The Americans 3.04 “Dimebag” Review: “She Set Us Up”

19 Feb

A joint and a Yazoo (or Yaz to go with their US name) record take The Americans squirm inducing rate up a notch from how to pack a suitcase in “Baggage” and last week’s off books dental work. Philip and Elizabeth’s work involves varying extremes on a weekly basis and this is the life they have known since they were recruited by the KGB. On many occasion this has involved them using their body – the pilot opened with Elizabeth doing just this – but this week has them coming across untested water when the person they need to use is a teenager and not much older than their daughter. Speaking of Paige, it is her birthday and the brief moment of unity is shattered and the standoff between Philip and Elizabeth is very much on again.

IMG_9304The above photo could be captioned “LOL being a spy, amirite?” because they both look far too happy for how this dinner and subsequent Paige bombshell turns out. Instead of telling Paige who she really is, which Elizabeth is determined to do “with or without” Philip it is Paige who has some news for them. The whole birthday dinner adds extra friction to the already temperamental situation when Paige suggests inviting Pastor Tim and his wife over. Most of Philip and Elizabeth’s Paige chats occur with bedtime bickering, but this earlier one takes place first thing as they both get ready to go about their busy day of spying and maybe popping to the office. Cross cutting the conversation about Paige is Philip giving updates on Martha related intel and her desire to foster a kid; Elizabeth snarkly responds with “who wears the pants in that family.” Cutting to both Philip’s abilities as a spy, man and also showing a hint of jealousy about the Martha of it all.

The TV is on in the background because what better way to drown out the sounds of discussing covert shenanigans and on comes one of the most eyebrow raising ads I’ve seen in a long time. Even Don Draper might mouth WTF at the Love’s Baby Soft creepiness as Philip goes from talking about Martha’s kid desires to the ad proclaiming “There’s one person nobody can resist and that’s a baby.” All seems fine until you realize this ad is not for something baby related and it suggests “Because innocence is sexier than you think.” So while I go take a shower to get the skeeze off please enjoy this clip from 30 Rock, which immediately entered my brain to counter the ick:

And as a quick side note I temporarily fell down a Love’s Baby Soft print ad hole of “How is this ad real?” followed by more “What the fuck is this?” and yelling “WHY?” With one final “I don’t understand” for good measure.

Stan revealed his key to fooling targets is by telling them what they want to hear on repeat and The Americans plays with deception in a myriad of ways. In the home Philip and Elizabeth initially lived within the realms of a fake relationship that produced a very real family and this has been complicated further by really falling in love. The Paige problem has introduced this idea of revealing their real identities, which as we know Philip is staunchly against. It has become a cyclical argument and we know where each of them stands; they are in danger of falling into a repetitive bedtime bickering pattern with each of them trying to one up the other. Thankfully Paige blindsides them with the baptizing plan and she’s been deceiving them in her own way; I wonder if they would prefer Paige was out smoking joints with random older guys rather than hanging out at church with Pastor Tim? Upon hearing Paige’s wishes Elizabeth gulps down her tea as if it was something stronger and all I want is a TV reality where Alicia Florrick and Elizabeth Jennings can drink copious amounts of wine while bitching about their religious teenage daughters.

The Americans 3.04 HenryInaction has led to this crisis point and while wanting to get baptized is something most would not consider as an extreme to Elizabeth it is indoctrination of her child from someone other than her. Communism finds no place for religion in their ideology and so the thought of Paige being part of this world only increases Elizabeth’s determination to reveal the truth. Philip is thinking more logically than his wife and fears if they tell her now it will all come crashing down. Meanwhile Henry continues to tell stories about his friend Lewis that no one ever listens to. He is also pretty good at remembering state capitals. Henry is not so good at giving his dad information on Paige and church; both Philip and Elizabeth talk to or about their children this week as if they are an asset or enemy. Got to hand it to Paige for pissing off her parents so monumentally with both the baptizing idea and the way she played them. Teen rebellion comes in many forms.

