy. Who is this mystery force trying to bring Peter down? The ghost of Will? Colin Sweeney (I just want to see Dylan Baker on this show one last time)? An old political opponent? A random someone we have never met? Robyn? Okay I just want to know where she is.

Regardless, everyone is lawyering up and Cary has gone with Louis Canning as his representation and now Canning wants to start a “coalition of the innocent.” Canning starts with Eli and does this via Diane (his lawyer). This is a non-starter as is his conversation with Alicia; he tries to sway her by pointing out that somehow she might be culpable in all this. Nice try, Canning. Alicia might be divorcing Peter, but she is still loyal.The Good Wife 7.20 Diane and KurtOne person I am concerned for is Kurt and what part he is going to play in this as it sounds like he was the last person who had the piece of evidence that went missing. It is also notable that Kurt’s name is not mentioned later when Eli talks to Jason about Peter’s explanation for everything. We spend a lot of time seeing how happy Diane is and Alicia pretty much shouts #RealtionshipGoals at them; this gives me a feeling that something bad is going to happen at this late juncture and goddammit if Kurt gets dragged into this mess.

Kurt also gets hero points for how he dealt with Hannah – Zach’s fiance – bailing through the need for more booze. Ah yes, Zach and his big engagement/dropping out of college/moving to France news. Alicia’s reaction is laughter which she tries unsuccessfully to cover with fake tears. She finds it hilarious that Zach wants to become a writer – “what would you write” – and equally hilarious that he wants to move to France. Hannah is kinda the worst and therefore perfect for Zach who has always had this streak of self-righteousness. I’m sorry Grace for all the times I thought that Zach was the better Florrick child and he is clearly who Alicia was talking about when she said she wasn’t sure if she likes her kids.

They talk it out and Alicia is fine with Zach going through with his plans and this is very much the Alicia who gives none of the fucks that we have seen a lot of this season. The kids find out about the divorce plan because Veronica has been drinking a lot of wine (much like everyone else at this party) and she wants to provoke Jackie forgetting that Grace is sitting right next to her. And to think moments before they were enjoying an episode of everyone’s fave prestige cable drama “Darkness at Noon.”The Good Wife 7.20 Grace, Owen and VeronicaThere are a lot of goodbyes this week with Jackie telling Alicia she never has to see her again, although I think she is forgetting the small matter of Peter’s trial and this seems like a place they will cross paths. Plus other family events involving her grandchildren. Jackie gives as good as she gets by telling Alicia that they are more alike than she can imagine and the look on Alicia’s face is pure horror. This also feels like the last time we will see Veronica and Owen; Veronica is very happy Alicia is going with the hunk and all she wants is for her daughter to be happy. Marissa also goes in hard on the hug front and what a delightful bunch of recurring guest stars this show has. The bench is deep.

Marissa mentions they could all die tomorrow and Eli’s stress levels suggest he would be number one on his list. Due to a dog related issue Mike Tascioni has dropped out and now they need a new lawyer for Peter. It is a shame they don’t know any. Considering this Instagram behind the scenes photo I think I have an idea who they might choose (speculation/spoilers).The Good Wife 7.20 Alicia and LuccaBringing it back to Jason and after all the awkwardness and random gifts they talk it out on the street. This is a very public location and being this cavalier with where they smooch might have consequences. They figure out where they stand and Jason explains his itchy feet when it comes to staying in one place. It is resolved with a hint of still not quite hitting a solution. For now they are fine and if Jason could stop using Lucca as his relationship go-between then that would be swell; she deserves much more than being their relationship adviser and sadly this is what she has been reduced to at the moment.

One costuming note and Alicia brings it again in red and this ensures she stands out in every single scene she features in and she pulls all the focus; she is very much in demand from all angles and in this outfit she is not hard to spot. It is such a signature look for Alicia particularly at big events and I am glad they are keeping with this costuming theme right to the end.The Good Wife 7.20 wineAnd the end is nigh, so make like Alicia and get prepared.

The Americans 4.05 “Clark’s Place” Review: People of Action

14 Apr

There is a reason The Americans didn’t go with “Heroes” as their David Bowie closing music choice, opting instead for the apt “Under Pressure” collaboration with Queen. There are no heroes on The Americans and this is the kind of war where both sides do some very bad things and people definitely get hurt no matter how much either team wants to spin their tales of horror. It is relentless and by this point it a battle that has been simmering for nearly 40 years and while we know the end is in sight; there is no sign of it letting up for the people in the midst of it all. The wheels keep on spinning and the problems keep on coming.The Americans 4.05 Elizabeth and PhilipLast week’s quarantine getaway might not have been the vacation Philip and Elizabeth need, but it did give them the briefest respite from the many challenges they’ve got going on at work and home. There is no taking a break now and the things that stacked up during the ‘maybe you’ve got glanders’ 48 hour period have to be addressed. Bowling was fun and all, but there are other wives, daughters and Pastors who have a lot of questions.

Paige wants to know where they have been and her late night chat with her mother (Philip is at Clark’s) doesn’t give her any answers as Elizabeth stonewalls her. Firstly it is the middle of the night and Paige fully startled Elizabeth out of her slumber and even though it isn’t surprising to see her react in this way with all that is going on, it is surprising to see Elizabeth this twitchy. I guess she did just think she might die so her vulnerability levels are high.

Paige’s quest for answers is also not a shocking turn of events as finding out your parents are spies is not an everyday kinda problem. They are vague when it comes to describing what they do and the only thing they keep stressing is how dangerous it is for someone else to know their secret and how much trouble they would get in if they were caught. While Martha spins the story in the exact way Philip tells her to with this notion that she is having an affair with a married man, Paige comes straight out and tells Pastor Tim what her parents wanted her to say to him. Paige is wrestling with her confusion with honesty, whereas Martha’s is a much deeper predicament because if she fucks up she will be going to jail to and her loyalty to Clark is incredibly complicated. The Americans 4.05 Philip and ElizabethWith Pastor Tim and Alice the solution to get them on side is to spin a religious angle because Pastor Tim believes that the Soviets have a very dim and oppressive take on those who believe. That’s why Philip and Elizabeth take their very good friend Father Rivas with them to explain all the good work they do and the lives they have saved. This definitely has a positive impact on Pastor Tim and also gives Philip and Elizabeth the chance to double down on this idea that both sides do good and bad. And of course they do good and this whole bit is well orchestrated. It also leads to one of the funniest moments this week when after dropping Rivas off Philip ponders whether he is even a priest. Regardless, part 1 of getting Pastor Tim on side is successful and it is Paige they might need to work on.

Paige is resistant to all of this and the gentle prodding/manipulation; she tells Pastor Tim that it seems like there is a grownup conspiracy going on where they are telling her how to feel and then they do whatever they want. That’s what adults do, Paige. Such a teen. Paige does admit that they at least told her the truth when she asked even if in retrospect they probably shouldn’t have. That scores them points and Elizabeth will be glad to know that Paige does know they love her. Later on they pop in on Paige while she is in bed and she tells them they were right about how Pastor Tim cares about her; while this should be comforting Paige still looks like sleep will be evading her and the weight of the world is on her mind.

