Advertisements
Tag Archives: “Harvest”

The Americans 6.07 “Harvest” Review: Committed

10 May

Throughout our lives we make commitments; to a person, a job, a child. Most commitments can be broken in some way or another. You can quit, get a divorce. Some commitments come with a lifetime of responsibilities including being a parent, but even those can be broken.

The Americans has always been about marriage, family. The spy stuff is akin to football on Friday Night Lights. It sets the scene, ultimately guiding what these characters to do, but at the heart, the relationships are what matter.At the end of last season, Philip did the impossible. He got out of the spy biz at the behest of his wife. She could see that it was breaking him, but she couldn’t break her commitment to the cause. She couldn’t break her commitment to him. Elizabeth and Philip have been together for twenty-five years, but they have only been legally married for three, wholly devoted to each other for six years. Prior to events in the pilot it had been a very functional relationship, they were great work partners; they did all that was asked of them including having two kids. The perfect American family. You would never suspect a thing.

In the pilot their dynamic shifted, Elizabeth saw something in Philip she hadn’t previously seen. They connected in a way that went beyond duty. The weakness she used to see in him, the weakness that had him suggesting defection (Elizabeth would never) transformed into an understanding. In “Harvest,” Elizabeth sees her husband again as if for the first time. She finally gets out of her own way. Elizabeth isn’t oblivious, she would never have suggested he quit if she didn’t realize quite how crushed he was by all of this. But here it is like she finally gets it, the pain etched over his face is because he made a mistake committing to this life. The things you realize when cutting up a body with an ax in a parking garage.Big life events for Philip and Elizabeth happen in garages, basements of disused factories, their own laundry room. In the shadows they see each other. Elizabeth wasn’t sure Philip would actually show, but there is no way he could leave his wife in dire straits. Even if this means leaving Henry, giving Stan a reason to get suspicious of the places his neighbors go. Philip is wearing all the spy accoutrements, but he no longer has that feeling of pulling things off.  Elizabeth thinks this is ridiculous, but later she sees it. He can still perform when called to, even when it requires the grimmest of tasks. But he’s empty.

“Harvest” has a lot of callbacks to the pilot; the scene in which they drive to ditch Marilyn’s head and hands is reminiscent of the “In the Air Tonight” accompanied sequence of body dumping, followed by car sex. This time Patti Smith’s “Broken Flag” plays over the scene. There is no hook-up here. That was about connecting in way they hadn’t done before, they have come along way since then. Instead Elizabeth does the task alone while Philip observes. Stan’s sneaking around his best friend’s home is an extended version of the checking the trunk scene from the pilot. Philip isn’t waiting in the shadows gun in hand, there is now six years of history between them. A hunch led Stan into checking on his new neighbors, a hunch is causing him to check up on his BFF.Certain 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 his parents leave for work at all hours as if they’re brain surgeons don’t help. The non-existent extended family.

Stan remembers that time Elizabeth went to stay with Aunt Helen, but Henry has never met her. Stan also recalls that it coincided with a crazy time at work. That time he shot a female illegal. The operation in Chicago also felt like a callback to the season one finale; they’re cornered, someone gets shot. They end up in a parking garage. Elizabeth remains unscathed this time. It is Marilyn who gets a bullet to the head. Harvest also ends up shot in the stomach, mirroring Elizabeth’s injury, unlike Elizabeth he doesn’t make it. Opting to swallow the pill he has been given. A pill Elizabeth is wearing around her neck. A pill she has told her husband about.The couple. It all comes back to the couple Stan has been chasing for years. The couple he now suspects could be living across the street. William’s delirious words about them as he was dying at the end of season four have come back to haunt them; the two kids, the pretty wife. Stan doesn’t have any real evidence, but the niggle is going to be enough. Plus there are now only three episodes left.

Stan is going to find out very soon and it is making my stomach hurt. That hug between Philip and Stan is heartbreaking. The trick to selling a good cover story is to keep it as true to life as possible, when Philip thanks Stan for all he has done it is genuine. Elizabeth keeping it together is real, so are the business woes. But they have both made commitments; Stan won’t be able to keep his word of being there for Philip when he finds out who he really is. Tension is building. Wordless scenes are something The Americans has always excelled at. The way Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys can have an entire conversation without saying a word continues to be extraordinary. Intimacy when extracting a tooth or cutting off body parts with an ax is not the easiest thing to convey, but they somehow elevate these horrifying moments into something much more than the task at hand (no pun intended).

