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Mr. & Mrs. Smith Recap: Full-blown Emotional Affair

At the end of the penultimate episode of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the title characters break up. It makes sense for the series to head in this direction: A breakup is one of the main events in the life span of a typical relationship, and something might feel missing if that experience didn’t get covered.

But this ending has also been coming for a while. John and Jane have never really had a sustained period without conflict. The nature of their professions means everything is high stakes and life or death, and both the highs and lows are amplified. The show has done a pretty solid job building to this point; small fissures that existed in the first four episodes have only deepened in the second half of this season, and every source of tension has been unpacked and thoroughly dissected. By the time the breakup does happen, it feels like an inevitability.

When the episode begins, John and Jane are cold and distant from each other, sleeping in different rooms and barely sharing any updates on their comings and goings. One day, while John is out, Jane visits Bev (Michaela Coel!), a woman her husband has been seeing since he met her at a bar a month ago. Holding a gun to her, Jane demands the truth about what the two of them get up to. Bev explains that they just talk, drink, smoke, and watch movies together. They’ve never had ***, but John is clearly getting something from Bev he doesn’t have at home. He’s already told her about what he does for work, and he’s told her all about Jane. We already know the basics of the feelings Bev explains to Jane: Her controlling nature makes John feel like a little boy, and he has serious concerns about their compatibility, though he still wants to “be with her incompatibly.”

Of course, the truth about John and Bev’s relationship is a lot more complicated than it initially appears. But I enjoy the way “Infidelity” keeps us in the dark for a while, even if there are some gaps in logic. The turning point comes after John shows up unexpectedly, settling down to finish Harold and Maude with Bev while Jane hides around the corner. He suddenly asks Bev where Jane is, kicking off a surprising hand-to-hand fight that reveals Bev as a rival agent they were targeting.

John and Jane somehow fall for Bev’s transparent “playing dead” ploy — truly a rookie mistake — and she takes them by surprise, choking John with some kind of unretractable auto-tightening garrote device and forcing Jane to attend to him instead of going after Bev. It’s painful to watch John struggling, but Jane does manage to save his life with a pair of pliers, and from there, they hit the streets, following Bev with a discreet tracker that John planted. At the subway station, though, they make rookie mistake No. 2: falling for the old “hop onto a train, then off, then back on” trick. They lose her again.

At the deli where John and Jane stop to charge his phone, their argument further clarifies the nature of John and Bev’s relationship. He was always meant to **** her, but he took a whole month getting close to her because that’s “how he does it.” He knew from the beginning what he needed to do, but apparently he kept hanging out with her in the hopes that he’d learn more about the company that employs the Smiths.

Now, I have a lot of questions about this. Did Bev know who John was from the moment they met at the bar, or did she find out later when he opened up about work? If it’s the latter, does she think he intentionally “seduced” her as part of his mission, or does she somehow think it was a happy coincidence that they met and she found a new mark? Did she open up at all about her own agency when he opened up about his? What was her plan?

Regardless, once again, I have to agree with Jane a little here: It was a horrible idea to keep Bev alive so long, and even more unthinkable to tell someone all about Jane and their work, let alone another spy. Besides, it’s definitely not just about John’s professional process. He freely admits that the attention from Bev felt good, even if he knew she was playing him. Jane may have had meaningless *** with two of her targets in the past, but John actually got attached to Bev, even if they never successfully slept together. He didn’t listen to Jane when she told him to stop wearing his overpowering cologne, but he did listen to Bev.

All that trouble, and for what? In the end, Bev pulls another fast one, leaving her tracker on the window of the café from the Smiths’ first mission back in the premiere — a final “haha, you just got played” good-bye. That means three failed missions. Three strikes.

In the final scene, after John FaceTimes his mom and makes Jane some soup, they discuss the unusual nature of Hihi’s instructions. The boss had already messaged Jane about John’s incomplete mission, hoping for her to intervene — which is why she visited Bev in the first place. But Hihi also messaged John privately, letting him know that Jane was there. There’s something fishy going on here, but they’re too physically and emotionally drained to buckle down and figure out why Hihi might be pitting them against each other. John is ready for this all to be over. Everything will be easier for both the company and the two of them if he moves out.

There’s a risk to showing us so much of John and Jane at their worst; ideally we want them to get back together in the finale, but we’ve seen so much of them being bitter and cruel to each other lately that it feels just as plausible (and perhaps just as healthy) for them to split up. But if Francesca Sloane, Donald Glover, and the other writers are taking a gamble by risking our investment in the central relationship out, I think it’s worth it. I really don’t know what to expect from this finale outside of some sort of rebellion against the company and maybe a romantic reunion. That’s an exciting place to be.

***** and Seals

• Coel does a great job in this role, and I would love to see more of Bev if the show gets a second season (which I doubt will happen). I particularly like the way she plays her anxiety after John arrives, eyes darting around nervously while she teases him for how quickly he gulped down his Creamsicle.

• When Jane gets mad at John for not charging his phone, he calls for a time-out, an exercise the therapist suggested in the last episode. Glad to see Sarah Paulson’s influence linger.

• One of my minor lingering quibbles is that Jane really isn’t that good of a spy, is she? John makes more egregious errors, but Jane is way too impulsive and resorts to blunt force far too often.

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