Tag Archives: Holly Taylor

The Americans 5.04 “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Review: Meet Cute

29 Mar

It has been a long time since Philip and Elizabeth had a new honey trap mission on The Americans and in “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” they both get to give their seduction skills a workout with varying results.

There is reluctance from both husband and wife when Gabriel gives them their objectives at the start of the episode and each comes up reasons as to why this is very bad timing; the travel to Kansas, how intense things are with Paige, their other ongoing operations. And while Gabriel has been accommodating in the past to their calls for space and time, this is not one of those occasions and it is full steam ahead.
Philip is particularly reluctant and his heart really doesn’t seem in the flirting game. He gives it a good go though and the gym has proven to be a great dating ground for others recently (see Stan and he’s already at the double date stage). Deirdre does give Gus Alexander his number, but is pretty non-committal when Philip rings to make a dinner date. There’s the work excuse as she seems pretty invested in her job, but there’s also the Philip factor of not being quite as effective as he tends to be in this arena.

Maybe he’s out of practice and his most recent new mark before Deirdre was Kimmy and he was even less enthusiastic about that one. Martha was long term and that started just prior to the new phase of the Jennings marriage where pretending turned into reality and the same goes for Annalise. Maybe Philip just doesn’t have it in him anymore

The marriage at the heart of the story is stronger than ever; they are on the same page when it comes to Paige (I’ll get my coat) and this is evident in how in sync they are with their similar reactions to Paige’s snooping at Pastor Tim’s. When talking about this new operation there is reinforcement from both about how reluctant they are. Philip jokes about how he might die of boredom with Deirdre (although this could also be good deflection if he strikes out) and Elizabeth brings Philip a gift from the plane. A drink that another guy bought her, but she made sure he knew who she would be giving it to.Philip waits up for Elizabeth to get back from Topeka and one thing the Americans does very well is use spaces throughout the home for these intimate moments. Even if the outside still looks like a looming house of horrors, inside it is nothing but warmth.

This is also where this show excels at the marriage aspects and despite the overall content of their conversation being very different from the average “How was your day?” back and forth this is very much a husband/wife chat. Along with the miniature bottle gift, Elizabeth tells Philip that her guy is “full of himself” and doesn’t go into much detail beyond the hiking date she has set up. Even without mentioning how hot he is (he is very hot, hello beard) Philip’s jaw clenches in a way that would suggest just how unhappy he is with this whole scenario. This is also time for my weekly praising of how good Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are at saying so much with just their faces.

Other than the hotel manager in season 3 it has been a long time since Elizabeth engaged in some extended extra-martial spy seduction shenanigans. The whole Don set up was faked and all of her other recent operations have been friendship based. Post-end of season 1 reconciliation the only other honey traps Elizabeth has been a part of were during season 2 and this is ground they haven’t had to cover while their marriage has been this strong. It clearly makes Philip jealous and his comments about her liking this new guy after she mentioned that he’s funny are met with a stern rebuttal and this previous scene from season 1 would work wonders here as a response.

Instead of getting angry she instead points to the big picture of the why they are doing this and how she actually feels about Ben. Those jokes are something she has to laugh all while he is trying to starve their country.

Earlier in the episode Philip quips “Think we’re going to get fired” and she points out to him that this isn’t funny (he knows) so the mention of Ben’s humorous qualities strikes a nerve that is already frayed. This is tension that hasn’t been felt since the Martha stuff came to a head mid last season and with all they are doing right now it isn’t surprising that emotions are high even if they are both experts in control.Elizabeth’s meet cute at the health food store is way more successful than Philip’s lukewarm gym attempt and Elizabeth plays the awkward clumsy girl to perfection. Not only does Ben get to show off his knowledge of all things health food, but he also gets to play the hero sweeping in to help with the dispenser she purposefully can’t quite figure out how to use. Elizabeth works the ego element well – all the while a store worker awkwardly sweeps up – and her look as Brenda might be my favorite yet. Yes even more so than Patty last season.

Brenda works in fashion selling women’s clothes and her look is more edgy than Patty’s. It’s all about the various blacks and this is Elizabeth’s first foray into acid wash denim territory; a hard look to pull off and of course Keri Russell does just that. The shorter black bob looks cute on her and the glasses are not quite the full ’80s covering half your face horror show that Philip’s guy is wearing (which I actually love).

After a fun hiking date, Elizabeth goes back to Ben’s and before things go too far she makes her excuses to leave; she has him on the hook and wanting more. There’s also a sense that she’s doing this not only for the mission, but because of the complicated emotions at play. Or maybe Elizabeth is just better at separating the work from her marriage, even if her marriage is intrinsically entwined with her work. In the same way Elizabeth felt insecure about Martha, Philip is leaning into this state and she shuts him down pretty effectively at the end of “What the Matter with Kansas?”Paige also gets let in on some of the aspects of this mission after she asks about their separate time away. Elizabeth is vague on details explaining that sometimes they have to work sources on their own. She asks about her cover name and profession and is rightly weirded out by the thought of her mom pretending to be someone else. If only she knew the whole story and then her mind would be really blown. In this sharing session Paige also reveals she found Pastor Tim’s diary while she was babysitting. Elizabeth is more concerned than proud as she points out that Paige could easily slip up and act different if she was even almost caught in the act. This is the same point Philip makes and there is worrying amount of cavalier attitude with Paige as she points out to her mother that she wasn’t there.

Not to completely shit on her achievement and Elizabeth does call her brave and smart for finding it; later she also raises the point that there might actually be something useful in the diary to use against Pastor Tim and Paige is very much her mother’s daughter. Blackmail is very much a central theme in the other major thread this week with Stan finally figuring out what he can use as leverage against the CIA and that’s public embarrassment. He threatens to go to the press about that time he gave Vlad a burger and then shot him in the back of the head, but is it too late? Aderholt gave him the idea after he mentioned a very successful operation in which blackmail was used and everyone came out a winner. This is not something that typically happens on The Americans and all’s well doesn’t tend to end well.Oleg is deep in his investigation and this one also uses weak spots to exploit for the so-called good of the country. He’s not really into this line of reasoning and he wants to find another way and this further reinforces the idea that he’s not that different from Stan. Except he thinks Stan has betrayed him and he tells his mother about his big dilemma.

