The Americans: The Committee on Human Rights
April 19, 2017 9:23 AM - Season 5, Episode 7 - Subscribe

As Paige becomes even more enmeshed in her parents' world, tensions with Matthew Beeman come to a head, Philip and Elizabeth's honeytraps take surprising turns, and Stan faces the consequences of overplaying his hand at the FBI.
posted by LizBoBiz (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Slate's s5e7 podcast episode features the director (Matthew Rhys) as well as a discussion with some of the people responsible for the sets.
posted by kingless at 10:14 AM on April 19


A prediction: Renée is a KGB agent, and Stan will reveal to her some details what he did to stop the CIA from pursuing Oleg, and then the KGB will know Oleg is somewhat compromised. So, in Stan's attempt to protect Oleg, he actually ends up doing the opposite.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:30 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


What a powerful episode. The breakup scene with Paige and Matthew was heartbreaking. Paige is headed for something really bad, I fear.

So, they've apparently kept up the lie to Paige about the super-grain project. She still believes it's a plot to sabotage Russian food. That seems like a bad move to me. They're keeping up the story of them being heroes working against evil, when their grain project is now simply an act of theft, which is not very heroic.

That was tai-chi guy in Memphis, right?

That heart-to-heart between Gabriel and Phillip was really moving. And, if Gabriel's comment about Paige as he's leaving isn't a big, loud warning, I don't know what is.

And, the university in Bloomington is IU, not U of I, Renee. That seems like an odd thing for the writers to mistake. Makes me wonder if it's something meant for Stan to eventually pick-up on?

......................
A prediction: Renée is a KGB agent, and Stan will reveal to her some details what he did to stop the CIA from pursuing Oleg, and then the KGB will know Oleg is somewhat compromised.

That's been my fear, too. Though, it's hard for me to see Stan letting such information out like that. For all his affability, he's still a solid agent.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:15 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


That was tai-chi guy in Memphis, right?

That was Mississippi. And they went because Tai-Chi guy was going AND it was a location on Phil's squeeze's list.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:24 AM on April 19


The crops were in Mississipi, but the night scene where he met the woman in the cab was labeled as being in Memphis. So, I'm guessing the crops are just over the border of Tennessee and Mississippi.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:30 AM on April 19 [2 favorites]


A prediction: Renée is a KGB agent

There were way too many specific details in her story, which made it all seem made up. Of course, this being a fictional television show, it was. That was either excellent writing or terrible writing. We shall see.

The movie they were watching was Breaking Away. It was indeed filmed around Bloomington, Indiana, but the choice of that film with that title seems an awful lot like (on-the-nose) foreshadowing.

You know who I really suspect is KGB, though? Pastor Tim.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:58 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


This episode was great for sending us down a hall of mirrors in terms of who to trust and who's good at reading people:

* Elizabeth didn't read the wheat scientist as well as she thought - what else did she miss?
* Gabriel claimed Philip was losing it with regards to Stan's girlfriend - Is he losing it or is she really KGB? CIA?
* Philip wasn't reading the relationship with his squeeze too well. His heart's not in it.
* Given how clunky Stan and Alderholt were in approaching Russian targets, there's the chance that the one that's cooperating is a double agent - maybe to send him false information or extract information from him? One overly honest anecdote and Oleg's dead.
* Matthew claims he knows Paige. lol, no dude.

Additionally, only Philip seemed to realize the full implications of stealing notes on the Committee on Human Rights. People are going to end up in prison work camps or dead, and it was just another mission for Elizabeth. Kind of telling that Gabriel kept up the lie about Paige being fine in front of Elizabeth but secretly admitted to Philip he needs to keep her away from the life.
posted by bluecore at 12:08 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


That conversation in the field...
Phillip - "It's okay to care."
Elizabeth - "No, it isn't! Not for me!"

That was after seeing tai-chi guy with another woman. It seemed really curt and defensive. I sure wouldn't want to be tai-chi guy now.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


You know who I really suspect is KGB, though? Pastor Tim.

