It is hard to hide who you are on The Americans when confronted with a moment of danger and when Elizabeth’s protective motherly instincts kicked in with her training last week there was only going to be one winner against the two would-be muggers/rapists. Elizabeth was not only quick in her methods; taking out both guys in a matter of seconds, but her calm demeanor after the incident also has Paige questioning the few non-specific bits of information her parents have given in regards to their work.
There are only so many vague and repeated phrases a girl can take before she demands a little more and seeing her mom in full self-defense mode has sped up this process. Questions and doubt are seeping through the ever growing cracks and it isn’t just the threads on the Russian containers that are unstable. Paige is in shock over what she witnessed and Elizabeth is doing her best to keep her queries to the minimum. Yes she had to do that and no this is not the first time. The conversation about ‘how many?’ is never a fun one, but on this occasion it is even more problematic (don’t even ask Elizabeth or Philip the more common and often contentious between couples ‘how many?’ query) and even if Elizabeth did know the number (and I can’t see her keeping a tally of the dead) it isn’t going to offer Paige any comfort. They’ve also told Paige that they’re not going to lie to her and so going with a non-committal “I don’t know” is the safest option.
Paige is pushing back in a big way this week as we have seen her do on a number of occasions and part of this includes a common grumble from a teenager; they’re treating her like she is 12. The difference here being that anything they do tell her could severely impact their safety and how she sees her parents. When Elizabeth tries the “I wanted to serve my country” party line Paige calls her out on this and so we get a deeper insight into Elizabeth’s motivations for joining the KGB beyond her mother.Mirroring Paige’s conversation with her father about his background we find out more about the city of Smolensk and how like a lot of Russia it was torn apart during WWII and the years that followed involved a lot of hardship. In essence what Elizabeth took from this experience was seeing a community up against it surviving and fighting. This is all she wanted to do and it didn’t matter whether it was dangerous or not. What this does is reinforce Philip’s proclamation that it wasn’t about what you liked growing up because they grew up in a war ravaged and poor climate worlds away from where they are.
Danger still exists, but it is the cloak and dagger variety. Although it is worth noting that this season opened with a mugging turned murder in Philip’s flashback and a version of this has happened in the present; danger lurks beyond their work. The difference here being that it is Paige who is new to this killing business and she will also need therapy. EST probably is not the answer.
Elizabeth’s explanation works on a couple of levels as it deflects Paige from some of the more insidious answers she could give about the work they do (multiple murders for example) while also giving Paige the connection to her past and family that she craves. Elizabeth mentions how much she would love to go back home with Paige to see how much has changed and this is the first time Russia has been discussed by either Philip or Elizabeth in a way this season that hasn’t been tinged with the notion of having to return home as a last resort.Throwing a spanner in the works is Philip having to leave for work during these conversations with Paige as it just prompts more questions they’re not inclined to answer. However, Paige keeps pushing and in these pauses Philip and Elizabeth do the wordless communicating with their eyes thing that is so incredibly effective; these silent agreements to tell Paige a little bit more coupled with the way each of them takes part of the info dump reinforces the notion that the Centre matched well when they paired Elizabeth with Philip. It doesn’t matter how much they differ in their opinions on matters such as the bio-weapon plan, when it comes down to their family they will present a united front. Luckily for them the op Philip is leaving for is William and not Kimmy and I’d love to see them explain away why he needs to go hang out with a 16 year-old and smoke pot.
Fear, intrigue and wonder all cross Elizabeth’s face as she watches Paige with Matthew; Paige is becoming exactly what the Centre wanted and yet there is something a little disturbing about seeing her in this role. Another place where the pauses are loaded with meaning is when Elizabeth tells Philip about what happened prior to the violent incident and this is the thing she can’t stop thinking about; Paige was reporting what Matthew had told her about Stan and Martha (Gabriel follows through on his promise to contact Martha’s parents to Philip’s satisfaction).