So far we have only seen her as a weeping mess, but this week we get to see an entirely different side to Oleg’s mother. Unknown to him and before Oleg was born his mother was sent to a camp for five years. She explains that she survived by doing what she had to and now he should do the same.In other son news Henry is now really tall and delivering on teen sass. He’s pissed that his mom doesn’t put enough jam on his toast and instead of simply putting on more he throws it in the trash; a very significant point considering how much food or the lack of is at play this season. Henry is also in trouble at school and Elizabeth thinks his old friend Doug is actually code for a girlfriend. Just who is he on the phone to for hours? Meanwhile the other son makes his dangerous trip across the border and arrives at JFK. I figured Mischa’s travels would take a lot longer than that and the speed of his venture is welcome rather than dragging it out.

Philip goes for a beer with Alexei and is far more successful with him than his other mark. They talk about how everyone sees Alexei as a genius here as he’s giving them a lot of information about Russian infrastructure. Alexei notes how similar the two countries are in terms of land and yet how backward they are with their methods. This plays into the discussion in the motel room last week and there’s a push/pull at play between the very real things that are wrong with the corrupt system at home and loyalty to country.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017

I don’t think I can pull off acid wash, but I would definitely give this jacket and those glasses a go. A+ costume work from Katie Irish and her team. Looking forward to more Brenda.

Felicity Flashback

Halloween on Felicity was an early look at how good Keri Russell looks with a short bob.

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The Americans 5.03 “The Midges” Review: Even Cowboys Get the Blues

22 Mar

When Philip and Elizabeth first told Paige their big spy secret towards the end of season 3 of The Americans they left out a lot of the details about what they did. How do you explain to your teenage daughter that not only are you a Russian spy, but that you also pretend to be other people to get the information your country requires?

This is already a confusing and difficult conversation and let’s not even consider the ramifications if Paige found out about all the other stuff they do all in the name of their country.Everything changed when Paige saw her mother act in self defense and kill a man in front of her; while she had already figured out that the breadcrumb details she was given didn’t tell the whole story, this was a real eye opener. The questions they keep on coming and by dating an FBI agent’s son Paige has put herself in an even more precarious position from an emotional point of view. Dealing with parents who are spies is one thing and throwing in all of these first boyfriend feelings just makes things even more complicated.

If I was talking about vampires on The Vampire Diaries I would be throwing around the phrase “heightened emotions” and this is exactly what Paige is experiencing. But instead of learning that she can live forever, Paige has found out that her parents are nothing like your regular mom and dad.

The reason why Paige confronted them in the first place was because she could sense that something was off with their behavior and by withholding they are still keeping her at an arm’s length. Of course there are things they can’t reveal and aspects such as sleeping with assets would not be the best way of keeping her on side. Or the fact that they have destroyed lives (see Young Hee and Martha *sob*) and killed a lot of people in the process. If Paige thinks it is gross lying to people with ease, can you image is she knew how often her parents have to resort to bullets and back breaking as a way to protect their identity/work.The latter happens at the end of “The Midges” after their investigation at the lab is interrupted by someone who works there. Another case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ and Randy gets added to this growing list which also includes security guards, guys returning for a left behind wallet and delivery drivers. Randy at first attempts to lie about his position at the lab and while he’s high up, he also doesn’t know a whole lot about why they are breeding this type of pest. The information he does give shows that this is linked to Stan’s investigation and the FBI and KGB are going to be crossing paths again soon. As Elizabeth informs him “You should’ve asked.”

Philip has a bad track record with the cowboy hat and the last time this was part of his disguise his wig got ripped off and another innocent bystander paid the price. This time it is a double team effort and despite being much shorter than Randy, Philip and Elizabeth easily intimidate him. First Elizabeth hits him from behind against the glass and then she pushes him toward Philip who quickly ends things by breaking his back. Pretty fucked up date night and when Philip mentions telling Paige about this aspect of their work it is a super dark joke I was not expecting, but considering how much terrible stuff they have done as part of their job it isn’t surprising that morbid humor is the way to go. It is either that or go to the dark place that Philip has been circling since season 2. And I’m not even sure Philip intends it to be funny.It is his idea to tell Paige about what their current operation is because it clearly shows Russia as the victim; attacking food supply and starving a country is something Paige will understand as bad. What they also do is reveal part of their cover telling her about having fake identities while leaving out their fake son. They mention that they are pretending to be a pilot and flight attendant and how hard it can be. Throughout this scene Elizabeth looks pleased that they are sharing this with their daughter and there is a sense of pride that they can talk openly with her about this stuff. Well, not entirely and as with Elizabeth’s later conversation with Paige she talks about the importance of not sharing everything.

Not that Elizabeth is maybe the best at giving romantic advice considering how closed off things were with Philip when we first met them. They are of course a lot better at sharing with each other than they have ever been, but because of the nature of their arrangement and how they had to compartmentalize their original lives there is always going to be some aspect of holding back. They’re experts in emotional manipulation and yet they are often stumped at how to deal with their own feelings.

Communication has vastly improved and there is no one better than having a conversation without saying a word than Philip and Elizabeth; they say so much to each other in their glances and this is a point I could make on a weekly basis (and probably do) as Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are so good at saying so much without saying anything at all. This brings me to the scene in the motel room where Elizabeth recognizes how much the weight of what they are doing is burdening Philip’s soul.

