The Americans: Crossbreed
April 11, 2017 10:41 PM - Season 5, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Mischa takes the last leg of his fruitless journey, while his unknown father Philip learns more about his own father, Gabriel visits a friend and announces his retirement, Elizabeth is reminded of an old friend and takes up Tai Chi and psychiatry, Beeman and Aderholt may have finally made a new friend, Evgheniya has her picture taken, Henry updates Stan on who the mysterious Chris is and tells his parents he has no interest in the family business, Paige continues her induction into the family business, and Oleg makes an arrest and retreats to a rooftop to deal with the CIA's overtures. Soundtrack: Peter Gabriel.

For some good reviews of this episode, check out Vox, Vulture, and The AV Club.
posted by orange swan (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Slate's s5e6 podcast episode explains why 80s cars are hard to get and the background for the KGB's anti-corruption campaign. The Js are missing this time.
posted by kingless at 5:05 AM on April 12


God, that last scene with them taking Paige to meet Gabriel. Heart breaking. Poor Paige.

So, now Micscha has gone full circle and is back home. What did any of that accomplish? Surely the whole tale is going to come back (as a weapon?) and haunt Phillip? Did anyone else notice the deft camera work when Mischa got off the airplane? He walks over to the man waiting for him and then, as other passengers walk past, the two of them seemingly vanish (going off in a different direction behind the foreground object.) Disappeared.

Claudia has no love lost for Phillip, does she?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:48 AM on April 12


You'd think it'd be Elizabeth she had it in for, given the face-stomping incident of 1980.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I initially believed Elizabeth when she said she was having trouble with the lab technician's death too to make Philip feel better, but did you see her eye roll when leaving the psychiatrist's office? She feels nothing! She's just very, very good at mimicking the feelings people expect from her and feeding them back to them, whether it's dead lab technicians or stabbed muggers.

Some questions:

I missed why they're scoping out the shrink's patient files to begin with?

Is that the last we'll see of Oleg? It seemed like he wanted out and even welcomed the CIA meeting a little bit, but visiting the prison changed his mind.

Are they going to kidnap the hippy wheat scientist to render back to Russia a la the stealth scientist? Or just kill him so Russia gets the edge in the "wheat gap"?
posted by bluecore at 7:52 AM on April 12


I missed why they're scoping out the shrink's patient files to begin with?

You didn't miss it, we haven't been told yet.
posted by scalefree at 8:43 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Stan and Aderholdt look like complete n00bs doing their "Hi. Would you like to become an informer?" routine. When the woman expressed concern about being watched and Stan reassured her in saying "We made sure.", I thought, "Stan, you aren't even aware of the two spies living across the street from you."

..........................
Are they going to kidnap the hippy wheat scientist to render back to Russia a la the stealth scientist?

I doubt it. It sounds like their plan is to break into the hothouse and steal some healthy plants. Elizabeth is probably going to work as much information out of him as possible, but I can't see them kidnapping him.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:14 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I really haven't had any issues with their work up until this point, but having them now do corporate espionage has been taking me out of the show. It's weird because I'm loving everything else right now, the acting is amazing, the stakes are being raised and I've enjoyed how they've built up the relationships. I guess it's that it's not just something like ARPANET, which was both in DC and relevant enough to their national security that it made sense.
posted by Carillon at 10:42 AM on April 12


Corporate espionage ? What a strange way to look at it. The USSR would certainly spy on anything that would seem beneficial to them, no matter the source.
posted by Pendragon at 10:52 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I guess I see a difference between investigating a potential huge threat to soviet grain, making it worthwhile to send our intrepid spies to Kansas, and a potential to steal something that they'll be able to buy on the open market when it's finally developed.
posted by Carillon at 11:29 AM on April 12


Yes, but if the Soviet Union had the super-wheat, they could use it not only to feed their own people but also give it to nations they wish to have influence over, as opposed to the capitalists who would insist on making a profit from hunger. There's always a political aspect to what they're doing.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I'm finding the whole USSR-hunger plot line more engaging because it's closer to what I remember growing up about all the messaging we got about living under a Soviet government. The Russian people were hungry! They waited in lines for basic staples!

Frank Langella is too good at playing Gabriel as a kindly grandfather type, because I was actually happy that he could meet Paige before he left.
posted by gladly at 12:14 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


Thorzdad: Yes, but if the Soviet Union had the super-wheat, they could use it not only to feed their own people but also give it to nations they wish to have influence over, as opposed to the capitalists who would insist on making a profit from hunger. There's always a political aspect to what they're doing.

