The Americans: Mr. and Mrs. Teacup
April 18, 2018 10:51 PM - Season 6, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Oleg and Philip have their last chat, Elizabeth takes her best shot at getting the radiation sensor, Erika goes to a party, Paige enjoys a night out with a young man whom she thinks has potential, Philip has drinks with Stan and goes line dancing with Stavos, Arkady and Igor compare notes, Claudia has plans for Sofia and Gennadi's future, Kimmie has travel plans for herself, and Henry learns his future may not play out as planned.
posted by orange swan (41 comments total)
 
The heisty scene in the dark factory was over of my favorite things I've seen. It was dark and not Hollywood dark, but actually dark, and the tension! Wow it was amazing.
posted by Carillon at 11:14 PM on April 18, 2018


That opening sequence was brilliant, and maybe the tensest thing I've seen in television. Never would have guessed during my occasional Voyager-watching days that B'Elanna would go on to direct something like that.
posted by myotahapea at 3:59 AM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the warehouse scene was really well done. It took me awhile, though, to get that the abstract nature of the dark and light wasn't just my tv needing the brightness adjusted, LOL. But, good lord, the body count Elizabeth left in her wake (and coming away empty handed!) She's pretty much become the exact opposite of "covert."

I'm of the assumption that no one else on Elizabeth's "team" knows Paige is her daughter, right? I forget the name she used, but she told the one woman not to use [name] for the operation to follow Stan because she wasn't experienced enough.

I was very surprised Kimmy is back. I was hoping that arc was done and gone. But, now that she's in college, it all good I guess. Loved that Phil was drinking a Pilsner Urquell. That was a big-deal, upscale import back then. Nice detail.

Soooo...Paige slept with a boy as part of working him as a source? That's really going to go over well with Phillip. Are we eventually going to see Paige make the complete metamorphosis to being her mother and kill someone? Maybe she caps Renee?

There are so many threads dangling right now, each of them with the potential of blowing the Jennings' cover.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:09 AM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


You're correct re: Paige -- she's 'Julie' to the rest of Elizabeth's team, and nobody knows they're mother and daughter, just as nobody (save Gregory) knew Philip and Elizabeth were married. Revealing such a detail would be unacceptable under such circumstances: not only because of how it could affect the working dynamics, but if anyone on the team is caught or turned and that information was revealed it could be devastating.

Seeing Kimmy again was a surprise (though not as much as I would have liked, thank you opening credits), though I didn't find it unwelcome. I always felt that Philip's biggest strength as an agent was his ability to read people and improvise, and the way he was able to take a mission that seemed it could only be managed by seducing an underaged girl and turned it into a pseudo-fatherly friendship was pretty impressive. Seeing that he's been able to manage that relationship and keep her interested in seeing him without being creepy or pushy is a nice detail. (Logistically, however, I'm wondering just how in hell that is working -- she’s away at Uni and Philip’s conversation with Elizabeth makes it clear that he’s the only one picking up the tapes, and only when she’s back home. IIRC they were switched out pretty frequently in the past, so I wonder how that’s being managed now.)

Elizabeth's failed mission at Altheon has pushed her body count up above Philip's, and shows how much she's running on the ragged edge this season. The sense of desperation that she had in the warehouse is something I don't think we've seen from her before, and really shows how difficult the work is for her now that she's on her own.
posted by myotahapea at 4:42 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Slate's matching podcast episode is out.
In Episode 4, “Mr. & Mrs. Teacup,” showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields talk about the charming conversation between Philip and Oleg, and they declare that they’re proud to have made one of the darkest scenes in TV history. She then chats with actor Costa Ronin, who plays Oleg Burov, about his Season 6 beard and why Oleg returned to the world of espionage. Finally, H. Keith Melton, who advises the creative team about intelligence-gathering techniques and technology and supplies many of the show’s spy gadgets from his personal collection, talks about KGB attitudes to hardware updates, Elizabeth’s necklace, and what was changing in 1987.
posted by kingless at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2018


Rarely has ending an episode with a shot of a guy looking wistfully at a sandwich been so poignant!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I missed the reference to the title in the episode. Where did “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup” come in?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:42 PM on April 19, 2018


“Jesus Christ, Dennis. I’m done babysitting those lunatics.”
Oh, Stan. Never change.

