The Americans: Dead Hand
March 28, 2018 7:42 PM - Season 6, Episode 1 - Subscribe

A major arms-control summit looms in autumn of 1987; Elizabeth is pushed to her limits as never before; at the newly expanded travel agency, Philip encounters an unexpected visitor with a disquieting request.

"Are you sleeping?"
"Sure"
posted by bleep (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some random things I noticed:
In the opening credits, there's a shot of a family with Elizabeth and Philip's younger photos pasted over it and in previous seasons it had younger photos of the kids, but now those faces are blurred out. Meaningful???

Philip giving advice to the travel agents that came directly out of what he learned about what we saw him do as a spy - give out a little something to get the right information back that you can use. He also demonstrated how as spies they have to remember all these details that he remembered about his coworkers. "It only takes one conversation to make a breakthrough".

Great observation from this article:
But unlike other series, in which the transgressions of middle-aged men like Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) gave audiences a naughty thrill, the Jenningses’ exploits were freighted with sadness and an escalating toll of moral responsibility. Instead of journeying further into their alter egos, Philip and Elizabeth were carried into deeper communion with their authentic selves, no matter how hard or how long they may have tried to suppress them.

Right after Elizabeth says to the lady she's caring for "Art's not my thing" and the lady says "That's like saying duty's not your thing, or life's not your thing" Elizabeth gives this split second look of "Ex-excuse me bitch?" then instantly snaps back into character.

The humane aspect of this show is so strong. Especially when Liz was reassuring Paige that she did good, then goes to clean up her mess. A different, not as good mom would have handled that situation differently! Many moms have purposefully made their daughters feel like shit over much less.
posted by bleep at 8:20 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


that feeling when one of your favorite shows is back on and you didn't even know it was coming
posted by sylvanshine at 9:08 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Right after Elizabeth says to the lady she's caring for "Art's not my thing" and the lady says "That's like saying duty's not your thing, or life's not your thing" Elizabeth gives this split second look of "Ex-excuse me bitch?" then instantly snaps back into character.

I think she said beauty not duty, and I read her look as more the perplexed/annoyed look she used to give Philip when he wanted to talk about his feelings after EST-- it's just a pointless endeavor to her. She just doesn't have access to those feelings like other people. But then in a later scene, she's taken with another painting in the room-- it looked to me like the view through glass of someone showering, I think? Which is interesting because one of the shots in the starting montage was of her showering in a hotel after hooking up with a target, so maybe it triggered something in her?
posted by bluecore at 10:43 PM on March 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


So is this season setting up for spy vs. spy type stuff? Also wouldn't Oleg's return trigger immigration alarms or something? You'd think that would mean the FBI would be all over him.

I did enjoy how it came across the cigarettes were helping manage Elizabeth stress and helping her stay awake and alert. Helped really play up how on edge and tired she really is.
posted by Carillon at 11:09 PM on March 28, 2018


Slate's matching podcast episode is out.
In Episode 1, “Dead Hand,” showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, who wrote this episode, talk about the show’s time jump, how three years of working alone has affected Elizabeth, and why Sting’s “Russians” could never be on The Americans’ soundtrack. Then Thomas talks with costume designer Katie Irish about Paige’s haircut, Henry’s school uniform, Philip’s new suits, and Elizabeth’s shoulder pads. And finally, director Chris Long explains why the streets of Mexico City might have seemed a little empty.
posted by kingless at 5:06 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


More Peter Gabriel music (We Do What We're Told), which they have used to good effect before (Games Without Frontiers, Here Comes the Flood, Lay Your Hands). I thought it captured that feeling of blood rushing to your head and drowning out your surroundings as someone tells you life-altering news quite well.

I felt like all the setup was much faster paced than we usually see on this show, but we are running out of show so that's to be expected. Plus they had to cram in three years of elapsed time.

That security guard was dead no matter what, because if Paige had met up for their "date" to get her fake ID back she would have had to kill him when he inevitably tried to rape her.