Sleep or lack of is a problem this week for Martha and the Valium she has been prescribed for her panic attacks is not helping all that much. Out of everyone she is truly on her own right now; she couldn’t reach Clark before her dinner date with Agent Aderholt and even though she has a new emergency number to reach Philip on this doesn’t make him any more available to her really. “Clark’s Place” opens with their only face to face interaction and here she tells him about the copy machine query and the possibility they are on to her. When Philip gives her the number to memorize he tells her he needs that bit of paper back in the morning and her response is heartbreaking – “Why would I expect to keep anything?” Even their wedding photo is gone when she comes back to the apartment.The Americans 4.05 MarthaPhilip puts Hans on Martha full time and he thinks he spots someone tailing her and while Hans isn’t sure, we know that his hunch is correct and they are getting closer to figuring out that something is up with Martha that goes beyond an affair with a married man. What this does is isolate Martha even further and the call later where Philip tells her he loves her is not much of a consolation prize. Another week with another knockout performance from Alison Wright and this entire cast is crushing it this season. Is it too much to hope the Emmy voters are paying attention?

The phone call Philip makes is all under the watchful eye of his other wife and Elizabeth’s concern here is part mission related with a big dollop of jealousy. Martha is an important asset and one they must protect at all costs, but as Gabriel points out they are good at what they do because they care about the people they work with. Part of this is Gabriel buttering them up, but Elizabeth also knows that Philip does have some feelings for Martha, which is maybe why she asserts her role as wife with some super steamy moves at the end of the episode. All while Martha is across town; alone in bed and with a pair of FBI agents sitting outside her apartment.The Americans 4.05 ElizabethIn season 2 Martha told Elizabeth (while dressed as Jennifer) that Clark was a wild animal in bed. This was a point of contention that led to a very upsetting physical moment between Philip and Elizabeth; this time however Elizabeth definitely has the upper hand in the wife stakes. And she always does really. Considering how much shit is going on and that they just faced a near-death adjacent experience it isn’t surprising that sex is on the cards as it is both the perfect distraction and way to work out all this nervous energy. They are people of action after all. Let’s just hope Paige is also out as she has been through enough as it is to have to hear that as well. 

This moment comes after they have put it together that Agent Aderholt is the guy Elizabeth took out in the season 3 premiere and he’s also the guy who took Martha out; none of this is good news. The friendly face they have in the FBI is friendly once again as Philip and Stan have finally made up. Philip apologizes and then uses his chat with Sandra a few weeks ago to tell Stan that Sandra feels bad about things too; all the ways to get him back on side and Sad Stan re-earns that nickname by revealing that he doesn’t have many friends. Henry doesn’t count and his relationship with Oleg is goes back to being cordial this week, but that is all it is.The Americans 4.05 OlegAh yes Oleg and Stan and the news of Nina’s death reaches all the people who care about her this week. Oleg is angry that his father could do nothing to stop it even though he knows he knows he shouldn’t expect anything and the death of his brother is wrapped up in this overwhelming grief. Oleg’s father Igor is angry that even though his son died fighting for his country there will be no military honors at his funeral; he was a hero, but in this Cold War there are no heroes and everything related to it must be erased from history.

Similarly the details surrounding Nina’s death are incredibly vague and they don’t even have the information regarding what she did other than she “interfered.” To her country Nina was a traitor even though she got valuable intel when she was working as a double agent. It doesn’t matter and Arkady swings between anger at Nina and anger at the system with what happened to her. When Oleg tells Stan he doesn’t dance around her death coming straight out and telling him. Stan is speechless and Oleg shares the story about his brother’s funeral and how there are no heroes in this war. It all seems so futile.

The word hero gets used as a suggestion from Gabriel about how they should push William; he has been in the US for 25 years and has achieved barely anything. Now is the time for him to step up. But even if he does come through and help swing the balance of power the only time he will be getting called a hero is in a secret meeting in a car park. He probably should not expect a statue or portrait to be put up in every office.

Shot(s) of the WeekThe Americans 4.05 Paige and ElizabethThis week’s episode was directed by none other than Stan Beeman himself, Noah Emmerich and there are lot of wonderful moments to choose from; particularly in the Jennings house. This one between Elizabeth and Paige in the middle of the night does a good job of showing how this huge spy reveal has opened things up, but there is also a gulf between them. Also experiencing a lot of long hair envy. The Americans 4.05 Paige and PhilipLater on Elizabeth comes home to find a very normal affair; Henry on the computer while Philip and Paige watch TV. Ronald Reagan is between them and Reagan is the elephant in the room or rather the clown in the room as Elizabeth can’t stifle her laughter at what his red cheeks makes him look like. A new lighter Elizabeth is always welcome and Young Hee is having a good effect on her. This is a very different level of emotions than the last time Regan was on TV.The Americans 4.05 Paige in bedAnd to complete the Paige and her parents circle here they are checking in while she is in bed, not asleep.

Disguise of the WeekThe Americans 4.05 PattyA light disguise week with one appearance by Patty, Clark and Hans. Patty wins because just look at her and I love that purple is her dominant costume color. Young Hee is fascinating and even though we still don’t know why Elizabeth is interested in her, I don’t care as she is super charming and it is nice to see Elizabeth with a friend. Yes Henry, your mom has friends (even if they are work related).

Outfit I Would Wear in 2016The Americans 4.05 Elizabeth trenchIt always comes back to the Coach trench and this week Elizabeth switches it up by alternating between her tan and black version. This is also the one Holly Taylor wore to a recent FX event. It is a classic for a reason.

The Americans 4.04 “Chloramphenicol” Review: Just One More Thing

7 Apr

Philip and Elizabeth have been living in a burning house for so long on The Americans that adding another thing to their already extensive “To Do” list is not really a big deal. Okay so it had to take what felt like a brush with death to get to this point, but after the decision is made they are pragmatic and ready to take on another thing that could destroy this life they have made for themselves.

In “Chloramphenicol” there are both no options and no good options; Paige must lie about where her parents are even though she doesn’t have a clue just how bad things are for them. Martha also has a problem that requires some input, but once again her go to person is out of reach and she must wing it.The Americans 4.04 Philip and ElizabethAnd then we have Nina and where she is there are no options; good or otherwise. There is a potential White Knight coming her way as it just so happens that Oleg is back home fighting her corner. His brother’s recent death provides Oleg with a reason to return and he wants his father to have another go at freeing Nina. If his father is successful then Oleg will leave his position in America even though this is the last thing he wants to do, but he’s bargaining with the only thing he has to give. Let’s just say his dad did not come through. Was there any attempt on his part?

Nina received her “exceptional punishment” in a scene we should have probably expected, but was shocking nonetheless. It had echoes of Stan killing her friend Vlad (sans burger) in both manner and execution; seeing the clinical and cold way they scooped up her body leaving the pool of blood behind made it all the more devastating. Nina has been marked for death since Stan entered her world and she has been living on borrowed time. As soon as she made a choice to do something that wasn’t motivated by self-preservation her luck ran out and this make it even more tragic. Coupled with her recent dreams and the signs were all there; particularly the funeral like quality of the flower filled former safe house last week.The Americans 4.04 NinaWe do get to see Nina’s happy ending and in this version it looks like Oleg will be moving back to Russia after his father pulled some strings, but as this sequence continues and Anton gets involved we know it is nothing more than fantasy. Narratively it makes sense for Nina’s story to come to an end as they had backed themselves into a corner of sorts and as this is The Americans the options are slim and there is only so much treading water that a character can do. This is TV so there is always a chance though, right?

Nope, nope, nope and Annet Mahendru crushed it with both her happy dream tears and the ones which showed the brief fear she experienced before her death sentence was swiftly delivered. The real kicker is that her letter to Anton’s son didn’t even make it out raising the heartbreaking levels to I just got misty eyed typing this paragraph out. All that is left of Nina’s life is that sad grubby plastic bag full of her sad grubby things and the memories Anton, Oleg, Stan and Boris have of her. She didn’t start a revolution, but she did bring some kind of hope to Anton’s predicament. There is that.

