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The Americans 3.06 “Born Again” Review: Got to Have Faith

5 Mar

Telling Paige the truth is one constant talking point on The Americans this season; we’re now hitting the halfway mark and Elizabeth has still yet to pull the trigger on this potentially life ruining plan. Different kinds of faith are discussed at length in “Born Again” from Paige’s baptism to Philip using this as a reason why he can’t sleep with Kimmy and still keeping her close at the same time. As with pretty much every episode of The Americans there is layer on top of layer of what is real and what is fake, intersecting so much that at times it is hard to separate the two. Real experience informs the ‘characters’ they take on to deal with their assets and this duality leads to a whole lot of messiness that could blow up at any moment.

The Americans 3.06 Born AgainLast week I spoke at length about this idea of making it real and one way characters achieve this is by using a personal experience and extrapolating what might help in their current situation; this is where religion comes in and saves the day for Philip from both an ethical perspective so he doesn’t have to sleep with Kimmy and on a more spiritual one so he can work through the bombshell Gabriel has dropped on him. Anyone else starting to get the feeling that Philip is starting to miss Claudia right about now?

Gabriel continues to be a sneaky bastard by playing all the angles with Philip and Elizabeth as he tells Philip about the child he thought his first love had made up back in season 1. Does this Mischa exist or is it all part of the big push to get Philip to continue down this extremely compromising path? The cause isn’t necessarily working as a tactic to get Philip to do whatever it must take but Gabriel knows how strongly Philip feels about his children and this includes one he has never even met. With Elizabeth he pushes her button relating to action and while she claims she is handling all things Paige he notes she has done just as little as Philip in this area. By prompting Elizabeth in this manner she starts laying the seeds by taking Paige on a trip down an edited version memory lane so. Gabriel also tells Elizabeth that Philip is losing faith in him and that she can deceive Philip is he is holding Elizabeth back on the Paige plan. This is definitely not going to cause issues…

Control is key and Gabriel has returned to the position of handler with a very different relationship dynamic in front of him and so he is exerting weakness in them where he can to aid the cause. At the moment this does appear to be working and despite the united front Philip and Elizabeth present and deeper bond they share, there are still fundamental differences between them and Gabriel knows this. Kimmy is one such tool as the window for how often Philip has to get in her house is much shorter than he expected; once a week rather than once a month. The whole spiritual excuse for not wanting to sleep with Kimmy is not going to cut it and Kimmy is noticeably cold with him when he approaches her post school. Enter the real part of Philip’s life in the fake story and something he hasn’t told Elizabeth yet – I’m pretty sure he was going to but Elizabeth started talking about Paige – about his 20 year old son as the reason he has gone back to church. He asks Kimmy to pray with him and not only does she do it, but she adds on her own part showing her compassionate side. And I think we now need to switch Poor Martha for Poor Kimmy because this is only going to end in heartbreak.

The Americans 3.06 Elizabeth and PhilipPaige is pretty certain of what she wants and who she is; the baptism goes ahead without any upset. Well the only consternation comes from her parents and Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell give a master class in subtle facial expression changes moving between distaste and fake smiles at what they are witnessing as Paige takes the plunge (echoing the opening scene from the season premiere of Elizabeth in the bathtub). After the baptism Philip asks Paige if she feels any different to which she replies “more at peace.” On the surface this is just one of those awkward conversations between a teenager and her father as he tries to explain to her that she never has to do anything she doesn’t want to and she should just be herself. Paige reads this as being about drinking or drugs, which of course it has nothing to do with (plus Philip is becoming well versed in this end of teen rebellion thanks to Kimmy). This is all about suggestion and he is laying the groundwork in his own way pushing Paige away from this spy path without her knowing.

Bonding time isn’t just set to father/daughter and Elizabeth gets to influence in her own way first when Paige walks in on her having a sneaky cigarette. This is a funny scene as Elizabeth goes to hide her habit and then is all ‘fuck it’ about the situation (I have been here, but with the roles were reversed). Paige reveals to her mother that they know about her secret habit (last season she did have a late night cigarette which Philip rightly suggested the kids would be able to smell) and she remarks that neither she nor Henry is clueless. Oh if only you knew Paige, if only you knew. And soon you might as after this late night discussion about praying – Paige thinks Elizabeth should try it – at the end of the episode Elizabeth opens up partially about her activism past. This includes the first mention of Gregory in a long time and when Paige asks if her dad knew Gregory it acts as a reminder of how messy things were between them back in season 1. I mean it is still messy now, but this is a very different notion of complicated.

Elizabeth doesn’t mention any real particulars other than saying that some of what they did was illegal, but for the greater good and when Paige asks if she has ever been arrested Elizabeth slyly mentions she never got caught. This is another case of The Americans giving the audience a relatable moment as it is normally in your teen years when you realize your parents are people who had lives before they were parents and Paige’s response is the perfect mix of confusion and wonder. Of course there is so much more to tell and I can’t imagine Philip will be thrilled to find out what Elizabeth has done even though she hasn’t really done anything at all. This is also a good point to mention how incredible Holly Taylor has been this season as the role of teen complication on a show like this is a hard line to walk without stepping into frustrating obstacle territory (see Homeland and 24). The writing is also important here and while they have given Paige a storyline that is a teen rebellion of another kind I love that she still asks for a later curfew when Elizabeth mentions how proud she is of her; she is still a teenager after all.