That's why I see Elizabeth maybe killing the scientist at the end to keep the knowledge for Russia, in a "you did pretty much what you feared the Americans were doing" kind of way. Also, Elizabeth feeling nothing about it (and maybe not even telling Philip) would further highlight how ruthless she's able to be while he's losing stomach for the mission. Her eye roll after the psychiatrist meeting was chilling - she was parroting the fears her own daughter expressed about the mugging but felt only annoyance.
posted by bluecore at 12:15 PM on April 12


Yes, but if the Soviet Union had the super-wheat, they could use it not only to feed their own people but also give it to nations they wish to have influence over, as opposed to the capitalists who would insist on making a profit from hunger. There's always a political aspect to what they're doing.


Right, but there's a reason from a world building perspective that they're not farmers/researchers at I dunno Mosanto, sending seeds surreptitiously home instead of human flesh. I'm not saying it's totally breaking the suspension of disbelief for me, but it does occasionally niggle away at me both during the show and after as I think back on the episode.
posted by Carillon at 4:27 PM on April 12


I thought Elizabeth was rolling her eyes at the psychiatrist's suggestion that it was important to talk about traumatic events, since her job requires her to keep everything bottled inside, and she thinks she's doing just fine. But she put the lie to that when she visited Young Hee's (former) house.

The visit to the psychiatrist was all a show, but that was because she was on the clock. In her down time, you see the cracks showing.
posted by cardboard at 5:36 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I thought Elizabeth was rolling her eyes at the psychiatrist's suggestion that it was important to talk about traumatic events, since her job requires her to keep everything bottled inside, and she thinks she's doing just fine. But she put the lie to that when she visited Young Hee's (former) house.

Absolutely -- it's unfair and inaccurate to call Elizabeth unfeeling. She's just not a believer in sharing-n-caring, therapy, self-help, religion, etc. Philip is Mr. sensitive quasi-American, but Elizabeth takes things to heart and bottles them up and stays stoic. She's probably the one who's going to lose it if anyone does, but I still think it'll be the Gorbachev "Mission over! Thanks and bye!" that gets her 'cause I'm not sure she knows how to be anything but what she does.

Big bonus points for "Lay Your Hands on Me"! and for playing a hunk of it rather than a snippet -- this show is generally pretty good about that, not carving up songs too much.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:12 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


FelliniBlank: Absolutely -- it's unfair and inaccurate to call Elizabeth unfeeling. She's just not a believer in sharing-n-caring, therapy, self-help, religion, etc. Philip is Mr. sensitive quasi-American, but Elizabeth takes things to heart and bottles them up and stays stoic.

I think she feels bad about the Young Hee mission because it was her one and only friend, which is why she's so short with the Mary Kay lady. But as for the lab technician? I don't think she feels anything at all. Everything she says about it is for Philip's benefit. And I personally still find it very cold that she parroted her daughter's emotions about the mugging to the shrink. I don't see her cracking to the degree Philip is cracking. It's entirely plausible to me that she kills the wheat scientist when they've gotten what they need without blinking an eye, but I could be wrong.
posted by bluecore at 8:24 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


At least we're not going to have to watch Beeman and Aderholt try to talk to any more Russian officials.

Ben's picked up on the fact that Elizabeth's attitude towards him has changed, and that there's more going on with her than he knows. He's no Martha.

Elizabeth was very, very triggered by the Mary Kay lady visit. It's kind of gratifying to see that, that there was one of her innocent victims who really got to her. She never gave a shit about Lisa.

Oleg got stood up again. The CIA is like the world's worst date, pestering people who don't want to talk to them and then standing them up once they agree to a meet up.

Hmm, what does that psychiatrist have in his files? Perhaps he has patients who work in the government? Elizabeth went to some trouble to enter his office without being seen by security.

I wonder if anyone at the travel agency ever notices that Elizabeth and Philip often set the photocopier going for no apparent reason.

Philip found out that his father was a man who did terrible things as a means to an end... like Philip does. I've read that in Russia people who were released from prison camps often stayed in the area -- my guess is that it was because they couldn't find a way to travel back to their own home region, or had nothing to go back to. This must have had quite an impact on the prison region's culture, because guards and their former prisoners would become neighbours. His father's conduct as a prison guard may have been the reason why those boys used to beat him up and steal from him.

Henry believes his parents think he's a screw-up. It's worse than that, Henry. They don't think about you at all.