Connections are important and the one Nina had with Anton was life changing; Oleg wants to save her and he isn’t sure if it is for love or something else. There are the ones we have with our family and there are a lot of parent/child moments this week that call to the notion of this deep bond. For Oleg it is his father explaining that the death of a child is like nothing else and it is why he wants him home. We see Elizabeth fever dreaming about the time her mother was sick with diphtheria and this ties into her mother’s recent death, her current sick state and what is going on with Paige. William comments on how lucky Philip and Elizabeth are to have each other as he has no one he can talk to about this stuff on a personal level and it goes some way to explain his prickly exterior.The Americans 4.04 WilliamI like the idea of William being Philip’s snarky friend and Philip opens up about a few personal things that he could never do on this level with Stan or even Gabriel. He tells him about how long he has been with Elizabeth (over 20 years) and gives him a good recap of season 3 in the whole telling/not telling Paige of it all. They keep so much close to their chest that in these rare moments of honesty it can be somewhat disconcerting especially when Philip explains that Elizabeth would always chose this life while he would chose to be normal, but he would still want Elizabeth at his side. Matthew Rhys delivery of this line is both raw with a hint of the life he knows that never could have been; the one they pretend they have every day and enough can’t be said about how good everyone is in this cast.

That is a real humdinger of a revelation and while we are very much aware of Philip’s desires it is unusual to hear him speaking so freely with someone who knows exactly who he is; this isn’t him working his issues through a disguise or EST. Philip doesn’t feel like a lucky guy, but later on when he is in an all enveloping ‘yay we’re not dead (again)’ hug with Elizabeth, William looks on with sad envy and it is clear in this business that Philip should be thankful for this relationship.The Americans 4.04 hugPhilip to his credit doesn’t even entertain the idea that Elizabeth is actually sick and I’m not sure whether this is optimism or because he can’t even bear to think of the alternative. Between the vom and everything being super clammy things don’t look good for Elizabeth; unlike Nina we know there will be a way out of this one because Elizabeth is a co-lead and this show still has at least another season on the cards.

What Elizabeth is experiencing is a very bad reaction to the drugs and Wikipedia helpfully notes that “Its use is only recommended when safer antibiotics cannot be used.” This very bad reaction could also be Glanders so it isn’t surprising that she considers the worst and this leads to her taking a very Philip position on a couple of things.The Americans 4.04 makeup part 1Also a quick shot out to the makeup team for the journey of Elizabeth’s eye makeup as it got progressively smudgy while her skin got increasingly clammy. And Keri Russell somehow still looks amazing in this super sick state. The Americans 4.04 makeup partLast week I talked a lot about compromise and how since we have met Philip and Elizabeth they have moved from a bond out of necessity to this deep, deep and intense dynamic that goes far beyond any other relationship on this show. Elizabeth knows Philip’s overall position when it comes to their family going so far as telling him to be an American and blame her for anything Pastor Tim death related if she should die. Henry never has to know the truth and they can live the life Philip wants. Except without Elizabeth this is far removed from his dream alternative. The solution they come to when Elizabeth is better the next morning is one they come at together; she now gets why Philip doesn’t want Pastor Tim and Alice to be killed and she is very much on board the cancelling and not just postponing of this plan.

One other choice is to run which Philip is still all for because it means they will be together, but nope Elizabeth wants to go for bonus door number 3 by working Tim and Alice saying “It’s one more thing.” Convincing Gabriel isn’t so hard, but as with Oleg’s father they need to give him something in return to convince the Centre and that is the promise of Paige coming into the family business. It doesn’t sit well and yet they agree nonetheless.

Paige has proven herself pretty adept with spy like qualities as she comes up with a convincing lie when Stan asks where her parents are and even though she is spiraling she manages to keep a lid on her emotions. Gabriel tries to warn them of the forever fear they will feel sharing pre-war tales of terror, but their decision has been made and there is nothing more for them to do but go home and be with their kids.The Americans 4.04 bowlingEpcot might be off the menu, but bowling isn’t and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is seeing them enjoying family time with no ulterior motive or nefarious plan on the go. Elizabeth it turns out is a killer bowler and even makes a joke in a Russian accent that it was part of their training. This is so unexpected and delightful that it is clear something very horrible is going to happen if we’re getting a moment of levity.

And horrible it is as Nina’s dream then death follows happy Jennings family time. Oh, show.The Americans 4.04 MarthaOne other person who is out on her own this week as a result of the Glanders affair is Martha and she doesn’t have any kind of back up when dealing with her dinner date with Agent Aderholt. The evening starts off badly as she zones out on everything he is saying and maybe the wine courage kicks in she goes into detail about her relationship with a married man. In fact a lot of what Martha says is accurate in that he is married and he wouldn’t leave his wife for her. She mentions how they’re not wearing wigs, which well one of them is no longer wearing a wig and that it is a simple set up.

The aspect of honesty and how they provide each other with comfort is half true and she sounds convinced and convincing with this tale. This makes it sadder because while I think Philip does care for Martha it is more out of a sense of responsibility than anything else and Martha is ignoring every other terrible thing about this marriage. After this date I think I might be shipping Martha and Agent Aderholt.

While Martha is at dinner, Stan sneaks around her apartment taking pictures and rifling through her things finding her gun and copy of the Karma Sutra. Luckily the wedding photo is no longer on display as Stan would surely clock it was Philip even in the wig. Will Martha’s married man quell Stan’s suspicions? Or is this another problem for Philip and Elizabeth to add to their growing list?

Shot(s) of the WeekThe Americans 4.04 Nina dreamAnd I’m crying as Nina gets her Adriana from The Sopranos moment and we realize the end is nigh for Nina.The Americans 4.04 Elizabeth bowling The Americans 4.04 Philip bowlingBecause we all need these bowling pictures after that heartbreak. More Jennings having fun please.

Disguise of the Week

There were no disguises this week and is this the first wig free week for The Americans?

Outfit I Would Wear in 2016The Americans 4.04 Elizabeth and PaigeAgain we need this shot of a happy Elizabeth and Paige. Plus Elizabeth’s sweater is giving me a lot of Felicity feelings and the cable knit is working like a charm (also one of the secrets costume designer Katie Irish told me about a couple of weeks ago).

Update! The Felicity sweater comparison from Season 1 “Boggled.”Felicity ep 4 more watchingI think we found a match.

The Americans 4.03 “Experimental City of Tomorrow” Review: “Run, Run, Run”

31 Mar

A weekend away is just the thing the Jennings family needs right now with everything going on in The Americans and considering their cover profession they have the ability to do just that in an instant (and with a discount!). However it isn’t as easy as booking and going; there are ulterior motives at play, high stakes and that little matter of getting exposed to a potentially deadly pathogen to put a spanner in the works.

Philip and Elizabeth have always felt (here at TV Ate My Wardrobe we like to feel) only just a few steps ahead of those who might bring them down whether it was Stan in the pilot episode sniffing around their garage or when they were being trailed last season. There has always been a way out, an option whether good or bad; they’ve always made it happen but their current noose is getting tighter by the second.The Americans 4.03 Philip and ElizabethSo much is going on and it even has Gabriel rattled as he echoes Philip’s sentiment that now is the time for them to leave. Claudia sides with Elizabeth on the matter (without realizing it) and the pair are more alike than either would care to admit. Time is what is needed and it is also the thing they are short on and so now is a really great time for them to get exposed to something that requires a self-imposed quarantine blowing their other plans out of the water. Sorry Henry, no Epcot for you. Although the last time they went to a theme park things didn’t end well so maybe it is for the best.

