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The Americans 6.04 “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup” Review: Staying the Same

19 Apr

Nothing lasts forever, things move on, regimes change. The final season of The Americans is hurtling towards the end of the Cold War; those who want to see progress are being met with resistance. The Berlin Wall is still up, but everything around Philip and Elizabeth is crumbling. Elizabeth’s body count continues to grow, not only that but she is yet to yield any significant results. The radiation sensor continues to be her white whale, she is tired all the time. The anchor of this show is this relationship, right now all is not well in this area either. The marriage is adrift.

No, Elizabeth doesn’t want a beer (though she could probably do with having one).Philip is having a hard time with his version of the American Dream. Instead of looking sad about his spy work, he’s looking increasingly glum at the paperwork that just doesn’t add up. In a catch-up with Stan he waxes philosophical about business, why there is this incessant need to grow. Philip is not so good at this capitalism thing, he likes the idea of staying the same. Stan mentions how his father used to say “The more you want, the more you get.” But the reality is very different. Just because you want something, doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

Later Elizabeth jokingly asks—yes there are still some lighter moments in the dark, much like Elizabeth’s drawing lesson—whether Philip is rich yet, his “I wish” response is tinged with regret.Opposition to progress in relations between the US and Soviet Union is partly because a section of those in charge want the dynamic to stay the same. Oleg mentions that some worry they won’t be Communists anymore if any deal transpires. An identity crisis. In this sense, Philip is caught between these two ideologies. And he always has been. Elizabeth knows who she is, how she feels about this country. But Philip has fallen for aspects of this American life. The only time he has looked generally at ease this season is while he is line dancing with his staff, but his business is on shaky ground. Elizabeth thinks he will figure things out, he is not so sure.

The episode closes with Philip at his desk surrounded by papers, thinking back to the scraps he used to eat as a kid. His face as he contemplates his sandwich suggests his distaste for the capitalist cycle he has found himself caught up in, but even with this financial peril it is still a much better scenario than the poverty he grew up in. But there is always a fear that he could return to that, the real possibility that he could lose everything.If Paige is mirroring her mother, then Henry is very much his father’s son. He has the ‘soul getting crushed into a million pieces’ face down after Philip tells him they might not have enough money for boarding school next year. There is plenty of time to turn it around, but Philip seems pretty resigned at the moment. This episode is also sponsored by deep sighs of pretty much every character. The split in the Jennings family is felt most in the scenes where the kids are being discusses.

Philip is appalled that Paige has seemingly got over the whole seeing her mother covered in another man’s brains thing. They have already moved onto the next thing. He also doesn’t hide his scorn for Paige parroting her mother’s “sometimes bad things happen in the world” line. The way Matthew Rhys says “the world” is dripping with contempt and it is delicious. The things Philip has seen, he doesn’t need his daughter acting so high and mighty, like he doesn’t know. An argument is brewing, but Philip leaves before one can start saying there is no point. This feels far more unsettling than if they did have a blowout shouting match.It isn’t all pointed conversations, there is a long overdue moment of intimacy. They actually touch each other for the first time this season. Not only that, but Philip tells Elizabeth about the financial trouble their business is in—of course Elizabeth doesn’t know the names of the new staff—and she shares just how tired she is. A tender kiss fills in this void, the ache returns when Elizabeth rolls over. There is only so much sharing Elizabeth can do, she is not the talker. Sex used to be how they worked out their frustrations with each other or this job, not right now. Girl just wants to sleep.

We don’t know exactly what reason they gave Paige about why Philip quit, but Elizabeth reinforces the notion that Philip still loves them; however this job gets too much for some, even the best. Elizabeth is showing signs of this herself. Keri Russell continues to show Elizabeth’s exhaustion in the labored way she moves at home, the look on her face when she realizes she didn’t get any intel from the World Series opportunity—it is always fun to see their safe house/wig cave spaces. Ultimately, Emmys don’t really matter and yet I’m going to so annoyed if Keri Russell or Matthew Rhys don’t win for this final season.Even in heavy disguise, Rhys shows the exact moment Philip weighs up betraying his wife for his country. He weighs up everything Oleg says realizing that her loyalty could be manipulated by those seeking to stall progress. There is an rapport between these two men; they are both risking so much, but sadly this will be the last time they can meet in person as Oleg is being monitored by the FBI. The FBI resources are stretched thin, but it isn’t worth the risk.The information Philip gives is passed on by Oleg to his father using a code over the phone. Igor then delivers the message to Arkady. Here we find out that everything Igor has told his son about how everyone is doing, is a lie. They are fraught with worry about the mission Oleg is part of. Arkady tells Igor the reason why Oleg wants to do something that matters is because of him; this is his legacy, in a corrupt system Igor has instilled a sense of honor in his son to do the greater good, no matter the risk.

