The Americans: Echo
May 21, 2014 11:27 PM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

The Jennings go on a surprise vacation. Agent Beeman arranges a date.
posted by eyeballkid (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Holy moly. I love this show. Saw much of the Jared stuff coming, but NOT the Paige part, although in retrospect, I should have. Stan's decision to sell Nina down the river didn't surprise me. In the final analysis, he's just too Boyscout Patriot to go that far.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:34 PM on May 21, 2014


I'm still in a kind of Holy Shit that was an amazing hour of TV glow.

But I have two things.

First, the wife and I were just talking about how this show needs some "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring and there it was

Second, Paige is already being indoctrinated, right?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:36 PM on May 21, 2014


Second, Paige is already being indoctrinated, right?

I will bet the ranch you're correct, and I think we all know by whom. And the Golden Earring was indeed an excellent choice.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:46 PM on May 21, 2014




Second, Paige is already being indoctrinated, right?

Yeah, the revelation about the native-born illegals program really puts everything happening in Paige's story in focus. It's hard to tell if Philip and Elizabeth's concern is driven by their love for Paige, or out of fear that Paige will turn on them just like Jared did to his family.

The four of them sitting down to an American family dinner was a great way to end the season.

I thought Frank nailing up a life-size portrait of Reagan was a bit ominous. Dunno why.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:00 AM on May 22, 2014


I didn't see the Jared reveal coming. I mean, I guessed part of it, but never imagined he could have done what he did.

I was so relieved nothing bad happened to the Jennings this episode, and glad that Larrick is now dead. Man, that scene with Philip and Elizabeth fighting him while handcuffed! One does not mess with the Jennings.

Poor Nina. I'm in hopes she'll be coming back from the USSR, although I am probably in denial.

Stan's wife and mistress are both gone, so it'll be interesting to see what turn his mindset and motivations take now.

Martha has a gun and is headed off to the firing range. If you're not shaking in your Clark wig yet, Philip, you should be.
posted by orange swan at 6:28 AM on May 22, 2014


I had a hard time understanding a lot of what Jared said to Phil and Liz...Did he actually explain why he killed his parents?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:37 AM on May 22, 2014


Emmett and Leanne were opposed to Jared being recruited by the Centre, so Kate was sent to do it behind their backs by seducing him. When the parents found out (at the hotel) about his plans for a glorious espionage future with his one true love [cough], they went nuts, Emmett and Jared got into a fight, and I would assume Emmett said he'd stop the whole thing and probably threatened to go after Kate. And Jared knew where Dad kept his gun.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:49 AM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gotcha. Makes sense. These old ears have a hard time understanding last dying words.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:51 AM on May 22, 2014


It was an uncharacteristically goofy and trite scene for this show: killer in the process of hemorrhaging to death spends his last few minutes and breaths telling how he did the crime. Thanks for the exposition, RIP!
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:56 AM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


And really, having your employers shamelessly honeytrap your own kid? Talk about unfair labor practices. Attention, creepy pastor: don't make Elizabeth angry. You won't like her when she's angry.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:59 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yaaaay The Americans!

Whoever called this season a "slow burn" the other week was so spot on. I'm happy with the way things ended.

Someone here alluded to the "ick" part but that was my only clue about Jared. Everything else was a surprise. I liked Jared's death scene as a way to deliver all that information in dribs and drabs

Ever since the lie-detector test I've been asking myself, How do we really know that Nina passed? so I expected some kind of double-cross, but holy cow, I would totally watch Stan Beeman: Deep Cover. Well, well, done, writers.

First, the wife and I were just talking about how this show needs some "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring and there it was

This song always brings me back to a specific place, an old friends' house, in the pre-"Billy Jean" era of MTV when this video was in heavy, heavy, rotation. If you watched long enough you could see "Come on, Eileen" every once in a great while.

In an earlier comment I mentioned missing the music this season; I think it closed on a high note.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:27 AM on May 22, 2014


I've got to imagine that Philip taking the time to personally tell Arkady to stay away from their kids would make an impression. They may have at least bought themselves some time to figure out what to do with Paige.

And I hope Nina comes back somehow, too, though I'm not sure how that would happen. Did anyone else get the feeling that Arkady sold her up the river, by giving Stan that "Don't tell her you love her so much," advice? Just seemed to me like if Stan wasn't already suspicious that Nina was informing on him, he sure would be after that conversation. And Arkady's too smart to tip his hand like that by accident, so I wonder what was his long-term game here is.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:34 AM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh man. Phillip's face there at the end. You could just see that she has shattered him. Ever since the end of the first season, when Elizabeth decided that she did love him and want to be married to him, they've been on this path where they are totally on the same page and their relationship is great and their bond is getting deeper. And you can see how much Phillip cares for Elizabeth and loves her on a very deep level.