"We were all nobodys." That hasn't changed, Gabriel. Your government still sees everyone as mere cogs in its machine, to be discard and destroyed when they interfere with or compromise the workings of the whole in any way.

Young Hee and Don have moved. It's an ominous sign that could indicate divorce, or Don's suicide.

Poor Paige can't even do a little background reading without having to think of what her possession of the book might look like to someone searching the house.

Did the Peter Gabriel song as a soundtrack for scenes set in Russia come across as a little jarring for anyone else? I doubt they would have heard much Peter Gabriel there.

Did anyone else think Oleg was going to jump off the roof? It's a choice that would almost make sense. He doesn't like what he does or the regime he serves, but at the same time he wouldn't belong in any other country. However, there are his parents to be considered, and neither defection nor suicide can be an option for him except under very extreme circumstances.

I was thinking there wasn't much point in Paige meeting Gabriel, as he's leaving so soon, but then then I realized that strategically it was the perfect time for her to get her feet wet by meeting him, because he'll be leaving and it won't matter if she can identify him.

What happened to the Kimmy operation? I don't see how Philip can possibly have time to work Alexei and Deirdre and Kimmy and maintain his own cover/life.
posted by orange swan at 8:44 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I was terribly afraid Oleg was going to jump off the roof.

I tend to watch this as sympathetically to the Jennings as possible, which is both difficult and easy. It's difficult because, you know, gulags etc, but it's also easy in that I quite strongly believe and feel that individual people are individuals and any of us could basically be anyone else if we were in their shoes and the show has done a good job establishing their background and their patriotism. So, in that context, I found the final scene with Gabriel and Paige to be very bittersweet. It was sweet insofar as you could view it sympathetically -- Gabriel cares about the Jennings and there's something really nice about Paige and Gabriel being able to meet. And of course it's bitter because, well, even if we set Soviet villainy completely aside, the bottom line is that this is a deeply fucked up situation for Paige to be in. In that sense, it would be just as bad were the show about two Americans spies in deep cover in Russia with a daughter. There's something fundamentally wrong with doing that to a child.

"Poor Paige can't even do a little background reading without having to think of what her possession of the book might look like to someone searching the house."

And Elizabeth is just clueless about this. She's trying to be all helpful and doesn't realize how basically everything she says just underscores for Paige how from here on out, she will be lying to everyone, every day, forever. Philip sees the tragedy here; but Elizabeth is blind to it. If I had to make some judgment from on high, I'd say, yeah, Elizabeth is a bad mother. But I think that to the degree possible she wants to be a good parent and tries to be a good parent, but long long ago she made some decisions that meant that her job comes first and therefore I think that she can't really bring herself to even see how hard this is for Paige. She's in denial because there's no way that she can reconcile this path and what's actually best for her kids. Philip is grappling with it, but Elizabeth just wants the dilemma to disappear.

"I wonder if anyone at the travel agency ever notices that Elizabeth and Philip often set the photocopier going for no apparent reason."

Ha! They're all like, what's the deal with the goddamn copier? Why do you guys push that button? Why?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:09 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I keep thinking about how being triggered by a Mary Kay lady is the most absurd thing one could possibly be triggered by. Sprightly Mary Kay lady chirps, "Take care of your skin, and your skin will take care of you!" and Elizabeth is all, "AAAAAAAAHHHHHH I CAN'T TAKE THIS GO AWAY BITCH." Will she start to hyperventilate every time she sees one of those pink Cadillacs?

Also, when you're a prison guard at a Soviet prison camp, there is swag available, but it sucks.
posted by orange swan at 10:12 PM on April 12


I had forgotten, but Young-Hee was very connected to Mary Kay, so that's why Elizabeth was so skeeved out by the Mary Kay woman--Elizabeth was reminded of all she had done to the closest thing she had to a real friend.
posted by blueberry at 12:16 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


But I think that to the degree possible she wants to be a good parent and tries to be a good parent, but long long ago she made some decisions that meant that her job comes first and therefore I think that she can't really bring herself to even see how hard this is for Paige.

Of course the job comes first. Appearing to be a couple and a family and producing children as part of that plausible cover story are explicitly job duties. The kids have always inherently been props and assets.

And I still maintain that Elizabeth doing X or Y awful thing "without batting an eye" is not an indication of it having no impact on her and in fact often the opposite. She swallows and sublimates her trauma and regrets and guilt while appearing unaffected, always, and then a little of it oozes out when she shuts down the Mary Kay rep. The visit with the shrink was a semi-hilarious, semi-sad nod to that too because what he said about trauma is absolutely true of her.