Let’s do a quick rundown of the balls they have up in the air from most pressing to least; Pastor Tim knowing their big secret and invoking the code of telling his wife, Paige’s continued spiral after finding out her parents are spies, Martha getting used to Clark’s real face and playing it cool at work, Elizabeth’s new and as yet unexplained mission with Young Hee and the Stan/Philip fractured friendship. That is a lot to contend with and now is not a good time to be benched because they pose a risk to everyone they know for an entirely different reason.

The Pastor Tim problem keeps on expanding if that was possible and he isn’t buying Philip and Elizabeth’s wide eyed “Peace Workers” explanation. It probably doesn’t help their case that Tim has been on the receiving end of Philip’s quiet menace back in season 2 and I think he sees real danger in who they are and what they do. Plus there is that matter of Communism and organized religion not really seeing eye to eye. It is maybe a tad convenient that Pastor Tim hasn’t gone to the authorities yet because of his clergy honor code, but this doesn’t read as disingenuous coming from this character and it does seem like the kind of thing he would weigh up. One thing Pastor Tim wants to make sure is that Philip and Elizabeth’s work doesn’t put anyone in danger; if only he knew the extent of their actions and what their superiors have in store for Tim and his wife. And even though he doesn’t kill anyone with his bare hands this week, Philip does resort to a full on spit in the face to force William into acting rather than running. Gross Philip, gross. The Americans 4.03 PhilipPaige is caught in the middle of this one and she is upset with Pastor Tim for divulging her secret to his wife, but she is also still unclear as to what her parents work entails. They are both quick to point out (maybe too quick) that no one gets hurt (tell that to the airport security guard last week) and they plan on telling her more when they go away including where Philip goes two nights a week. While they are incredibly in tune with each other to the point of deeply exhaling at the same time – kudos again to Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys for not only how they say things but giving each sigh a meaning – the finer details probably need ironing out to get their stories straight and a weekend locked up at Gabriel’s is as good a time as any to figure this out. Other body mirroring occurs and it is impressive how often they mimic each other in how they look/stand/sigh.

When people talk about the secret to a strong marriage the ability to compromise is always on that list and it is something Philip and Elizabeth are actually quite good at. Perhaps it was all those years where they went through the motions as a married couple or that the time we have spent with them has been exploring the shift from this pretense to actually feeling it, but if one of them doesn’t want to do something then the other will listen and hold off. Even when it was something as big as telling Paige last season Elizabeth waited despite her very contradictory feelings on the matter.The Americans 4.03 Philip and SandraLater when Philip talks to Sandra about their current Paige predicament (leaving out the finer details of course) he mentions that there are disagreements, but ultimately his family would go where he goes. In a way this is Philip trying to repair his friendship with Stan through Sandra – it is useful having a friendly face in the FBI and an actual friend – and he is also pointing out the fundamental reason why his marriage is strong.

Philip wants to run because that is what his internal alarm has been telling him to do, but because Elizabeth’s hasn’t then they stay. It is as simple as that. The same goes for when they find Gabriel in distress and after a short debate about what they should do, while Elizabeth feels (there’s that word again) she should remain there with Gabriel they both ultimately leave to meet William together. All or nothing.

At the core of what makes The Americans so compelling is this relationship and the moments that resonate are ones which are familiar to us such as talking about their day while undressing for bed or discussing what is best for their family; even if the wider issues they are dealing with are completely alien. The Americans 4.03 Elizabeth and PhilipThis conversation in their office at work after Philip has been praised for making time for family by his employee is especially important because not only does it lay out why Philip isn’t insisting on doing things his way (even if he was right about telling Paige), but it also points to the notion that they are fucked whatever they do; Paige loses in either scenario. If they leave and go back to Russia it will be a huge culture shock for all of them and even if Elizabeth has dreamed of Odessa (a small detail she seems impressed that Philip has remembered) this level of upheaval will be devastating for each member of this family.

Philip is the most at home in the US and yet he is the one suggesting a return home; Elizabeth reluctance comes from leaving everything they have built here and the twenty years of work they have put in. I also wonder if she also likes it in the US despite what her duty to her country and cause is telling her. For Philip what is important is keeping his family together and “it all matters” to him; as with their initial Paige disagreement last year they are at an impasse and we will have to wait and see how it plays out as there are so many players involved now. They are in this together and the clasping of hands shows their commitment to each other regardless of this difference of opinion.

One thing they do agree on is how important it is for Paige to control her anger when confronting Pastor Tim regarding his secret spilling. Anger is an emotion we rarely see from Philip and Elizabeth; Philip ripping out the pages from Paige’s bible and Elizabeth reaction to Paige’s confession last week are the two times we have seen them display this feeling. The other is in the pilot episode when Elizabeth kicked Timoshev’s head through the garage wall and Philip snapped his neck; this is one occasion where anger acted in a unifying manner. Otherwise it is a reaction that is unstable and leads to unpredictable moments such as Lucia attempting to kill Larrick in season 2 and ending up dead herself. Anger can push someone further away and Philip knows the importance of keeping Pastor Tim close and in this scene with Paige he is both manipulating her and teaching the skills of emotional manipulation; whether they like it or not Paige is now very much in this business.The Americans 4.03 Patty and Young HeeLaughter is not something we hear very often on The Americans and it is equal parts disconcerting and delightful to see Elizabeth engage in such cheery behavior while in disguise as Patty. Patty is someone I have been really looking forward to meeting ever since Entertainment Weekly unveiled this new look and talking to Americans costume designer Katie Irish last week increased those already high anticipation levels; this costume/persona did not disappoint.

We are introduced to Patty at a Mary Kay party and it is quickly established that Young Hee is who Elizabeth is interested in. Later on she ‘bumps’ into her while grocery shopping and they instantly develop a rapport with Elizabeth playing the nervous about approaching people card, which is kinda required for the Mary Kay selling model. Young Hee offers to help and they have a good day together; so good that Elizabeth gets an invite to dinner.

What makes this different from other occasions where Elizabeth has made a friend for work such as Michelle is that she usually uses it as a time to unload in the guise of someone else. On this occasion when asked about her family she deflects and I think that she wants to keep that separate from this genuinely good time she is having hanging out with Young Hee. It is still work, but it is also a distraction from the very real and high amount of problems she is facing right now. This is an escape for her and yet it is also important that she tells Philip that she had fun; this is not a secret she is keeping from him. Also the pepper dance was really cute and I’m not sure I’ve ever used this word to describe Elizabeth.

The FBI doesn’t want reports to contain “I feel” and sends out a memo to underscore this point and Stan is using a whole lot of gut feelings when it comes to his surveillance of Martha. This isn’t Stan plucking suspicions out of this thin air and something doesn’t sit right with him with the whole Gene suicide thing and really if anyone could plant a bug in Gaad’s office then his secretary is an obvious suspect. Plus she has been acting jumpy as hell and there was that dream Stan had in the season 2 finale pointing to his subconscious knowing something was up long before the big reveal. So far all Stan has is that Martha doesn’t come home two nights a week (those same two nights Paige asks about) and he wants Agent Aderholt to come on board the surveillance plan. Aderholt has a better idea than sitting in a car until 3 am suggesting he takes her out to dinner instead. If this all takes place while Philip and Elizabeth are stuck at Gabriel’s then they might be in trouble here too.The Americans 4.03 NinaNina is the one dreaming this week and she’s back in a cell after her latest exploits; “exceptional punishment” has a terrifying ring to it and it is no wonder she is dreaming of the old apartment she met Stan in and this time it is full of flowers. Anton is also there dragging her back to her current location and even though she smiled reading what he wrote about her that doesn’t make up for how bad things are going to get. Can Oleg save the day? If this was a different show I would be inclined to think he could, but as this is The Americans my hopes for this are diminished.