“Well, he’s your department.”
Elizabeth has no fucks to give, about the travel agency OR her second-born.

Was there one single happy moment anywhere in Philip’s (Mischa’s) childhood? We’ve heard stories of him being robbed and bullied, seen him beat a kid to death with a rock, watched his father bring home the leftover food and bloodied clothing from dead prison camp inmates and now seen him scrounging scraps of food from empty cooking pots with fellow urchins. He’s lucky he didn’t have a pet dog or it would’ve been shot for chasing a Party official’s car.

Normally I’m fully on-board with their music choices, but bloody hell, that Eddie Rabbit song they used this week brought on PTSD flashbacks of being trapped in the car with my mum and all her country and western (We got both kinds!) music as a kid. I don’t think I’d heard that song in about twenty years and I still remembered all the lyrics. *shudder*

So, how long will it be before Philip hits up Stan for a loan to cover Henry’s tuition?


Thorzdad: Where did “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup” come in?
"Teacup" is the FBI's codename for Gennady. Interesting title choice as we never actually saw the Teacups, but presumably picked because they're being drama llamas with the Resettlement people, and the Centre appears to have painted a target on their backs in the wake of their defection.
posted by myotahapea at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I know Elizabeth is a cold blooded killer but each season I get sucked in and become surprised at how low she will go. She did not care at all that she brought a dying woman to a party and possibly hastened her death.
posted by CMcG at 4:56 PM on April 19, 2018


"he's your department"

Yow.
posted by k8t at 9:04 PM on April 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oleg and Philip could have been very good friends if they'd had the opportunity to be. They share a love of their country tempered by a realistic, pragmatic, complex intelligence, a conscience, an essentially happy and fun-loving nature. Oleg is the kind of man Philip could have been if he'd had an easier start in life and not been a spy.

When Elizabeth asked Philip, "How was work?", I was wondering if it was a set-up, if she'd called him and knew he wasn't at work.

We're up to five bodies now, and Elizabeth still doesn't have the radiation sensor. I'm thinking that break-in might have been her last chance to get it, because there's no way that facility doesn't go hyper thorough with security after it adds up the trail of bodies.

Kimmie's gone from wanting to bang Jim to seeing him as a sadsack. How much longer before she either loses interest or figures out something's amiss with him? Or at least asks him to do something about that hair of his?

Paige wants to do ALL THE SPY THINGS. She's so much like her mother.

That "Henry is yours, Paige is mine" divide and conquer bullshit is so dysfunctional. Bad parenting, bad marital relations.

How smug is Igor that he found the right girl for his son Oleg?

I'm surprised Igor agreed to help with his son's operation, but then he is that kind of father. He'll do his best to talk Oleg out of something, but support him as best he can if he's set on it.

Claudia and Elizabeth's rage over a defective national hockey team player was something to see. What's next, a dancer from the Mariinsky Ballet? Oh wait, that already happened.

I just had another look at the preview trailers for season 6, and all I will say is... don't expect a happy ending for Sofia and Gennadi.

Getting to teach Paige about Russian culture must be the only spy operation Elizabeth has ever gotten to love without reservation.

Henry, as brutal as it may seem, you do have much worse problems than having to leave St. Edwards. But on the upside, there's lots of hockey in Russia!

Did Henry's reaction to the guys throwing the Nerf ball back and forth seem a little over the top to anyone? They weren't being loud at all.

If Philip had expanded his travel business even five years earlier, it would have worked out. At least for awhile.

There has been speculation in previous threads about whether the travel agency was a front, but I don't believe it was. The Soviets would never use the Jennings' travel agency for money laundering or float Elizabeth and Philip financially, as they could not take the risk of having anything suspect about their finances.

I do find it a little odd that they hired a Russian staff member, as you'd think he'd be the first to notice anything amiss. but he's been there for years and seems to be a non-issue.