And then she goes and says they should consider bringing Paige in, which is totally an Elizabeth thing to do, and everything is out the window.

Interesting too that the two season finales have ended with some kind of major bombshell in Phillip and Elizabeth's relationship.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:55 AM on May 22, 2014


I don't know what to make of Martha/Clark, but am I right that Martha was seen taking folders off the mailbot and putting them in her purse in Stan's dream sequence? Why would Stan dream about that?
posted by Room 641-A at 8:32 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Didn't Stan just punch his ticket to jail by not turning over the video? Won't Arkady just out him to the feds?
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2014


And I think Stan's facial twitch should get an Emmy nod.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:03 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or at least a parody Twitter account.
posted by Etrigan at 9:07 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Poor Sad Stan.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:20 AM on May 22, 2014


And then she goes and says they should consider bringing Paige in, which is totally an Elizabeth thing to do, and everything is out the window.

It certainly sets up an interesting new dimension to the conflict in P&E's values and parenting styles. They're both pretty shattered about the recent events, but he can't be surprised that she'd take this position on the problem since she has been worried all along about what American culture is doing to the kids.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:59 AM on May 22, 2014


It was an uncharacteristically goofy and trite scene for this show: killer in the process of hemorrhaging to death spends his last few minutes and breaths telling how he did the crime.

On the other hand, it really showed just how deeply indoctrinated the kids become, to where, even as he's dieing, it was so important to him that they tell Moscow he protected them. That he accomplished his mission! Kid was a true, wide-eyed patriot, right to the end.

I have to think that would add to Phil and Liz's trepidation once they know the same is being planned for Paige.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:03 AM on May 22, 2014


On the other hand, it really showed just how deeply indoctrinated the kids become, to where, even as he's dieing, it was so important to him that they tell Moscow he protected them.

That part was fine; I just wish it had been a bit shorter, more semi-conscious, and less articulate and narrative-y, although maybe they were purposely doing an 80s-flavored Murder, She Wrote homage or something.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2014


> it really showed just how deeply indoctrinated the kids become, to where, even as he's dieing, it was so important to him that they tell Moscow he protected them.

Kate's seduction and repeated sexual rendezvous combined with indoctrination had wired up his teenage brain so that sex, love, and patriotism were all one basic urge. But it was mostly his teenage lust for Kate, I think. I guess they did him a solid by not telling him she was dead.

> I thought Frank nailing up a life-size portrait of Reagan was a bit ominous.

Maybe foreshadowing for next season's spy prize: SDI. Also, it was creepy because Gaad kind of seemed like a borg Reagan when he turned his head around to face Beaman. But I think that little scene primarily served to show that Stan knew his patriotic conscience was staring right at him.

> Second, Paige is already being indoctrinated, right? I will bet the ranch you're correct, and I think we all know by whom.

The youth pastor? Tracing the origins of her going to church with friends that seems kind of far fetched...but then as I was thinking that I remembered that it's the same show where a counter-espionage FBI agent unwittingly moves into the house across the street from sleeper KGB agents so, um.

Anyway, damn fine episode. It's rare that a season of TV can end on such a good note, both concluding dramatic arcs and segueing into new directions seamlessly, and being explosively entertaining.
posted by planetesimal at 10:44 AM on May 22, 2014


Also, that scene with Gaad hanging Reagan's portrait was odd because it was far larger than the standard portrait of POTUS that you see in government/military offices. Maybe Gaad thought it was art.
posted by planetesimal at 10:50 AM on May 22, 2014


In the interview with the showrunners linked above, they say that nothing nefarious was going on with the church stuff:

"It’s to the point where we, a few times, had to remind certain people on the show that this was a nice church. That there was nothing nefarious. They kept waiting, I think, for this minister to pull his mask off."
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:54 AM on May 22, 2014


The youth pastor? Tracing the origins of her going to church with friends that seems kind of far fetched...

Wasn't it actually some girl (whom Paige didn't know) on the bus (train? can't remember), back when Paige ran away, who befriended Paige, and invited her to come to the church? My guess they have been watching Paige closely and took that opportunity to hook her.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:16 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I feel like using a religious group is unnecessarily byzantine for a KGB operation -- if she becomes a true believer in God, that would make it harder for her to become a good atheist Communist. It would be more efficient to snare her into a group that would be easier to pivot into working for the Motherland.
posted by Etrigan at 12:23 PM on May 22, 2014


And just wiseacring a bit, much of the show's themes are about how close the dueling sides really are to each other. Paige admired the sacrifice for the greater good that Christianity meant to her, just like the so-called godless Communitsts. Perhaps the youth pastor isn't in on the game but the lesson will still be the same to her if she can be convinced that the US government is in need of resistance against. And since they've already established that she hates nukes, she'll be up for spying to keep the US from getting the edge and upsetting the balance of M.A.D.
posted by planetesimal at 12:28 PM on May 22, 2014