I'm sure I missed a lot of details (so much going on in the initial surveillance scene) so I'll definitely be re-watching soon. After re-watching a lot of last season on Amazon Prime last week, the time jump was pretty jarring (as were all the commercials, since I haven't watched in real time in a while and the FX app has considerably less interruption).

I still think it is a bit unrealistic that Philip is totally un-involved, especially since Paige is going on missions, but I'll allow that in the elapsed three years there were plenty of arguments and fights and this is just where they have ended up. And no word on Kimmy, who would be just over 20 now so possibly at college but possibly still living at home. Even if that job ended, I can see Elizabeth feeling compelled to stay on since every mission must seem more critical than the last at this point in history.

Of course Stan would be a "Let me just play Devi's Advocate" guy. And I never imagined that my 80's nostalgia would extend to comparing someone in the federal government to Nazis being seen as border-crossing hyperbole.
posted by mikepop at 6:06 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


So is this season setting up for spy vs. spy type stuff? Also wouldn't Oleg's return trigger immigration alarms or something? You'd think that would mean the FBI would be all over him.

I believe Oleg told Phillip (when they met on the park bench) that he had spent all day losing his FBI tails (or words to that effect.) So, yes, the alarms went off.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:03 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm, frankly, shocked that the Center has allowed Phillip to drop-out of the business, and stay out for so long. That kind of makes him a liability to the mission. I suppose doing anything untoward to him (conveniently killed in a car wreck, for instance) would severely hamstring Elizabeth in fulfilling her duties.

I think we've all seen enough teasers, and read between the lines, to know that this season will eventually circle-around to the split between Phillip and Elizabeth, mirrored by the backdrop of the internal strife in the Gorbachev-era Soviet Union.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:12 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thinking about Oleg, we don't know exactly what happened but at some point his food corruption investigation ended (probably without any major convictions or results) and he gave up trying to make a difference and took the relatively easy path of working for Dad and just going with the flow of the system. But he always was a true believer in changing things for the better so it's not surprising then that Arkady could convince him to risk everything by setting up a situation where he can make more of a difference than ever before.
posted by mikepop at 7:34 AM on March 29, 2018


Apologies if it's appeared before, but ... The Beastie Americans: Sabotage

With a special appearance by Mailbot. As himself, of course.

(Ive found this to work surprisingly well for getting sceptics interested :) )
posted by myotahapea at 8:41 AM on March 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I dunno I think because the travel agency is actually making money and all that money is going back to the Centre they prolly feel like having someone fully dedicated to that can only be a good thing for them and for him and Elizabeth’s cover story. And goodness knows whatever other shenanigans they’re able to run through the travel agency.
posted by bleep at 10:49 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I suppose doing anything untoward to him (conveniently killed in a car wreck, for instance) would severely hamstring Elizabeth in fulfilling her duties.

Harming Philip would risk alienating both Elizabeth and Paige. Paige's status as an actual natural-born American citizen makes her an incredibly valuable asset to the Center. It's in their best interest to do whatever it takes to keep Paige on board.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


The kids' photos aren't blurred in the opening credits. They're photos of Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati as they were when the show first aired.

Elizabeth is working undercover as a home support worker. And posing for her patient, who is an artist. And sneaking in a nap. The woman knows how to multi-task.

Philip has finally had time to do what really matters to him: renovate and redecorate the travel agency. He's also using his EST and his spy training to motivate his staff.

Elizabeth's honey pot mark wore his black socks while he was getting it on with her. No wonder she looks unimpressed.

Isn't it amazing how two siblings who've grown up in exactly the same environment can wind up on two completely different paths? Henry is a hockey star with admiring puck bunnies, while Paige is watching Soviet-made movies with her mother and a grandmotherly Russian agent and critiquing them from a feminist perspective.

I'm wondering what Paige's major is.

