Laurie Holden (#110 of 10)

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Directed by Matthew Rhys, this week's episode of The Americans, “The Committee on Human Rights,” begins exactly where “Crossbreed” left off. But let me begin at the end, specifically with that haunting image of Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Philip (Rhys) seated across from one another inside the former's apartment. Throughout this evocatively staged sequence that serves as a tribute to Gabriel's work throughout the years in trying to keep Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) well informed and grounded, my eye kept gravitating to a patch of white unpainted wall near Gabriel's head. And my mind went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse, a film in which people leave behind splotchy black stains—redolent of the blast shadows of Hiroshima victims—on walls when they die, or simply go missing. That blackness is a symbol of all that's inexplicable about our lives, just as the swath of unpainted wall here represents the one thing that Gabriel doesn't come clean about throughout a profound unloading of his conscience: that he kept Mischa away from Philip.

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 5, “Lotus 1-2-3”

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Lotus 1-2-3”

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Lotus 1-2-3”

In my “What's the Matter with Kansas?” recap, I refrained from describing one important yuk that played out in the Jennings' kitchen that receives a very pointed rejoinder in “Lotus 1-2-3,” tonight's episode of The Americans. Last week, upon sensing that Henry (Keidrich Sellati) was getting sassy with her, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) admonished him: “Don't be smart, Henry.” To which a frazzled Henry blurted out: “I'm not!” This week, in a meeting with Henry's math teacher (Don Guillory), Elizabeth and Philip (Matthew Rhys) learn that their son is so good at math that his school is considering placing him in Algebra II. The parents' joy is the son's sadness in a subsequent scene, which very casually brings to the fore how Elizabeth and Philip's grooming of Paige (Holly Taylor) into a next-generation spy has unconsciously done a number on Henry, a wallflower of his parents' creation who deflects the praise heaped on him by retreating into the world of his video game.

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 2, "Pests"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, "Pests"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, "Pests"

“Relax your shoulders, and follow through,” says Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) to her daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), in tonight's episode of The Americans, as they start their latest self-defense training session. The scene begins and ends with the metronomic sound of Paige's fists taking turns smacking—not too hard but also not too soft—a duct-taped throw pillow. That sound, like the girl's movement, is a canny corollary to Elizabeth's methods as a spy, the perfection with which she must thread needles, and how they're inextricably bound to her methods as a mother. Yes, Paige is frustrated by her parents not wanting her to date Matthew (Danny Flaherty), but when she agrees to continue their training session, one grasps Paige's respect for her mother, for the way she broaches the subject of sex so frankly—which is to say, by pretending that it's something that can actually occur.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 4, Episode 8, "Too Far Gone"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4, Episode 8, "Too Far Gone"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 4, Episode 8, "Too Far Gone"

One of the things we've learned about the Governor (David Morrissey) is that he excels at manipulating his surroundings and forcing those around him to accept his pretenses. In “Too Far Gone,” the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead's fourth season, he believes he's drawn up the perfect scenario that will either result in a bloodless takeover of the prison or a righteous slaughter of Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) group. He uses Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) as hostages, presuming Rick will take the bait. Rejecting the proposition altogether, however, Rick offers an impassioned plea for peace to the Governor's followers, and in doing so makes a powerful case that it's possible to “come back again”—that is, to survive without malice despite the inhuman conditions of living.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 3, Episode 8, "Made to Suffer"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, "Made to Suffer"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, "Made to Suffer"

For all the anticipation and careful setup over the last several episodes of The Walking Dead, the show's mid-season finale was somewhat anticlimactic. Many burning questions were introduced leading up to the episode. What will Andrea (Laurie Holden) think when she finds out about the zombie daughter the Governor (David Morrissey) keeps hidden inside a cage and all those heads floating inside wall-length fish tanks? What will Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl's (Norman Reedus) reunion bring? How is Rick (Andrew Lincoln) going to get Glen (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) out of Woodbury? All of these are answered, if not in a particularly satisfying way. We do, though, get bombarded with more questions. “Made to Suffer” delivers on tension, action, and confrontation, but it's all pivot and no release.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 3, Episode 7, "When the Dead Come Knocking"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, "When the Dead Come Knocking"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, "When the Dead Come Knocking"

