Previously on The Americans, ‘Glanders’
Last episode we got a glimpse into Philip’s psyche. This episode, we cracked the icy façade of Elizabeth and found out the Jennings have something in common. They are not okay.
Philip comes clean to Elizabeth about EST and she actually listens and asks him if he’d like her to go. This is not the cold-hearted Elizabeth we first met in season one. Elizabeth of old would have scoffed in his face. Over the seasons we’ve slowly seen Elizabeth’s steadfastness and commitment to the cause waiver.
She overcomes her usual “good daughter” compliance with Gabriel and questions his veracity. She seems determined to kill Pastor Tim. Yet our Elizabeth seems to have developed a conscience. She has a nightmare involving Paige discovering Pastor Tim’s dead body (the only scene with the titular Tim). His dead body is replaced with an abuser from Elizabeth’s training days, who attacks Paige. She wakes up and curls into Philip for comfort. Despite what she says to Philip, Elizabeth may be having doubts about giving her daughter over to Center.
She tries to hide it but her vulnerability peaks through. Elizabeth finds out her mother passed but she does not cry. Nothing so overt. Instead, she keeps calling Philip. Unable to reach him, she shares the news with Paige. Just as Philip opened up to Martha to draw her closer, Elizabeth tells Paige about her mother and gets Paige back on her side. We see Paige literally cross the divide into Elizabeth’s arms. Elizabeth accepts the hug, briefly. Then it’s back to work, as usual.
What part is deliberate manipulation and what part is emotional honesty? This show is masterful at blending the two, I’m sure even the characters don’t know.
Some Days, You Just Can’t Get Rid of a Bomb
In the 1966 Batman: The Movie, Adam West runs around the streets of Gotham trying to get rid of a comically large spherical bomb, to no avail. That was Philip in this episode. He just couldn’t get rid of the glanders. He tried to give it to Gabriel. Gabriel gave it back. He tried to give it to skittish Eastern European pilot. The pilot left it behind. Philip even killed a man in his desperation. At the end of the day, he still ended up with a biological weapon tobacco tin in his house. Much to the irritation of his wife and the amusement of the sardonic scientist. I like to think Philip has seen Batman: The Movie. I like to think of Philip as Batman.
Back to the Drawing Board
Who knew Nina could be so warm? She meets Boris, the devoted husband she left after she lost their baby (Wait. What?). Who knew Nina had teeth? She smiles and laughs so much during this scene, it’s easy to forget she has resting dour face. The camera even lightens its usual sad, blue lens and allows some sunlight to filter in. Nina is positively glowing and hopeful as she tells Anton she can get word to his son. Unfortunately, even Nina’s best plans involve someone getting hurt. In this case, her sweetheart of a husband and herself. The note is confiscated, she’s caught by Visili and resting dour face resumes. Something needs to happen here and it would be good if she can make it happen, herself.
Clutching My Granyonyi Stakan
As I’m all for clichés involving alcohol, I’ve taken to drinking vodka while watching The Americans. At some point in every episode, I’ll find my fingers tightening in a death grip around my glass. Just like the grip Philip had around the transit cop’s neck.
The bus scene was exemplary of this show, as a whole. So dark, so tense, yet so comical. Only such a well-executed show could have us wishing for the cowardly pilot to shut up and take the biological weapon onto a plane with innocent passengers. The tension ratcheted up as Mr. Amateur Hour was spotted by a curious transit cop and could not hold it together. What else could Philip do but strangle him to death while an oblivious passenger rocked out to Tainted Love? And trust The Americans to take their time with it, leaving no doubt how much time and effort it takes to impromptu strangle a large, healthy male in the back of a bus.
Cheers to my favorite scene.
In a series filled with dynamic characters and intricate relationships, Stan and Henry’s simple comradery is the best. Stan gives Henry advice on cooking (less time than it says on the box) and older women (Honestly? No). Henry gives Stan the warmth he wishes he had with his son. They even bond over cologne. Critics give Holly Taylor well-earned accolades for her portrayal of Paige. But let’s give Keidrich Sellati his due. He plays Henry as sweet, lovable and genuine. Don’t we all wish there were more like him? Just with less scent.
Quick Hits and Questions
- Paige unknowingly saves Pastor Tim’s life by coming clean to her parents. But now what? Bet Plan B includes conscripting Pastor Tim. Hey, he already has the ridiculous hair.
- Gaad gives Beeman something to use with Oleg. Beeman tells Oleg he can’t get Nina, so what’s the catch? I suspect Oleg’s dead brother comes into play.
- I wonder what Stan will find when he sees Henry’s Center-donated computer? I think he’ll suspect his ex-friend of more than just wife stealing.
- William doesn’t have access to Level 4 due to his surly attitude and is proving to be a tad petulant. I’m sure he’ll make trouble for the Jennings as they try to gain higher level access.
- Philip tells Elizabeth about EST and processing childhood trauma. Will Elizabeth get EST-ized? She’ll likely go but find it silly and frivolous. Especially, if she talks to Tori.
The Americans S4E2
This episode gave me joy. Great performances by all. The Jennings men made me laugh and the Jennings women pulled at my heart strings. I like to see Stan and Nina smiling, especially when they are far away from each other. Great action and direction: From the over-the-top bus fight to the quiet spying on Pastor Tim to the touching mother/daughter moments. I’m very interested in all plots not involving Anton.