Targeting food has brought up a whole lot of shit about his childhood and as we saw in the very brief flashback as Philip stares into the bathroom mirror his upbringing was not an easy one and the thought of anyone going through that again back home is too much to think about. Philip ponders on the notion of why can’t they grow enough grain to not have to rely on the US when home looks similar to the fields of Oklahoma.So when Elizabeth turns on the radio and “Old Flame” by Alabama plays, she takes this as a moment to distract him from the big picture stuff. Plus they have time to kill and she takes the cowboy hat part of his disguise first wearing it herself making a joke about being queen of the rodeo and then places it on his head.

Instant thoughts of Philip in the pilot giving great embarrassing dad while dancing in the department store wearing cowboy boots and in the past Elizabeth has mocked him for liking this part of American life. Here she does the opposite and in an incredibly romantic moment she sees his hunched over sadness and turns this into a fantasy moment for him; she places the hat on his head and they slow dance to the song. For a moment everything else gets blocked out and it is just them in this motel room. It is also the first time I’ve realized just how tiny Keri Russell is height wise as in the wide shot you can see she is on bare foot tippy toes. But real life is coming for them and later these disguises turn from romance to just another day of an operation not quite going to plan and someone else paying the price.

Philip and Elizabeth’s relationship instantly improved when they were finally open with each other and the same can now be said for how they are with Paige; even if this burden is huge and it comes with a new set of worries. Those worries do not extend to where exactly Henry is and I have a feeling that Henry’s absence is going to bite them in some way this season. All of their focus is on Paige and Henry is getting the classic teen son in a prestige drama treatment right now. Chris Brody says hi BTW.

Meanwhile, Philip’s other son continues his long journey to meet his papa stopping off at an address in Yugoslavia where he finds his contact has been arrested and so the cost of crossing the border into Austria has gone up. Oh, Mischa.

And while we’re over in that part of the world; Oleg has started his corruption investigation while also finding out that he really should’ve gone to that secret meeting. Now he has a tape of the conversation with Stan and a map and it looks like Stan is not the one behind this attempted contact as I suspected. When Oleg walks through the supermarket with its barely stocked shelves – despite all the amazing produce out back – the camera lingers on someone looking at a can. It is none other than Martha! I’m very excited to see Alison Wright again. Will she somehow cross paths with Oleg?

All the pieces are slowly coming together and as crisis looms the Jennings family could be getting even closer – well, not Henry – but at what cost?

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017Very much in love with Elizabeth’s plaid jacket and considering my go to outerwear at the moment is a red and black Levi’s jacket this comes as no surprise. Great sweater game from Elizabeth this week in a purple turtleneck and the teal number you can see below.

Felicity Flashback

This isn’t Keri Russell’s first rodeo.

Bonus Wig Cave!

I love it when we see their place of disguise prep so I was very pleased to see their post Tuan dropping off changing back from Dee and Brad to Philip and Elizabeth.

Bonus Song Choice!

The musical moment of the episode is quite clearly the country slow dance, but I was also thrilled to hear the dreamy Roxy Music’s “More Than This” playing over the opening bowling scene and as things go to shit at the lab and they have to clear up their mess. It is also interesting to note that while this plays Philip goes to check on the woman keeping watch – their Hans replacement? – to make sure she was okay after seeing them bring out the body. She says she is, but the look as she sees them with her would suggest otherwise.

The Americans 5.02 “Pests” Review: Playing By the Rules

15 Mar

Lines are blurry on The Americans and rules are constantly being broken with each side doing what they believe they have to do in order to protect their country; however there are certain things that neither would do, right? This is one of the main questions at hand with Russian grain supply (that comes from the U.S.) being at the heart of Philip and Elizabeth’s new operation as they move from biological weapons that could cause mass casualties to a potentially more insidious tactic by their enemy.

Targeting food is something Philip never thought the Americans would do and after a long night of digging and delivering both the sample and bad news about Hans, when Gabriel tells them what this new plan might be Philip can barely contain his horror through his exhaustion.There are rules in combat no matter how cold this war actually is and it seems like both sides are feeling at a loss with some of the tactics at play. For Stan he feels it is his duty to stop Oleg from getting caught in the cross hairs of another operation; the CIA wants to recruit him no matter what. If they were to just let him be then they might see that he is doing important work back home as he investigates the corruption that threatens to destroy Russia from within. Patience is a virtue and the CIA want something to work with now and they believe Oleg is their guy. To them he is another cog in the machine, but – and to borrow from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – for Stan it is a lot more nuanced than that.

It also is not a coincidence that the establishing shots of the FBI and KGB buildings show just how similar each looks in all its concrete glory. Chris Long directs once again and he also gives the Jennings house exterior the same horror feeling as he did in the season 4 finale and last week’s premiere only this time it is daylight as the camera pushes in.

Stan has already lost one agent who he was working (in more ways than one) and Nina is the tie that binds him with Oleg. He pleads his case to the deputy AG and this is where the notion of rules and good/bad comes into play. Everyone has to have a code and he believes Oleg already gave them this huge gift and he should be allowed to go home and be free from the burden of that treason admitting recording. And it looks like his plan has worked to some extent as Oleg receives a message from Stan and a map of where to meet to discuss further. Although a big part of me thinks this isn’t really from Stan; instead it is the CIA using his name to secure this meeting and they will attempt their original plan that Stan so vehemently opposed.

Difficult conversations take place over friendly beers as Stan talks to Philip about his Paige concerns; concerns that he can’t quite verbalize beyond asking if everything is okay in Paige-land. The Beemans and Jennings are entangled in friendship and this burgeoning romance making this a ticking time bomb that Philip and Elizabeth know could go off at any minute. So far strong arming Paige to stay away from Matthew is of course doing the opposite; Philip has tried and now it is time for Elizabeth to have a go at explaining why this relationship cannot happen.
Elizabeth opts for talking while training and as with last week’s garage defense lesson scenario it is about giving Paige a sense of control while also emphasizing why Matthew as a boyfriend is a bad idea. The rhythmic sounds of Paige hitting her target as Elizabeth still dressed in her work attire coaches her adds to the tension and fraught nature of this conversation. This is also part one of ‘the talk’ and when Elizabeth asks if Paige is having sex she quickly follows up with pointing out that she doesn’t care if they are. Not what you would expect to hear from a mother as she talks to her daughter about sleeping with her first proper boyfriend, but Elizabeth has other concerns beyond the usual teen sex worries.