I'm glad Matthew isn't pining for Paige. He's found someone else and wants to live with her after graduation.

"He wants to do something good, and that's because of you." Ooh, Arkady, you are good. You just turned the responsibility for Oleg's operation back on Igor.

Paige's night out was the first time we've seen her really enjoy herself in years. What a smile, and how beautiful she looked. It was a glimpse of the life she should have had.

Honey pot duty isn't hard work when the mark is as attractive as Paige's is, but wait until she realizes they won't always be that cute.

Philip's line dancing nights are a metaphor for his experience of life in America. He's in it, he's enjoying it... yet not really a part of it, and still essentially isolated.

Elizabeth drags a dying woman to a party in order to spy on the people there, and gets vomited upon for her pains. Good aim, Erika.

Philip is never more melancholy than when he's eating American junk food.

I tweeted all of the above, and the twitter account for The Americans liked them all within one second of my posting them. I think it must be some automatic thing they've got set up.
posted by orange swan at 9:12 PM on April 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


By having a Russian on staff, if anything gets traced to the travel agency, the police have an obvious person of interest who isn’t Phil or Liz.
posted by cardboard at 3:47 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I do find it a little odd that they hired a Russian staff member, as you'd think he'd be the first to notice anything amiss. but he's been there for years and seems to be a non-issue.

I’ve heard this mentioned a few times over the years and it’s always surprised me, as from the start I thought Stavos was Greek. His name was dropped early in S1, and a cursory Googling seems to indicate the name is a less common variant of Stavros. The actor is American, though, so maybe he doesn't quite nail the accent.
posted by myotahapea at 4:56 AM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Paige's night out was the first time we've seen her really enjoy herself in years. What a smile, and how beautiful she looked. It was a glimpse of the life she should have had.

I thought so, too, but then I remembered she had identified the guy as a potential source. And, sure enough, she slept with him, just like mom would. If you look back on all the times we've seen Elizabeth "enjoying" herself in social situations while she's playing her mark, it's not hard to see Paige as doing the very same thing at the bar. Then, at the end of the scene, her staring at the guy's security pass, that look on her face, to me, was her processing what she had just done while keeping her eyes on the prize.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:41 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought it was played down the middle between those two, like she went home with the intern for personal reasons, but the spy part of her brain wouldn't shut down, and Paige realizing she would always have to hide things from people.
posted by cardboard at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Stavros is Greek.
posted by k8t at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I too got the sense that we don’t quite know where Paige is at re: her hookup this episode, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find she’s similarly uncertain herself. We’ve seen a fair bit of what her introduction to the spying game looks like on a functional level, but it’s still unclear what her motivations are for getting into the work — is it her idealism, or a belief in the cause, or enjoying the newfound connection with her mother and roots, or looking for her place in the world? It seems deliberately played for ambiguity at this point.

Hearing her naïvely parrot back her mother’s words about how Rennhull committed suicide because he was ‘troubled’ and Elizabeth was simply trying to help him was really grating, though also not unrealistic. Paige is still in the starry-eyed phase with spywork, believing that everything is heroic and for the greater good, wrapped up in minutiae like surveillance technique and only hearing sanitised generalities about mission objectives, to the point of being able to shrug off the sight of her mother’s gore-splattered face.

The final blow to her religious faith came from reading Pastor Tim’s journal and realising his hypocrisy — his private thoughts about her circumstances which stood in opposition to all the reassuring words that had given her strength. I don’t think Elizabeth is perceptive or self-aware enough to understand that by whitewashing the ugly and morally questionable parts of the work she is re-creating the exact circumstances that led to her daughter abandoning her faith and agreeing to having the pastor she trusted and looked up to sent off so she’d never have to see him again. What happens when Paige draws a line between the information she’s expected to gather at her safe, security-cleared desk job and results like five corpses and an unobtained lithium radiation detector? Elizabeth likely sees that as Not Paige’s Problem, but I think Paige may disagree.
posted by myotahapea at 6:58 AM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've never thought about them as so similar, especially because Paige has always been so sensitive and emotional (heart on sleeve, bleeding, don't mind me, bleeding), but Paige and Elizabeth share the trait that they just can't enjoy life and can escape from themselves and have some pleasure undercover. Philip and Henry share a potential for joie de vivre, which is really highlighted this season by Philip's line dancing.

