Previously on The Americans, ‘Chloramphenicol’
They Can’t Handle the Truth
Martha and Paige aren’t cut out for this spy life. They are in a limbo of knowing part of the truth, but not all of the truth. The truth they do know sits heavy on their conscience. But leaving them alone for thirty-six hours to mull over what they don’t know did nothing to help their anxiety levels. Martha can’t sleep despite the valium and wine. Paige can’t sleep despite reconciling with Pastor Tim.
Both Martha and Paige are in vulnerable pawn positions. If Martha isn’t successful at allaying Stan and Aderholt’s concerns, they could use her to trace the Jennings. If Paige doesn’t convince Pastor Tim and his silly wife her parents are good-hearted, well-meaning communists, he could report the Jennings. Philip tries to reassure Martha, despite the impending danger of the FBI finding out the truth.
Elizabeth tries to reassure Paige, despite the impending danger of Pastor Tim raising the alarm. Let’s be clear — despite how much the Jennings feel for their pawns, Elizabeth and Philip are manipulating them. It may be as overt as coaching Martha on a cover story or as subtle as telling Paige Pastor Tim cares for her.
It should also be noted Paige and Martha are also in a position of power. They could easily turn on the Jennings if love isn’t strong enough to keep their secrets.
Oh, and Stan is bound to make both their lives absolutely miserable.
Martha and Paige aren’t the only troubled souls. Philip agonizes over Martha. He wants to stop putting her in jeopardy. Elizabeth and Gabriel are far less inclined to give up on a good thing. Philip’s worry is proven out when Stan introduces him to Aderholt as the two FBI agents leave for a night of surveillance.
Elizabeth can see Philip’s concern over Martha, but her feelings on the situation are not as clear. Is she jealous of the relationship? Is she worried Philip will crack? Is she empathizing with her husband’s predicament? Whether it’s one, a combination or all three, her course of action makes sense. She connects with Philip with a little Kama Sutra of her own. All while poor Martha lies sleepless.
I really hope Martha doesn’t become collateral damage.
Oleg finds out about Nina. He tells Arkaday, who seems upset. He tells Stan, who seems upset. After the loss of his brother and now Nina, Oleg is none too happy with Mother Russia, right now. Neither is his father. Nor Arkaday. Rather convenient for the FBI. Could the FBI have had a hand in Nina’s execution? Did Stan know?
Tension. Just for Kicks
This show is so good at creating tension. This episode, it seemed like they threw it in casually, just for practice. Aderholt follows Martha on her way to Clark’s apartment. Hans spots Martha’s tail and informs Philip. Philip dons his Clark disguise, takes the picture and leaves through the back exit. Martha finds an empty, picture-less apartment. Aderholt remains in his car. This is a very straight-forward set of events with no real risk. However, the cutting between Martha walking to Clark’s place, Philip leaving the apartment and Aderholt waiting in his car quickened the pulse and shortened the breath.
Disguises are Back
So far there has been a lot of truth and sharing, this season. In an episode focused on the emotional consequences of knowing the truth, we see more attention to disguises. Elizabeth as Patty and Philip returns to Clark. We also see Hans in an amateurish glasses and a hat. Note: Philip removes a pin from his hair in his first scene with Martha. He still makes a concerted effort to de-guise when he’s with her.
Eye Spy Extras
Martha calls the Operator who has stopped Jazzercising in favor of eating popcorn in front of the television. Richard Simmons would not be pleased.
Elizabeth urges Philip to make up with Stan. She also advises Paige to make up with Pastor Tim. Trust and friendship are the best way to keep your enemies closer. So they don’t look too closely at your odd work hours and strange notions of parenting.
The glanders seems to be sticking to Gabriel. Was that a telltale death cough?
There’s not a whole lot of sleeping going on, this season. Nice parallel scenes of Paige and Martha lying in bed, eyes wide, faces troubled. I hope Martha doesn’t start having dreams of running off into the sunset with Clark.
Henry is well on his way to creating a new family. He has a new dad and he’s working on winning a new brother in the shape of a reluctant William. Henry is also the only person who can make Stan look cool.
Young Hee is back! Family is brought up, yet again. Young Lee is my favorite character second only to Henry. I love that I don’t know the details of how this will turn out. I hate that I know it’ll likely turn out poorly for Young Lee (and her brother).
A little disappointed that the bulky clothes continues to be the preferred choice of covering up the baby bump. However, it’s a good thing Elizabeth likes to do laundry. I see her doing much of it, in the future.
The Americans S4E5
This was a thoughtful piece. It added depth to our characters and had some great directorial choices. It wasn’t the most entertaining episode to watch (Henry and Stan, aside) and light on the action, but it gave us good insight into Elizabeth and her character progression. I think it’ll prove important in informing choices made later this season. I loved the way they handled the death of Nina in the final scene. There was an honest truth about it. Harsh and bleak and very real.