When it first started, The Walking Dead was about the immediate sensation of living in a post-apocalyptic world. In the shadow of a crumbled society, survivors adjusted to the violent realignment of their lives by banding together, struggling to stay human. Now, because of all they've seen and suffered, the characters who've made it this far are shells of their former selves. Survival is no longer simply a matter of avoiding being eaten by zombies; it also requires a frigid sense of detachment and perhaps even cruelty, both of which course through “When the Dead Come Knocking.” No one anymore seems to know what it means to be human.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 3, Episode 5, "Say the Word"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, "Say the Word"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, "Say the Word"

After last week's episode of The Walking Dead ushered in a new level of intensity with the deaths of two major characters and the birth of Lori's (Sarah Wayne Callies) baby, “Say the Word” is comparatively stagnant. This makes it consistent with the narrative rhythm that the writers have committed to since the show's second season: After a dramatic turn of events, everything slows down, often for several episodes. “Say the Word” fits comfortably within that broader framework, but it makes better use of its quieter interludes than similar episodes and also offers a handful of isolated standout moments.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 3, Episode 4, "Killer Within"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, "Killer Within"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 4, "Killer Within"

The latest episode of The Walking Dead, “Killer Within,” opens on a hazy morning at the prison where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors have settled down. The serene atmosphere is offset when a lurking figure opens the gates and baits walkers into the facility. With its dreamlike, foggy setting and a conspicuously waist-down perspective of the saboteur, a peculiar sense of disconnect underlines the implications of what's being depicted. The scene ends with a single close-up of a heart placed on the cold cement. It's a foreboding image that gains magnitude as “Killer Within” gives way to a sudden strike of tragedy. Moreover, the pre-credit sequence lends insight into how the episode amounts to a particularly poignant, if also problematic, entry in the show's run.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 3, Episode 3, "Walk with Me"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, "Walk with Me"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, "Walk with Me"

“Do you think they remember anything? The person they once were?” a man asks in the latest episode of The Walking Dead. This is the kind of question you'd expect from someone in a George A. Romero zombie film, specifically one of the more recent ones, wherein zombies exhibit traits of their pre-zombie selves. Here, though, the significance of the question doesn't concern zombies so much as how the human survivors of a zombie uprising project their own fears and insecurities onto the living dead. “Walk with Me” is a notable change of pace for The Walking Dead for several reasons, most clearly its shift in plot trajectory to initiate a new storyline with a new group of survivors. More importantly, however, it's about unearthing the past and recalling a distant life. This becomes clear at the outset, when Andrea (Laurie Holden) and her travel companion, Michonne (Danai Gurira), are discovered by a familiar face at the site of a helicopter crash.

Deadpan Despair: The Mist

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Deadpan Despair: <em>The Mist</em>
Deadpan Despair: <em>The Mist</em>

Were The Mist about mist and not monsters, human or otherwise, it might have remained nervy and unsettling, instead of simply icky and unpleasant, for the bulk of its running time. Frank Darabont's elephantine adaptation of a rather slim Stephen King novella, while well-acted and intriguingly shot, loses its footing, like a lot of films that should be fun, when it starts preaching. Not content (or strong enough?) to be a film about cloudy (foggy?) judgments, The Mist carves up the world into discrete factions meant to signify varying moral registers, or approaches to human life. Darabont's film continues his almost-hapless devotion to humanism despite all the supernatural phenomena and religious fervor in the film: the cast's beat-your-brow-with-a-Bible zealots are far scarier than the demonic, slimy, tentacled insect-creatures crawling around them, out in the mist. And in the end, the bad CGI gives way, fully, in a gut-punch reveal to rival 28 Weeks Later as the biggest “Fuck you, stupid world” of the year.