The Americans 3.06 smokingSneaking about is part of their everyday life, however the most surprising act of this kind was not spy related as Philip and Elizabeth shared a sneaky joint out of their bedroom window. This scene was so unexpected and so delightful that I kept imagining something awful would happen to kill the laughter. It did end on a slight buzzkill with Philip mentioning if the operation dragged on and Kimmy got older then yeah he probably would have to sleep with her and yet this was far more chilled out than last week’s disturbing sex training montages. Philip suggests the whole thing in a very cute, simple pulling the joint out of his pocket and gesturing they smoke it way and it doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get Elizabeth on board.

Last week being stoned led to an incredibly devastating and important conversation between the pair. By sharing the spoils with Elizabeth it opens them up in a different way and we get to hear them making a sound that is far too rare with uncontrollable laughter. I want to bottle up the giggling noise Matthew Rhys makes because it is Amy Poehler levels of magic. Yes they are still talking about serious matters and yet they can find the humor as Philip points out how Jesus came through for him with Kimmy and Elizabeth tells Philip about Paige suggesting she tries praying. This scene really is everything.

We cut from this moment to the next day with an appearance from mail robot! Mail robot no longer carries classified files and Martha’s oh fuck expression foreshadows exactly how Clarke is going to feel about this. Also in the FBI office Stan finds out that one of his very close FBI friends has been killed in a plane crash and as this doesn’t connect to the overall story it comes across as somewhat disjointed. Stan is also still feeling all the feelings for Sandra even with a new woman in his life and the whole EST business is an extension of this idea of finding something to believe in. Plus it provides us with another super awkward dinner at the Jennings house as Henry doesn’t know when is the right time to stop asking questions. Oh, Henry.

The Stan/Oleg team-up is absent in “Born Again”, instead we see Nina using the same technique as Philip and Elizabeth inserting her real life story into one that will help get what she wants. In prison Nina’s objective is to get Evi to talk so Nina can 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 both loved their country more than her while talking about the differences between men and woman. Nina earns Evi’s trust and then betrays it as quickly as she can wolf down a proper meal and glass of wine. Is this going to be enough or has Nina got another cellmate she will have to break first?

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.06 ElizabethWhat this resembles is the key art from the first two seasons which played heavily on the red of Russia and while it is just the utility room turned darkroom Elizabeth is striking bathed in red light.

Disguise of the Week 

The Americans 3.06 Kimmy Pink FloydNo new disguises this week sadly and instead here is Jim trying to distract Kimmy long enough to get the operative into the house to plant the briefcase bug. His first attempt involves pot and Pink Floyd, but Kimmy wants to take a bath. With Jim. And thankfully Philip convinces her to go in solo. I love how pissed off the bug lady looks when Philip asks for her earrings as a distraction tactic.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.06 Elizabeth and PaigeThis doesn’t give us the full smart/casual outfit Elizabeth is wearing combining slight flared jeans, heels with a waistcoat, scarf and this fantastic long coat. Also so much hair envy right now.

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8 Responses to “The Americans 3.06 “Born Again” Review: Got to Have Faith”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Americans 3.07 “Walter Taffet” Review: “They Don’t Have a Lot of Choices” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 12, 2015

    […] and Elizabeth have been embroiled in a Paige related dance all season so when Elizabeth went ahead and started taking baby steps in pointing their daughter toward who they really are it was never […]

  2. The Americans 3.09 “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” Review: “Loving, Devoted, Adoring” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 26, 2015

    […] Betty in a way she can’t do with her mother back home or Philip or even Gabriel. I’ve talked on multiple occasions about how they both use their cover identities as a way to filter the noise […]

  3. The Americans 3.10 “Stingers” Review: “If You Really Love Me” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 2, 2015

    […] inching forward a tiny amount at a time with the nearest Elizabeth has got involved talking about their activist past. Rather than going all in at once Paige has lingered in the background as the constant elephant in […]

  4. The Americans 3.11 “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov” Review: “We Do Hard Things” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 9, 2015

    […] several occasions where Philip comes in late at night followed by either stoned confessions or shared sparking up sessions. The intimacy level has been high but in different forms from what we see this week; when Elizabeth […]

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

    […] for Paige has so far included the odd lie here and there coupled with her religious journey. What if this moment leads to Paige rebelling in a much more familiar manner? There are only two […]

  6. Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 29, 2015

    […] far happier together than when we last saw them on The Americans are Annet Mahendru and former cellmate Katja […]

  7. The Americans Season 4 Extended Promo: “Do People Get Hurt?” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - February 16, 2016

    […] And just because Philip and Elizabeth tell Paige that no one gets hurt (ha) this really is not going to stop the things they have to do all in the name of duty, their survival and protecting their family.The Jennings car and garage is a really interesting space in how it has been used to hide the human equivalent of a ticking time bomb in the pilot episode; this person could’ve really sounded the death knell of their relationship and even exposed their secret to the FBI agent who had just moved in, but it actually helped ignite the spark that has led to where they are now. This is a safe place and in the past it has also been where Elizabeth has found refuge with her not so secret habit of smoking cigarettes (joints are reserved for their bedroom). […]

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

    […] 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 […]

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