Everyone is working someone and in Philip and Elizabeth’s case they have multiple sources to juggle. Philip adds Kimberly to the mix and this is where the squirming as a viewer and for Philip takes place. They know from the conversation they overheard last week that Kimberly is not afraid to flirt with older guys; enter Joe a lawyer, lobbyist and friendly creepy dude who hangs out waiting to help teens with fake ID. Joe will roll joints, listen to your music and chill on steps with you at night. He won’t dance, but he will share his coat with you. Watching Philip develop relationships with Martha and Anneliese has been hard because they are being manipulated by charm, but this is next level horror show due to Kimberly’s age and Matthew Rhys does a couple of very brief expressions to show just how unpleasant Philip also finds the situation. Before he first approaches the girls it appears as if Philip has to psych himself up, which is not something we have seen before. When the phone rings and it is a message from Kimberly you can see his whole demeanor sink and for once he would rather be stuck in this same old fight with Elizabeth. And everything keeps on piling up.

Their fake personas have a way of letting them work through the problems they have trouble sharing with each other so when Elizabeth first posed as Michelle from AA she spoke to Lisa of her real issues last season but under a fake guise. We revisit Lisa in “Dimebag” and Elizabeth is positioning herself as the person who Lisa will call; nothing of significance spy related happens in this storyline as of yet, but it shows manipulation tactics when sex isn’t a factor. In a reverse of this Philip takes what he has learned from the teen girls with what music is cool – Yazoo – and subtly wins favor with Paige by giving her something relevant to her interests. His method of learning about this means the gift is tainted with ick but Paige is very happy with this surprise, Elizabeth is less than thrilled.

Over in Stan land he needs to finally get it into his head that it is over with Sandra, just move on dude as your EST winning her back plan is not working. And for some reason yelling that it is all bullshit has caught the attention of a Sandra looking lady at the meetings. Stan is not having a fabulous time at work either as he is convinced Zinaida can’t be trusted; is he letting paranoia get the better of him or is his gut right? The trashed diner bathroom with nothing to show for it would suggest the former. Things might be looking slightly up for Nina in prison as she is given a mission of her own, which might in turn give her a lighter sentence; all she has to do is find out what Evi is up to and this means she has to talk to her.

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.04 shot of the weekPost big blow up and the never ending back and forth dance continues with Philip briefly turning around to look back at his wife as Paige’s new Yazoo record blasts “Don’t Go” in the background, which Philip does. Apparently nearly getting caught/teeth pulling closeness does not last long. This segues into Stan’s desperate search in the diner bathroom and is one of this season’s first great music choices.

Bonus Shot 

The Americans 3.04 photos on wallFrom the same scene as above and I just want to highlight the excellent work by the prop/art department as the photos of Henry and Paige that hang on their bedroom wall look like real family pictures and not just promo shots as is often the case on TV. It also makes them overseers of this argument that is taking place and a reminder they are always there.

Disguise of the Week 

the Americans 3.04 ElizabethThis one popped up in the season 3 promo and it is part Felicity, part hippy. More big frame glasses to get excited about. I half expected her to make a reappearance as a pot dealing diversion to make sure Philip doesn’t have to go too far with Kimberly, but alas the snuggling went uninterrupted.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.04 NinaNina’s matching tracksuit prison threads in both grey and brown look like something I would buy with the idea to exercise in them, but in reality they would be clothes I write in. Comfort is important when typing.


9 Responses to “The Americans 3.04 “Dimebag” Review: “She Set Us Up””


  1. The Americans 3.05 “Salang Pass” Review: Making it Real | TV Ate My Wardrobe - February 26, 2015

    […] is a reverse of the post fight standoff from last week and while the focus is on Philip in the foreground, the manner in which Elizabeth stands […]

  2. Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 4, 2015

    […] also using promo photos for what are supposed to be framed family shots and The Americans triumphs in this area by not doing this). Not so on Looking and I totally believe that this is a photo of Doris and Dom from their teen […]

  3. The Americans 3.06 “Born Again” Review: Got to Have Faith | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 5, 2015

    […] get a lighter sentence and she goes about it like a pro first with the nightmares we witnessed a couple of episodes ago followed by recounting her two loves – the communist and the capitalist – and how […]