But if Pastor Tim can get some divine intervention in the form of a pathogen then maybe someone will answer Nina’s call too.

Shot of the WeekThe Americans 4.03The discovery of Gabriel is frantic and as I mention above there is something truly wonderful about how in sync Philip and Elizabeth are in their reactions and in the manner in which Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play them. So much comes from gestures, glances, micro expressions and even their sighs which speak a thousand volumes.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2016

The Americans 4.03 Patty coatThe coat casually slung over the shoulders is a hard one to pull off and Elizabeth and her current cover are the perfect candidates to work this look. While Patty is leaning hard into 80s fashion there is still a little something of the previous decade in her grocery shopping attire which I really love. Thanks to Mad Men I find it hard to watch a supermarket scene without thinking of Betty slapping Helen Bishop hard in the face. Luckily this encounter was far happier.

Disguise of the WeekThe Americans 4.03 Patty Mary KayThere were no other disguises this week, but if there were it would have taken a lot to beat Patty as she is everything I was hoping for and more. Elizabeth doesn’t get to go glamorous in her cover world too often as she doesn’t want to stand out, but with Patty she gets to try out new trends and wear bold clothes and makeup.The Americans 4.03 Elizabeth and Young HeeIf this week’s costumes are any indication then Patty loves purple and her coat collection is just as extensive as Elizabeth’s (which will come in handy later this season for logistical reasons). More Patty and her new BFF Young Hee please as Elizabeth really needs a friend right now. 

Throwing in the Towel on The Good Wife

28 Mar

All the pieces are moving into place as we enter the final stretch of this final Good Wife season and “Unmanned” shifts things further forward with some big declarations of the quitting variety. Over at the firm yet another reshuffle is in the works and the enthusiasm with which Cary is fighting it mirrors how tired this particularly plot point is and it is one the writers acknowledge in his conversation with Alicia. The staring at the ceiling is another good indicator of how tiresome this game of musical firms has become. In fact the word ‘tired’ is in frequent use this week from Cary’s demeanor and general feelings to Alicia’s reaction to her visit from Peter at the end of the episode; she is too tired to fight him on this whole divorce thing.

Oh yes about that and it was pretty wonderful to hear Alicia utter those four magical words as she continues to give none of the fucks this season. Peter has cockblocked her one too many times and now she isn’t going to stand for this charade they call a marriage, but Peter being Peter is in political and legal trouble so he needs a favor. That favor being quite a big one as he is willing to grant Alicia’s divorce wish with a caveat; it will take place after the whole indictment business is over. If anyone gets a whiff of Alicia’s plan then it will look like she is leaving him because he is guilty and as with where The Good Wife started he needs her standing by his side.The Good Wife 7.18 AliciaWe don’t get to see Alicia’s answer this week and in the past I would have automatically assumed it would be a yes. While I am still inclined to believe that Alicia is likely to stand by Peter (for the sake of the kids), there is part of me that thinks she will heed Ruth’s recent advice; if Peter goes down then he might end up taking her down with him and she has worked hard to get to where she is now. The Florrick name has opened many doors and in fact this name is part of Diane’s argument as to why Alicia should become a named partner. That name might become poison, but a divorce might protect Alicia from the fallout.

Not that this is why she has finally got to this point and it isn’t about Peter interrupting her very happy sex schedule either; she’s just tired of this shit that comes with being married to Peter even though they haven’t lived together in years and as with Cary’s decision she just can’t be bothered any more. For Cary he can just walk away and think about his options, it is slightly more complicated in Alicia’s case because of this very real indictment that isn’t just going to go away. Excellent use of a black trench with Alicia making her entrance and feelings very clear when she walked in unannounced into Peter’s office. It has been a good week for this classic garment.

Last week I discussed how The Good Wife is not going to end with Alicia in love; that isn’t what this show is about and if it was well that all ended when Will died. In fact Peter scoffs at what he believes are Alicia’s romantic notions delivering the low blow of “This must be true love. Again.” That knife twist doesn’t get the response he was probably expecting as Alicia tells him “This is me not caring” and I love it when Alicia is in this kind of mood. Love has nothing to do with what has been going on with Jason. Instead this is Alicia having fun for the first time in 20 years with a man that she doesn’t have deeper ties to. It isn’t like Will with their bad timing and complicated work/life setup and it isn’t a Peter repeat having to perform the role of ‘the good wife.’ Currently there are no strings other than the really amazing sex they are having right now.

Striking the work/life balance comes into focus with the return of Anna Camp as former Lockhart/Gardner junior associate Caitlin. Caitlin left back in season 3 to start a family and she has just returned to practicing the law, coming up against Diane and Alicia in court this week. Way back when Alicia advised her not to make the same mistakes she did by focusing on family instead of work and she tells Alicia “I guess you were right. I never should’ve left.” Caitlin is now separated from her husband (who she mentions is in Las Vegas with a telling nod) and she is raising her daughter alone, but Alicia disagrees with this sentiment now. And I’m wondering if this is just a one off appearance from Camp or whether Caitlin will be asked to join the new yet to be re-titled firm.

One costuming aspect to note with Caitlin is that she has taken style cues from both Diane and Alicia.The Good Wife 7.17 CaitlinThe Good Wife 7.18 CaitlinBoth black and white and the floral is distinctly Diane. The first one is more Alicia and reminds me a little of one of my ultimate fave Alicia costumes.

One person whose style is very much her own is Lucca and this week’s Lucca outfit delight comes courtesy of this RED Valentino cherry print number.The Good Wife 7.18 LuccaExcellent clothing aside, Lucca is in the less than fun position of being caught in the middle between what is going on at the top of the firm and she gets to hear David Lee emphatically declare “I outrank Alicia” when he tasks her with a huge (and probably pointless) assignment. Cush Jumbo works wonders with the tiny amount that she has been given in this latter half of the season, but would it be too much to ask for her to get a something more to do than being Alicia’s sounding board?

David Lee’s plan evolves this week from challenging Diane’s all lady power structure to welcoming it with a twist; he now wants to rinse the firm for everything they have and leave it in pieces. Cary has had enough of this power play structure and with four episodes to go he quits the firm. This season has not been good to Cary what with his battle with Howard and whatever the hell else he has been up to and it is unclear what these final few episodes have in store for him. One thing is Peter’s indictment as he has been subpoenaed – most likely because of his time working for him – and he warns Alicia this is “not good.”The Good Wife 7.18 CarySomeone else who is feeling the heat with this case is Eli who has been put in the ultimate catch-22 situation; either he helps bring Peter down or Marissa will be forced to testify against Eli regarding that little bit of warning a judge about a bribery sting operation. Awkward. Eli enlists Diane as his lawyer and she works her magic for now, but this is not going away. The case against Peter was why Eli originally came on board the Florrick train and it is fitting in a way that this is how the series is playing out for Eli.