Maybe I am mis-remembering, but I thought they called them the Teacups before we knew about their resettlement difficulties. I thought it was just one of those subliminally evocative but more or less random code names.
posted by nequalsone at 6:59 AM on April 20, 2018


I didn't like the dark scene at start. Like Thorzdad I thought something was wrong with my TV. I realized they were trying to do something arty but it fell flat for me; glad it worked so well for everyone else. The body count really is getting ridiculous, that's got to bring unwanted attention.

Has the show offered Paige any explanation why her father is no longer working actively as a spy? She knows, and Elizabeth is saying things to her like "something got lost along the way". Surely Paige wants to know more? She seems able to handle emotionally complex conversations.

I couldn't tell if Paige was working her new boyfriend or just getting laid. I guess the lingering shot on his government badge suggests it's a job for her, but I kind of hope she did it just for fun. I like they didn't make a big deal about it, like is this the first guy Paige has slept with? She's just a young adult woman doing adult things, good for her.

A little confused about the Jennings' money problems. Surely the Center is willing to finance their operations? They can't expect them to work full time making money as travel agents and also go about spying and murdering. I mean how would they even afford the wigs, not to mention the bullets. I wish they showed more about the mechanical aspects of their deep cover. I wonder how much we know from the real world Soviet spies this story is loosely based on.
posted by Nelson at 7:59 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I agree that Paige's motivations with her date are unclear. Elizabeth specifically told Paige not to go after a source yet. I think it was a genuine date up until she was surveying his room after sex. Her expression starts out smiley and lovestruck as she surveys his wall, and then goes sad and thoughtful as she focuses on his intern badge. I'm not sure if it's just sadness about having to be dishonest, or if she's considering going against Elizabeth's orders and trying to get information from him.

I thought it was weird that Phillip was telling Henry about the Jennings' money troubles before Elizabeth, but then I saw her completely disinterested reaction. I guess we can never overestimate the depths of Elizabeth's disinterest to anything besides spying at this point.

I wasn't excited to see Kimmie, but I ended up kind of loving that scene. Poor Phillip, even Kimmie can sense your lack of fulfillment.

I thought it was weird that Elizabeth pushed to go to that world series viewing party, given that they wired Glenn's jacket. She was going to have to take care of Glenn's wife the whole time, so even if they hadn't had to leave, it seems unlikely she would have gleaned much not on the wire. Another case of her pushing too hard and getting bad results for it - I did think the scene of her listening to the recording and having the vomiting incident occur just as the conversation turned to interesting material was a bit over kill, but her reaction was entertaining.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I thought it was weird that Elizabeth pushed to go to that world series viewing party, given that they wired Glenn's jacket.

Oh lord, that world series scene was straight-up painful; I was cringing for Erika even before she became acutely sick.
I recall having that exact thought: Maybe she thought that was the only way to get Glenn to go, but it still felt like a misstep even before things went pear-shaped. Wouldn’t it have been better for Elizabeth to encourage Glenn to go by offering to stay at the house with Erika instead? Initially I’d thought it was so that she could eavesdrop firsthand, but once the jacket was bugged bringing the reluctant, terminally ill wife seems like introducing an unnecessary and unpredictable element. I wonder if the intent of that scene was ‘Elizabeth will go to any length in service of the mission’ or ‘Elizabeth is overworked and making bad calls in the field’.


The seeds planted in the fourth- and fifth-season finales are starting to bear fruit. William’s monologue about his loneliness, and Elizabeth’s telling Tuan to request a partner because the work they do is too hard to do alone, are casting a long shadow over her in this final season. Even someone as tough and dedicated as she recognised that working alone will result in failure, and now that’s the position she’s found herself in. And Erika’s speech about her commitment to her work in the face of mortality, her sense of its futility, and her wish to have spent that time with her husband instead — on-the-nose as it was — just leaned further into the theme. Elizabeth has put her work before everything else in her life, and now is not only suffering the consequences personally, but is also seeing the changing political landscape back home potentially negate much of what she’s accomplished in the past couple decades, and may live to see all her sacrifices become the equivalent of Erika’s collection of paintings, sitting forgotten in a basement.