They don’t need Paige to spy on Matthew for them and they are concerned as to what her motivations here are especially as Elizabeth has witnessed a little bit of flirting between the pair. Little do they know that Paige just had her first ever (?) kiss with him and it is hard to read exactly what Paige is doing here as we do know she used to have a crush on him. Philip and Elizabeth are fine with her being friends with him or whatever (I would love to see exactly how they would be with Matthew if they start dating), but as long as it is on her terms and not for them. Paige is concerned about what Henry might have been saying to Stan and I’m with Paige on this one, particularly how they shut Henry out after the ‘mugging’ incident.This is where Paige really digs her heels in and she wants to know what Philip is doing beyond a meeting as she now knows they lied to her about the lack of danger. She has a point when she mentions that her mom killed someone in front of her and she might as well know everything, right? Well Paige, let me tell you a few stories. Regardless, they do relent and reveal the weapon part, but not the gory details of ‘squirting yourself out your anus in liquid form.’ The way Holly Taylor responds with “Great” to this secret is ultimate teen disdain and The Americans continues to get their teens so right.
What Philip doesn’t know is he is walking into a trap and so is William. William has been resistant to getting those codes ever since Philip and Elizabeth first approached him and his concern is about how fucked up this weapon is. William doesn’t want to be part of something that could cause this much death, but Gabriel works his Gabriel convincing magic laboring the points about home and duty.
Philip is surprised that William was that easy to convince, but Gabriel knows what it feels like to be alone and he taps into that part of William we have been seeing. As with soaps like General Hospital it is “not logical, it is emotional.” Side note – there is nothing funnier this week than seeing Elizabeth trying to ‘get’ an American soap opera.
Connections are important and Elizabeth and Philip’s partnership is the rarity in this business of so many people working and ending up alone. No matter their differences they are the spy equivalent of #RelationshipGoals.Oleg has been grappling with his position and what this whole war means in a way that parallels William and the death of his younger brother has had a huge impact. When Tatiana jokes about killing half the population of the Eastern Seaboard he takes this joke seriously as he understands that while they have brilliant scientists they also have terrible resources.
One such example is the near missile miss when a glare of sunshine read as a weapon and here he sees himself as the steadfast hand that didn’t leap to conclusions. Oleg does what William cannot and warns their enemy of this bio-weapon plot putting Philip in danger of being caught. Philip knows that Stan hasn’t been home from work for two days and this might be vital in reading the William situation even if his instincts have been all over the place this year.Mail Robot comes into play in a secondary sting operation as the FBI discover a surveillance device within it and catch the person who has been switching out the tapes. The title of this week’s episode “A Roy Rogers in Franconia” is also where this woman met the so-called mobster who offered $500 a week to swap out the tapes and it sounds like the most run of the mill location there is. Just how they like to do these dead drops. The key is to not draw attention. While the William op takes precedent, a car with a video camera has been left to watch this drop and I’m worried about what might happen to Hans as he seems like the number one most likely person to take the fall for this.
Everything is amping up for next week’s season finale and it is incredible to think just how much has taken place this year from the first half of the season with Nina’s sad demise and the Martha conclusion to every development in Paige’s somewhat unintentional junior spy training. Feelings have come into play far more this season than any before it with Philip’s earlier spiral and Elizabeth’s new found vulnerability reinforce this idea that it is emotions and not logic that drive things. Even when you are a spy.
Shot(s) of the Week
The Rezidentura set is great for a number of reasons including how it feels like a completely different country – which it kind of is – and the huge portrait of Lenin which pulls focus. In the first shot he stands over Tatiana’s shoulder and is the constant reminder of where this version of the USSR started.
Oleg is to the side of him in both these scenes and it suggests the resistance he is currently experiencing. He is feeling a duty to something bigger because of how shitty their resources are and there is real fear in his mind. I also love that he is using his coat in the first shot in such an expressive way that would imply he is also hiding an IRL bump (he is not).Speaking of which – best use of a kitchen appliance so far this season. Also A+ reaction face from Elizabeth as Matthew tells Henry how to hook the computer up to the TV.
Disguise of the Week
Only one disguise this week and it is Philip’s standard William attire as they don’t know when the surveillance teams will be on him and it really weirds me out how much this version of Philip looks like my dad in the 1980s.
Outfit I Would Wear in 2016I’m going the easy route this week with the classic plaid shirt and jeans option and once again the costume department is doing a terrific job in concealing Keri Russell’s bump. And not just with an endless supply of coats. Excellent wardrobe repeating with Paige’s choice of pajama shirt too.