Sorry, one more: in case anyone's is making predictions for s03, I'll predict that Philip is forced to kill Martha early on in the season, and it will be a particularly ruthless scene. That dream of Beaman's could only mean he's going to start sniffing around her.
posted by planetesimal at 12:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't be sorry planetesimal, I am DYING to discuss this show but no one I know IRL watches it. :(

When Clark has to kill Martha, it is going to be absolutely brutal. I think it will hit Phillip so much harder than all the other kills he's done. The next season is going to be filled with all kinds of things that tear Phillip apart.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


That was such a satisfyingly good hour of television. Claudia! Larrick as a real threat! Stan's dream where Martha is totally stealing files in the background! (Room 641-A, I assume it was there because Stan has picked up on it in the back of his head but has been too distracted by his life to think about it and put the pieces together). Paige's teenage girl teenage girliness! The center's fingers in every pot! I loved the way the different tendrils were bundled but not spliced together.

I'm going to miss Nina, but her balancing act could not last much longer. Too many pressures from too many directions. I think there are ways she could come back. Oleg's father could pull strings for him. It could be part of an elaborate feint. She could be sent back as bait again. There was some sort of ... not quite regret, not quite concern on Arkady's face when he sent Nina off. Maybe he'll get blamed more for rushing the Stan recruitment.

I am fascinated by the Jared/Kate thing; Kate's whole MO as a recruiter seems to have revolved around buttering her controls up for as long as it would work. The strategy of treating the 2nd generation illegals as independent cogs and tools seems very Soviet to me. And I'm guessing the Russians don't spend much time surveilling the kids before assuming they are ready to be indoctrinated or they'd have known about Paige's dalliance with church.

S03 predictions: I fully expect Stan to consciously pick up on Martha's weirdness with the files next season. I think we'll also see cracks in the Clark/Martha marriage, doubts, and I wouldn't put it past Martha to have an accidental pregnancy. (Meanwhile, Phillip and Elizabeth will be arguing over Paige) I expect Stan to redouble his efforts at work to block everything out/make up for giving the Russians info already. And I assume the season will start with them investigating the phonebooth death.
posted by julen at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2014


Claudia!

Claudia!
posted by Room 641-A at 2:05 PM on May 22, 2014


Wasn't it actually some girl (whom Paige didn't know) on the bus (train? can't remember), back when Paige ran away, who befriended Paige, and invited her to come to the church? My guess they have been watching Paige closely and took that opportunity to hook her.

This seemed very convenient to me.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Such a great show. Loved the finale.
posted by SarahElizaP at 3:16 PM on May 22, 2014


Wouldn't it be just delicious, though, if the KGB were using a church group as an entree into making Paige into a godless commie pinko?! When in Rome, use the indoctrination avenue the Romans do.

One thing that makes me think it's possible is that look what happened with Jared's recruitment. The Centre went through his parents, who freaked out, and then moved on to using Kate. If they learned anything from that pilot project, it's don't involve the parents, at least not until the kid is an active, compromised agent. The only reason P&E were clued in about the plans for Paige is because the jig was sort of up after Jared's death. They would have been concerned about Paige immediately anyhow if Claudia hadn't told them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought Claudia said that they didn't go through the parents first with Jared, so when the parents found out and freaked out, Jared was already so involved in the lure of Kate/the good fight that he took offense (and got murderous) that they reacted so negatively (especially since it looks like Kate was isolating him while indoctrinating him and setting him up to resent his parents). The end result was that the Center lost two illegals, attracted a lot of attention, and could have lost Jared, too. It wasn't a formula that worked, so they changed the process for candidate #2, Paige.

So now, they are going through the parents first (or early) so the parents can set the stage to make recruiting easier and to prevent bloodbaths like the Jared situation, hence the center's demand that they get Paige ready.
posted by julen at 4:41 PM on May 22, 2014


I thought Claudia said that they didn't go through the parents first with Jared.

I thought she said they did but E&L refused. They thought that was the end of it, so imagine their reaction to finding out Kate was working Jared. I probably misheard!
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:14 PM on May 22, 2014


Rolling Stone blog says, "What the Centre didn't expect was for Emmett and Leanne to totally refuse their orders, necessitating a covert operation (i.e. Kate going behind the Connors' backs) that concluded with Jared committing patricide, matricide and sororicide."
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:20 PM on May 22, 2014


No, I probably misheard the chronology! Mishearing all around?

Regardless, the Center seems to have learned a little from the episode, but are still committed to getting what they want (2nd generation illegals harder to disprove).

Oh, I was going to mention how much I enjoyed John Carroll Lynch's arc as Emmit's friend/agent/eventual sacrifical goat. It was such an interesting characterization about why someone spies.
posted by julen at 5:25 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


When Clark has to kill Martha, it is going to be absolutely brutal.