The failure of the two missions in this episode seem to be showing that not only is Elizabeth operationally crippled by not having a partner in the field, but that the burden of doing all the work on her own is having a deleterious effect on her judgment. The smash’n’grab feel of the warehouse heist, and then dragging a terminally ill woman to a house party — particularly coming on the heels of the disastrous strong-arm approach with Rennhull — does not feel like the ultra-competent Elizabeth of seasons past. She’s coming apart to such a degree that her training and skill can’t compensate anymore.
posted by myotahapea at 9:13 AM on April 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think myotahapea brings up an interesting aspect of Philip and Elizabeth's relationship. It is much easier to be sympathetic with Philip, but they started this as partners, and Philip's non-participation, while very understandable from a humanistic perspective, seems to be increasing the chances of Elizabeth getting killed by quite a lot. It evokes the concept that soldiers are more motivated to fight by loyalty to their comrades than by ideological factors, like loyalty to their country. Philip's withdrawal suggests he is not sufficiently motivated by either. Being a spy has become untenable for him and maybe he hopes it will eventually become untenable for Elizabeth. Unlike what Kimmie said about him being in a rut, it is more like he is on a fence and overwhelmed by the dread of the knowledge that he can't live there forever. Being a spy is untenable for him for personal reasons, but not being a spy is untenable for other reasons.

I was actually surprised in retrospect that Philip wasn't suspicious of Oleg being sent by the Center to test his loyalty (overall loyalty to the Soviet Union or loyalty to the old guard specifically). Or at least the show didn't give us any sign that he was suspicious. He doesn't know Oleg as well as we do and he must realize that the Center must realize that the longer he is out of operations, the higher the risk of him drifting away in a variety of ways. Claudia must really be selling Elizabeth's ability to read and manage Philip to the Center, but Claudia's confidence in Elizabeth seems to be somewhat inflated.
posted by nequalsone at 10:08 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


A little confused about the Jennings' money problems. Surely the Center is willing to finance their operations? They can't expect them to work full time making money as travel agents and also go about spying and murdering. I mean how would they even afford the wigs, not to mention the bullets. I wish they showed more about the mechanical aspects of their deep cover. I wonder how much we know from the real world Soviet spies this story is loosely based on.

I don't think the Center can give the Jennings money for their own use, though they would fund the more expensive spy operation expenses such as safe house rent and operation vehicles. As I said in my above (omnibus) comment, there can't be anything hinky about Philip and Elizabeth's finances, either personal or business, as that'll be a potential threat to their cover. The authorities can pull credit card records and bank records and if they do so they'll notice any significant disconnect between the Jennings' income and their lifestyle/savings.

The Jennings have been doing really well for themselves as small business owners for twenty years and the travel agency income would easily have funded both their comfortable lifestyle and cash purchases of the smaller and more innocuous spy paraphernalia, such as extra clothing. The Center *might* have provided them with equipment like guns and ammunition, wigs, operation vehicles, technical equipment such as bugs or radios, safe houses etc., because it would be a risk for Philip and Elizabeth to buy anything that would be traceable and/or out of character for their cover as a pair of suburban travel agents. But then maybe not, because they could have also acquired those things in disguise and under false names. "Clark" would have rented his own apartment, for instance, but he would have been provided with the money to do so.

I also think they haven't really been working full time at the agency. They were both frequently out of the office doing spy work while claiming to be meeting clients. If they were in office ten or fifteen hours a week each, that would keep their cover while leaving them quite a bit of time to do spy work. They must do all the bookkeeping themselves and never let their employees even see it, because they'd need to be able to hide that there was no business coming in as a result of all these out of office "client meetings".

