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The Americans 3.08 “Divestment” Review: “Is Any of This True?”

19 Mar

The real/fake relationship setup at the heart of The Americans twists and turns delivering gut punches on a weekly basis. Whether it is Philip and Elizabeth navigating parental decisions when they disagree so much over this one very big thing or the amount of angst which is stacking up in the other relationships Philip is maintaining all in the name of the cause. The net is closing in on one of those as Martha questions everything about who Clark is causing him to turn on the damage control charm spewing out half truths to save the operation.

the Americans DivestmentNcgobo tells Philip “Being married and being at war do not always go together” and yet in the case of the Jennings being at war is the reason they are married. For them it is different, but for everyone else pulled into their orbit it is far from the case. The teen girl who through misguided rebellion or simply a craving for someone to notice her, the other teen girl who doesn’t know her parents are fighting over her future career, the woman who will believe whatever her husband says because he tells her he loves her; these are the people who are going to suffer because they are pawns in a war they don’t even realize they are part of. This isn’t to say that Philip and Elizabeth are not suffering as the operations with Martha and Kimberly directly impact Philip all while Elizabeth must maintain the supportive player role pushing down feelings of concern and jealousy which is creeping in. Combine this with the Paige problem coupled with the son he didn’t know was real until very recently and the weight of the war overseas is playing on his mind.

This is where being married comes into play in a positive way as Elizabeth wants to alleviate some of the pressure and while she can’t remove the burden by taking Philip’s place in any of these operations she can try and reduce his worry in another way. Her visit to Gabriel at the end of the episode to ask for help getting Mischa Jr. home surprises their handler because he didn’t realize Philip would tell Elizabeth; he noted things had changed between them but not by that much. Gabriel was using this personal connection to Afghanistan as an incentive for Philip to progress with the Kimberly operation and this husband/wife information sharing is not something he factored in.

Last week Philip listened to the news in the laundry room away from his wife, now he is back in the bedroom and the tight closeup on Philip’s face reveals a whole world of worry for the child he has never met. Elizabeth asks what his son is called and while we have seen Elizabeth share what her real name is we were not privy to seeing Philip do the same. So whether she recognizes the significance of Mischa or not by hearing his name it only adds to this personal connection, which leads to the favor asking. Elizabeth also receives a package from Gabriel and for a brief moment she fears the worst about her mother, instead Gabriel reinforces the notion that her mother is “a fighter.” As with Ncgobo and the home he has long since left there is this aching for the past and the family they can’t access.

One difference as Ncgobo points out is they still have their home and there is a stark contrast in methods, something Ncgobo mentioned when discussing disciplining his children last week. The Americans has been pushing boundaries all season and it crosses the stomach churning bar previously set by the packing and dentistry scenes as Ncgobo makes Venter’s death as painful and prolonged as possible by setting him on fire. At first it felt like a bluff and a way to get Venter to talk, but then I remembered this show doesn’t really bluff and we are forced to watch just as Philip, Elizabeth and Todd are. It is a dark, fucked up scene and one that shows the extremes of the multiple wars which are being waged. With Todd, Philip and Elizabeth both end up arguing for him to be spared and win their case citing his age – “he’s just a kid” – and what he has witnessed as a deterrent. Philip and Elizabeth might disagree on some fundamental things but here with Ncgobo they present a united and unbreakable front. His age has certainly helped save him and kids getting caught up in the war of their parents is a repeated theme this season; Paige, Kimberly and Misha.

The Americans 3.08 Martha at workSomehow I have got this far without mentioning this week’s most devastating performance as Alison Wright takes the ball she was given last week with her bathroom spiral and runs with it. First at work Martha is holding it together in an impressive fashion with only Gaad showing cracks as a result of this investigation, as he is the one who is ultimately accountable and poor mail robot feels the full force of his frustration. Martha’s interview with Taffet is a tense affair and yet she uses an aura of ignorance to stay off his radar; this is the most fraught conversation about office supplies since Office Space.

At home it is a very different story as she nurses a glass of wine waiting for the confrontation she was edging to do last week. Again it should be pointed out how incredible Alison Wright is in this scene moves from acknowledgment and devastation as she tearfully asks “What have I done?” and demands to know what is true to falling under Clark’s spell again despite her better judgement. At first it looks like nothing will make her believe him particularly when she points out that Walter Taffet is who Clark is meant to be; while he never answers the questions pertaining to the web of job related lies he swings things in his favor by resorting to desperate and flowery language about love. Damage control includes truths such as “You are one of the most true and honest and good women I have ever known” combined with something I think only stands for Elizabeth and the kids “I love you and I would do anything for you, to protect you.” Clark asks her is this is enough and if she needs more than this and with the shake of her head it looks like he has convinced her.

