Mr. & Mrs. Smith Episode 7 Review – “Infidelity”

Mr. and Mrs. Smith Infidelity

Following the distinct tonal shift of “Couples Therapy (Naked and Afraid)” was always going to be hard for Mr. & Mrs. Smith to follow, especially considering its subsequent hour, “Infidelity”, would be the show’s penultimate offering. And boy, does “Infidelity” struggle with its position in the season order; stuck with the pessimistic resolutions of the episode prior, there’s nowhere to go but down for its co-protagonists, in an episode that trades in its carefully-constructed character tensions for a thrilling chase sequence… aaa-and not a whole lot else.

That’s not to suggest Mr. & Mrs. Smith tried to hoodwink its audience; throughout the first half of the season, John and Jane’s attempts to connect with each other and find their place in the world together felt synergistic with the spy material, matching (if a bit overtly) their missions with theoretical versions of their future relationship to examine. Through these carefully constructed conversations between John and Jane, the series has developed a pair of thematically rich characters – that have gone absolutely nowhere since the first episode, a decision that comes back to haunt “Infidelity”, a flat hour that doesn’t give guest star Michaela Coel a whole lot to do.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith Infidelity

One can feel the complexity of Mr. & Mrs. Smith melt away early in this episode, most obviously when John’s ball and rope (from his ball in a cup toy) breaks, a stark shot of its remains lying on the floor a painfully obvious metaphor of what’s become broken between the two. The mechanisms of their relationship – trust and communication, with some hot sex thrown on top – have eroded, to the point Jane’s casually sleeping with targets, and John has embarked on a month-long emotional affair with an actual fucking target – once again begging the question of how the fuck The Company has tolerated John’s insolence for their strict rules without punishment for so long? He just seems bad at his job in a way the series is unwilling to recognize, undercutting a lot of the tension his character’s decision cause, and making a strangely one-sided case for Jane as their arranged marriage’s moral arbiter.

But it’s not just John’s decisions; everything in the Amy Seimetz-directed episode feels like a strange choice, a problem that begins with the script, and translates to the page. The fight scene, a three-pronged dance of chaos enacted in the living room of John’s target, in particular feels a bit off: it does its best to generate some instant tension – but the editing of Jane and Bev’s hand-to-hand combat is blurry and choppy, and undercuts Bev’s supposed skills and her ability to read the two of them from miles away.

From there, it feels like “Infidelity”, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, have prematurely run out of things to say, as if they reached a creative impasse with their lead characters (John can’t get a boner with the girl he’s supposed to kill? That’s what we’re being offered here – a moment neither funny nor meaningful, I might add). And it’s here where the season’s incredibly odd sense of pace rears its ugly head; there’s no structure or logic to time in this world, and the lack of tangibly connecting these individual moments with each character make it impossible to discern what journey we’re watching these characters go through. It feels like a story about a relationship, about warning signs and small regrets that fester into incomprehensibly large conflicts – but the rapid succession of these stories, told seemingly in a complete time-space vacuum – give us nothing to tether these stories to.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith Infidelity

Are these characters refusing to grow, or have they truly grown apart from each other? Mr. & Mrs. Smith has spent hours setting up these ideas, but “Infidelity” strangely does nothing to execute on them, simply displaying the same pair of broken people going through their broken cycle once again, this time leading to their third strike – and essentially one logical outcome (I imagine the finale pits the two against each other, given Hihi’s overt meddling in this episode to set the two up against each other for failure… which, what is the point of forcing your employees to fail? I don’t get The Company’s position here).

This isn’t to say I was expecting this John and Jane to get the same ending as the last pair (not the ones from “Double Date”, but from “First Date”) or even that their relationship should work out. But Mr. & Mrs. Smith seems to hammer away at the point the two are so immaturely held up on their own shortcomings, there’s really no potential for growth between the two at all (John does attempt the therapist’s suggestion of having time outs, but that fails spectacularly). There’s bleak, there’s pessimistic, and then there’s whatever the fuck happened to Mr. & Mrs. Smith between episodes five and six, where it feels like the show sealed itself off to any sense of possibility, trudging down a pre-determined path to whatever lies ahead in “A Breakup”.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith Infidelity

With no real intrigue left in the show’s central dynamic, and certainly no truly exciting elements to the various mysteries alluded to with The Company – what is left for the season finale? On some level, it feels the show’s played its hand too early with its characters, devolving into a desaturated mess of solid characters and wonderful performances, hindered by a noticeably sour perspective seemingly embedded in its DNA.

In its final episode, Mr. & Mrs. Smith could certainly make its case for John and Jane as a couple worth rooting for, or at least having some vested interest in seeing a resolution for; given they’ve proven to be as inept at emotional maturity as they are at performing the tasks of their job, however, doesn’t really build in a ton of intrigue for how the finale will handle the quick evolution (and subsequent devolution) of their personal and professional relationships. “Infidelity” was a prime opportunity to expound on its many ideas, as it began building towards the season finale; instead, it is an alarmingly stagnant entry, reducing its characters in a way that flattens not only them, but all of the thematic and emotional work explored up to this point. If these characters are this hopeless, then what are we here for?

Grade: C

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