The failure of the two missions in this episode seem to be showing that not only is Elizabeth operationally crippled by not having a partner in the field, but that the burden of doing all the work on her own is having a deleterious effect on her judgment.

Yes, definitely. Philip and Elizabeth have always been a moderating influence on each other. They'd discuss not only their joint but also their separate operations and offer each other advice and suggestions as to ways and means. Elizabeth doesn't have the benefit of a second opinion from Philip now and it means she's making more mistakes. This, incidentally, is also one of the reasons why it's a bad idea for them to split up the parenting of their kids.
posted by orange swan at 5:40 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


... there can't be anything hinky about Philip and Elizabeth's finances, either personal or business, as that'll be a potential threat to their cover.

This, x1000.

I wish they showed more about the mechanical aspects of their deep cover.

The Centre would never risk providing any funds for the travel agency, or Henry's private school; there can’t be a whiff of suspect activity anywhere near the Jennings’ cover. Operational requirements would be bankrolled by Directorate S and likely supplied indirectly through handlers (Claudia, Gabriel) and a network of contacts whenever possible — cash for payoffs, surveillance gear and weapons, the disguises, safe house rental, Kimmy’s good weed — but that would be kept completely separate as well, and for the same reasons, viz. if too much of their legit income is depleted (or supplemented) and can’t be accounted for, eventually that discrepancy will become noticeable. They need to maintain a layer of separation in both directions, so that neither identity will lead back to the other.

The travel agency is a large part of how they ‘live their cover’, and anything connected to the Philip and Elizabeth Jennings identities has to be insulated from the illegals operation. Any imbalance in their finances that doesn’t have an obvious and legitimate explanation could lead to their cover identities being blown. This goes beyond just money as well; e.g. we never see them mix their personal wardrobes with their disguises, because what if a description is given that includes that article of clothing, why they never speak a word of Russian even when there's no chance of being heard, why even their support teams don’t know any of their personal details, why Paige can't be at the family house on ‘work nights’, &c. That fanatical discipline and attention to detail is how they’ve remained undetected all this time. These are people who wouldn’t keep a single serving of meat stew in their refrigerator overnight, because of the infinitesimal chance that it would a) be seen by someone and b) identified as Russian cuisine if it was. They’re not going to be taking influxes of KGB money in their family business, even in the form of a mysterious windfall or a spate of convenient clients who pay for trips to nowhere.

Even if there wasn’t a direct line drawn from the money back to the illegals operation, one tax audit could pull threads that would lead back to their false identities, or trigger interviews with staff that reveal the amount of time they spend out of the office, or uncover any number of other tiny inconsistencies which would inspire the curiosity of someone who knows what to look for and how to follow a trail. It’s not worth the risk. (In Breaking Bad terms, it’s not unlike Skylar being willing to anonymously gift Ted over half a million dollars to pay his IRS bills, just to avoid the possibility of them sniffing around near her in the course of investigating him. Forensic accounting is a very real thing.)
posted by myotahapea at 8:38 PM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I thought it was sweet and charming how they revealed in this episode that the travel agency's expansion was due to Philip taking out a loan, and not organic, like I had guessed. I thought the agency was succeeding because Philip had so much time to invest. But it looks like it was more like Philip was feeling at loose ends with all this new free time and maybe a little bored & frustrated with the small scale of the agency compared to what he had been doing, and plunged into a loan, rather than growing the business organically. Sweet and charming because, Philip is such a likable character, I think everything he does is just adorable.

That's also an example of him making a bad decision without Elizabeth's moderating influence. It's really stark, when you think about it this way, how they both really need each other for every part of their lives together.
posted by bleep at 8:59 PM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also re: the real life basis of spies like this; I remember reading when the series came out that the real life deep cover spies were a LOT less busy than Philip and Elizabeth. Running the business would be their actual full time real life job and doing jobs on the side was actually rare.
posted by bleep at 9:01 PM on April 20, 2018


