Welcome back for another look at the costumes from our favorite show and what they might reveal about the characters. Remember our premise that the clothing a person wears may reflect how they view society and their role in it. “ Dress is primarily founded in the world of emotions” says Ernest Harms in the American Journal of Sociology. So lets see what we can learn about Amanda, Lee, Billy and Francine through what they wear in this next episode.
After watching the gun runners get sabotaged in the opening seen the next thing we see is Lee and Billy taking a leisurely stroll through the white marble halls of the Agency. Billy is holding a tray with the remains of someone and he sounds remorseful and tired. Billy reminds me of Mr. Rogers here in his cardigan. Mr. Rogers would come in to his “house” in a suit and take off the jacket, hang it up and exchange it for a cardigan. In this way he would make himself comfortable for us little children to relate to. It feels like Billy does this with his cardigan, when he is wearing it he reveals “normal” to us, even in the midst of the cold white marble walls of the agency.
In contrast to a comfortable, warm, tired, normal Billy we have Lee wearing a double breasted pin striped suit. He is looking very put together, professional and business like. And he is wondering why everyone is feeling so much anxiety. Could it be that “normal people” in a suburban neighborhood are being threatened?
We next meet Francine. She is a challenge to me here. Still in stripes. But this get up looks like something bought in a boutique. Its not very sleek, but more “artsy.” One thing I must say about Francine and her clothing is that although she works in a man’s world she does not dress like a man. Some women would feel the need to wear suits and not play up their femininity (think Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality). No, Francine is all woman and she dresses as one. I like that about her.
Next we have Amanda. Is this what everyone is calling her Maria von Trapp outfit? She seems to wear this during important interviews or discussions. Maybe this is the Amanda King version of a “power suit?” It is a suit but it has soft, homespun lines to it in a natural color and fiber. The blue shirt is a stronger color, speaking of peace and integrity. “Mr Honeycut Typewriters” obviously didn’t pick up on the conservative and frigid vibes that the color blue may also convey, huh?
I find it interesting that to begin this episode we see both Amanda and Francine is softly structured outfits made out of loosely woven neutrally colored fabrics, but they convey very different ideas about the woman. Francine looks eclectic and expensive, Amanda seems clean and neat, but not very high powered. I think this is used to highlight the one against the other, is it a study in femininity?
Do you see that thing that Lee is holding in his hand? I think that is a visitor’s pass, the kind that Amanda is usually wearing. He is fumbling with it and then quietly puts it into his pocket. He pops out of the costume elevator and decides not to take her down to the Agency with him. I think it is interesting that she pushes him back into the costume elevator at the end of this scene. And then the next time we see Lee and Amanda together, Lee is popping in through another door. He is now wearing the disguise of “Mr. King” barging into Amanda’s normal life, or her attempt to get her life going again by interviewing for a job. This episode doesn’t take Amanda into the world of the Agency, it takes Lee into Amanda’s world instead. And so in the next scene we have Lee in casual dress, this is Scarecrow playing the role of “Suburban Husband.” Let’s see how he does with that one? I like the fact that Lee appears to be wearing the same blue sweater that he had on when he was rescued by Amanda in the First Time. And Amanda is wearing another cardigan style sweater vest. I have noticed that she has many pieces of clothing that are the same style but different colors. I have a family member that does this, maybe others do this as well. She finds something that she likes and feels good about and then buys it in many different colors. Amanda wore a bluish gray sweater like this to that costume party in The First Time, now she has on a purple one. We would never see Francine wearing the same item of clothing in many different colors, would we? But as far as how suburban women dress I don’t think Amanda looks frumpy or out of style. She seems to fit in quite well. But I wonder if this repetition of a style is frugality or maybe an insecurity about trying new things? Stick with what is comfortable and what works?
The next costume change is the late night explore of the Bodine house. ( I know I should mention Lee’s lack of attire before this, but I think it speaks for itself ) Lee has on the same jacket he wore to search the post office ( I guess at this point he has only one jacket?) But Amanda where is your trench coat?
I love this kitchen scene! Remember how they had their trench coats off at the Jefferson Memorial? It was the first time they really let down their guards. Well here Amanda is barefoot and Lee has his suit jacket off, his top button undone and tie loose, and his feet are up on a chair. That is a pretty high level of comfort with another person. They act as though they have known each other for ages, not for what, 2 weeks?He is learning about her here, not in a place that is a part of the government but in a suburban kitchen. He is learning about Dean, and how normal people do kitchens, and how to fight and listen to one another and how to solve a case together! I love this scene (did I say that already?) And in light of how “delicious” Amanda would look in blue, how do you hear Lee’s comment about “liking blue a lot better?” Funny that the writers would put that idea in this episode twice. Not that they were really thinking about the psychological meaning of colors, but just as a reminder, blue is the color of trust and peace. It can suggest loyalty and integrity. Already Lee is drawn to these things about Amanda.
So we next have Lee at the airport looking very nicely put together in yet another double breasted suit, tie bar and broad gold band on his finger. Married to Amanda looks good on Lee. I suppose he needed to keep the ring on in case the woman he was following noticed him, but he wore it to the office too…
And here in the office is that bratty comment about the generosity and stamina of the American housewife which Lee hasn’t even begun to truly fathom. And here is that belt that Francine has on during that clunky scene with Lee in ALSALS when he makes the comment about her clothes.Maybe subconsciously someone remembered this? ( I know, that is reaching)
Amanda’s next outfit reminds me of Francine’s comment from the tag in The First Time, “I hear she knits or something” Amanda does look very homespun here. And the other thing that sticks out to me is the Connie Beth sign that says, “The Art of Selling.’” It reminds me of Francine’s comment at the beginning of this episode when she shows up at Mr. Bodine’s door and asks if she looks like she sells. Francine doesn’t want to look like she sells, but Amanda needs to learn the art of selling. Does that speak to her naiveté? And yet it is Amanda and her quick thinking and her ability to link ideas together that solves the case and saves them here. I also noticed Lee buttoning up his double breasted suit jacket after he was brought into the office being introduced as someone Amanda cared forIt made me think that he needed to put himself back together, or reinforce the protection around his emotional well being.
And lastly the tag. Doesn’t Amanda look “delicious” in her cozy blue bathrobe? And remember how Lee tucked the visitor pass away in his pocket at the beginning of the episode? Well I thought of that as I watched him tuck the wedding ring into his pocket during the tag.He seemed annoyed with Amanda during that first scene, but here… well, not so much . But Lee sure is very good a tucking things away isn’t he?
I didn’t think I would be able to go into such detail about the costuming in each episode, but so far I have found so much more as I look at them this way. I hope you are finding something new to enjoy in the episodes through these posts as well.