The Elizabeth/Paige dynamic continues to be fascinating as for the first time Elizabeth can be seen for who she is by her daughter. So much of Elizabeth’s decision to become a KGB officer and take on such a long deep cover mission is tied to her mother; the sacrifices she made (which were reiterated in terms of food last week) and her mother’s beliefs that mirror her own. With the training sessions she now gets to show her how to build on her strength and there is a deep sense of pride amidst the concern that Paige might inadvertently ruin everything by spilling their secret.

Tactics to keep Paige and Matthew apart are not working and when they return home from their digging expedition to find Paige’s bed empty, Philip and Elizabeth fear the worst. Where they find Paige is a concern for another reason as she was asleep in her closet as she continues to have post-stabbing sleep issues. There are no set parenting rules for dealing with first boyfriends and really they are no different from any other parent trying to work their way through first love. Except for that whole enemy spy thing.


Marriage strength between the pair comes in telling each other exactly what is going on; something Philip and Elizabeth have not always done and these bathroom confessions while applying night cream and brushing teeth reinforce just how good things are in this relationship even if everything else falls apart around them. This week’s conversation includes bonus heartbreaking Hans chat with Elizabeth telling Philip how excited Hans was about his sister’s forthcoming visit. The sighs and silences that punctuate all of their scenes speak just as much volume as any dialogue. Philip relays his chat with Stan while Elizabeth informs him of how unsuccessful her attempt at the Matthew problem was. The question of how long before Paige slips up hangs in the air with no immediate solution.

Babying Paige or even laying down threats (if only Paige knew how dangerous her parents are) is doing nothing and after a painful dinner out as the Eckerts with their new Russian defector friends – if Elizabeth could stab Alexei with her fork she would – Elizabeth comments that she is fed up with treating Paige like a “goddamn kid.” The scene that follows is up there with the stomach churning levels of when they first told Paige who they really are because Philip and Elizabeth aren’t your average parents and this isn’t your average sex talk.

In fact they approach this conversation as if Paige is an asset rather than their daughter and they are far more successful at relaying their message because of this change of tactic. They have both trained a lot of people especially when it comes to sex and while they’re inexperienced as parents in this particular arena they very much know how to manage feelings and not let them muddy things. It is a practical conversation and while we have seen just how fucked up the training they had was in this department there is a whole lot of compartmentalizing on their behalf.

This is also an incredibly sad scene because they’re viewing sex through this lens of their work, but it is also a weirdly bonding experience that gives Paige a practical tool and her parents’ piece of mind. In a weird way this is them teaching her about protection, but instead of a condom over a banana it is a way not to reveal their secret. Also I now want to go back and watch previous episodes to see if either of them ever use this technique.

In other big developments of the heart Stan finally mustered the courage to ask out the gym woman – Renee – and things are going well here. She’s the female version of Philip! Oh, Stan. It is also interesting to see Philip viewing her with suspicious eyes, but I guess he is always accustomed to looking at these things with spy eyes and Stan could be a target for this.


Also there are bugs aplenty in the greenhouse Elizabeth breaks into and because I’ve watched The X-Files my first thought went to bees that interrupted an all important Mulder and Scully moment. Thoughts of X-Files also courtesy of Stan’s new love interest. Instead Elizabeth ended up with a whole lot in her hair (despite the wig) and she tells Philip they need Alexei to help figure out what is going on with this agriculture business.

We also spend some more time with Tuan and find out that he really was adopted by an American family; a family who treated him well but who were also very pleased with themselves for this seemingly altruistic act. This might be where some of his resentment comes from along with the fact that his entire family (save his grandma) were killed by bombs in the Vietnam War. There’s a bit of a bond already with Philip and we see more of Tuan than both of Philip’s actual sons as Henry says he is at the library and the look on Elizabeth’s face when Paige tells her this is one of “yeah right.” Paige agrees and suggests he’s probably at the arcade. Meanwhile Mischa continues to make his voyage off screen.

Tension continues to build and deciding to open further to Paige will mean drawing her in closer; both to who they are and the job they do. The lines continue to blur.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017

I’m so happy whenever Philip hits the court with Stan as this means retro sportswear. While not quite hitting the levels of this Dunlop tee, I would still be happy to have this stripe polo or Stan’s Adidas in my closet. Got to remember to keep an eye out on Etsy as costume designer Katie Irish suggested.

This is also another week of wanting to wear all the high-waisted pants and silk blouses a la Elizabeth and the outfit she’s wearing when they have the talk with Paige is the ideal version of this. And I have never related so much to Philip as him halfheartedly throwing his jacket in the direction of the coat hooks by the door.

The Americans 5.01 “Amber Waves” Review: Protect Yourself

8 Mar

Home is meant to be where you feel safe, but at the end of The Americans season 4 finale the Jennings house loomed like a visage from a horror movie as Paige was escorted home and told she couldn’t see Matthew Beeman anymore. Chris Long directed both that finale and this premiere episode so it is not to see a repetition of this foreboding shot and for Paige there is no escaping the night she saw her mother stab a guy in the throat in self defense.

Paige is having nightmares and there is something comforting about hanging out across the street while her parents are out working doing who knows what (we know). She might not get food with any good nutritional value at Stan’s, but it is the only place she can go where the scary images don’t follow.“Amber Waves” throws us back into stories long established such as the Paige problem; how do they manage what she knows without destroying her a piece at a time? There is also a new mission, loose ends from an old one to tie up and the matter of what is going on back home. Ah home, you can never really go back and Philip and Elizabeth are forever caught between two worlds. Forcibly smiling through dinner with a defector who spouts on about how much he hates the homeland puts them to their acting test and of course they pass with flying colors. The car ride home provides plenty of time to spew venom about his treacherous opinions and reflect on their past lives.