Also I'm watching the episode again and the thing about Elizabeth pushing Erika to go to the party, might just be that she isn't a nurse and is making a guess about what she thinks a nurse would say, but without the benefit of the years of judgement she's pretending to have. Like, this sounds like something a nurse would say, and I'd like to be at that party too, so I'm gonna chime in here. I feel like saying something like, wow Elizabeth is really psycho to drag that poor woman to a party, is giving her credit for actually knowing that Erika would be in danger, when I don't think that's something she would necessarily know.
posted by bleep at 9:07 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth's goal is to keep Erika alive through the summit, so I think if she was aware of the danger she would have just relied on the bug. Of course, this is pure speculation and there's no way to know at this point.
posted by bleep at 9:08 PM on April 20, 2018


I've said for a few seasons that bringing Paige in was bad bad bad idea. I'm sticking to that. She seems to deal with the activities as a sort of girls night out playing an exciting spy game. Despite Paige and Elizabeth's similarities, there is one glaring difference: Paige isn't a sociopath.

I thought the dark scene was a bit absurd because Elizabeth leaves a trail of bodies behind. Surely this incident would end up in the news? Does Paige hear the reporting and wonder how odd it is that four more people commit suicide on a mission her mom carried out? But no, the mass killing at an important location by a mystery assassin isn't a big enough story to get last page in the Post. *shrugs*

We're seeing Elizabeth coming apart. Being a monster is bad enough. A monster not having things go her way could lead to some terrifying actions. Her most trusted confidante is Claudia. Claudia!!! Does she trust Philip? He can't be relied on. Does she do what she has to do if Paige fucks up royally? Does she rub out either/both if necessary? Paige is no longer a daughter, but rather an asset. Until she's a liability.

I wonder if Philip, or even Paige, will end up taking Elizabeth out. Because something noble has to be done eventually. Or does Elizabeth get them first because they can't be loyal to the cause?

And Kimmy again? Shit or get off the pot with this thread. I have no feelings about Philip screwing a girl for whatever reason duty dictates. He's done far more monstrous things. But it hasn't really gone anywhere for the seasons it's been shown. It's just too meandering. At this point the maturing Kimmy sees Philip as a sad man. How long before she sees him as a creeper old fart wanting to hang out with teen girls?
posted by 2N2222 at 10:25 PM on April 20, 2018


Ain't no way Elizabeth is getting that sensor, after all the people she's murdered. Bad spywork all around. How did the Center not figure out that the guy she was interviewing was dating a woman in security? That seems like a big thing to not come across.

Also, I was delighted to see that my former neighbor Scott Cohen gets some work as the artist's husband. It's kind of a thankless role, as the concerned husband and negotiator. Hopefully Elizabeth won't have to kill him too, but I'm not optimistic. Next she takes care of the defectors.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:24 PM on April 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been wondering how realistic it is that Elizabeth would be ordered to kill Sofia and Gennadi and I did some googling.

According to this list of notable Soviet and East Bloc defectors, only a few notable Russian defectors were assassinated, and they were all people from the military or intelligence agencies. One defector who was assassinated was the head of Soviet intelligence services, another a naval officer, and the others were NKVD. There was a Bulgarian playwright, a Romanian philosopher, and an East German soccer player who were assassinated, but, at least in the cases listed, the Soviets never assassinated athletes, creative artists, or members of the intelligentsia who defected, and there were even KGB members and Russian pilots and such who defected and lived out their lives in their new countries. (The defectors' families who remained behind the Iron Curtain faced serious punitive measures, so the defection was never consequence-free, but I'm looking specifically at whether it was realistic for Claudia to order Gennadi and Sofia killed.)

Russian hockey players Alexander Mogilny (defected 1989) and Sergei Fedorov (defected 1990) are still alive and well and never even went into hiding. Both enjoyed lengthy, high-profile NHL careers, and these days Federov even lives in Moscow during the hockey season in his capacity as general manager of CSKA Moscow, a hockey team in the Kontinental Hockey League. I know Gennadi's defection took place earlier, in 1987, and even those two or three years made a big difference in the political climate, but still, I don't believe Elizabeth would have been ordered to go after a retired hockey player.

