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The Americans 4.05 “Clark’s Place” Review: People of Action

14 Apr

There is a reason The Americans didn’t go with “Heroes” as their David Bowie closing music choice, opting instead for the apt “Under Pressure” collaboration with Queen. There are no heroes on The Americans and this is the kind of war where both sides do some very bad things and people definitely get hurt no matter how much either team wants to spin their tales of horror. It is relentless and by this point it a battle that has been simmering for nearly 40 years and while we know the end is in sight; there is no sign of it letting up for the people in the midst of it all. The wheels keep on spinning and the problems keep on coming.The Americans 4.05 Elizabeth and PhilipLast week’s quarantine getaway might not have been the vacation Philip and Elizabeth need, but it did give them the briefest respite from the many challenges they’ve got going on at work and home. There is no taking a break now and the things that stacked up during the ‘maybe you’ve got glanders’ 48 hour period have to be addressed. Bowling was fun and all, but there are other wives, daughters and Pastors who have a lot of questions.

Paige wants to know where they have been and her late night chat with her mother (Philip is at Clark’s) doesn’t give her any answers as Elizabeth stonewalls her. Firstly it is the middle of the night and Paige fully startled Elizabeth out of her slumber and even though it isn’t surprising to see her react in this way with all that is going on, it is surprising to see Elizabeth this twitchy. I guess she did just think she might die so her vulnerability levels are high.

Paige’s quest for answers is also not a shocking turn of events as finding out your parents are spies is not an everyday kinda problem. They are vague when it comes to describing what they do and the only thing they keep stressing is how dangerous it is for someone else to know their secret and how much trouble they would get in if they were caught. While Martha spins the story in the exact way Philip tells her to with this notion that she is having an affair with a married man, Paige comes straight out and tells Pastor Tim what her parents wanted her to say to him. Paige is wrestling with her confusion with honesty, whereas Martha’s is a much deeper predicament because if she fucks up she will be going to jail to and her loyalty to Clark is incredibly complicated. The Americans 4.05 Philip and ElizabethWith Pastor Tim and Alice the solution to get them on side is to spin a religious angle because Pastor Tim believes that the Soviets have a very dim and oppressive take on those who believe. That’s why Philip and Elizabeth take their very good friend Father Rivas with them to explain all the good work they do and the lives they have saved. This definitely has a positive impact on Pastor Tim and also gives Philip and Elizabeth the chance to double down on this idea that both sides do good and bad. And of course they do good and this whole bit is well orchestrated. It also leads to one of the funniest moments this week when after dropping Rivas off Philip ponders whether he is even a priest. Regardless, part 1 of getting Pastor Tim on side is successful and it is Paige they might need to work on.

Paige is resistant to all of this and the gentle prodding/manipulation; she tells Pastor Tim that it seems like there is a grownup conspiracy going on where they are telling her how to feel and then they do whatever they want. That’s what adults do, Paige. Such a teen. Paige does admit that they at least told her the truth when she asked even if in retrospect they probably shouldn’t have. That scores them points and Elizabeth will be glad to know that Paige does know they love her. Later on they pop in on Paige while she is in bed and she tells them they were right about how Pastor Tim cares about her; while this should be comforting Paige still looks like sleep will be evading her and the weight of the world is on her mind.

Sleep or lack of is a problem this week for Martha and the Valium she has been prescribed for her panic attacks is not helping all that much. Out of everyone she is truly on her own right now; she couldn’t reach Clark before her dinner date with Agent Aderholt and even though she has a new emergency number to reach Philip on this doesn’t make him any more available to her really. “Clark’s Place” opens with their only face to face interaction and here she tells him about the copy machine query and the possibility they are on to her. When Philip gives her the number to memorize he tells her he needs that bit of paper back in the morning and her response is heartbreaking – “Why would I expect to keep anything?” Even their wedding photo is gone when she comes back to the apartment.The Americans 4.05 MarthaPhilip puts Hans on Martha full time and he thinks he spots someone tailing her and while Hans isn’t sure, we know that his hunch is correct and they are getting closer to figuring out that something is up with Martha that goes beyond an affair with a married man. What this does is isolate Martha even further and the call later where Philip tells her he loves her is not much of a consolation prize. Another week with another knockout performance from Alison Wright and this entire cast is crushing it this season. Is it too much to hope the Emmy voters are paying attention?