It is rare to hear Philip and Elizabeth talking about when they were Mischa and Nadezhda and as with previous conversations this one reveals just how hard things were in post-war Russia for both of them. There is also a sense of guilt, particularly from Elizabeth with regard to how much her mother sacrificed for her and it goes a long way to explain why she is so hardened to everything. But they also haven’t been home in a long time and they don’t know just how bad it has got; the post credits montage shows just this by juxtaposing the impressive American crops with the disaster that is taking place in the USSR. Followed by those long lines for food that looks inedible. Philip might remember a time when onion soup tasted just like hot water, but as we are reminded of in this episode the amount of food available to them is endless.


Food is plentiful and it isn’t like The Americans is suddenly remembering that their characters eat; food scenes have played a big part as well as an everyday part with Stan often popping over for dinner (as we can see from his cooking skills there is a reason why). Elizabeth often offers to cook eggs for Philip when he has had a shitty day and there was also that time I found out that tuna noodle casserole is a thing people ate. Oh the ’80s. There was also that time Elizabeth ate bacon after Paige had walked in to her parents’ bedroom at an unfortunate time and a variety of kitchen items were used to conceal Keri Russell’s IRL bump last season including crock pots, unpacking groceries, salad bowls and the refrigerator door. What I’m saying is they aren’t changing the amount of produce being consumed, but by focusing on the issue Russians are facing it puts this endless supply of food into focus.

Oleg is now back in Moscow; returning at his mother’s request as she is still deep in grief about the son she lost at war and his new role within the KGB is also about the food supply issues at hand. Bribery is a huge part of the problem and his new boss wants him to get to the very top of the matter, which might include some very powerful people who know his very powerful father. Oleg is quick to accept and his guilt about what happened to Nina has already led to him helping the FBI; when he sees just how corrupt the whole system is will this further push him toward Stan? Stan for his part is concerned about why Oleg has flown back home and whether he has been burned with regard to his part in the William.


Speaking of William as he makes a surprise appearance in “Amber Waves” and he gave me a reason to yell “What’s in the box?” at the screen, which I am always happy to do. Before this comes Gabriel telling Philip and Elizabeth about William’s fate; how he wished he could’ve given him the fantasy ending of returning home and having a family. Instead he died a painful death and after Elizabeth calls him a hero, Philip bitterly responds that maybe they can put him on a stamp.

This isn’t the end of their association with William and deadly pathogens as the last quarter of “Amber Waves” involves a whole lot of digging in a dialogue free sequence that involves the biggest team we have seen them work with. They break into Fort Detrick and dig a very deep hole to retrieve an important tissue supply from the now deceased William – oh hey Dylan Baker in a bag – and the exhausting nature of the task is shown in how long it takes. The team is so big because this mission is so arduous; digging in February is not easy and between the beanie hats (which I talk about at length here) and their visible breath this only adds to the extremes they are going to. At one point when Philip and Elizabeth are taking a break and sharing a flask it looks like a bleak picnic.


Everything looks like it is going according to plan, but as this is The Americans something goes wrong and Hans slips and falls into the hole landing on the open metal coffin cutting himself and exposing his blood to the Lassa virus. I was going to tweet how happy I was to see Hans again as he is now a vital part of their team and it is a good job that I didn’t. After a wordless exchange between Philip and Elizabeth – Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are incredible at saying so much to each other with just their eyes – Elizabeth pulls out her gun and shoots Hans in the back of the head. They then dispose of his body in the same metal box as William and that’s another death to add to their list of bad feelings. We have seen Elizabeth kill without hesitation in the past, but I think this one is going to take its toll. As we saw Philip grappling with the weight of their job in season 2 after a whole lot of collateral damage, Elizabeth could be headed in the same direction.

The fact their daughter now knows who they are and is continuing to ask questions about what they do could add to this burden of guilt. Elizabeth is also in full training spirit and while Philip is having no luck with detracting Paige from spending time with Matthew, Elizabeth is trying a different tactic. As they circle around the awkwardness of a sex chat, Elizabeth teaches Paige that she needs to know how to protect herself; spy training 101. The Esprit sweatshirt that made an appearance in the promo is worn by Paige in the premiere and it is fun seeing such a fashion touchstone moment like this (also for more costume details check out my interview with costume designer Katie Irish here).


Philip and Elizabeth also have a fake new son. Someone they spend more time with than their actual one (poor Henry). Posing as a couple who are an airline pilot and flight attendant with an adopted Vietnamese son, Tuan (who is also an agent) this new mission is all about crops. Whereas biological weapons and the insidious nature of threatening a population with a disease was at the heart of season 4, food and stopping the supply of it is the weapon of choice this year. At the heart of it is always family and protecting that unit at all costs.

Speaking of family as Philip’s son has made his way out of Russia on the first part of his journey to meet his father. Much like the biological weapons last season that posed a threat throughout; there is also something unnerving about what Mischa’s trip to the U.S. is going to do for Philip and Elizabeth’s whole cover. He is the ticking time bomb headed their way and it’s not like they already have a lot on their spy and parental plate already.

As with the season finale this is a slow burn and it does what The Americans does best; somehow raising the stakes and tension levels to new heights. Setting up new stories, while threading the ones from the past and all while adding another layer to this intricate and complicated world. As we head into the almost final stretch with this penultimate season it looks like there is a still a lot of story to be told and I am excited to see how Philip and Elizabeth will handle the new and deep rooted challenges.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017


Henry got tall and he’s also wearing another ski like jacket that I am coveting hard. Elizabeth is still up their with her strong coat game and I’m glad to see a return to silk blouses and high waisted pants now there is no IRL bump to cover up. Also Philip’s still got the best dad sweaters in the business.

The Americans Season 5 Trailer: Gonna Need a Training Montage

8 Feb

The Americans returns for season 5 next month and somehow things look tenser than ever before. I don’t know how they manage this every year, but the threat levels look higher and also there is some training to be done.