And her using the mugger story wasn't just appropriating Paige's experience; it was indirectly expressing awareness of her culpability for putting Paige in that situation and being the actual source of the trauma. Of course she rolls her eyes on the way out ; disdain is one of her chief defenses. She did the same thing with Pastor Tim -- not only because she thinks religion is bullshit (you go girl!) but because she cannot permit herself to do the sort of soul-searching and introspection we see Philip do with EST, etc. It's essential for Elizabeth to be, and to see herself as, the same type of hard-assed uncompromising unsentimental survivor her mother was and raised her to be. It's a testament to the trust in Philip she's developed over the course of the show that she's able to share some of that with him occasionally -- although of course she deflects and changes the subject when he asks her what she said in therapy.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:06 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I had completely forgotten that Elizabeth posed as a Mary Kay rep when she was working Young Hee, so I was confused at first why the scene with the MK lady at the door was even in the show.

I really can't see Elizabeth killing her Kansas guy unless he somehow twigs to what she's up to and blows her cover. The whole point of spycraft is to get what you're after and leave no trace. They killed the lab guy because he walked in on them. He wasn't supposed to be there. She's specifically working the Kansas guy. In any case, it would probably be best to let him live and continue to develop the super-wheat and just steal his work as he goes on with his job.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:22 AM on April 13


She definitely does not want to kill Tai Chi Hippie (I sort of do sometimes solely because he's such a paternalistic Let Me Fix You type, if in a sweet and charming way). She was not happy at all a) to discover he's not evil because that made him hard to despise or b) to be instructed to keep working him afterward because she actually enjoys his company. He and Young Hee are the only two people who have ever consistently made Elizabeth (not just the character she's playing) laugh like a maniac and get in touch with her fun side.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:48 AM on April 13


Thorzdad: I had completely forgotten that Elizabeth posed as a Mary Kay rep when she was working Young Hee

Wasn't it the reverse? Young Hee was involved in Mary Kay. She said it helped her assimilate into American culture, which she struggled with at first-- the thing that Elizabeth bonded with Young Hee over even though she could never tell Young Hee about it.

Thorzdad: I really can't see Elizabeth killing her Kansas guy unless he somehow twigs to what she's up to and blows her cover. The whole point of spycraft is to get what you're after and leave no trace.

Most of the time it is, but sometimes it's denying the other guy a weapon/advantage/etc. All I'm saying is if you want to give Philip more of a reason to feel "Are we the baddies?" it's by giving him whiplash with:
1) the Americans are doing a horrible thing!
2) Oh, wait, they're actually doing a good thing!
3) We should steal the good thing and make sure only we have it.
posted by bluecore at 5:48 AM on April 13


The look on their faces when Gabriel told them that the center would continue to have concerns about Phillip. Phillip may not be able to pull Elizabeth out for moral reasons, he may not be able to get her to turn against her country, but will it happen if they come after Phillip? I think that may be what gets her to leave the espionage game.

And Phillip is thinking Elizabeth said something because she did the last time.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:10 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I wonder if that's Renee's psychiatrist and they're in there on their own time to find out if she's a plant, rather than this being a Centre assignment. Partly because it would make sense, but mostly because it would mean that issue was addressed in this episode. I don't see E &P just dropping that once they've gotten the idea in their heads.

Also, do you guys notice the way Oleg walks? He swaggered through the Rezidentura and started skulking all hunched over as soon as he got back to Moscow. That didn't stop till he stomped through the prison and burned the tape, because he's finally made a decision he's happy with. Or I could just be paying an unreasonable amount of attention to Oleg. This is possible.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:12 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else think Oleg was going to jump off the roof?

YES.

I'm not sure if I've said this before, but I have been worried for a long time that the Centre will tell Elizabeth that Phillip has become a liability and.... I'm not sure what I think her response would be.

I wonder if that's Renee's psychiatrist and they're in there on their own time to find out if she's a plant, rather than this being a Centre assignment.

Elizabeth came back from her meeting with Gabriel with that assignment, which she then told to Phillip.

And her using the mugger story wasn't just appropriating Paige's experience; it was indirectly expressing awareness of her culpability for putting Paige in that situation and being the actual source of the trauma.

This sounds good, and I also thought that she used the story because it's easier to lie if your story is based on the truth. I think.

Do E & P know how much time Henry spends with Stan? This seems like a complication waiting to happen.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:55 AM on April 13


"Wasn't it the reverse? Young Hee was involved in Mary Kay."