Oleg has weathered the storm regarding his slipping info to Stan Beeman, and grown a beard. Yay on the first count, nyet on the second. My guess is that, although the Soviets knew what he'd done, because of who his father is, they needed hard evidence of his guilt, and they couldn't get it.

Oleg's working for the Ministry of Transportation, like his father. Do you suppose he caved on the dating front too, and let his father fix him up with his wife?

I'm glad to see that Arkady's looking well, and he's deputy director of Directorate S, which must be a good position as Oleg congratulates him on his promotion, so he's also weathered his career setback. And he's as shrewd and effective an administrator as ever.

We saw Elizabeth wearing a locket and a man's hand pushing a jewelry box across a table in the previews. My best guesses were that the locket was Elizabeth's mother's and that Stan was proposing to Renee. How could I have thought this show would be going in such a banal direction on jewelry? Of course the necklace and the box meant a cyanide capsule locket!

Aderholt does not want the word "asshole" spoken in the presence of his infant son.

And of course Stan plays Devil's Advocate and Paige Godwins the discussion.

I'm wondering who makes the food Elizabeth brings in Tupperware containers to her patient's husband. Maybe Philip?

Elizabeth has about as much use for art as she does for EST.

There was still something a little sad about Philip's kicking up his heels in line dancing. Yes, he's smiling and clapping and dancing, but he still seems so detached from those around him. The other dancers are interacting with each other while he's alone.

The look on Philip's face when he sees Oleg's chalk mark is the one you get when you're just trying to enjoy running your own travel agency and driving a car with a sunroof and line dancing and you get sucked back into KGB crap. So relatable.

Why do I get the feeling that the navy security guard only inquired into Paige's presence because she was an attractive young woman. And getting her number and keeping her student card to force her to go on a date with him? SUPER DICK MOVE AND POTENTIALLY RAPEY GUY. At first it seemed to me that his killing was unnecessary, because the I.D. and phone number were fake, but then of course he was going to try to track Paige down to get her to go out with him, realize the I.D. was fake and that something was up, and report the incident, and the photo of Paige was real.

Oleg knows how to get people to do what he wants them to, whether it's a retired agent, someone under arrest, or a beautiful woman. Is that his KGB training or is it just him?

I had though Costa Ronin's Russian accent was assumed for the show. He was Russian born but moved to Australia as a teenager. However, it turns out Oleg's Russian accent is how he sounds in real life -- he doesn't have an Australian accent at all.
posted by orange swan at 8:51 PM on March 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I had forgotten how much this show wrecks me. It's going to be a long ten weeks.
posted by vverse23 at 10:12 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot to mention that while I think something must be up with Renee, I can't come up with a theory that seems to fit.

And I just checked out the episode where Oleg's father arranges for that Russian-style "The Bachelor"-themed dinner party. Oleg's wife WAS one of the three girls, heh.
posted by orange swan at 10:28 PM on March 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


Whenever Keri Russell speaks Russian on the show, my household cringes.
posted by k8t at 12:30 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


The watching of the film was interesting. The goal was to show that Paige has learned Russian.

But it was Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears. This is sort of Elizabeth's life story!
posted by k8t at 12:32 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Why do I get the feeling that the navy security guard only inquired into Paige's presence because she was an attractive young woman. And getting her number and keeping her student card to force her to go on a date with him?

Oh, definitely. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to find that he requested a second form of ID specifically to pull that dick move. He knows he can't keep her driving license, but he can totally use his (dubious? What is the jurisdiction in that area?) authority to coerce her into a second meeting by refusing to return a less vital, but still necessary document.