After seeing her mother take out two dudes – including killing one of them – at the end of last season Paige has even more questions about what her parents do and she’s ready to help with the family business. This includes her relationship with Matthew Beeman in The Americans version of Romeo and Juliet and getting self-defense lessons from her mother.

The net continues to close in around Philip and Elizabeth and there is concern that their position is more precarious than ever. Here is the trailer and the ticking clock does a very good job of setting my frayed Americans nerves on fire. Great music timing with the punches too.

Prepare for the all new season of TV's most acclaimed drama. #TheAmericans returns March 7 on @fxnetworks.

A post shared by The Americans (@theamericansfx) on

 

And here is my breakdown of some notable moments.img_0460Henry is still excluded from all important family conversations for obvious reasons. Costume wise Elizabeth is back to silk blouses and not worrying about hiding Keri Russell’s IRL pregnancy. Philip still does dad sweaters better than anyone.img_0488Disguise cave! It is always fun to take a sneak look at their getting ready process and even more so when they’re discussion domestic issues. Philip has concerns with regards to Paige and I don’t blame him tbh.img_0489Maybe all Stan needs is some red string to connect the dots. Or the Carrie Mathison color coding method.img_0466Mischa Jr. is coming! His voyage to the US is far from first class with the trunk of a car providing the non-luxury conditions. I had to double check this wasn’t Matthew Rhys so good casting guys!img_0486Philip and Elizabeth tend to have their most intimate conversations in the bathroom (for anyone who has read my teen TV pieces they will know how happy this makes me) and Philip is also great at miming the clusterfuck they are now in.img_0490Getting every Buffy/Alias training montage vibe.img_0491If this was 2017 Paige would probably be wearing an Ivy Park hoodie. As it is 1984 she is in ESprit. And it is also worth noting her cross necklace is still on display.img_0492A very proud mama.img_0501Stan has very strong concerns about Oleg’s safety as he is still giving the FBI information and this is probably wrapped up in the fact that he already got one informant killed. Oleg looks every level stressed. img_0478This is a tad on the blurry side as this shot is very quick, but here are two new disguises. The last time Philip wore a hat like that it did not go wellimg_0494A gentle stroll in the park or really a difference in opinion about Philip and Elizabeth; Claudia thinks that nothing scares them, Gabriel believes the opposite.

Considering how broken they were at the midpoint last season I am definitely inclined to side with Gabriel on this one.img_0495They definitely just did something bad. Bonus points for the eerie mist and pensive stares.img_0496A brief look at the new flight themed disguises which debuted in Entertainment Weekly at the end of last year.img_0498And I am always thrilled to see Elizabeth in huge frames.

The Americans returns Tuesday, March 7 on FX.

 

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

16 Dec

There’s a whole lot of seasonal looks this week with plenty of perfect holiday outfits including a Brooks Brothers event, a variety of premieres and some award season shenanigans. Lots of fun to be had as we near the end of this year.

For more from this week’s red carpet coverage check out the Critics’ Choice highlights, a friendship appreciation post and kicking off TV Ate My Wardrobe’s Best of 2016 coverage.christina-hendricksAt the Brooks Brothers annual holiday celebration in conjunction with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Christina Hendricks puts a festive spin on #LadySuitWatch2016.

Those check shoes work like a charm and the belted ribbon is something you can get away with at this time of year. Plus a fabulous shade of red lipstick gives an extra pop.holly-taylorHolly Taylor is also at the same event and her Brooks Brothers ensemble is super cute (even if the shoes are too matchy matchy). I am always here for a sweater/plaid skirt combo and Taylor also gives great lip color.naomie-harrisFlorals were a big trend at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this week and at the Collateral Beauty premiere – I saw the trailer for this movie the other day and oh boy it reminds me of a fake 30 Rock creation – Naomie Harris continues her style domination in a bold Rosie Assoulin.

So much yellow pump envy right now.essie-davis-and-ariane-labedMy current TV obsession is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – a post will be coming soon – and star Essie Davis is in the new Assassins Creed movie. At the New York premiere this Martin Grant dress is ideal winter red carpet moody shimmer and co-star Ariane Labed’s mini dress is also a delight and a tad festive.elle-fanningEvery time I see the Live by Night trailer – and it is on a lot of previews right now – it makes me want to see the movie less, which is probably the opposite of its intention. However, Elle Fanning looks great at this screening in a very cool looking Carolina Herrera (pockets!) and I am very excited about 20th Century Women.hidden-figures-academyWelcome to the most fun being had at an Academy event and another movie I am super excited for is Hidden Figures. A+ outfits for all and I wish I could work my mustard beret as spectacularly as Janelle Monae and once again her entire look is every heart emoji.hidden-figuresAnd this is pure joy. Bring me more of this press tour/awards campaign.rogue-oneSo many handsome dudes in suits and a perfectly pleasant dress from Felicity Jones (it could do with being splashier if I’m being honest). Saw Rogue One at a very early morning show (talking 6.30 a.m. and now I want to watch more movies that early) and loved it. There were a lot of swoons in the direction of Mads Mikkelson and Diego Luna.

An Evening with The Americans: Panel Highlights

31 Oct

The Americans has just started shooting its penultimate season, but it won’t be back for at least a few months. To fill the wig and complicated relationship void showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields joined stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys at the 92nd Street Y as part of The Hollywood Reporter’s TV Talks panel series to discuss all things The Americans.

Regular readers will know how much I enjoy a good panel/roundtable (movie award season is coming!) and as this one has the bonus of being about my favorite show.the-americans-panelWeisberg and Fields are both very cautious when revealing anything that could be considered a spoiler so if you want some season 5 secrets then you might be disappointed. Instead what follows is a fascinating chat about the process of making this show from a writing and acting standpoint. It is also very funny at times with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys displaying the kind of back and forth ease/humor that you would hope to expect from an IRL couple.

