Philip and Elizabeth have been living in a burning house for so long on The Americans that adding another thing to their already extensive “To Do” list is not really a big deal. Okay so it had to take what felt like a brush with death to get to this point, but after the decision is made they are pragmatic and ready to take on another thing that could destroy this life they have made for themselves.
In “Chloramphenicol” there are both no options and no good options; Paige must lie about where her parents are even though she doesn’t have a clue just how bad things are for them. Martha also has a problem that requires some input, but once again her go to person is out of reach and she must wing it.And then we have Nina and where she is there are no options; good or otherwise. There is a potential White Knight coming her way as it just so happens that Oleg is back home fighting her corner. His brother’s recent death provides Oleg with a reason to return and he wants his father to have another go at freeing Nina. If his father is successful then Oleg will leave his position in America even though this is the last thing he wants to do, but he’s bargaining with the only thing he has to give. Let’s just say his dad did not come through. Was there any attempt on his part?
Nina received her “exceptional punishment” in a scene we should have probably expected, but was shocking nonetheless. It had echoes of Stan killing her friend Vlad (sans burger) in both manner and execution; seeing the clinical and cold way they scooped up her body leaving the pool of blood behind made it all the more devastating. Nina has been marked for death since Stan entered her world and she has been living on borrowed time. As soon as she made a choice to do something that wasn’t motivated by self-preservation her luck ran out and this make it even more tragic. Coupled with her recent dreams and the signs were all there; particularly the funeral like quality of the flower filled former safe house last week.We do get to see Nina’s happy ending and in this version it looks like Oleg will be moving back to Russia after his father pulled some strings, but as this sequence continues and Anton gets involved we know it is nothing more than fantasy. Narratively it makes sense for Nina’s story to come to an end as they had backed themselves into a corner of sorts and as this is The Americans the options are slim and there is only so much treading water that a character can do. This is TV so there is always a chance though, right?
Nope, nope, nope and Annet Mahendru crushed it with both her happy dream tears and the ones which showed the brief fear she experienced before her death sentence was swiftly delivered. The real kicker is that her letter to Anton’s son didn’t even make it out raising the heartbreaking levels to I just got misty eyed typing this paragraph out. All that is left of Nina’s life is that sad grubby plastic bag full of her sad grubby things and the memories Anton, Oleg, Stan and Boris have of her. She didn’t start a revolution, but she did bring some kind of hope to Anton’s predicament. There is that.
Connections are important and the one Nina had with Anton was life changing; Oleg wants to save her and he isn’t sure if it is for love or something else. There are the ones we have with our family and there are a lot of parent/child moments this week that call to the notion of this deep bond. For Oleg it is his father explaining that the death of a child is like nothing else and it is why he wants him home. We see Elizabeth fever dreaming about the time her mother was sick with diphtheria and this ties into her mother’s recent death, her current sick state and what is going on with Paige. William comments on how lucky Philip and Elizabeth are to have each other as he has no one he can talk to about this stuff on a personal level and it goes some way to explain his prickly exterior.I like the idea of William being Philip’s snarky friend and Philip opens up about a few personal things that he could never do on this level with Stan or even Gabriel. He tells him about how long he has been with Elizabeth (over 20 years) and gives him a good recap of season 3 in the whole telling/not telling Paige of it all. They keep so much close to their chest that in these rare moments of honesty it can be somewhat disconcerting especially when Philip explains that Elizabeth would always chose this life while he would chose to be normal, but he would still want Elizabeth at his side. Matthew Rhys delivery of this line is both raw with a hint of the life he knows that never could have been; the one they pretend they have every day and enough can’t be said about how good everyone is in this cast.
That is a real humdinger of a revelation and while we are very much aware of Philip’s desires it is unusual to hear him speaking so freely with someone who knows exactly who he is; this isn’t him working his issues through a disguise or EST. Philip doesn’t feel like a lucky guy, but later on when he is in an all enveloping ‘yay we’re not dead (again)’ hug with Elizabeth, William looks on with sad envy and it is clear in this business that Philip should be thankful for this relationship.Philip to his credit doesn’t even entertain the idea that Elizabeth is actually sick and I’m not sure whether this is optimism or because he can’t even bear to think of the alternative. Between the vom and everything being super clammy things don’t look good for Elizabeth; unlike Nina we know there will be a way out of this one because Elizabeth is a co-lead and this show still has at least another season on the cards.