The phone call Philip makes is all under the watchful eye of his other wife and Elizabeth’s concern here is part mission related with a big dollop of jealousy. Martha is an important asset and one they must protect at all costs, but as Gabriel points out they are good at what they do because they care about the people they work with. Part of this is Gabriel buttering them up, but Elizabeth also knows that Philip does have some feelings for Martha, which is maybe why she asserts her role as wife with some super steamy moves at the end of the episode. All while Martha is across town; alone in bed and with a pair of FBI agents sitting outside her apartment.The Americans 4.05 ElizabethIn season 2 Martha told Elizabeth (while dressed as Jennifer) that Clark was a wild animal in bed. This was a point of contention that led to a very upsetting physical moment between Philip and Elizabeth; this time however Elizabeth definitely has the upper hand in the wife stakes. And she always does really. Considering how much shit is going on and that they just faced a near-death adjacent experience it isn’t surprising that sex is on the cards as it is both the perfect distraction and way to work out all this nervous energy. They are people of action after all. Let’s just hope Paige is also out as she has been through enough as it is to have to hear that as well. 

This moment comes after they have put it together that Agent Aderholt is the guy Elizabeth took out in the season 3 premiere and he’s also the guy who took Martha out; none of this is good news. The friendly face they have in the FBI is friendly once again as Philip and Stan have finally made up. Philip apologizes and then uses his chat with Sandra a few weeks ago to tell Stan that Sandra feels bad about things too; all the ways to get him back on side and Sad Stan re-earns that nickname by revealing that he doesn’t have many friends. Henry doesn’t count and his relationship with Oleg is goes back to being cordial this week, but that is all it is.The Americans 4.05 OlegAh yes Oleg and Stan and the news of Nina’s death reaches all the people who care about her this week. Oleg is angry that his father could do nothing to stop it even though he knows he knows he shouldn’t expect anything and the death of his brother is wrapped up in this overwhelming grief. Oleg’s father Igor is angry that even though his son died fighting for his country there will be no military honors at his funeral; he was a hero, but in this Cold War there are no heroes and everything related to it must be erased from history.

Similarly the details surrounding Nina’s death are incredibly vague and they don’t even have the information regarding what she did other than she “interfered.” To her country Nina was a traitor even though she got valuable intel when she was working as a double agent. It doesn’t matter and Arkady swings between anger at Nina and anger at the system with what happened to her. When Oleg tells Stan he doesn’t dance around her death coming straight out and telling him. Stan is speechless and Oleg shares the story about his brother’s funeral and how there are no heroes in this war. It all seems so futile.

The word hero gets used as a suggestion from Gabriel about how they should push William; he has been in the US for 25 years and has achieved barely anything. Now is the time for him to step up. But even if he does come through and help swing the balance of power the only time he will be getting called a hero is in a secret meeting in a car park. He probably should not expect a statue or portrait to be put up in every office.

Shot(s) of the WeekThe Americans 4.05 Paige and ElizabethThis week’s episode was directed by none other than Stan Beeman himself, Noah Emmerich and there are lot of wonderful moments to choose from; particularly in the Jennings house. This one between Elizabeth and Paige in the middle of the night does a good job of showing how this huge spy reveal has opened things up, but there is also a gulf between them. Also experiencing a lot of long hair envy. The Americans 4.05 Paige and PhilipLater on Elizabeth comes home to find a very normal affair; Henry on the computer while Philip and Paige watch TV. Ronald Reagan is between them and Reagan is the elephant in the room or rather the clown in the room as Elizabeth can’t stifle her laughter at what his red cheeks makes him look like. A new lighter Elizabeth is always welcome and Young Hee is having a good effect on her. This is a very different level of emotions than the last time Regan was on TV.The Americans 4.05 Paige in bedAnd to complete the Paige and her parents circle here they are checking in while she is in bed, not asleep.

Disguise of the WeekThe Americans 4.05 PattyA light disguise week with one appearance by Patty, Clark and Hans. Patty wins because just look at her and I love that purple is her dominant costume color. Young Hee is fascinating and even though we still don’t know why Elizabeth is interested in her, I don’t care as she is super charming and it is nice to see Elizabeth with a friend. Yes Henry, your mom has friends (even if they are work related).

Outfit I Would Wear in 2016The Americans 4.05 Elizabeth trenchIt always comes back to the Coach trench and this week Elizabeth switches it up by alternating between her tan and black version. This is also the one Holly Taylor wore to a recent FX event. It is a classic for a reason.

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One Response to “The Americans 4.05 “Clark’s Place” Review: People of Action”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Best of TV Costuming 2016: The Americans, Vulnerability and the Jennifer Disguise | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 14, 2016

    […] does play a role and it is a form of communication when the words are hard to find or speak; Elizabeth does attempt to stamp her position as wife (and give them both a much needed release) and yet there is a nagging feeling that […]

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