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The Americans 6.06 “Rififi” Review: Henry Jennings, Marriage Counselor

3 May

It has all been building to this. Those operations that seemingly delivered nothing, other than a whole lot of wasted man hours and bloodshed are finally producing results. The net is closing in on Elizabeth, she knows this particular mission is going to be tricky, but she has no idea how close Stan is to figuring it all out. The diplomatic pouch X-rays has struck the goldmine, the contents being the other half of what Elizabeth has been trying to acquire. This links to the warehouse she broke into, killing three guards, but leaving with nothing. As the FBI gets results, everything is slipping through Elizabeth’s fingers, including stability at home.

The halfway line for this final season has been crossed; tension levels have been set to high.All is not well in the Jennings house. This has been the case for almost all of season six, but the opening scene had both Philip and Elizabeth looking at each other with a seething contempt previously unseen. Philip is disgusted with Elizabeth for murdering people in front of a kid, which she notes she didn’t actually do. Well, the murder part yes, but not in front of the child. He just had to see the bloody aftermath. Informing Elizabeth that he’s not going through with the Kimmy plan is met with the level of bitterness you would expect, Elizabeth digs deep with her choice of words.

First by noting that of course he wasn’t going to do it, then by saying he just wanted to fuck her because he wasn’t getting enough at home. Low blow, Elizabeth. And the first f-bomb uttered this week. A word that hasn’t been uttered before (to my knowledge) on this show. It feels like a twist of the knife. It is also a good example of how well The Americans uses words. The impact is felt here and later on because of how rare this is. The distance between Philip and Elizabeth has been vast; even when they inhabit the same space there is a wall. Whether a physical wall such as the one in their garden or the kitchen island, or a metaphorical one. They came back together briefly last week, but this is the worst it has been between the pair. Even when they were separated during season one it didn’t feel this bad because they still had to work together. They’ve slept in separate rooms before, but when Philip told her “it’s over” regarding the Kimmy op it, it feels like a very loaded phrases about them as well.

Not too fast though, there is still something that can save this marriage. And his name is Henry Jennings! Ah, Henry. Comes home for Thanksgiving to find it isn’t just freezing outside. First he thinks he is helping out with Philip’s business woes because he’s told his rich friend’s dad all about it. Philip is already feeling emasculated by one child, now the other one goes and mentions his business failure.* Then Henry gets offered a cigarette by his mother; she barely even reacts when he comes outside to see her. Henry might be somewhat oblivious to what goes on at home, but this tension is hard to ignore. Because he has been away for so long it is even more obvious that all is not well.

*Poor Stavos, he’s been at the travel agency for an age but he’s first on the chopping block as his sales are low. Capitalism at work in its most devastating fashion.Philip plays hookey from work to hang with Henry, if Henry hadn’t picked up on all the cues like the sleeping in separate rooms, then Philip’s frustrated “FUCK” response to his car going off the tracks at the slot-car racing is definitely enough for him to wonder what on earth is going on at home. Everything is crumbling. Philip tells Henry that “Everything is fine. I love your mother, she loves me. It’s just sometimes… Everything is fine.” This really isn’t all that convincing, but it is the second time this season they have reiterated this point to their kids, Elizabeth did this with Paige a few weeks ago.

The great Jennings kid duties divide is no more apparent than with Henry because his screen time this season has only been with Philip, whether over the phone or watching him play hockey. The running joke is of course the teen boy gets shuttled off to boarding school, but I have always thought that Henry would end up playing a vital part in their downfall because he is the most American of all of them. Plus he is still pretty tight with Stan. For now it looks like he might be saving his parents’ marriage and he doesn’t even realize it.When Elizabeth offers him a cigarette she says that he is an adult now, that she can tell him things. But she still doesn’t tell him every single thing. This would be a betrayal to Philip. Later while she is in Chicago about to attempt a mission that has very slim odds of succeeding, she phones Henry to have what most would consider a very normal mom/son chat. She asks about school, girls, how everything is going. It feels like goodbye. Henry recognizes how not normal this conversation is so when he tells his dad about it, Philip knows that things are bad. He’s just been poking around her wig cave, seen her vase drawings, sending a coded note to Oleg—it is very fun seeing the spycraft side of this all set to Tears for Fears. Henry also can’t understand why his mother is so unhappy when she has everything, if only you knew Henry, if only you knew.

