Previously on The Americans, “Dead Hand”
All that Gray
Tchaikovsky plays, underscoring a daughter asking her mom about sex. But because this is The Americans, it is not the usual awkward conversation about boys and condoms (Elizabeth’s advice on “being safe” is to go to an out-of-town bookstore).
“It’s easy to see things as very black and white. But the world is complicated.”
This could be the show’s tagline/mantra/relationship status. It’s interesting Elizabeth is the one who says this. She who gravitates the most towards right and wrong. If it’s for her cause, it’s right. If it’s American, it’s wrong.
That may be changing. Elizabeth seems drawn to Erica Haskall’s art, even as she dismisses it to Claudia. Erica asks Elizabeth to pick up pencil and paper draw “just the dark parts.” Maybe this exploration will be to Elizabeth what EST is to Philip.
As for Paige, she better follow her mother’s advice because by the end of this episode, her mother will be splattered with complexity.
Contemplations on Mortality
Claudia tells Elizabeth and Paige the titular Tchaikovsky lost his mother when he was young and led a lonely life. The allusions to Elizabeth and Paige are obvious (we know she doesn’t remember she has a son named Henry). Last episode she received a cyanide capsule. This episode she has a gun aimed at her head. Elizabeth begs for her life, telling the general she is a mother. She also is caring for a woman who begs for death and is faced with the grief and pain of Erica’s husband. The ones left behind.
Does she believe Paige will really be okay in Claudia’s hands if she were no longer in the picture? Is she concerned about Philip? Is the show toying with us or setting us up for Elizabeth’s fall?
It was a little jarring to have all this deep exploration intercut with Sad Sack Stan and Travel Agent Philip.
Even as great as Slippery People and bathroom espionage can be, it felt shoehorned in as opposed to the levity relief it was meant to engender.
Stan bumbled around his contacts’ marital woes and waited outside of restrooms (men’s room stalls are never a good thing). Demotion doesn’t seem to be sitting very well on him. A marginalized Stan is likely leading to a larger season-wide arc. Though, it’s hard to tell. Bumbling and awkward is something Stan does so well.
Stan’s buddy Philip is having troubles of his own. Being a business owner should be cake compared to Philip’s previous job, but it seems like being just an ordinary guy making an honest paycheck isn’t as simple as he may have of thought. Philip is losing business to the competition. Successful delegation is not achieved by one motivational speech. Capitalism is hard, Philip.
Stan does learn about Oleg’s entry into the country. It’s only a matter of time before he learns about Oleg’s new friend Philip, right?
- Erica wants to be euthanized and Elizabeth can help. Sure she can
- She’s 2 for 2 on killings. No surprise, but how is she going to get the lithium based radiation sensors now?
- Philip still hasn’t told her about Oleg, but we now know he knows about Paige
- Philip talks to Giant Henry. Who might be adopted because his Russian accent sucks?
- The State Department tour guide actually notices Elizabeth’s disappearance. Way to subvert a TV trope
- Claudia mentions again she’s just a messenger. She’s not allowed to ask questions allowed. Seems like Stan isn’t the only one being left out of the loop
- The Russians learn about Reagan’s dementia
This episode was good standard fare for The Americans. Good use of wigs, some savvy spy work and an Elizabeth shooting. I’m most interested to see where Haksard story line is going. Seems like it’ll be the season’s slow burn. I am curious as to how Paige will react to the blood on her mother’s face. Then again, it’s not the first time she’s seen the vicious side of Elizabeth