The way I remember it is that Mary Kay was how Elizabeth insinuated herself into Young Hee's life. And that makes sense because ... we don't have any other explanation for how they met.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:35 AM on April 13


IF, I was looking for an opposing cite because I also thought Young Hee recruited Elizabeth, but I found this in a Reddit thread via google: In Episode 3, Elizabeth is in disguise at a Mary Kay meeting and Young-hee is talking. Later she "bumps into" Young-hee at the grocery store and gets her number, and then they do some Mary Kay sales together.

we don't have any other explanation for how they met.

And I also assumed the Mary Kay stuff happened after they met but you're right about that,too.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:56 AM on April 13


Since it's not really a derail now, can I just interject how much I fucking miss Young Hee? Also, Martha, but at least we got a glimpse of her to see she's OK, more or less, if depressingly be-scarfed.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:57 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Oh my goodness, Joel Fields, producer/writer of The Americans, liked one of my The Americans tweets.
posted by orange swan at 11:02 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


"Since it's not really a derail now, can I just interject how much I fucking miss Young Hee?"

That character, the writing, and that casting was inspired. She was endearing on her own terms and a pleasure to watch, but the genius is that it's only via someone special like her such that we were able to see into a part of Elizabeth that is almost entirely hidden and quiescent. Through Young Hee, was saw an Elizabeth we could really like.

In my heart of hearts, I wish that Elizabeth and Young Hee would fall in love and run away to an adventure in the tropics. After their children are grown, of course.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:22 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


Oh my goodness, Joel Fields, producer/writer of The Americans, liked one of my The Americans tweets.
posted by orange swan 41 minutes ago [2 favorites +] [!]


orange swan, didn't the actor who plays Oleg also favorite some if your tweets?!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:51 AM on April 13


Yes, he favourited two, and Kelly AuCoin, who plays Pastor Tim, retweeted one that I wrote about Pastor Tim. When I tweeted to Alison Wright to compliment her on her performance, she favourited it and responded to thank me. There was also another actor on the show (who played a character called "Boris the KGB" agent) who favourited four or five of my tweets. I must say these little Twitter encounters with The Americans cast give my enjoyment of the show a certain frisson.
posted by orange swan at 11:57 AM on April 13 [6 favorites]


I too thought that the scene with Oleg on the roof was particularly suspenseful, and the look his mother gave him...it was plausible that between prison and suicide he might choose the latter.

I am currently taken out of the scene anytime E and Tai Chi man are intimate because I can't imagine that he wouldn't be curious about her hair. Wigs are pretty obvious that close up. I always bought E's disguises because her sex was mostly hit and run. Philip on the other hand had to always keep Martha from wondering, but even with the Kama Sutra she was no Tai Chi man, whose own hair makes me believe that he would be constantly running his fingers through hers. I can't quite get over it when they are on screen together.

I love the slow slow burn of this season. The grind of working dead-ends in bathrooms and on park benches for Stan and Aderholt; the fatigue etched on Gabriel, Philip and Elizabeth's faces; the moments between Stan and Henry.

They are certainly not telegraphing how it's all going to end.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:09 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


If you have access to Bravo's Watch What Happens Live you've got to watch tonight's episode with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. They are as adorable together* and Rhys is really, really funny. Like, really funny. I had no idea.

*It's that kind of show, nothing deeper here.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:33 PM on April 13


Seconding OHenryPacey's comment about the slow burn of this season. It's all pretty grim. I mean digging up a corpse to slice off a sample of humanity-destroying disease? Nice.

I thought Gabriel's comments to Elizabeth and Philip about the Center never giving up on them were really chilling. "You've seen too much, done too much". Gabriel is basically screaming get out to them, isn't he? The grandfatherly visit of Paige afterwards was just too much, shouldn't he be trying to protect her?

I don't think Tai Chi Hippie is scheduled for assassination. I mean it'd be a mitzvah to rid the world of a skeezy believer in Oriental Wisdom, but there's no strategic advantage to the Soviet Union in killing him. He's just one scientist in a corporation of thousands, his death won't stop the Super Wheat. He will be a valuable asset for them though, maybe some spying or unwitting sabotage.

Peter Gabriel - Lay your hands on me.
posted by Nelson at 7:42 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


comments to Elizabeth and Philip about the Center never giving up on them were really chilling. "You've seen too much, done too much". Gabriel is basically screaming get out to them, isn't he? The grandfatherly visit of Paige afterwards

Oh, yes, when I heard that line it was followed by a record scratch in my head; it took me a second to realize the double meaning there.