Haven't we batted that idea around ever since Tim came on the scene? It sure seems very possible...I mean, an evangelical preacher handing-out Marx? Explain that whole "opiate of the masses" thing please, Tim.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:08 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Would a KGB spy risk being that red though? I think Tim is just an 80s era-Progressive religious figure.
posted by drezdn at 1:27 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Now that I think about it, that exchange in the field could be equally seen as Elizabeth expressing her exasperation/frustration/anger at Phillip and his growing sensitivity.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:29 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


My prediction: Renée is FBI, checking if Stan is compromised.
posted by Pendragon at 2:09 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


She'd be CIA then.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:16 PM on April 19


Would a KGB spy risk being that red though?

It depends, I suppose, on whether Tim (as KGB) knew Liz and Phil were operatives, and he is tasked with indoctrinating Paige.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:56 PM on April 19


Speaking of Tim, I always thought that scene where Paige gets recruited to the church by some random girl on a bus was suuuuper suspicious; like it looked exactly like what her parents' marks look like when they get approached.
posted by bleep at 6:07 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Gabriel quotes Marx at Paige because he knows she's reading Marx and it will strike a chord with her. Damn, Gabriel is a finesse spy, using every little bit of information to advantage.

Lately on The Americans the whole viewing experience has been about waiting for the other shoe to drop. So many little story lines introduced that seem to be getting an undue amount of screen time for their relative importance so far. What's the deal with the office break in?

Deirdre is sooooo not Martha.

That little "Is he here?" gesture Oleg makes when he arrives home, and his mother's answering head shake. Those two really are quite the bonded pair. Even so, there are a lot of shots of Oleg walking the streets of Moscow alone at night, with his shoulders defensively hunched. The guy's feeling alienated and miserable. I hope Oleg manages to make a path for himself. He is one of the few characters on this show who has always acted with integrity.

If Philip is finding being with Deirdre a very different experience than being with Martha, Stan is trying not to have another Nina experience with Sofia.

Stan's new boss may be pedantic about margin widths and diction, but he's an effective player who knows how to countermand orders from above when he wants to, and he protected Stan even though Stan went against his advice in his Save Oleg campaign.

Oh Matthew, get a clue. And a haircut.

Elizabeth and Philip followed Ben in order to get some samples of his super wheat, only to discover that Ben has also been sowing some wild oats.

I found the potted plant disguise for the wheat kind of hilarious. Luckily for the wheat, it got the equivalent of Elizabeth's "Patti" look rather than Philip's "Clark" look.

I rather liked seeing Stan tell Renee about his day, even if it was in vague terms. One of the issues Stan and Sandra had was that he never told her anything at all about work, so he's trying to not make that mistake with Renee.

Philip to Paige: "In time you'll get used to these things." Not, "It won't always be like this," or "Things will get better," but "You'll get used to it." Bleak.

Oleg is researching his mother's background. And it seems she was at the same camp as Philip's father. Hoo boy.

Gabriel, who has spent his life acting against his better instincts, allows himself one moment of truth as he leaves for Russia: Paige should have been kept out of the spy game.
posted by orange swan at 8:18 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Aderholt to Beeman: "Don't try to comfort me on my deathbed." Dude. You once offered a dying, emotionally exhausted spy a Coke.
posted by orange swan at 8:54 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


"I mean, an evangelical preacher handing-out Marx? Explain that whole 'opiate of the masses' thing please, Tim."

I think this is a MeFi cultural blindstop. There were lots of far left-wing and socialist Christians, including evangelicals, in the 80s. And while they would partly disagree with Marx, they would largely agree. I knew one very well, as a matter of fact. The most ideological just assumed that the horror stories about URRS communist oppression where western capitalist propoganda.

"She'd be CIA then."

No, it would be someone else within the FBI. That's the whole point, going back to Hoover's insistence when the wartime OSS (under the Joint Chiefs) was reorganized into the civilian CIA, this was thought by Hoover to potentially threaten Hoover's FBI preeminance in domestic intelligence. As a result, the CIA is very heavily legally restricted from doing any intelligence work within the US or against US targets and, specifically, counterintelligence is explicitly the purview of the FBI. Thus Stan and his FBI department being the chief spy-hunters within the US. What would happen when FBI counterintelligence suspected its own is that a separate FBI counterintelligence groups would investigate, including deep cover, not unlike what they did with Martha. So, not the CIA.