After all the training she's got during this time-jump, I'd be curious to see how Paige would have dealt with that situation had she not had to worry about blowing cover.
posted by myotahapea at 1:28 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was trying to figure out if anything Janine Aderholt and Renee were saying while Elizabeth washed the dishes gave a hint about what is up with Renee. It seemed like she was working Janine for tips on loosening the lips of an FBI man. Or maybe trying to get actual information from Dennis? Last season I was pretty skeptical regarding the suggestion that Renee is either a Soviet agent or some sort of shadow minder for Stan. It's seeming more and more like there is something to that though. They showed Renee and Stan and Philip at the racquetball court in the "previously on" bit. That was when Stan first introduced Philip and Renee, right? With everything they need to draw the viewers' attention to, I don't think "Oh yeah, and remember this? Stan has a girlfriend! How cool is that?!" (said in Jane the Virgin narrator voice) was the intended takeaway.

I was also wondering, given Philip's deep ambivalence about the whole thing, how much he knows about how Paige's involvement in the family business. With Paige living away from home, Philip out of the business, and Philip and Elizabeth becoming somewhat estranged, not to mention the historical communication patterns in the Jennings family, it would be easy to imagine that Philip doesn't know much about Paige's training. It seems likely to be another wedge between them, maybe as much a key to how the endgame plays out as the nuclear war/Gorbachev assassination/future of our country intrigue.
posted by nequalsone at 6:46 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Peter Gabriel showing up again on the soundtrack: The Importance of Peter Gabriel to The Americans
posted by gaspode at 8:42 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I liked how when Elizabeth was talking to the artist, she turned to asking how many paintings she had done. Quantity is solid concept she can understand.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that while I think something must be up with Renee, I can't come up with a theory that seems to fit.

In terms of exact plot, I don't think it matters specifically who she is working for; the important aspect is the long-term deception, up to and including their marriage.

In short order, Stan is going to find out about Philip and Elizabeth and Paige. And then he'll have to assume that his stand-in son Henry was just pretending to be close to him too. And he gave him a tour of the FBI offices! Then he'll also find out about Renee. Basically, my money is on Stan to become the most unhinged of all the characters.
posted by mikepop at 10:51 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Re: the kids’ photos yeah I had just paused it over a frame just before the photos appear apparently. I recommend going slowly through the credits btw there are some interesting images.

I think we’re supposed to think that Elizabeth suspects something about Renee but I don’t think there’s any way to know what her deal is. It would be pretty funny and Sopranos-esque if she was just a normal civilian who was just nosy and a little aggressive.
posted by bleep at 12:17 PM on March 30, 2018


The watching of the film was interesting. The goal was to show that Paige has learned Russian.

The film was subtitled.

That does sound like an interesting film, but like Paige, I hate the ending.
posted by orange swan at 4:19 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I believe Oleg told Phillip (when they met on the park bench) that he had spent all day losing his FBI tails (or words to that effect.) So, yes, the alarms went off.

At the risk of going full pedant, what he said was that he 'spent nine hours getting clean'. Which doesn't indicate that he was being followed and lost his tails, just that he was being extremely careful to ensure that nobody was surveilling him.

I'll be interested to see if they fill in any of the blanks in the time jump. My understanding of the end of last season was that Elizabeth's decision to stay hinged entirely on Isaac Breeland's promotion to head of the CIA's Soviet Division -- she was unwilling to give up such a rich source of information, and there wouldn't be a way to maintain the Breeland bug if Philip wasn't still meeting with Kimmie.

But presumably that operation has ended, if Philip's entirely out (and Kimmie's old enough to have left home). I can't help wondering if Elizabeth considered quitting again at that point, or if Philip raised the question again, or if the landscape had changed enough for both of them that they'd got over the idea of going home again.

On the whole I'm pretty pleased with the time-jump, and am looking forward to seeing what will result from the fractures growing between the characters. Oleg's comment to Philip about how Elizabeth is being used by those who don't like the changes in the Soviet Union ... or that she is one of them, set the stage nicely. And while I'm one of the few who apparently enjoyed season 5, and would have liked to see a bit more about Lydia Fomina and the food corruption storyline, I'm not sad to see the back of those two marks Liz and Phil were working in Kansas. And anything that brings Arkady back is a win.
posted by myotahapea at 6:14 AM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wow, Elizabeth is so, so alone.