I think it's going to be Elizabeth killing her after Philip refuses either to kill her at all or at least wants to kill her more gently than he's ordered to.
posted by Etrigan at 5:40 PM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I love the episode title, btw. Because the bat software is just a McGuffin and the most trivial of all the echoes.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:10 PM on May 22, 2014


My favorite part about the computer program was hearing the Russians say the name. "Russian Russian Russian EY-HO?" I'm provincial and easily amused.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:36 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I also imagine Elizabeth will kill Martha, not Clark. Or Martha will kill herself with that gun. And although I don't think the church is an elaborate KGB front, I do think there's something creepy about it. I am not sure what will happen with Paige; I don't think that her suspicions that something is weird about her parents could realistically turn into her figuring out the truth.

That episode was great, though I wish we had had a bit less of the dying exposition from Jared and let Claudia explain it. I also hope Nina comes back, or we see her somehow. I think Arkady was angry at Nina for not running away when she had a chance.

Would people really have kept the only copy of an important program on a floppy disk?
posted by jeather at 8:02 PM on May 22, 2014


They said in the episode that there were three copies of the program, one at a location the Random Dude who had it didn't even know about for safety.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:21 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sure, but all those copies are on floppy disks? Was that really the best in storage technology at the time?
posted by jeather at 8:47 AM on May 23, 2014


Early 1980s? Far as I remember, yeah, floppies were the hotness, such as it was.
posted by Etrigan at 8:57 AM on May 23, 2014


Hey, Beaman asked if it was stored in the cloud!
posted by planetesimal at 9:26 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know what to make of Martha/Clark, but am I right that Martha was seen taking folders off the mailbot and putting them in her purse in Stan's dream sequence? Why would Stan dream about that?

My prediction is that Martha will get caught stealing files and will be arrested. She'll break and tell them that she was stealing them for her husband Clark. It will be discovered that there is no Clark, and they'll believe she's lying.

I think she'll get hanged (metaphorically) without Elizabeth/Phillip ever having to threaten her.

Just a guess, obviously.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:50 AM on May 23, 2014


(And also, that they won't be able to get to her easily because she'll be in a super secret detention center for suspected spies or something.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:58 AM on May 23, 2014


In the 1980s, the most reliable medium for storing software was paper. The military would have had source code listings and documentation on printed paper somewhere in their top secret files.
posted by chrchr at 1:01 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yup, I was in college in the early 80s, and the way you could tell when the computer science majors had finished their final projects was the blizzard of punchcards and printouts fluttering around the grass outside dorms.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:03 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the techier aspects of this ep., what was the device Agent Stan Beaman had taped to his chest and how did he use it to steal Echo?
posted by chrchr at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2014


I think it was a camera in his tie clip. In the episode, we saw him scrolling through the code itself while leaning toward the screen. Later, we saw his tie clip was attached via wire to that stuff taped to his chest
posted by julen at 12:44 PM on May 24, 2014


It will be discovered that there is no Clark, and they'll believe she's lying.

She'll have a marriage certificate as evidence that there was a Clark, so they'll believe her, but good luck to them in finding Clark.
posted by orange swan at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2014


I think it was a camera in his tie clip.

Yeah, that's definitely what it was. (I assume his having that and knowing how to set it up all goes back to his former undercover work.) That's part of what made the whole thing so heartbreaking, at least from a pro-Nina perspective - it's not that Stan just couldn't get the program - he had already gotten it. He just couldn't go through with handing it over to the Russians. Now he's got a copy of a super-classified program sitting at home, I guess - which come to think of it, could cause a lot more problems for him. It would be just Stan's luck to give nothing to the Russians, lose Nina, and then get nailed for spying by the Americans anyways.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:14 PM on May 24, 2014


Oh was this the season finale? Wtf.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:51 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I caught up on this late, but about Gaad's Reagan portrait, it was a definite echo of a later shot where Nina is seen right next to a portrait of Lenin as she leaves the embassy.
posted by whir at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also late to the thread, because of British airdates.

I will be a little disappointed if it's Elizabeth who kills Martha. I'm expecting Phillip to have to kill her after she "accidentally" gets pregnant with his kid and for it to be doubly brutal by occurring during a plotline about his existing kids which reminds him that Paige and Henry were also only conceived as part of a cover story.

eyeballkid: the wife and I were just talking about how this show needs some "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring and there it was

We're going to talk about the music and not mention that when Nina was being marched out of the embassy the background music was a slow version of the bridge from Korobeiniki?

I'm trying to be moved, dammit! Stop playing the theme from Tetris!
posted by the latin mouse at 1:55 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hey, it's all about moving pieces into place.
posted by Etrigan at 2:16 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


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