Last week ended with a phone call that would cause this deep rift between husband and wife, this time it is a reconciliation. The last time they spoke it was less than cordial; Philip didn’t want to let this tension fester, Elizabeth responds with something more conclusive telling him “take your Forum bullshit and shove it up your ass.” Way to spill your feelings, Liz. She admits that what they are attempting in Chicago is probably not going to work, they need more people. He wants to know if she is asking him to come, she isn’t. He tells her to come home, she can’t. Leaving Philip with only one option, to offer his help.

Earlier he bitterly mentioned how she had somehow dragged him back into this, this time he is doing it of his own volition. No one is asking him to, but there is no way he can leave her with her neck on the line like this. He loves her, she loves him. Some sacrifices are worth making. This is what happens when Elizabeth asks her son how he is doing at school.I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was thrilled that they will be working together again, even if it has a ‘one last job’ feeling. Philip and Elizabeth are the best agents they can be when they are working together. Her words to Tuan have come back to haunt her; you can’t do this work alone. But it is worrying that Aderholt has pretty much figured out all the ways to track down illegals. Including the cars they use, the garages they rent, how they keep safe houses and targeting priests. All the pieces are falling into place. It is going to happen fast.

Soon they will know the people they have been eating many dinners with are the same people Stan was talking about in his way too intense Thanksgiving toast. As a viewer it is fun to hear about how they have been acquiring so many cars, safe houses and wig caves. See also getting to watch Oleg with his coding kit.The episode title comes from the French movie, Rififi. AKA the greatest heist movie in history. I haven’t seen it so I’m going to have to take the word of this very Timothée Chalamet looking dude’s word for it. Elizabeth takes a break from killing anyone this week; instead she is in the recruiting business. It is unclear exactly what she wants, but it has to do with Senator Sam Nunn, Wikipedia tells me he had a lot to do with nuclear disarmament. A good indicator as to why Elizabeth is sniffing around this kid.

The Rififi trivia from not-Chalamet—because of course this dude has to correct her—was also relevant in the long battle between the Soviets and the US; it is a French film, but director Jules Dassin was American. He was blacklisted as part of the McCarthy-era trials.

A stomach churning episode that digs deep into everything that is so good about The Americans. The inevitable Stan discovery is so close, there is no happy ever after in this world. Everything is far from fine, but at least Henry got his parents talking again. Got to take those small victories where we can.

Teens in ’80s Jeans (Part III)Paige was frozen out of Elizabeth’s plan, she had to smile through Stan’s toast, but she did get to spend some quality family time with her brother. Including him giving her a look as if to say “What the fuck is going on with mom and dad?” Not that she could say. She also had to wear these less than flattering jeans. Great shirt though.

I Heart ’80s Athleisure Retro sports apparel is always my fave. This is no exception. It is also worth noting that Erica is having a major influence on Elizabeth. Instead of smoking, Elizabeth sketches in this moment of high stress.

MAIL ROBOT  After that bitter pre-credits exchange, the physical comedy that followed was welcome. Stan gives Aderholt some sass about how every time he goes downstairs someone dies, when Mail Robot gets in the elevator with them, Aderholt asks if he wants to blow off steam. Shout out to Agent Gad (RIP) and the last unprovoked attack.

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One Response to “The Americans 6.06 “Rififi” Review: Henry Jennings, Marriage Counselor”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Americans 6.07 “Harvest” Review: Committed | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 10, 2018

    […] things aren’t adding up. The emergency trip to Houston during Thanksgiving. The late nights. Last week he was an accidental marriage counselor, now Henry is an accidental narc, his comments about how […]

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