The question is who will stand by Peter; Alicia, Eli, anyone?

The Americans 4.01 “Glanders” Review: “You’re Safe. We’re Together”

17 Mar

The concept of truth on The Americans is ever changing; lies mask the reality and confessions come pouring out in the strangest of settings. Season 4 delves even deeper into this blurring of the lines as a result of revealing real identities to Paige and half identities to Martha. When Paige asks Elizabeth where Philip has gone in the middle of the night Elizabeth tells her the kid friendly version that doesn’t include information about her father’s other wife or the man he has just killed; it is part truth, part sugar coated lies.

Kicking off where we left these characters at the end of last year and so many precarious situations need to be handled. First up Martha and the last time we saw her Philip dewigged and showed his real face. Philip also killed Martha’s co-worker staging it as a suicide and placing the blame for the bug in Gaad’s office on him all in an effort to protect her and ultimately protect the whole mission. Getting woken up in the middle of the night to be told by your husband with his new face and different hair that he’s killed someone and not just a random person, but a co-worker/friend is not the best wake up call and Martha doesn’t take it so well. She doesn’t go for the gun she keeps in her apartment so that is an automatic win for Philip. The Americans 4.01 Martha and ClarkIt is a delicate situation and he can’t push her too hard; he has to trust his persuasive techniques that have so far worked like a charm, but this is next level emotional manipulation that must come into play. Ultimately it works and the face reveal, while incredibly disorientating has strengthened their relationship and as Elizabeth explained to Paige in the most PG version of what they do it is all about getting people to trust you. Philip’s other confession to Martha about the childhood incident that plagues him is part unburdening of his soul, part pealing back the layers to give Martha the feeling that she really knows him. It is also interesting that he tells Martha the same anecdote about the toys in Gene’s apartment that he told Elizabeth in “March 8, 1983” and he can’t quite get out the reason why this struck a chord with him.

Elizabeth may come across as the more inaccessible one of the pair, but we know far more about her past and childhood experiences than we do Philip so it makes sense at this point to visit his origin story especially as his soul continues to be eroded by the things he has done. Season 2 saw his kill count go up by a great deal and it almost broke him; last year he got a respite and it was left to Elizabeth to drop cars on innocent dude’s heads until the finale when Philip offed Gene. The burden returns. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the turning point for childhood Philip or rather Mischa is a story that he half shared with Elizabeth back in the season 2 finale and one he didn’t get to finish because their asset had just been shot. All we got to hear back then was that some older boys would jump him as he walked home with his families milk and he made the decision to not let it happen again; it turns out he certainly did just that in a moment of explosive violence.The Americans 4.01 ESTThis moment that haunts Philip throughout the episode is one that he discusses in front of a whole bunch of strangers at EST leaving out certain important details, but giving just enough that he can unload in this form of very public therapy. The one person who he could reveal the unedited story to is the one person he keeps telling he is fine when clearly he is the opposite. EST gives Philip an outlet of sharing he doesn’t feel comfortable with doing at home and there is definitely this worry that Elizabeth will judge him; as Paige points out to Pastor Tim her parents aren’t really big talkers. Philip isn’t alone in using other outlets to share his secrets and worries as we have seen Elizabeth do this with plenty of assets in disguise; from how she talked about her rape to discussing relationship quandaries. They both talk far more to other people than they do to each other and this stoicism with each other is the one habit they find hard to break. Maybe Philip needs to get stoned again.

Part of this is down to the many years that they inhabited the same space, but were not in the kind of relationship they now are with each other. Trust is not something that needs to be won here and yet there is still a wall between them when it comes to sharing thoughts, feelings and painful memories that might read as a weakness. It is this aspect of The Americans that makes the show sing; the spy stuff is great, but the depiction of marriage is exceptional and hats must go off to Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and Alison Wright who deliver such incredible performances in this season opener in a variety of ways. Wright has the most overtly emotional material and yet she also has shades of subtly while at work doing Clark’s bidding that Philip made seem as if it was her idea all along. After all while I think that Philip does care for Martha and feels the weight of responsibility he still also needs her for information otherwise this operation is pointless. Subtly is an art for both Russell and Rhys and the reason why these characters don’t always say too much to each other is because their expressions can say so much more.The Americans 4.01 Philip and ElizabethWhat Philip should do is take the lessons from his conversations with Martha and the advice of Sandy Beeman and tell Elizabeth what is plaguing him and I expect she will be far less judgmental than he is expecting (maybe not about EST). Plus it would be much better than the very obvious lie of “I’m fine.” The problem of course is finding a time to have this chat as they’ve got a laundry list of problems including Gabriel being pissed at them for lying about the Germany trip, keeping an eye on Paige (not doing a great job there, guys), Martha and now biological weapons! This latter issue is and the meeting they are meant to have involves a number of dangers such as coming into contact with said weapon and getting caught be a surveillance team. Plus there is also this new asset to deal with and William sure is sassy; I am so happy to see that Dylan Baker is a regular this season in this role. The strain William gives them isn’t even the thing they’ve been inoculated against and there is the added bonus of having to store it in their freezer. Plus a surprise visit from Stan.

Stan is hooking up with Tori the woman he met at an EST meeting last season and Tori also happens to see Philip with Sandy Beeman post EST meeting enjoying some dessert, which she infers as an intimate moment. I would go with friendly, but whatever. Of course Stan is furious and decides to confront Philip while he happens to have an incredibly dangerous chemical agent in his pocket (and one the episode is named after). Let’s just say there won’t be any Philip and Stan hangouts in the near future. We can add this to Philip’s already very long list of shit he has to sort out.The Americans 4.01 PhilipMeanwhile back in Russia, Nina and Anton’s relationship continues to develop and she is playing the role we have seen her inhabit before; one where we can’t be certain how much she is playing each side. The conversations she has with Anton forever circle around his son and the many regrets he has about the manner in which he was taken leaving his family with no answers. There is something incredibly haunting about his fears that he will be sent to a camp and they will never know where he went or what he did. He doesn’t want to disappear and become just dust with “no one ever knowing.” At least for Philip and Elizabeth one of their children knows who they are even if it is just the surface details. It is also interesting that Anton has such warm and fuzzy feelings towards Russia from when he was a kid and his religion was not an issue whereas Philip’s own childhood recollections are filled with such horror. One is serving his country by choice whereas the other has been forced to do so.

Nina also has demands and she wants to see her husband; is this so someone remembers her or is there an ulterior motive?

At the Rezidentura Arkady is having his own power play problems including be kept way out of the loop on the whole bio-weapon situation as it turns out that Tatiana works for Department 12 (suddenly this sounds very Alias) and he is not happy about it. But he does have Oleg on his team and while he suggests that this environment would work better with everyone getting along he is not above getting someone to spy for him. Spies within spies within spies.

Shot(s) of the WeekThe Americans 4.01 costume caveThe wig cave! Or at least one of them was unveiled this week as I suspect they have several locations at their disposal and while I was hoping for a fabulous Cher from Clueless style revolving closet what we actually got is the exact level of grime and on the fly that it should be.
The Americans 4.01 Elizabeth and PhilipThis location gives off a Sydney meeting Vaughn on Alias vibe as well as putting a physical barrier between Philip and Elizabeth as he continues the pretense that he is okay. And this shot does a good job of adding to how disconnected they are at the moment from his getting spooked into pulling out of the meeting (it turns out his bad feeling was just a feeling whereas Elizabeth does spot a real surveillance team later on). If only he could get his words out.