Is it just me or is Tai Chi Hippie really, really buff for the time period? I feel like super nerdy/crunchy types (or really anyone not super into certain sports or body building) weren't that buff in the early 80s.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:29 PM on April 14


Hey, Ivan Mok, who plays Tuan, retweeted one of my tweets about the show.
posted by orange swan at 9:34 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


There's something a bit anachronistic or off about the Topeka guy, but I can't put my finger on it. For one thing, this is not the type of people ag researchers are. Not that there couldn't have been a granola, health food ag scientist in the 80s, but, wow, would he have been an outsider in that culture.

That said, there's something not quite right about this stereotype. I came of age in the 80s, I lived in Santa Fe. I knew a lot of New Age folk and, well, there's something a lot more 90s about this guy than 80s. Really, it's that he's not New Age-y enough, his orientalist counter-culture is a little more respectable than the 80s version, although the 90s version was only marginally better.

I can imagine an idealistic, open-minded, well-traveled agricultural research scientist that Elizabeth would have been charmed by despite herself, but it wouldn't be this guy. It would be someone a bit more like, well, Philip. A bit nebbish, because he's an agricultural research scientist, but more well-rounded because of his being traveled and open-minded. This character they actually wrote seems like a poorly understood stereotype to me.

Which is something I notice every now and then about how the show handles personality types of that era. I very often feel, as someone who turned 19 in 1983, that this show is made by people a generation younger who are operating on a lot of stereotypes. Which, honestly, is the way this works. Think about the portrayals of the 60s and 70s during the 80s and 90s. Stereotype-laden without realizing it, thinking the stereotypes are verisimilitude. Contrast this with Stranger Things which seems to me to be more authentic with regard to the 80s vibe. But then, that show is riffing on the 80s coming-of-age SFF movie, which itself was both accurate and idealized. I think the TV show seems authentic because it's authentic to the contemporary cultural view of itself. The Americans isn't really how the 80s saw itself, it's very much how we see the 80s today.

Anyway, I think that his authentic 80s-ness is of secondary narrative importance to his from-the-pages-of-a-romance-novel significance. Just last night I was talking to my mom about this episode and she (71 years old) finds this guy very attractive. I am a little nonplussed that he's attractive -- he seems to me to be smarmy and trying too hard and, as Elizabeth said, very into himself. It's how I fear that I actually come across when I think I'm being charming and attractive. He represents to me what I would think of as a big fail.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:46 AM on April 15


Ivan I agree. It's as if they mashed a 70's visual aesthetic (grizzly adams/barry gibb) with a 90's new age dude.
Mid-eighties granola types rocked Grateful Dead wrist bands, or Free Nelson Mandela shirts, dreads and those coarse woven hoodie pullovers maybe, but not that type of beard.
I thought the first season, with Gregory in Philly was spot on and it drew me into the series. there have been a few details they've missed, but by and large forgivable as is this one.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:20 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


(I had deja vu when orange swan posted the first twitter link, and let me tell you that's a very specific flavor of deja vu!)

There is the sneaky double meaning in Gabriel's goodbye, after he summarizes Philip's status with the Center: "I'll miss you".

Though I may have tuned out a bit during the beginning of Oleg's roof scene (I distinctly remember the loaded eye contact with his mom), I have to say it never occurred to me that he might jump. This must be because I don't think it's in his character.

I didn't realize, as someone mentioned, that Elizabeth was trying to evade security cameras. I had a bit of trouble with that scene; rewatching it now, I see that the leftmost camera monitor picks her up (~23m). I thought that the scene was mostly setting up the context for the next time she came. I understood that she was taking an imprint of the door lock by burning a blank key then inserting it into the lock. Is this a thing? (The surnames on the Office Directory are "COOK [LOCK?]SMITH FINE". Heh.)

There is a parallel between Gabriel visiting the Lincoln Memorial, where the president sits, and the place where Oleg waits, where there is also a sculpture of a man sitting (~21:30). Does anyone know what that sculpture is?
posted by sylvanshine at 5:36 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


That was a very ominous scene with Gabriel and Philip and Elizabeth. It does not look good for Philip. Does he realize this? Might he defect? Would Elizabeth go with him? Are they setting up a confrontation between them?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:30 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Slow burn is right. This show is just insanely good. By far the best show on TV right now.

I wondered about Oleg jumping too, but I think he would have said good bye to his mother. At least a hug.
posted by about_time at 9:34 PM on April 15


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