This includes Rhys joking about how he directed Russell during her big Paige confrontation scene in “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears” explaining that it was a “very simple scene to direct because Keri was pregnant at the time, so I just said pretend like you’re talking to me.” He also made Holly Taylor cry for real during this scene and he seems to feel very bad about this.

One of the most revealing aspects of this scene discussion was the behind the scenes debate in the editing room about whether to CGI out the vein which grew more inflamed on Russell’s face as Elizabeth’s anger at Paige increased. Joel Fields fought the corner of keeping it as it was and Russell loved that her face naturally looked like this as “You’re mad. Why would I want to be a pretty version of that? Like I want to be mad, but I want to be pretty.”

Russell also mentions that she understood why this conversation took place; “In everyone’s defense they were just trying to protect me.” It really is a stunning moment and physical performance from Keri Russell’s face parts so I am thrilled they didn’t alter it in post.matthew-rhys-and-keri-russellWhile talking about what it is like to work with the person you also go home with Rhys a little hesitantly at first takes the lead referring to the duality of it all “it’s amazing and it’s difficult. And it’s challenging and exciting. It’s everything.” And that so far they seem to be getting away with it.

One of the answers that surprised some of the audience was when Rhys responded to ‘Did Philip love Martha?’ with a quick “no.” In the way he played it (and I read it) his feelings for her were intrinsically linked to guilt rather than love and there is an aspect of caring, but not being in love. There were lots of Martha questions from the audience – all audience Qs should be done on cards as it really speeds up the process – and she is an important character.

Of course this being Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields they didn’t reveal whether they have plans to bring her back. The only new S5 info was that Philip and Elizabeth would have some different operations to deal with as most of their old ones wrapped up in S4. And there are some theories from the actors about how they would like to see the show wrap up including a dramatic interpretation by Matthew Rhys that has him going out in a blaze of glory.

It wouldn’t be an Americans panel without a little bit of wig/disguise chat and Russell and Rhys were asked to name their favorite disguise the other has worn. This resulted in a Margo Martindale anecdote that is worth clicking on the link below (and comes just before the hour mark).

Praise for Holly Taylor (and whether she has a real tattoo or not) was scattered throughout and how the Paige reveal scene is one of the hardest they have ever shot as it was a lot more heartbreaking on a personal level than Russell expected. This also allows Rhys to gift us with a Monty Python impression and for how serious this show is the set life sure sounds like a lot of fun.

 

Watch the whole panel here (and click ahead to 9 minutes in if you want to skip the clips).

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

13 Oct

As I have been away for a couple of weeks some of these Instagram highlights are from during that time period.

Now for some behind the scenes of how I choose which pictures I include; while I’m scrolling through I’ll screengrab the ones that catch my eye and because I wasn’t on the internet all that much while on honeymoon/during wedding prep this will be a lighter week, but a fun collection nonetheless featuring a lot of my favorite shows/people.

Next time everything will be back to regular transmission.

 

Our first proper night in New York was spent in the company of Gil and George (charmed, I’m sure) and as a huge fan of the “too much tuna” sketch on Kroll Show this stage production was everything I hoped it would be and more. Funny and so dark in places, that I was equal parts laughing and picking my jaw up off the floor.

From best of friends to tonight's Brd'way opening. We'll say it again, bozos: THIS IS NOT A PRAHNK. #OhHelloBroadway

A post shared by Gil and George (@ohhelloshow) on

 

This fun photo collage of the evolution of this sketch is also a delight.

Blowing the lid off: Finally, the proof that @tatianamaslany is in actual fact a clone.

A post shared by Tom Cullen (@tom_cullen) on

 

There is still time for some 2016 Emmy coverage and this photo Tom Cullen posted of Tatiana Maslany links nicely into Orphan Black and my desire to get drinks and go dancing with them.

"This dork. Day 1. Season 5." 📸= @tatianamaslany on Twitter

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Speaking of Orphan Black and they are back on set for the fifth and final season. Helena is coming to play and this always makes me very happy.

Also it just occurred to me that a lot of shows I hold close to my heart are getting the chance to wrap up on their own terms (see also The AmericansHalt and Catch Fire and The Leftovers). Sure, it is a bummer they will be over soon(ish), but also such a relief they will get a proper ending to their story.

Westeros 2015

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Also on this list is Game of Thrones (although it was never in doubt that they would get to choose their end date unlike some of those shows listed above) and this is very fun flashback to 2015 from Carice van Houten.

 

Two more seasons of The Americans (*sob*) and day one of season five already has me excited for the skirt/boot combination Keri Russell is wearing (even in this is an out of focus shot).

 

To the woman who creates these Americans costumes surrounded by her work and this photo of costume designer Katie Irish is a stunner.

From @janiebryant Mad Men archives 💛

A post shared by January Jones (@januaryjones) on

 

And to a show that is over, but not in our hearts or January Jones’ Insta and these costume shots from Janie Bryant are always a welcome sight.

Today @nbctimeless premiers & I am so grateful to have been a small part of awesome show!! My character was a total transformation into another time period, from sleeping in hair pins, to stylized makeup, some awesome pants called jampers and I loved every moment of it!! It's the best part about what I do, stepping outside myself and becoming someone who is a whole different individual. Bringing her back to life from 1937 allowed me to learn more about the journey of women in this world! My inspiration was Margaret Bourke-White who as a woman had a lot of "firsts" on her resume.. Like being the FIRST FEMALE photographer on staff at LIFE magazine and featured on the cover! Make sure to tune in tonight..: and thanks #timelessteam for letting me be a part of your world!! #lovemyjob #luckygirl

A post shared by Shantel VanSanten (@therealshantel) on

 

Now for a closer look at the hair, makeup and costuming Shantel VanSanten wore on the Timeless premiere – a show that is tremendous amounts of fun from both a story and costume perspective – and I love the detail in her description here. Also so much lipstick coveting.

 

Constance Zimmer shared a piece of fan art that celebrates the many characters she has played on TV and it is wonderful.

 

No hot sauce required.