Disguise of the WeekThe Americans 4.01 disguiseA new disguise for season 4 and they get to break out this new blonde couple on three occasions over the premiere including a fake belly for Philip and a whole lot of skeptical face at Philip’s beard for Elizabeth. In one of the lighter moments this week the pair discuss Henry’s new disgusting cologne and there’s nothing more I enjoy about this show than when they have conversations like this while in heavy disguise. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of this pair throughout the season with William coming into play and I am looking forward to seeing what other disguise treats costume designer Katie Irish will deliver this season.

Outfit(s) I Would Wear in 2016The Americans 4.01 ElizabethIt doesn’t matter if it is 1983 or 2016 – a plaid shirt is always a win. This basement conversation is all about Paige and how she is complicated, which could pretty much describe everyone on The Americans and as tends to be the case they don’t get a chance to deep dive into this situation as they have other more pressing issues.The Americans 4.01 Paige and ElizabethAdding to my list of clothing obsessions the robe has now been added and scenes that take place in the heart of the Jennings home are always a favorite. Especially when they are over something so familiar as discussing jet lag mixed in with where Philip goes in the middle of the night. This is Elizabeth in full on mother mode and I believe that she believes what they are doing is for peace.

“Home Again” and Looking at the Big and Little Questions on The X-Files

9 Feb

Mulder’s quest began a long time ago with a simple question that lacked in a simple answer – who took his sister and why? That night is what led to his interest (okay obsession) with all things paranormal, ultimately leading to his partnership with Scully. In this 6-episode revival The X-Files isn’t so concerned with what happened to Samantha Mulder (‘explanations’ in the past range from cloning, a shadowy government conspiracy, aliens and a serial killer giving Mulder answers and then taking them away), but rather addressing the child that Scully and Mulder had and then gave up for adoption in order to protect him. William is the thread that runs throughout and a sadness hangs over Scully (and Mulder) in the same way Samantha did during the original series.

With William it isn’t so much what happened to him – even though Scully has plenty of those questions – as they know the reason why he is no longer in their life, but more about the decision they made and if there could have been another way. A lot of this is saturated in guilt; Mulder felt guilty for being the one not taken way back when and now Scully is consumed with this feeling that she abandoned her child.The X-Files 10.04 Mulder and ScullyThere is no way to reconcile this guilt other than by bringing William back into the fold in some way or other and it definitely seems like they are building to some kind of resolution. Or as much of a resolution as The X-Files can offer because they’re going to leave some questions (okay probably a lot) unanswered in case they want to do more (which if the ratings are any indication, Fox will definitely want more). When it comes to this storyline YMMV depending on how invested you are in this side of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and for the record I am very much in. I wear my shipper status and feelings with pride.

The intimacy levels are not just about the romantic and the bond between Mulder and Scully goes beyond William and any potential romantic involvement. The way “Home Again” (written by Glen Morgan) mirrors the season 2 return of Scully in “One Breath” (co-written by Glen Morgan) is achieved on several levels. From overt references with a flashback clip of Mulder talking to Scully, the talisman (Scully’s cross necklace/her mother’s mysterious quarter chain) and the desire to will someone back to life. Mulder needed to know what had happened to Scully after Duane Barry abducted her and Scully’s questions in the present shifts the focus onto a few personal mysteries rather than a larger conspiracy. Gillian Anderson nails the heightened emotions with this devastating line “I don’t care about the big questions right now, Mulder. I just want a chance to ask my mother a few of the little ones.”

In a touching conversation at Margaret Scully’s bedside, Scully wonders if they ever encountered anyone with the ability to wish another person back to life. Mulder of course did such a thing when Scully was in her coma – “I invented it” – and the “you’re a dark wizard” response is a much needed moment of levity before Scully’s mother wakes up, mentions William and then dies. Giving Scully even more reason to question her decision and think about the son she gave up. Mulder’s close relationship with Scully’s mother began in “One Breath” and Mulder and Scully’s lives have been so entwined on every level that I am so glad he was here for Scully in this moment (initially I was concerned he would be stuck in Philadelphia working on the case for the whole episode). Scully perfectly fits under Mulder’s chin in a visual which yep, caused more feelings.The X Files 10.04 Mulder and ScullyThe big and little questions of The X-Files come in a variety of forms and one of the prevailing strengths of this show is its ability to weave between themes that impact the overall worldview of these characters (generally the mythology infused episodes) and ones that focus on something smaller (monster of the week episodes). These ‘monsters’ come in many different forms and can be funny (like last week’s episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster), scary (“Home”), other worldly (“Squeeze) or very much rooted in reality (“Irresistible”).

What “Home Again” does is combine a MOTW with the overall mythology and at times this episode does suffer from doing too much and would maybe have benefited from an extended run time. That’s not to say it isn’t a good episode and for me it is on a par with last week’s super fun standalone outing; while the monster backstory is pretty forgettable everything that radiates from Scully is engrossing. It also does a good job of  reinforcing the strength of the Mulder and Scully relationship no matter how long they have been apart and what they have both sacrificed; the core of The X-Files is always them.

Costuming wise this is also reflected once again in their mirrored style/color choices from matching black coats in the emotional final scene to the blue of Scully’s shirt and the polka dots (!) on Mulder’s tie.The X-Files 10.04 Scully and MulderThe phrase “back in the day” gets used a couple of times; first at Margaret Scully’s bedside with regards to wishing someone back to life and later on when Mulder points out he’s not running up stairs to which Scully replies “Mulder, back in the day I used to do stairs and three inch heels.” Take that Jurassic World pump doubters. Mulder always one with a quippy comeback remarks “Scully, back in the day is now.”

What this does is deliver a playful moment in an episode that is steeped in heavy emotion showing that The X-Files is still a master at weaving between super serious or scary with lighthearted interactions. This pair has been through so much trauma on every level, but thankfully they still have each other and a sense of humor. This is required when going into dark buildings which may or may not house a dude who can pull arms off a human like wings off a fly.

Oh yes they also have flashlights and this prop will never not make me giddy. The X-Files 10.04 flashlightsThe flashlight moment which was teased in the trailer happened in “Home Again” and yep it was wonderful.

[Source]

The episode ends with Scully doubling down on her partnership with Mulder and his work while also pointing out that there are so many mysteries with regards to William that she’ll “never have answered.” Mulder gives no verbal confirmation that they didn’t “treat him like trash” but the gesture of pulling her into him is an act of comfort and one intended to give Scully reassurance. I also have a feeling we might get some William answers or at least vague hints by the time this mini-series is over. Nothing concrete of course.

Watch the promo for next week’s episode “Babylon” below and just know that Lauren Ambrose being back on TV is another reason to celebrate.

Mulder and Scully Costume Updates and Mirroring on The X-Files

26 Jan

Mulder has quickly switched out his off duty casual wear back to his FBI Agent suit attire in the second episode of the new X-Files revival – which, thankfully was a huge improvement on the first – and TV Ate My Wardrobe costume designer favorite Christopher Hargadon manages to banish the thought of all things 90s baggy in an instant.

I’m not even going to think about the logistics of Mulder and Scully getting their old office and positions back after so much time away; instead let’s focus on a few things that jumped out regarding the clothes they are wearing now they are back on their old stomping ground.

