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Gillian Anderson (#110 of 22)

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

Starz

American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

“Come to Jesus” ends the first season of American Gods on an awkward and anticlimactic note. Creators and co-screenwriters Bryan Fuller and Michael Green seem to be aware of their own perversity, cracking a joke about it early in the episode. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) are at the office of Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), the present incarnation of the god Anansi, who’s tailoring suits for the next leg of their journey. For a moment, it seems that we’ve dodged the obligation of sitting through a deity origin tale that typically opens each episode, until Mr. Nancy announces that he has a story, which Wednesday greets with comic frustration while nursing a tall whiskey. Wednesday is clearly speaking for the audience here, who may be understandably weary of yet another damn flashback.

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”
American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “Lemon Scented You”

Whether we’re talking cinema, television, or theater, conventional drama is predominantly made up of exposition, which experimental art seeks to transcend or obliterate so as to theoretically tap into deeper meanings. For better or worse, deeper meaning often equates to obliqueness, which means less to most audiences than repetitive variations of common pop-art symbols. There’s another way to approach exposition, though, as American Gods and the new Twin Peaks illustrate: double down on it so transparently that it serves as an orienting device as well as a flourish of stylized abstraction. “Lemon Scented You” is entirely expositional on one level, but it’s so flamboyantly and decadently realized that it doesn’t matter, as it satirically equates exposition to sales as necessary binding agents of contemporary life.

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 2, "The Secret of Spoon"

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “The Secret of Spoon”

Starz

American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “The Secret of Spoon”

Starz’s American Gods comes into its own with “The Secret of Spoon,” achieving a free-associative emotional ferocity that wasn’t fully present in last week’s “The Bone Orchard.” While the phrase “free-associative” feels right as a descriptor of this episode’s wandering, hallucinatory emotional texture, “The Secret of Spoon” is actually quite tightly structured and governed by rhyming symbols, in a manner that recalls co-creator Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal.

A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse

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A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse

Teddy Wolff

A Streetcar Named Desire at St. Ann’s Warehouse

Round and round Blanche DuBois goes, and where she stops, everyone knows. Tennessee Williams’s legendary character earns our respect for refusing to accept defeat despite steadily mounting losses of home, riches, reputation, loved ones, and ultimately her mind. Lately, though, the playwright’s valiant, if fading, heroine has also had to contend with the potential loss of her power to surprise and affect her audience: In just over five years, New York has had three major productions of A Streetcar Named Desire—with Cate Blanchett and Joel Edgerton, Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood, and, now, Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 6, "My Struggle II"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “My Struggle II”

Ed Araquel/Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “My Struggle II”

This season of The X-Files has never managed to entirely recapture the engagingly nerdy procedural tone of the show’s 1990s-era incarnation. This discrepancy in tones, between the crusading idealism of the past and the qualified resignation of the present, is evident in David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s performances as F.B.I. agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as they often seem to be parodying the steadfastness of their characters, informing their roles with an element of debauched detachment. This ineffability also lurks in the cinematography, which is somewhat heightened and lurid, emphasizing low-grade effects in a manner that refutes the more conventionally convincing thriller mechanics of classic seasons of The X-Files. An uncertainty has run through these six episodes, a self-conscious audition reel for potential full-on resurrection.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 5, "Babylon"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Babylon”

Ed Araquel/Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Babylon”

If nothing else, “Babylon” will go down in television history as the episode of The X-Files in which Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) got high on placebo mushrooms, donned a white cowboy hat, and line-danced to “Achy Breaky Heart” in a Texas bar. There’s no returning from a sequence like that, as series creator Chris Carter, who wrote and directed, seems to be doubling down on the show’s current position in pop culture as a nostalgic time warp.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 4, "Home Again"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Home Again”

Ed Araquel/Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Home Again”

Tonight’s episode of The X-Files, “Home Again,” pivots on two narratives, one of which is promising and occasionally quite chilling. The first, which has social reverberations that suggest a fusion of Candyman and Land of the Dead, follows a group of bureaucrats and politicians in Philadelphia as they’re brutally murdered by a large, looming, albino entity that resembles the “Slender Man” of online urban legend, who leaves no footprints and who drips pus and maggots everywhere he goes, though his telltale signature is a used Band-Aid that’s left on the scene of every crime, which strangely leaves no discernable genetic material. A homeless person calls this creature the “Band-Aid Nose Man” (John DeSantis), saying this name with an impression of awe that subtly affirms this avenger as a possible champion of the disenfranchised.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 3, "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

Ed Araquel/Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

So far, this season of The X-Files has suggested a kind of Whitman’s Sampler box, containing a variety of modern covers of the sorts of episodes that were once traditional to the series in its heyday. “My Struggle” is an affectionate update of a conspiratorial alien “mythology” episode, as written and directed by creator Chris Carter, and “Founders Mutation” is a fusion of mythology and monster-of-the-week formula, as written and directed by veteran series writer James Wong. Now, this week brings “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” a monster-of-the-week standalone wedded to the comic stylings of another X-Files legend, writer Darin Morgan, who also directed the episode.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Founder’s Mutation"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Founder’s Mutation”

Ed Araquel/Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Founder’s Mutation”

With “Founder’s Mutation,” writer-director James Wong, an X-Files veteran who produced or co-wrote many of the show’s best episodes, doesn’t strain himself with too many overtly self-conscious Easter eggs, callbacks, justifications, or in-jokes. There’s an ease to Wong’s work here that starkly contrasts creator Chris Carter’s decidedly un-confident handling of last night’s premiere.

In “My Struggle,” F.B.I. agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) often occupied the screen as utterers of the already obvious resemblances that Carter wished to highlight between the American government of today and that of the 1990s, when The X-Files was a pop-cultural titan. Wong allows that resonance to live and breathe casually in his frames, imbuing “Founder’s Mutation” with a lush sense of noir-like menace. This craftsmanship is particularly pronounced in the opening sequence, which is set in a vast, quasi-privatized laboratory called Nugenics Technology that, we’re later told, specializes in genetic engineering that’s partially overseen by the Department of Defense. This is the kind of barely legal, cloak-and-dagger merging of corporate and government interests that Carter warned against in “My Struggle,” and which Wong suggests with fleeting glances and with the somewhat comic presence of the usual menacingly secretive spooks in the background of his images.

The X-Files Recap Season 10, Episode 1, "My Struggle"

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The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, “My Struggle”

Fox

The X-Files Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, “My Struggle”

Time has been good to David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, who are as attractive and charismatic as they’ve ever been, perhaps even more so, partially because their appearances are tinged with an evocative resignation that speaks of experience, which they instinctively, logically channel into their career-defining characters, X-Files agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. After all, a decade’s worth of failed attempts at bringing about international government accountability for its involvement in an unthinkably vast extraterrestrial conspiracy can leave one feeling a little, well, alienated.