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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Pictured is the Gabrielino High School Debate team after competing at National qualifiers. Photo courtesy of Gabrielino Speech & Debate.
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‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ cleverly spies on love, action

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Donald Glover and Maya Erskine share a tense moment during their work as spies in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” | Photo courtesy of David Lee/Prime Video

   Donald Glover enters the scene shirtless, and Maya Erskine comments with an uninterested coolth: “You lost your shirt.” It is one of the many pushes and pulls the two spies have with each other, their dynamic never quite certain as the show gets the watcher to wonder if they will fall in love with each other. Needless to say, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a show worth watching. 

   This is not the first time a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” has graced the television, but it is in a way I feel is refreshing. The title of Glover and Francesca Sloane’s eight episode series comes originally from a 2005 film where John and Jane Smith (played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are married, only to find out that they secretly work for rival organizations and have been ordered to kill each other.

   Glover had a completely different reimagination of the premise, where “John” and “Jane”, played by Glover and Erskine, are strangers to each other yet are similar in one regard: they are both willing and able to hand over their lives to a mysterious organization. They pose as a married couple while carrying out tasks given to them by the organization, which communicates strictly through a program named “Mr. Hihi”. The two strangers are awkward with each other, but it is awkward in a way that is charming, that is cute, that is endearing. It is not a question of “if” the two will fall in love, it is a question of “when” – and if it is even the right choice for pretenders. 

   The slice-of-life romance and action-packed spying are two completely different realms yet the show melds them together in a way that makes sense; John and Jane are strangers, then they are colleagues, and then the step of lovers throws the balance of work and personal life off in a way that could threaten the tense nature of their job. Through the missions, the two find it difficult to remain simply strangers and hit it off as they realize they work off of each other efficiently, effortlessly. 

   This chemical concoction would be impossible if it were not for the strong bond developed between Glover and Erskine’s characters, and their acting makes the connection work. Glover has done serious roles, even if his comedy is at the forefront of his fame; his show “Atlanta”, the drama-comedy that explores the Atlanta hip hop scene, proved that. 
  Erskine, however, is most likely best known for her comedy and her role in “Pen15” with Anna Konkle, but even then, some of that childhood awkwardness is infused in reclusive and self-described “antisocial” behavior of Jane. Her range is hardly a surprise though, considering her voice acting in the much more serious Netflix series “Blue Eye Samurai” chronicling a fictional samurai on her hunt for vengeance. 

   The plot is just as fun as the two characters, episodes being segmented with specific ideas that incorporate a larger, linear plot overtime. There is what one would expect from a spies series, with the high speed chases and high life galas, but there are also more casual settings like couples therapy and less fancy parties. And the plot never fails to remind the watcher that this life they share always has danger lurking in its shadows, where casualness could mean death. It is sad, almost, seeing a messy relationship of love and action that seemingly has no exit from the job they signed up for. 

   This is what hit off the show for me because the chemistry is simply enthralling, the plot and setting drive together a unique combination in addition to the two’s relationship. The two actors best known for comedic works know how to pull off the humorous awkwardness, but they also know when to get serious, to get cool. John is the warmer of the two, Jane colder, presenting a dynamic that is push and pull of who gets to be cool and confident and who is not – in both their personal lives and their work. 

   It is a watch that is both fun and serious, a smart mixture that entices the watcher to want more yet I feel that even if there is no second season, the eight episodes of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” form the most ideal of partnerships. They do not last forever, but when they do last, it feels timeless.

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About the Contributor
Brian Ly, Production Chief
Brian Ly is the Production Chief for the Tongva Times and is entering his fourth year with the paper. In his personal life, Brian has a keen interest in insects, collectible card games, books, and movies. He even aspires to raise his own "Gregor Samsas" when he finds the right environment. Interestingly, Brian initially joined the newspaper in his freshman year, mistaking it for a history class due to the presence of a textbook. Despite the unexpected start, he remained with the Tongva Times, drawn by the strong sense of community and the chance to interact with diverse individuals, from school athletes to the mayor of San Gabriel.
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