The X-Files 10.02 Mulder and Scully The X-Files 10.02 Scully and Mulder The X-files 10.02In each instance there is a color that ties Mulder and Scully together with the last shot being the most overt with Scully’s top wine color top and Mulder’s tie. In their dressing down from Skinner – just like old times! – they’ve both opted for serious and muted attire. This somber look also mirrors their shared grief when it comes to the son they gave up and we get to see both characters imagine what could have been starting with the good, quickly followed by the devastating if William had stayed in their lives.

And when we first see Mulder and Scully back on the case the blue of Mulder’s tie and Scully’s jacket combined with their matching white shirts show that despite the time they have spent apart they are very much on the same page; this is one partnership with roots that go deep. So while the tailoring is sharper and the silhouettes are more defined, they are still very much the Mulder and Scully of the past; the rich history and intimacy is evident in not only how they look at each other, but how they mirror each other. Right down to the flashlights.

At times I wish they had let these factors do all the talking because the dialogue in both these first two episodes does a lot more explaining than is necessary and feels pretty clunky in places. The chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny has not lost any of its fire and yep those feeeeeeelings are very much in place.

In the UK Vogue January 2016 issue Gillian Anderson talks about Scully’s updated look saying “I had worked with Chris [Hargadon] on Hannibal, in which he got to express his creative genius through Hannibal’s fine tailoring. Our squarish FBI agents were perhaps not quite so fun to dress, yet it was still essential to precisely define their typical wardrobes. So Scully is still a bit homely but with a taste for fabric and color, more cotton than silk, no zips or accents, nothing too fitted, no patterns.” Pretty much the opposite of what you might see the Alicia Florrick, Diane Lockhart or Lucca Quinn wear on The Good Wife.

I was excited to see Hargadon working on The X-Files because even though there was no way Scully would wear anything like Bedelia wore; he clearly has an excellent eye for tailoring. He is also killer when it comes to making a murder suit, a skill which could come in handy on this show. The links to Hannibal in “Founder’s Mutation” came in the slightly more obscure (suicide method) to the more overt with Kacey Rohl’s (Abigail Hobbs) guest starring.

One other costuming moment that stood out comes at the end of the episode and Mulder’s vision of William being taken; the grey tee evokes plenty of memories of Mulder from the season 2 premiere “Little Green Men.”

The X-Files 10.02 Mulder Mulder Little Green MenThe 2016 version is far less sweaty and has longer sleeves, but you get the point.

The Wish List: Joan’s Pajamas on Elementary (Updated!)

19 Jan

Welcome to the first Wish List post of 2016 and super comfy clothes seemed like the best way to kick off this regular feature. Joan Watson is one of the best dressed women on television and season 4 of Elementary has only doubled down on this sentiment balancing her on duty (often patterned) dress wonders with her at home relaxed (okay also on duty) attire. Generally when we do Joan Wish List posts we focus on her eclectic range of dresses and while we do have one of these planned in the not too distant future – there has been so many to covet so far this season – we figured it was about time her pajamas took center stage.

It must cost a fortune to heat the brownstone, but one of my favorite details regarding Joan’s sleeping/kicking it around the house wardrobe is a) she’s always wearing some kind of slippers/bootie socks and b) the trusty comfy cardigan is a vital component.

Elementary 4.08 Joan WatsonWorking from home allows some leeway when it comes to your clothing choices (you should see what combination of everything knitwear I have on right now) especially when sleep gets interrupted. In last week’s episode “The Burden of Blood” Joan is woken in the middle of the night by Sherlock playing a disturbing piece of evidence over and over. There’s no need for getting dressed due to the hour/location and this means Joan pajama delights.

Elementary 4.08 JoanThe matching shorts and top are from Eberjey in “Oyster Grey Textile” and as with a lot of stuff Joan wears (and most characters on TV) it isn’t on the budget end. In fact this reminds me of another brand of sleepwear that cried out to me and that is Three J NYC, which featured on The Mindy Project. Basically I am instantly drawn to super cute pajama sets (see also Mimi-Rose’s J Crew pair on Girls last season).

Returning to the idea and execution of the comfy cardigan and this is a close clothing relative of the wine cardigan. Comfort is key (it is a comfort cardigan after all) and the proximity you keep this item to your bed speaks volumes about its function. There are several in my rotation that perform this role and it can be one you wear out of the house  although a true comfy cardigan is one which probably never sees the outside world. A hoodie also works and a lot of this depends on the time of year/how warm your house is. Plus, the longer the better.

The best thing about the one Joan is wearing in the scene above (sadly I don’t have the exact details of where it is from just yet) is she wore it a few episodes ago (in “The Cost of Doing Business”) thrown over a vest top.

Elementary 4.06Repeat costumes (especially when it is at home attire) ticks all my TV costuming boxes as I love to see a little bit of real world clothing situations thrown in among the expensive designer wear.

Update! So it turns out that Joan has had this red cardigan since season 1! And now I am even more impressed with costume continuity and disappointed in my own observation skills. Thanks to Laura in the comments who sent this link to Joan Watson’s Fashion Blog and a conversation with costume designer Rebecca Hofherr regarding Joan’s “house sweater.”

Update Part 2! 

For the second week in a row Joan wore note worthy pajamas and this time instead of grabbing her standard house sweater she instead put on a robe to answer the door to greet Sherlock’s father. There is something slightly less casual about this choice of garment over a well worn cardigan I guess.

Elementary 4.09 Joan Elementary 4.09 Joan robeThe pajamas in question are bolder this week coming from Stella McCartney (and keeping in that high end/splurge bracket even in the sale) and the “Poppy Snoozing” shirt and shorts can be found here. There is even an underwear set if you want to get really matchy matchy.

Stay tuned for more Joan on The Wish List soon!

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys Talk Disguises and Season 4 of The Americans

12 Jan

The Americans is returning slightly later than its usual end of January/early February slot, but they are still doing the preview rounds including an Entertainment Weekly first look and now this discussion with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys from Variety’s “Contenders” series (if only the people who voted for these awards would realize that).

I should imagine they will also be part of the FX TCA panel line-up this weekend, where they may or may not confirm IRL spy baby news and how it may or may not impact the storyline this season. One thing that is clear is that family will once again be the focus and that this central relationship is what drives The Americans overall with the spy shenanigans as the dangerous backdrop. The Americans 3.13 Philip and ElizabethIt is something Russell has discussed before, but it is worth repeating that this type of role is a gift for an actress in a sea of girlfriend/wife roles which have very little substance to them (Russell’s role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is indicative of this). She goes on to say:

“Being a woman and just the type of parts that are available right now, to me it is such a great job because it’s kind of the best way to explore a marriage or personal relationship dynamics because it’s not like Thirtysomething or you know a show that’s just basically talking about marriage. All the jealousy, all the danger, all of those elements and trust that you would be exploring in a regular marriage show are there, but they’re so heightened.”

Disguise wise the hair and shoulder pads are going to get bigger and there’s promise of teal glitter eyeliner – which sounds pretty ideal for 2016 tbh. In terms of this being an 80s show Matthew Rhys points out how the showrunners have been “shrewd enough to not want the 80s be the other character” as it is a decade which can pull the viewer out of the story because of how ridiculous everything looks. Although they do point out that there is one actor – Keidrich Sellati, who plays Henry Jennings – who is constantly astounded by the tech of the time.

Other disguise aspects to look out for in the future include oversized teeth, which have yet to make an appearance so far as dialogue heavy scenes make it impossible to talk properly while wearing them. They also both point out how helpful the physical aspect of the costuming is when informing how they play these parts. And it is definitely something that is very fun to write about.

Watch the interview below and stay tuned for more Americans season 4 news.

Julie Hammerle

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