#1Spice shoot! #BTS #KitengeTakeover @QueenOfKatweMovie @yc_hab

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A couple of style highlights include Lupita Nyong’o on the Queen of Katwe press tour crushing it all over the place.

 

Followed by Jenny Slate going full vintage in this fabulous casual look.

JUUUUDIIIIITH LIIIIGHTTTTTTTT @elleusa @cateware 🐩

A post shared by abbi & ilana (@broadcity) on

 

Ending things this week with a couple of very important things from the Broad City Instagram including the best dog ever (Tom Hiddleston you look okay too).

Keri Russell's Jennifer disguise in The Americans got us feelin some type of way YOWWWW !

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As a Top 5 Americans disguise it feels right to finish this first “Behind the Insta-Scenes” post after being away with this joyous moment. Abbi and Ilana, I’m sure would agree.

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set (Emmy Special)

21 Sep

An all Emmy weekend edition of “Behind the Insta-Scenes” including pre-parties, getting ready and the actual awards.

Reunited. #Emmys #fnl #blurry

A post shared by connie britton (@conniebritton) on

 

I’ve said this many times before, but out of all the cast reunions the Friday Night Lights ones give me the most feeeeeeelings. This is ultimate.

#BudCrossover @masterofnone @strangerthingstv

A post shared by @azizansari on

 

Stranger Things kids are in big demand and the height difference here just made me laugh a lot.

 

I also appreciate the fact that actors will freak out over other actors. Also still so here for Henry Jennings in a turtleneck.

 

Chris Geere also demonstrating good internal freak out here.

Step one. Bow tie. Thank you @zegnaofficial #emmys2016

A post shared by Keegan-Michael Key (@keeganmic) on

 

And who wouldn’t be thrilled to meet this handsome chap. Good bow tie work.

I met the brilliant @sharonhorgan last night and it was so damn exciting!

A post shared by Rachel Bloom (@racheldoesstuff) on

 

Emmy weekend on Instagram is pretty much a series of these kinds of pictures. This one makes me so happy.

Yo! He's ALIVE!!!!! #Emmys

A post shared by Kerry Washington (@kerrywashington) on

 

And another.

…just like to thank me mam xo

A post shared by Maisie Williams (@maisie_williams) on

 

Maisie Williams didn’t win, but she did get an edible Emmy. Sounds pretty great to me.

 

Lots of getting ready Emmy stories including Keri Russell’s make-up routine. Her eyebrows in this shot are giving me inspiration for the big day on Saturday.

 

Yara Shahidi was one of our best dressed over the weekend and she switched things up after the awards giving a detailed photo diary of her Emmy night for Elle.

11:28 A.M. / Follow along on our IG Story as @constancezimmer readies for the #Emmys! #STRIIIKEHAIR

A post shared by Pret-a-Reporter (@pretareporter) on

 

Constance Zimmer got a bold blunt bob on Emmy day and it looks fabulous against her super pink frock.

Emmmmmyzzzz🍕🍕🍕🍕

A post shared by Ilaria Urbinati (@ilariaurbinati) on

 

Super stylist Ilaria Urbinati definitely deserves some pizza.

CE LOVES T-FEY 💚 #outfitchange #celoves

A post shared by Cristina Ehrlich (@cristinaehrlich) on

 

And now for the after. Comfy tee on, amazing dress in hand.

Slayer

A post shared by Tom Cullen (@tom_cullen) on

 

Tom Cullen delivered on the proud boyfriend looking on at his award winning lady.

Found @tatianamaslany swanning around this morning. As per.

A post shared by Tom Cullen (@tom_cullen) on

 

And also on the post party arrangements from earlier in the weekend. Fave couple alert.

Best of the 2016 Emmys: Shimmer, Black and White

19 Sep

Continuing our Emmy style rundown and this second bumper post gives great sparkle. Plus the many different interpretations of how to wear black and white on the red carpet.constance-wuGetting 70s disco vibes from Constance Wu in J. Mendel and after Sarah Paulson’s Prada, this is my favorite look of the night.judith-lightJudith fucking Light. Always amazing. No exceptions. laverne-coxOrange is the New Black was pretty much shutout this year, but Laverne Cox is giving statuette realness is Naeem Khan.claire-danesClaire Danes might want to tone down the tan/bronzer, but her Schiaparelli super sparkly number is a stunner.taraji-p-hensonTaraji P. Henson changed it all up for presenting and I think I like this look even more than the yellow dress. Sequins and that hairstyle continue the nod to the 70s.stranger-things-kidsThe Stranger Things kids are adorable and need to be protected at all costs. Also continuing the trend of dressing better than a lot of adults, particularly in the tux department (see also Jacob Tremblay). Millie Bobby Brown put a bird on it in Red Valentino and this is the perfect brand for her.kristen-bellA very romantic looking Zuhair Murad floral gown for Kristen Bell and this is giving me all the heart eyes.yara-shahidiAnother knockout choice from Yara Shahidi and a Clara Rotescu dress that also gave great twirl/floating style.tracee-ellis-rossEverything about Tracee Ellis in this pose and Ralph Lauren dress is incredibly regal. holly-taylorThe Americans sadly didn’t win, but Holly Taylor combines great sparkle with white in custom Theia Couture. rami-malekRami Malek in a white Dior tux jacket is showing why he was on our most anticipated list.tittus-burgessRami’s not the only one crushing the white tux jacket look and Tituss Burgess also came with a strong shoe and bow tie game.sophie-turnerA sheer frock I don’t hate! Sophie Turner delivers a miracle in Valentino.jldAnd even more sheer that I like! Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave a heart crushing speech as her dad passed away on Friday, which left me pretty much sobbing into my wine.america-ferreraSequins really were the big style winner of the night and America Ferrera’s Jenny Packham frock is another evening high point.kerry-washingtonKerry Washington is never boring on the red carpet and she’s wearing a show stopping Brandon Maxwell number coupled with hair that takes me back to Olivia Pope hanging out on a tropical beach.

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