The final shot of the episode of both Philip and Martha lying naked and awake in the same space but so distant from each other and this is in direct contrast to the bedroom sharing scene of Philip and Elizabeth last week and it feels like something far more devastating is around the corner for Martha; is she someone who is going to get divested?

The Americans 3.08 Paige researchPaige is also questioning the story her mother told her about Gregory after doing some research – using microfiche – and finding out that Gregory was a drug dealer. Elizabeth manages to turn this into a conversation about the injustices Paige is already fighting against. Nice deviation Elizabeth, though maybe you should be more concerned about your daughter eating cereal for dinner even if this is a practice I sometimes partake in and I love breakfast for dinner. In a way these questions are good for Elizabeth’s plans to tell Paige, but I’m not sure how happy Philip would be at this development. In Paige’s book club this week she is reading Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over in Russia, Nina has shaved some time off her sentence thanks to her work with Evi, but she still has to serve ten years which is not such a thrilling proposition. However she has a chance to walk free is she can get Anton to work a little quicker than he has been. Anton is the scientist who was shipped off against his will last season and who at the time yelled at Philip for being a monster. He still isn’t thrilled with his situation and isn’t going to be broken as easily as Evi. What Nina now has is certain comforts in her imprisonment even if she has also come face to face with her former boss Vasili who she set up back in season 1; the forgiveness she asks for is not accepted.

Calls from the Motherland to the Rezidentura come in over a secure line and this factor is important as Oleg’s father doesn’t want anyone listening in on his conversation about his son. He wants Oleg to return home but Arkady is sticking his heels in and his neck out for Oleg. Not being able to get the train when he goes home is not something Arkady is concerned by and yet I worry this will have bigger ramifications down the line. Oleg’s brother as we know is in Afghanistan and this war looms over everyone and everything on the Russian side of things.

In the midst of this talk of children following on from their kids whether it is Oleg, Paige or Ncgobo there is one character whose path deviated far from his father’s and that is Agent Aderholt. His ‘unusual’ road to the FBI comes up in his conversation with Taffet as he is the son of a janitor and went to night school at Berkeley; Taffet tries to suggest this ‘difficult’ path sets himself apart from everyone else. Aderholt disagrees and doesn’t see himself as a victim stating that “Being new isn’t a bad thing.” A legacy doesn’t always make for the best kind of worker and I am beginning to wonder just how vital Aderholt’s role this season is going to be as he hovers on the edge.

Shot of the Week

The Americans 3.08 ToddTodd thinks his fate is death and showing us his view of those decided what to do with him raises the tension. Luckily for him Sid and Nancy are repping for him.

Disguise of the Week

The Americans 3.08 wig of the weekLast week I said I would come back to this look and this is the most cool and edgy disguise Elizabeth has worn so far. She definitely wouldn’t look out of place now in the leather jacket/hoodie combo and this wig is super sleek. While Elizabeth isn’t going to blend in as easily as some of her dowdier other disguises allow she does look different enough that Todd wouldn’t be able to identify her. Bonus super smudgy eyeliner.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2015

The Americans 3.08 ElizabethThis is pure Elizabeth casual chic with the slouchy but sexy sweater and a high waisted skirt (with pockets!). Seeing as I’m currently in a leather jacket coveting phase the disguise outfit could also work for this category, ditto the hoodie and yet I can’t resist this very typical Elizabeth at home look.

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3 Responses to “The Americans 3.08 “Divestment” Review: “Is Any of This True?””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] far he is willing to go to carry on serving the cause and by extension her. Todd doesn’t get the second chance Elizabeth and Philip gifted him last week and this isn’t the first time where they have tried […]

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

    […] informs Philip that Mischa has been secured an early return from Afghanistan (thanks to Elizabeth) and it is one he has refused; they can force him to if Philip wishes and it is something Philip […]

  3. Masters of Sex 3.05 “Masters of Gravity” Review: Polish Until it is Perfect | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 10, 2015

    […] are many clothes I would wear from this show and this is a feature I do on The Americans reviews and as soon as this Breton striped long sleeve tee and pants pairing made me realize I need to add […]

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