  4. Teen Girls Rule the World on The Americans (They Just Don’t Know It) | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 15, 2015

    […] has been searching for connections from a more traditional teen source with booze and boys. Or rather weed and a dude pushing 40. Exploiting weakness is one way to make an asset more complicit and Philip has tapped into […]

  5. The Americans 3.12 “I Am Abassin Zadran” Review: All in the Family | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 16, 2015

    […] Another fantastic job by the props/art department as they continue to kill it with the Jennings family photo collection. There is nothing more irritating than being taken out of a highly emotional scene by bad photoshop or personal pictures which are clearly from the promo department. We get an instant connection to this moment because it looks like a real family photo celebrating a very important arrival. It brings everything back to their family and the experiences which are not fake. A family camping holiday is the other reminder Philip brings and Paige mentions how Henry was afraid a bear would eat him, something Philip didn’t know because Henry had made Paige promise she wouldn’t tell (we all keep secrets). It is a really lovely scene between father and daughter without the level of fraught tension from their recent scenes. Photographs can create an illusion as a smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy and yet they also freeze a specific time/place allowing us to experience it again and see the truth. […]

  6. Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 19, 2015

    […] Travel and all their personal touches. The set dressing detail on The Americans is fantastic as is their collection of family […]

  7. The Americans 4.01 “Glanders” Review: “You’re Safe. We’re Together” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 17, 2016

    […] Elizabeth may come across as the more inaccessible one of the pair, but we know far more about her past and childhood experiences than we do Philip so it makes sense at this point to visit his origin story especially as his soul continues to be eroded by the things he has done. Season 2 saw his kill count go up by a great deal and it almost broke him; last year he got a respite and it was left to Elizabeth to drop cars on innocent dude’s heads until the finale when Philip offed Gene. The burden returns. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the turning point for childhood Philip or rather Mischa is a story that he half shared with Elizabeth back in the season 2 finale and one he didn’t get to finish because their asset had just been shot. All we got to hear back then was that some older boys would jump him as he walked home with his families milk and he made the decision to not let it happen again; it turns out he certainly did just that in a moment of explosive violence.This moment that haunts Philip throughout the episode is one that he discusses in front of a whole bunch of strangers at EST leaving out certain important details, but giving just enough that he can unload in this form of very public therapy. The one person who he could reveal the unedited story to is the one person he keeps telling he is fine when clearly he is the opposite. EST gives Philip an outlet of sharing he doesn’t feel comfortable with doing at home and there is definitely this worry that Elizabeth will judge him; as Paige points out to Pastor Tim her parents aren’t really big talkers. Philip isn’t alone in using other outlets to share his secrets and worries as we have seen Elizabeth do this with plenty of assets in disguise; from how she talked about her rape to discussing relationship quandaries. They both talk far more to other people than they do to each other and this stoicism with each other is the one habit they find hard to break. Maybe Philip needs to get stoned again. […]

  8. The Americans 5.09 “IHOP” Review: Secrets and Spies | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 3, 2017

    […] When Kimmy was introduced she was acting out against her father’s emotional neglect in a way that would be considered pretty typical; drinking, drugs and hooking up with older guys. This could also just be explained as typical teen behavior, but the death of her mother when she was younger and her father always being at work definitely contributed to her desire to connect and this was something Philip could exploit.Luckily for Philip he came up with an excuse to not sleep with a story about religion and a made up son; ah yes the made up son that was based on the real son that Philip still hasn’t met. It is hard to keep track of the different incarnations of sons on this show and Mischa Jr. provided the backstory for Philip’s lack of sexual interest in Kimmy. This story is of course born out of real feelings and when Kimmy talks to Philip (as Jim) about how he wishes he could do the family stuff gain, but right this time she astutely says “I don’t think anybody does it right.” […]

  9. The Americans 6.05 “The Great Patriotic War” Review: Trying Your Best | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 26, 2018

    […] sixth outing behind the camera on The Americans. And interestingly enough he also directed “Dimebag;” the episode in which Philip came up with using Paige’s interest in Christianity to […]

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