The CIA and the NSA and perhaps the DIA would all be involved with this insofar as they would be looking for sigint or any foreign humint that might reveal something about a mole or asset within FBI counterinteligence, but they certainly wouldn't be running an agent in the US against an FBI agent. The FBI might.

Then there's also some other foreign intelligence services, including possibly an ally.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:33 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Oh Matthew, get a clue. And a haircut.

er, no, he's about the only actual authentic thing about the 80's
posted by sammyo at 5:11 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Oleg is researching his mother's background. And it seems she was at the same camp as Philip's father. Hoo boy.

I got that wrong. Oleg's mom was at the Kraslag lumbering work camp, which was located in a different region from Tobolsk, where Philip grew up.
posted by orange swan at 6:47 AM on April 20


Thanks for clarifying. I was scared there was going to be some reveal where she had a child by Phil's father. Glad that's not going to happen.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:46 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


this show is so unrealistic who keeps a filing cabinet drawer for just the letters "I–J"
posted by sylvanshine at 10:05 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


There were lots of far left-wing and socialist Christians, including evangelicals, in the 80s. And while they would partly disagree with Marx, they would largely agree. I knew one very well, as a matter of fact. The most ideological just assumed that the horror stories about URRS communist oppression where western capitalist propoganda.

Absolutely. Liberation Theology emerged in Latin America in the 1960s and Pastor Tim would have been very familiar with it in the 1970s-80s as someone who was a lefty/progressive activist protesting against U.S. involvement in supporting right-wing death squads in El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc. This was referenced a few seasons ago when Philip/Elizabeth visited Tim with the Central American "priest" they claimed to be working with and whose life they were supposed to have saved (which would have brought to mind the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the rape and murder of missionaries Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel, and other notorious cases of the period).

Also, the key part of Marx's quote about religion was -- as it pretty much invariably is -- left out in favor of quoting the "opiate of the masses" line in isolation, which actually decontextualizes it from Marx's analysis of the role of religion within capitalist society:
This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:59 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Oh Matthew, get a clue. And a haircut.

er, no, he's about the only actual authentic thing about the 80's


Except the hair, that is 90's hair not 80's hair.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:22 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Except the hair, that is 90's hair not 80's hair.

Not necessarily. There were plenty of long-hair kids in high schools in the 80's. They tended to be the skater outcasts, punks, and art crowd. Definitely more underground at the time but still definitely a thing. Matthew looking as he does kind of signals that he's hipper than we like to think of him. I'd love to think his room is full of mix tapes and underground 'zines.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:33 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


So what's with the psychiatrist's office? She lifted a file about The Committee on Human Rights in Moscow. I assume a dissident group. Avuncular Gabriel waives it off as helping prevent people from harming The Party but you have to assume it's going to be a list of Russians about to be carted off to prison or torture. Not a very heroic mission for Elizabeth.
posted by Nelson at 6:43 AM on April 22


"Not necessarily. There were plenty of long-hair kids in high schools in the 80's. They tended to be the skater outcasts, punks, and art crowd. Definitely more underground at the time but still definitely a thing."

Well, and also guys with the long-haired hard-rock/metal haircuts. And mullets. But more conventional teen guys' haircuts were, I don't know, like in this photo from September of 1982 (the year I graduated HS) of myself and some of my closest friends (I'm in the blue shirt). My friend to my left's haircut become pretty much a mullet and he's kept it that way up until today.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:03 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Philip to Paige: "In time you'll get used to these things." Not, "It won't always be like this," or "Things will get better," but "You'll get used to it." Bleak.

One of those understated, quietly horrifying moments the show does so well. I got chills at the looks on both their faces.
posted by mediareport at 5:52 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Additionally, only Philip seemed to realize the full implications of stealing notes on the Committee on Human Rights. People are going to end up in prison work camps or dead, and it was just another mission for Elizabeth.

I dunno, seems to me Elizabeth knows the implications exactly, and that's a big part of the reason she's always circumspect about answering Phil's questions about the mission.

"What did you talk about with the psychiatrist?"

"Oh, nothing."

"What were the files?"

"Oh, just some names."

The quick, powerful "it's ok to care"/"no, it's not" convo in the field was the crystallization of their differing trajectories, about as honest as Elizabeth will let herself get on her worry over her husband's troubling feelings.
posted by mediareport at 6:02 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


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