The Americans 1.6: Beat It Out Of Them

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Things take an interesting turn in this episode of The Americans. To bluntly refresh your memory, last episode ended with the discovery of a mole within the Soviet embassy and its network of mischief. Naturally, the action begins right away. Within¬† the first 10 minutes, both Philip and Elizabeth are kidnapped by strange men who we are supposed to assume are with the CIA. How very Homeland of the show (I’ll save that discussion for a later entry). The small detail that we don’t pay much attention to occurs within the first 2 minutes, Elizabeth just dropped off her two kids at the mall right before she was forcibly removed from her home. Oh no! What will the somewhat resourceful preteens do in an age without cell phones? Hitchhiking of course! It seems like the smartest, safest, most reliable form of transportation for children in an emergency…said no one ever.

Meanwhile, their parents are being interrogated and physically brutalized in a dark, deserted warehouse across town. The interrogators have recorded materials as well as copies of their multiple passports and photos of their identities. Yet despite the torture tactics, the couple stays silent.

Paige and Henry Jennings manage to find a ride with a young 20-something named Nick. He comes off as a harmless character but yet I found myself screaming, “don’t get in the car” as they entered it. The small talk is horrific, but it all became significantly more creepy when Nick insisted that he had to stop by the pond (with a 6-pack in tow) so he could feed the ducks before work.

“You’re lucky you ran into me, and not some lunatic.”, Nick says with a menacing smile. You can tell that Paige finally regrets her game-time hitchhiking decision as she tries to leave. Nick has this crazy look in his eyes as he talks about decisions he regretted making and belief in god and shows the gun on his belt. As I start to fear for Paige’s life/innocents, something amazing and unpredictable happens. Henry takes one of the beer bottles and smashes it over their driver’s head and the two siblings flee from the park. The Jennings children, especially Henry, always struck me as weak, lacking a backbone, and never living up to their parents’ potential. Turns out they have a little more fight in them than I thought. Elizabeth and Phillip would be proud if they weren’t being tortured at the time.

Speaking of which, the interrogators bring Elizabeth to Phillip and threaten to kill her in front of him if he doesn’t talk. Naturally he doesn’t say a word, the couple was trained not to reveal secrets in situations like this. And then big Auntie Claudia comes in and says “Enough.” She reveals that their captures were Russians after all and they had to be sure that Phillip and Elizabeth were not the moles since she didn’t know them well enough to trust them. And then Elizabeth tries to drown Claudia and beat her to death. I won’t lie, I was cheering Elizabeth on. I never cared for Claudia’s “big brother is always watching” demeanor. As Elizabeth would say, the bitch had it coming.

As they’re leaving the abandoned warehouse, it’s revealed that Elizabeth told Claudia previously that Phillip considered defecting. Trust between the two has been broken once again and feelings have been bruised. I really like that this show demonstrates how hard it is to keep a marriage alive. It’s not only about love and passion but it’s also about trust, loyalty, and respect. This show exposes America to what really happens when these rules are broken and a union breaks down before us. The couple experiences issues and arguments n every episode that eventually are fixed but I don’t think this one will be repaired by the beginning of the next episode.

It’s been a long day for the Jennings. After the parents crash the Oldsmobile to justify their bruises and disappearance to their children, the family settles down as Phillip heads out to visit his main information source/mistress. He takes a meaningful piece of Jewelry from Elizabeth with him. In the meantime, Elizabeth pays a visit to her old friend Gregory to ensure her family’s safety for the future.

Only towards the end of this episode does the B plot turn into an important subplot. As usual, Nina is sent by agent Beeman to spy on Soviet activity at the embassy and take pictures of classified documents. Nina is scared and Beeman assures her that she’ll be okay, nothing out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary was that the FBI planted diamonds in the head of the Soviet Embassy’s bag of dried tea. After a number of encrypted calls placed by Beeman reach the cultural desk at the embassy, The diamonds are found as well as a recording device in a clock (hidden by Nina) and the head of the embassy is arrested by his own people and sent back to Moscow.

This was an extremely interesting and emotionally jarring episode of The Americans. Trust is broken, kids were exposed to the world’s evils, and central characters threatened. It certainly ups the ante from the last two episodes, which weren’t up to par. It can only get better from here as we reach the half way point of the season.

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