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Whiskey Cavalier - The English Job - Review: #RenewWhiskeyCavalier

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Whiskey Cavalier is my guilty pleasure show right now and it’s actually a lot better than you think. It could have been a superficial spy dramedy telling its story in tropes – and nothing more. But it’s proving week after week to be deeper than that.

This week’s episode, The English Job, opens with Standish falling off a roof to what should have been certain death, but by a sheer stroke of luck he lands in a dumpster and survives. A lot of shows in the dramedy genre would be all, ‘haha comedic moment’ and move on. But not Whiskey Cavalier. This brush with death affects Standish like it would any one of us, and it becomes a fear he will need the entire episode to overcome. In a 13-episode season that’s a decent amount of time. At first Standish actively avoids any situation that could result in death, preferring to stay inside behind the computer where its safe. Will’s too in tune with emotions to buy any of Standish’s excuses and here’s part of what makes Whiskey Cavalier awesome: it isn’t Susan or Frankie who has the heart-to-heart with Standish. It’s Will.

Whiskey Cavalier isn’t letting moments be slotted in purely for the sake of drama. In Mrs and Mr Trowbridge, Frankie and Will almost kiss on the lawn, but Frankie stops it from happening and leaves Will to think over what just happened. This almost kiss stirs confusing emotions within her and because she isn’t ready to accept feelings for Will she replaces those feelings with an emotionless meaningless one-night stand. This week, in The English Job, we almost see a repeat of that coping mechanism, except Frankie’s evolving. She’s growing. Like real people do. And after accepting she has feelings for Will (but not allowing either of them to down some tequila and see where it leads), she heads off to shove those feelings down again with old “friend” Liam. This time, however, she doesn’t sleep with him. She realizes she’d much rather start tying to build on these human connections and suggests an ice cream date to Liam, thanks to Will. When Liam isn’t interested in ice cream, only sex, Frankie pushes him away and ultimately doesn’t sleep with him.
Moments like this one remind us we shouldn’t be so quick to judge Frankie or her coping mechanisms because she’s learning. She wants to be open with someone, but unlike Standish’s fear of heights her fear of attachment stems from a deeper trauma, one she’s been using as a shield her entire adult life, and so it’s going to take time for her to fully let anyone in.
Frankie has a lot to work through.

Will’s continuing to heal after his break up and seems to have put his heart mostly back together. He connects with English spy Emma Davies – and then later connects with her again via their lips. He’s moving on from Gigi, but is he moving on from his feelings for Frankie? No. But even if he was that would be okay. Will’s an emotional guy and these feelings he has building for Frankie won’t just disappear. Will isn’t like that. Emma’s attractive, and Will’s attracted to her, and for now it looks like these two will have a bit of fun (until Will gets his heart broken). His growing feelings for Frankie will still be simmering in the background and the tension between them will only increase.
Later, it’s Frankie (of course) who witnesses the kiss between Will and Emma. She exits the bar without being seen, likely to go off and think over what seeing that means to her, how it affects her, and what she’ll do with that knowledge moving forward.

One thing Will still needs to spend some time on is his timing. At the bar, over a few drinks after work – that’s the time to discuss the tension between the two of them. Not while Frankie’s concentrating on work, or when the two are trapped in a small space. The trapped in a small space trope is one that features twice in this episode, once at the beginning before Standish falls from the roof, and later, near the end, as Standish is up on another roof overcoming his fears.
Frankie has made it clear she doesn’t like discussing feelings and it’s unfair of Will to try and force her into having these conversations when there’s no way she can escape them. It would be in Will’s best interest, if he wants this partnership to become a real friendship, to either let Frankie initiate the conversations, or start them in places where she has a clear and easy exit out of them if she needs it. We know Frankie can be open when she wants to be, we saw it in The Czech List, in the flooding vault, and in When in Rome, during the disarming of the bomb. They were small moments, but they were big for Frankie.
Speaking of things Will might want to work on, he gets a little mean when he’s upset. His honesty gets tinged with a harsh edge.