And damn was that, like, *five* extended music montages in one 50-minute episode? Seemed a bit excessive compared to earlier seasons but maybe I'm misremembering. I love the show's music choices but I really hope they don't continue like that.

Re: Renee - the writers have definitely been teasing her as a spy, from Elizabeth and Philip's skepticism about the pipe burst that got her to move in with Stan to her pushing back at the end of last season when Stan said he was going to quit the FBI...it all adds up to some plausible evidence, but it's just as likely the writers are just piling on the paranoia so we feel what it's like to live in that world.

What do I know; I still think it's possible Henry's been working for the Center for a while now.

So glad the show is back; almost everyone on it makes the acting on most other shows look amateurish.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]




Yay it's back! I do wish they showed more about how Philip and Elizabeth got to the current breakdown of work. I agree with the skepticism the Center is really OK with Philip being entirely out. He's not though, he's playing homemaker and supporting Elizabeth and doing minor spycraft like decoding radio messages. Maybe that's enough.

They went pretty heavy on the "Elizabeth's life is miserable" thing. I mean I like it as a story beat, but in the past she's always had some joy or determination of pride. But as Philip said, maybe it finally has worn her down. I sure hate to think about Chekov's Suicide Locket.

My favorite period bit was Philip carrying his car radio around and plugging it into the dashboard. Boy, I do not miss that. Also what a strange symbol of America; wealthy enough not only to have your own car but a fancy stereo for that car, yet also dangerous enough that it is a theft target.
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on April 5, 2018


I sure hate to think about Chekov's Suicide Locket.

In the process of decrying Oleg's neckbeard, the best defense we could think of was that it was sure to be symbolically shaven (with or without the rest) at some pivotal moment; and we have since been referring to it as Chekhov's Neckbeard.
posted by chortly at 10:39 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think we've all seen enough teasers, and read between the lines, to know that this season will eventually circle-around to the split between Phillip and Elizabeth, mirrored by the backdrop of the internal strife in the Gorbachev-era Soviet Union.


Noooooo! They are my favorite fake couple! They have to come back together again. That’s what’s happened most seasons and it’s so well earned and they can’t end the series with the breakup of such a great love story.

(I haven’t watched any teasers for logistical reasons so I have no predictions except that Phillip and Elizabeth get to live happily ever after)
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:08 PM on April 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


it's just a pointless endeavor to her. She just doesn't have access to those feelings like other people.

Elizabeth has about as much use for art as she does for EST.

jesus f. christ. she's PLAYING A CHARACTER. she is not telling the fucking mark how she feels about art for reals. like dead mothers don't get her the way food insecurity does? really?

(the f. is for fuck me but when people get it into their heads that a woman who does bad things is therefore not the human being she obviously is, they will not dislodge it for anything, will they. elizabeth has always been a tiny bit more self-aware and a tiny bit less self-righteous than philip, in that she didn't used to lash out at her spouse every time she needed to displace the strain of murdering someone in cold blood, as if guilt and sadfaces and icing out your spouse after a kill makes you better and your victims less dead (it doesn't, it just makes TV audiences pity you more.)

this ep is the first time she cracks and starts taking her murderwork stress out on him the way he used to on her. it's a shock to see her as petty and snappy as he used to be.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:12 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Finally getting into season 6. It feels very different picking the show back up after Helsinki, Maria Butina, and after learning about Sergei Magnitsky.
posted by bunderful at 6:32 PM on August 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Re-watching the pilot. While at the mall with Paige, Philip picks up a pair of cowboy boots and tries them on. Queen of Hearts is playing in the background, and he's not full-out dancing but more than toe-tapping to the music, oblivious to the amusement of other shoppers and Paige's embarrassment.

He does buy the boots ... Paige tells him you can't wear cowboy boots unless you're a cowboy.

Adds a little depth to his line dancing in the 6th season.
posted by bunderful at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2018 [6 favorites]


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