What Elizabeth is experiencing is a very bad reaction to the drugs and Wikipedia helpfully notes that “Its use is only recommended when safer antibiotics cannot be used.” This very bad reaction could also be Glanders so it isn’t surprising that she considers the worst and this leads to her taking a very Philip position on a couple of things.Also a quick shot out to the makeup team for the journey of Elizabeth’s eye makeup as it got progressively smudgy while her skin got increasingly clammy. And Keri Russell somehow still looks amazing in this super sick state. Last week I talked a lot about compromise and how since we have met Philip and Elizabeth they have moved from a bond out of necessity to this deep, deep and intense dynamic that goes far beyond any other relationship on this show. Elizabeth knows Philip’s overall position when it comes to their family going so far as telling him to be an American and blame her for anything Pastor Tim death related if she should die. Henry never has to know the truth and they can live the life Philip wants. Except without Elizabeth this is far removed from his dream alternative. The solution they come to when Elizabeth is better the next morning is one they come at together; she now gets why Philip doesn’t want Pastor Tim and Alice to be killed and she is very much on board the cancelling and not just postponing of this plan.
One other choice is to run which Philip is still all for because it means they will be together, but nope Elizabeth wants to go for bonus door number 3 by working Tim and Alice saying “It’s one more thing.” Convincing Gabriel isn’t so hard, but as with Oleg’s father they need to give him something in return to convince the Centre and that is the promise of Paige coming into the family business. It doesn’t sit well and yet they agree nonetheless.
Paige has proven herself pretty adept with spy like qualities as she comes up with a convincing lie when Stan asks where her parents are and even though she is spiraling she manages to keep a lid on her emotions. Gabriel tries to warn them of the forever fear they will feel sharing pre-war tales of terror, but their decision has been made and there is nothing more for them to do but go home and be with their kids.Epcot might be off the menu, but bowling isn’t and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is seeing them enjoying family time with no ulterior motive or nefarious plan on the go. Elizabeth it turns out is a killer bowler and even makes a joke in a Russian accent that it was part of their training. This is so unexpected and delightful that it is clear something very horrible is going to happen if we’re getting a moment of levity.
And horrible it is as Nina’s dream then death follows happy Jennings family time. Oh, show.One other person who is out on her own this week as a result of the Glanders affair is Martha and she doesn’t have any kind of back up when dealing with her dinner date with Agent Aderholt. The evening starts off badly as she zones out on everything he is saying and maybe the wine courage kicks in she goes into detail about her relationship with a married man. In fact a lot of what Martha says is accurate in that he is married and he wouldn’t leave his wife for her. She mentions how they’re not wearing wigs, which well one of them is no longer wearing a wig and that it is a simple set up.
The aspect of honesty and how they provide each other with comfort is half true and she sounds convinced and convincing with this tale. This makes it sadder because while I think Philip does care for Martha it is more out of a sense of responsibility than anything else and Martha is ignoring every other terrible thing about this marriage. After this date I think I might be shipping Martha and Agent Aderholt.
While Martha is at dinner, Stan sneaks around her apartment taking pictures and rifling through her things finding her gun and copy of the Karma Sutra. Luckily the wedding photo is no longer on display as Stan would surely clock it was Philip even in the wig. Will Martha’s married man quell Stan’s suspicions? Or is this another problem for Philip and Elizabeth to add to their growing list?
Shot(s) of the WeekAnd I’m crying as Nina gets her Adriana from The Sopranos moment and we realize the end is nigh for Nina. Because we all need these bowling pictures after that heartbreak. More Jennings having fun please.
Disguise of the Week
There were no disguises this week and is this the first wig free week for The Americans?
Outfit I Would Wear in 2016Again we need this shot of a happy Elizabeth and Paige. Plus Elizabeth’s sweater is giving me a lot of Felicity feelings and the cable knit is working like a charm (also one of the secrets costume designer Katie Irish told me about a couple of weeks ago).
Update! The Felicity sweater comparison from Season 1 “Boggled.”I think we found a match.