Frankie: “I don’t trust anyone who gets too friendly too quickly.”
Will: “I feel like you could have ended that with ‘I don’t trust anyone’.”

He’s not wrong, but when Frankie’s working through jealousy (something she likely hasn’t felt for a while) getting snippy with her might not be his best move (it was a pretty great truth bomb though). It’s probably a good thing they were interrupted because Frankie looked ready to throw her drink in Will’s face for that comment.

Jai is the best but honestly should not be trusted with explosive coasters. Also: Explosive. Coasters. This show will out ridiculous the most ridiculous spy gadgets and I love it for it.

It isn’t surprising Ray had an affair with Gigi considering how low his self-esteem seems to be. The moment he realized he had a chance he wouldn’t have been thinking about Will’s feelings at all, only his own. And it would have felt good to have someone want him.
He’s overcompensating now, working too hard to regain Will’s trust and friendship, working too hard to be one of the team. If he tones it down and works on making amends naturally, genuinely, he stands a chance. Mentioning his underwear, or lack thereof, in front of Will and Frankie won’t help his cause. It’s in his best interest to not joke around with Frankie or make unwanted sexual comments.
He might also like to work on intelligence gathering so the team doesn’t anger MI6 again.

Ray spends most of this episode convincing Jai that the other members of the team are smarter than he is. He takes Jai down a peg by talking up Standish and Susan’s IQs, to the point where Jai’s self-esteem takes such a dive he finds himself unable to use a coffee machine. The prank won’t win Ray any friends and will only up his own low self-esteem for a short amount of time. He learns the hard way not to mess with Jai – whose fake tip off about Ray smuggling contraband gets Ray cavity searched at customs.
He wants to be accepted but couldn’t be going about it more wrong.

Susan continues to be the friend we all need. She calls Will out for his “I don’t feel safe” comment about Frankie. I think Susan ships those two a little. She’s the one who tells Will he’s always been brave enough to follow his heart. She’s also the queen of the pep talk. And Susan is the mediator between emotionally unavailable Frankie and empathic Will. When the time comes (probably episode 13 since this show isn’t looking good for renewal) Susan will likely be the one pushing Will and Frankie to just dive in and give a relationship a go.

Effervescent Emma Davies (played by Ophelia Lovibond, who I have missed on TV since the cancellation of Lady Alexandra Diana Elizabeth Lindo-Parker Farquaard from my life) shakes up the Will/Frankie dynamic from her first scene, introduced right in the middle of a moment between the partners. Frankie sizes Emma up, instantly suspicious of this new person. And perhaps her feelings on Emma were wrong this time, but with Will so quick to trust Frankie is a much-needed counterbalance. Will needs Frankie’s suspicious nature. This contrast, this conflict of personalities, is what makes them such a good duo. It’s what makes them so fun to watch. I wasn’t sold on their chemistry at first, but Frankie warming to Will is starting to bring that chemistry out.
If Frankie had suppressed her jealously and been focusing less on Emma she might have figured out sooner that Emma’s assistant, Hugh Cabot, was actually the one who shouldn’t be trusted. By the end of the episode it’s a lesson learned by Frankie and a mistake she is unlikely to repeat.

Oh, and hey, Frankie? You said six of your boyfriends have died, but your lips were ready to say seven… Can we hear more about this please?

The English Job was another fun, trope-filled episode of Whiskey Cavalier, one that peeled away yet more layers of all characters and showed how they’re not only working well as a team but building some real friendships and helping each other through personal fears. They’re all growing together in this little spy family, and it’s a joy to watch.
But ratings aren’t promising and are dipping every week so if you’re watching this show be sure to tweet at ABC to let them know. It’s time to get that #RenewWhiskeyCavalier hashtag out there. This is the kind of fun show that TV needs and I’d be really sad as a viewer if this great team of characters didn’t get to continue their missions in a second season.

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