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Hailee Steinfeld Breaks Down the Final Episode of ‘Dickinson’: “I Was Blown Away”

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Hailee Steinfeld Breaks Down the Final Episode of ‘Dickinson’: “I Was Blown Away”

As of today, Apple TV+’s critically acclaimed Dickinson streamed its final episode. Titled “This was a Poet -“, showrunner Alena Smith’s series drew to a close not with the climactic moments of season’s past, but with a quiet, reflective montage showing us Emily Dickinson’s (Hailee Steinfeld) destiny: to work and think and create for the rest of her life, as the seasons and aspects of her room change around her.

“It took hours,” Smith, who also directed the episode, told Decider. “It was very complicated, saying: where is the rocking chair now? What flowers are in the room? Is the bed rumpled? Is she wearing a bonnet? What is she doing? And it was really, really nice because it was so calm. Everything was in a very, very… Sedate and focused place. And we were all working together in this very precise way to imagine this poetic trip through Emily’s life, through Emily’s poems. It was a beautiful day.”

But true to form to the surreal series, there is one final moment left for Emily, this time in her imagination. As she focuses on a painting, Emily pictures herself wandering a beach (filmed out on Long Island) with her dog, Carlo, when mermaids begin to beckon to her. She jumps in a rowboat to go meet them, and the final shot of the series is Emily, in the boat, the camera focused on her determined face as she rows.

To find out more on Steinfeld’s interpretation of the ending, what it was like filming most of the series’ final episode on her own, and her thoughts on wrapping up fan-favorite couple Sue (Ella Hunt) and Emily’s story, read on.

Decider: What was your interpretation of the mermaid scene in the finale?

Hailee Steinfeld: I was so excited when I found out Alena was taking it there, as we all were curious as to where and how this was gonna wrap up, or come full circle, or come to an end. And what I love so much about it is it’s this ending filled with possibility. It doesn’t feel like an end, it feels like a look into the future, a look onto the horizon of all of the poems that Emily hasn’t written yet. That’s what those mermaids represent, it’s her fierce and wild imagination right in front of her. I think it’s such a beautiful moment, obviously the mermaids are such a symbolic part of our show, part of Emily’s world and writing. It was just such an incredible thing to do, also. The design team, the hair and makeup, how they brought that all together was so incredible. I was blown away by that, as I have been many other moments of this show.

I talked to production designer Neil Patel and set decorator Marina Parker about this a bit, and they noted they had been seeding the mermaids throughout the season… There was the mermaid mural behind the bar in Pfaff’s, and the mermaids in that dance scene, both in Episode 5. But they also included little etchings of mermaids near Emily’s desk. Do those details help your process?

Oh my god, absolutely. It’s so incredible when you get to discover those along with everyone else as you’re in those moments. I’ve been, for three seasons now, so lucky to have such an incredible production designer in Neil. And thinking about all those fine details, that absolutely play a part and impact me in my performance, and it’s always super fun to see the audience pick up on those little easter eggs, if you will.

The last shot is you in the rowboat, and it’s very centered on you, rowing towards the camera. What was going through your mind when you were filming that, in particular?

That was my last day shooting, which, you know, I thought to myself “god, they couldn’t have put this at the beginning as they do those… why did they have to line it up this way?” Because, I was feeling equally as emotional, and maybe a bit scared, but hopeful for the future? My future, and the future of my career, the future of this show. It might have been coming to an end for me in that moment, but it still hadn’t obviously come out, and this show will hopefully live on. But, I think I was having a similar moment in realizing what the future might hold, and heading fearlessly towards the unknown. I think that’s what life is. Unless you pick a lane and go full speed, how will you ever know where you’re going to end up? And it was this cathartic moment for me, I think as playing Emily in this moment and having that realization in myself. It was sort of surreal.

But, the funniest part of the whole thing was that I had Alena basically on facetime in the boat, in a plastic bag. Because she was obviously not in the boat, and I couldn’t have a walkie on, it was kind of a tricky situation, but I just remember her being there with me in that moment as well. That was quite cool. But yeah, it was just this moment of surrealism that it was coming to this hopeful end.

Emily also isn’t just alone in the boat, she’s alone for a huge chunk of the episode. There’s slight interactions with Death, Betty and Lavinia. But what was it like filming this very different structure for the episode where you’re not really interacting with the cast? Particularly knowing that it was the final episode of the series.

Personally, an interesting dynamic for me to sort of wrap my head around. Selfishly, I wanted to be with everyone as we came to an end with this. But, I think there’s a lot of these introspective moments that Emily is having at this point in her life, and in her writing. We find her in a similar space as we do in Season 1, where she spent a lot of time alone in her bedroom writing for herself. And although we’ve ventured out very far from that, we’ve come back to this world in which she feels safest in, and she’s made this decision where she’s gone back and forth between: do I want the world to read my writing? Do I want fame? Do I want notoriety? Do I want anything other than what I have right now, which is me myself and I, Sue, and maybe a few other close peop;e in my world, and in my head and in my heart?

She’s made up her mind, and she knows where she’s going, she knows where she’s headed. And in order to do that with all the conflict and all the pain that has transpired through this season, she goes back to herself. Wrapping up this show and filming this episode in that way you just described was difficult. As it is for Emily, to accept the fact [that] this is where she’s at, and this is what she needs to do for herself. She’s spent so much time trying to tend to everyone else’s wounds, and she finally realizes that they are her own, and she has to do what she has to do for herself in order to live the life that she knows she wants everyone around her to live.

There’s such a beautiful ending to the Emily and Sue story in episode 9, and we do get to see notes of the two caring for each other here: Emily worried about Sue encountering Higginson; Sue going full mama bear on Mrs. Dickinson about Emily’s poems. But, I’m sure there’s going to be a level of disappointment for fans that they don’t get to see them physically together at all. Was that anything that was considered, or was that never really on the table?

Anything Emily and Sue was always wildly considered and thought about and talked about… I know between Alena and the writers, between Alena, myself and Ella. I mean, here’s the thing. I can already sense, I don’t know if disappointment is necessarily the word, but a sort of sadness that this show as a whole is coming to an end. I think that we get to see each and every one of the characters in this show in a much different place than where we started with them. We get to revisit old moments and ideas, but these characters are ultimately different people than they were when we met them. They’re older, they’re far more sophisticated, if you will. They have grown intellectually, spiritually.

And one thing is for sure, and this has always been the case, that Emily and Sue have a love for each other that is so deep. They have a bond that can and will not ever be broken. And that says a lot about the fact that they are able to allow each other, and themselves, to live their lives together and separately. They are in much different places, as we’ve seen throughout this whole season. They are at conflict most of the time. But that love never goes away, that never diminishes. I think the fans, hopefully, I’m hoping that they will feel connected enough to them and to where they are at in their lives that they can understand why they’ve made the decisions that they’ve made; and why Alena has, for that matter.

Speaking of, Alena has been very clear that the story she wanted to tell is the story over the course of the past three seasons. But, what are the chances, if any, of coming back in 10-20 years for Dickinson: The Next Generation?

[Laughs] Listen, if that’s a thing, I’m game. I don’t know what the chances are… Anything is possible, and I think that with someone like Emily Dickinson whose work has… It’s held up, that’s been proven time and time again. So, if there’s ever a world in which I get to revisit this, then consider me in. But I feel so grateful to have been a part of this, because this has truly served as an introduction into her world and into her work that I truly wish I would have come across sooner. I’m thankful to this show for coming into my life when it did.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Where to watch Dickinson

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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