Previously on The Americans, “The Summit”
The penultimate episode. Stakes are high. Twists are many. This episode was lip-biting tense, waiting, expecting the chips to drop at any point. And yet, not a single one has fallen. And how they will fall is anybody’s guess. All wound up and nothing to do but wait and see. They’re really going all-in on the finale.
“I thought. ‘What if?'”
It took Stan a (long) while, but now he’s a hound dog trying to track down the faint but persistent scent of bacon. Too bad his bacon is driving a Ferrari, because he’s coming up with nothing. The Jennings are not perfect, but they are quick and thorough. Stan is just loping along saying “Where did dey go? Where did dey go?”
To give him credit, he’s trying and being more overt in his hunt. Stan does some fruitless Proto-Googling and “drops by” Philip at the travel agency to poke around. He also calls Pastor Tim(!). Pastor Tim(!) has a better toupée and better sense than to tell Stan anything useful. He doesn’t quite lie, but he omits everything. Pastor Tim(!) is redeemed in the audience’s eyes and we bid him farewell. Stymied, Stan puts his suspicions with Aderholt and we see how thin his story seems. Stan is not deterred, but he is diverted with the news of Oleg’s arrest.
Oleg is caught with the cipher of Elizabeth’s news for Moscow. He waits until he’s in a private cell to tell Stan he needs Stan to send the message to the Soviet Union. Stan scoffs. He’s more concerned about The Illegals but Oleg tries to get him to see the bigger picture, not the picture of Philip and Elizabeth Stan serves up to him. Rather than obsessing about illegals, why don’t we open our eyes focus on the safety of the world, Stan? Stan does his Face in response. NOTE: the term “illegals” has been used more heavily this season than in the past and I appreciate Oleg’s meta-message. #realifewall
We leave Stan sitting back on his haunches. Whether he’s contemplating actually listening to his buddy Oleg or continuing to sniff out his neighbors doesn’t really matter. Outside influences are likely to give Stan something to chew on.
“You don’t leave a comrade to die in the street in Moscow.”
Elizabeth made a turn last episode, and we see her (finally) working on the side of, well, better.
After deciding not to kill him, Elizabeth is tailing Nesterenko and we get the first (and likely last) Elizabeth flashbacks in quite awhile.
She’s in Paige’s position, that is, just learning the ropes. She does a dead drop and then sees a very sad accident between a horse and a motorcycle. The man asks for help, but Elizabeth walks away. She tells her handler what she did, expecting accolades. Her handler corrects her, and tells her that her comrades come first. These flashback scenes were well shot and edited out of sequence. We open with Elizabeth sitting at a table and only later realize why she’s there and what must be on her mind. The accident scene was short, but still quite emotional. She turns a corner and the horse and motorcycle tableau is revealed. It’s obvious from a glance what has occurred and we see Elizabeth’s brief conflict and then commitment to being a good, little soldier.
Why this memory has surfaced is obvious. Elizabeth didn’t do the right thing back then, but she can save a comrade, now. She kills the assassin before the assassin can kill Nesterenko. Nesterenko looks around for his savior, but she’s disappeared like Batman.
Elizabeth visits Claudia, doesn’t eat her food and tells her all. Claudia calmly tells her she’s ruined everything. She will continue to work back in Moscow and asks what Elizabeth’s plans are. Elizabeth leaves and just like that this mother-daughter relationship, this family Elizabeth built, has been severed.
“If you knew me, you’d know never to lie to me.”
I guess Claudia never really got to know Elizabeth, after all. But also what are your plans, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth has another mother-daughter relationship to deal with. No walks in the rain, or driving companionably, this time. This talk is from across the kitchen island. Paige confronts her about honey-potting the intern. Elizabeth, who just chastised Claudia for lying to her, lies in Paige’s face again and again. But this time – just as Elizabeth with Claudia – Paige has had it. She calls her mother a whore and corners her a la A Few Good Men. Elizabeth “Jack Nicholson” Jennings tells Paige she can’t handle the truth and confesses. She did it. She had reasons. She’s not sorry. Paige has gotten the ugly truth, but now what? She has one episode to decide.
“Things are very topsy-turvy at the office.”
The FBI is plugging away, and they pull in Father Viktor who then names Father Andre and…we never find out who else because the interview is interrupted. But the FBI knows enough now to raise the stakes.
Philip visits with Father Andre and they talk about life, the universe and Jennings, Elizabeth before the priest gets to the point and tells Philip. They’ve pulled in Father Viktor and Father Andre might get named. Realizing what the priest does not, Philip makes his getaway, pursued by not a bear, but the FBI. He gets in some stellar cardio while stripping/changing his disguise. Thirty seconds of teeth clenching screen time before he makes it into a cab and evades capture. Lest we forget, Philip is a professional.
He makes a quick call to Elizabeth and it only takes a few words to have Elizabeth preparing a Bug Out Bag.
Heart in throat.
“Well, you’ll just tell her you’re busy.”
Oh yeah. Rene and that interview. Spy Ex Machina or are they trolling us?
I don’t know how to feel. I went into this episode squinting, sure they would pull a Game of Thrones and super load the penultimate episode, but leave it to this show to subvert television trends. It was a good episode. It kept up the tension, but gave us time for emotional beats. To remember why we care about these characters. The interpersonal dynamics were great as always and the actors performed flawlessly. Anything could happen next episode. Anyone could die. I’m prepared. But what’s going to break my heart the most is seeing the Stan and Philip’s friendship dissolve. I don’t know if I can handle that.
The Americans S6E9 Review Score
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Noah Emmerich, Costa Ronin, Lev Gorn