Legacy is something that came up last week when Elizabeth was talking to Paige about why she isn’t afraid of dying for this cause. It is bigger than her. This notion of what we leave behind is mentioned again, but this time in the form of Erica’s art. Erica is in a regretful mood, wondering why she even bothered. She wishes she had spent more time with her husband—will Elizabeth ever leave the work for her family? Which legacy is more important? Elizabeth exploits this vulnerability to get intel on the Russians working on the negotiations. It would be a sweet suggestion, if it wasn’t so calculated. It doesn’t work anyway, as Erica is far too sick to be out of the house.The information Elizabeth got from Evan (RIP) is used to break into the warehouse, but the shit really hits the fan. Well what we can see of it. This sequence involves flashes of light; from Elizabeth’s gun, flashlights and it is incredibly disorientating. I get what they are going for, but I would like to see a little bit more. Elizabeth makes it out just in time, empty handed once again. This pretty much sums up her work this season.

Claudia gives her yet another mission; the teacups of the episode title. They don’t feature this week, but Elizabeth has been tasked with getting rid of Gennadi,as his defection will be a propaganda gold mine for the Americans. This puts her back in Stan’s orbit as he is still being used as a counselor of sorts for the pair, much to his annoyance. He can’t quite get rid of this pesky pair. Elizabeth is looking to make sure he never has to hear from them again. Putting her team on Stan, Elizabeth makes sure that Julie aka Paige is nowhere near this operation because Stan would quickly ID her. Paige, is undertaking her own little spy op as she hooked up with the guy that her mother told her not to. Using sex to get information is not part of the grand plan for Paige. Sadly for Elizabeth, it doesn’t look like she is going to keep her out of this side of the spy biz after all.

Earlier in the episode, Elizabeth tells Paige how proud she is and this validation is all Paige needs. I have a feeling we might see the Emmy forehead vein when Elizabeth finds out about this extracurricular activity.While I’m on the subject of teens, Kimmy is back! And she might not be a teen anymore. Kimmy is at college, so the opportunity to switch out the tapes is limited and it doesn’t help that she won’t be coming back before the summit. Instead she is going on vacation to Greece with her friends, not if Elizabeth has a say in things she won’t. Kimmy notes Philip’s sadness, saying he is stuck. An apt description of where Philip is right now.

Teens in Jeans

More amazing ’80s jeans to add to Henry and Paige’s pairs. I am thrilled Julia Garner is back on this show. The Kimmy storyline has always walked the incredibly uncomfortable line, but I love her trajectory from troubled teen to grounded college student. In a twisted way, Philip is a big part of that.

Pattern Clashing Superstar 

As Philip’s business woes get bigger, his pattern clashing levels go up. Here he wears pinstripe, window pane check and paisley.

No Man is an Island

I’ve talked about the use of the kitchen in the Jennings house a lot; the island this season is being utilized as a visual and physical barrier (see also the first photo at the top).

To watch the Times Talk full video with Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and co-showrunner Joel Fields, head here.

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2 Responses to “The Americans 6.04 “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup” Review: Staying the Same”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] they don’t have pads. Again the contempt in his voice is impossible to ignore (again it is delicious to hear) as he notes “There aren’t really pads in the real […]

  2. The Americans 6.09 “Jennings, Elizabeth” Review: Topsy-Turvy | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 24, 2018

    […] A home we are now saying goodbye to. The kitchen and the island within continues to be used in such an effective visual way. This scene between Paige and Elizabeth mirrors their big fight from season four, when the world […]

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