When Philip pauses after they are almost interrupted—this is quite the public place to dismember somebody—it is like a lifetime goes by. The fact that he is doing this again, the only reason is for her. It is the kind of grand romantic gesture that only makes sense on this show. Elizabeth can’t quite fathom it in the moment. It takes the conversation with Erica for her to see. The pointed way Philip drops the matching poison accessory into the bag is such a relationship moment. It is purposeful because he effectively just had Elizabeth’s end flash before his eyes.The sequence in which they extract Harvest is reminiscent of another moment in the tooth extraction episode. The car “chase” in which Elizabeth is being tailed for hours. One of their closest of close calls. That one ended with everyone unscathed, this time they aren’t so lucky. Two on each side go down. For once, Elizabeth didn’t pull the trigger. Philip doesn’t add to his body count either, but he definitely got his hands dirty.

The Americans is very good at drawing on its rich, layered history. Stan brings up the time in Philadelphia from early on in season one (in the very good episode “Gregory”) in which the FBI lost sight of a source just for a moment. The body disposal moment called back to not only the pilot, but Annelise in the suitcase. There are the two flashback moments to already existing scenes, something this show uses sparingly. Visual cues that remind Stan of what William said, remind Philip of his real vows.When they get home Elizabeth has to leave straight away. The summit is only a week away—for both us and Elizabeth. Again there is wordless communication, she touches his face, his heart. Her way of saying thank you before disappearing into the night. Philip surprised her by showing up in Chicago, she makes a stop by the office the following day as a gesture of making sure he is okay. She notes she saw his expression while he was doing his ax-work. Erica is becoming a therapist of sorts for Elizabeth; the soothing drawing, the determination she has for working through extreme agony, but also noting the time she has wasted.

Philip and Elizabeth still aren’t on solid ground when it comes to their relationship. Too many secrets exist between them right now. She told him about the necklace, but not the what of the mission. He now knows there is an important part of the scanner in France. Will he tell Oleg? At this point, Philip’s main objective is to not have Elizabeth die in his arms the way Harvest did. She is very much work first, however stopping by the office signals she isn’t wholly consumed by work. The final scene with Philip sitting on the sofa thinking about his marriage can be read in a number of ways. For me it is a resigned felling that this is what he signed up for, his commitment to Elizabeth cannot be broken. That moment of bliss was a lifetime ago.And after this operation went to shit, Elizabeth offers Paige the option her father never got; to get out. But Paige, like her mother is headstrong. She wants to make a difference. But most notably she doesn’t want to be alone. She wants what her mom and dad have. Prediction time; this show is going to end in a manner fitting for a Russian tragedy. Paige will end up alone either because her parents die or she gets arrested while they escape. Just three episodes left.

All Aderholt needs is some red stringAderholt was thrilled last week. Now he is experiencing despair. All he needs is some red string to go full Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. While he won’t be as upset as Stan, it’s gonna hurt when he finds out he has shared the table with the woman that kicked his ass at the start of season three.

Earring Watch I recently got my ears pierced (I know). I have long been obsessed with Elizabeth’s earrings in and out of disguise. Her best ones are when her cover looks like this.

The old couple they will probably never get to become

On the flight how, Philip and Elizabeth’s disguises skew older than they are. A vision of what we won’t get to see. Also it gives Philip an opportunity to ask about the drawing without letting on that he has searched her secret stash.

Family Photos

These are the photos that provided the backdrop to Philip and Elizabeth’s fight on the staircase from a couple of week’s ago. Again The Americans production design team deserves a shout out for these very realistic shots of the Jennings family instead of using promo photos from the show.

Advertisements
Ex-aspirational

Depression, creativity and the pressures of growing up, as told by a twenty-something not living her best life

Julie Hammerle

Nerds Need Love Too

Sofa and Remote

I love talking about TV as much as I love watching it

Ellie Writes Stuff

About this and that

Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Authors, Bloggers, Fashion Assassins

Twitter Music Club

A rotation curation music club, based on Twitter, mainly for Kiwis

INTO ROW Z

If you enjoy a challenge, like Claude Makélélé, read my blog. Its about sport.

lost somewhere in new york city

We rock a lot of polka dots

sankles

We rock a lot of polka dots

frocktalk.com/

Just another WordPress.com site

Cultural Learnings

Television Reviews and Analysis

judgmental observer

film, tv, popular culture, higher ed, unicorns

Rookie

We rock a lot of polka dots

ScreenFad

TV show news, reviews, recaps, spoilers, and photos

The Frisky

We rock a lot of polka dots

irkyle.wordpress.com/

I review this shit so you don't have to.