Gennadi was also a courier, which might make him of more significance, but couriers don't tend to have any idea what they're conveying, Stan complained of getting nothing useful from the operation, and Claudia indicated that his being a former member of the national hockey team was of greater concern than his being a courier. As for Sofia knowing anything damaging, Claudia seemed to consider her a non-issue and merely collateral damage, as she did not name her or say what she did for a living but merely referred to to her in passing as Gennadi's "wife and her child".

This doesn't seem to be a realistic direction on the part of the writers, as the murder of Gennadi and Sofia is merely a waste of resources and an unnecessary risk at a time when Elizabeth is so overworked and overstressed.
posted by orange swan at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Claudia seemed to not be so concerned with his defecting as much as he’s a hockey star defecting, which would be bad PR back home. If Elizabeth’s asked to do anything w/Gennadi, it might be to try and get him to change his mind about defecting and return home (or, outright kidnap him.) I could see a scene where she gets so emotional about him betraying the motherland that she kills Gennadi, setting the FBI in motion.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:58 AM on April 22, 2018


As I pointed out in my comment above, in real life the Soviet Union never assassinated the elite athletes and other notable non-military and non-intelligence Russians who defected, so this is a plot that is inconsistent with Soviet defection history. And Elizabeth was asked to "deal with" Gennadi and his wife, not talk to him. And I don't want to spoil things for anyone, but I've seen the previews. Elizabeth does not have a friendly sit down with Gennadi and Sofia to get them to change their minds regarding their defection.
posted by orange swan at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2018


I think assassinating Gennadi (which I also thought Claudia was specifically instructing Elizabeth to do) is intended to be another task dictated by the hardliners working against Gorbachev in the KGB. Elizabeth and Claudia are getting their usual Directorate S orders, but they're also getting instructions from people less invested in the long term mission. It seems like assassinating Gennadi might also undermine the weapons talks, which would serve their purposes. I think that makes the choice a little more plausible, since presumably the hardliners would be more inclined to retaliation against defectors.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2018


Note, however, that I don't intend "a little more plausible" there to mean "at all historically accurate." I do think the writers are stretching realism more this season, presumably to set up their dramatic endgame.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2018


Incidentally, can I just say that the Russian guy who offered Erika's husband his sympathy and then came running over to help mop up after Erika vomited blood everywhere seems like a stand-up guy. And that if he's single someone should slip him Martha's contact info.
posted by orange swan at 2:16 PM on April 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


I thought it was weird that Elizabeth pushed to go to that world series viewing party, given that they wired Glenn's jacket.

Glenn’s jacket was wired with a bug, but not a recording device. Elizabeth had to be nearby to receive the signal and make the recording with the other half of the device. Putting a full recorder in the jacket like they have in the briefcase would have been too bulky to be an option. This is more like the pen/Martha’s purse of a setup.
posted by mikepop at 7:52 PM on April 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


Oh, that makes more sense. Thanks, mikepop.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:28 AM on April 23, 2018


In general, intelligence operatives don't go around killing people at all. Assassinations are usually contracted out to deniable third-parties. Getting any operative in place, especially illegals, is far too valuable to risk in high-profile assignments like killing people.

Joe Weisberg was a CIA analyst -- as a rule, the show is far more realistic than usual. But audiences expect life-and-death stakes in a spy story, so a show like this has to include such things. This is just one of those things about the show we've had to accept from the beginning. The real-life illegals we know of from more recent history (publicly know of -- during the Cold War there was always suspicion that there were illegals, but if they were uncovered, this was never public information) basically never did anything at all, not even the minimal kind of intelligence you'd expect. And they were very amateurish. That could indicate a couple of things -- that in real life, getting such agents trained and in place and then actually having things for them to do was just untenable. Alternatively, this group was some kind of anomaly and the good ones were rolled up at the end of the Cold War, or are still in place. Take your pick. I think the former is more likely because as sexy as the concept of deep cover illegals are, it's really much less expensive, less trouble, and less risky to recruit locals and the like and run them by the operatives you can place under diplomatic cover.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:58 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought it was weird that Elizabeth pushed to go to that world series viewing party, given that they wired Glenn's jacket.

Glenn’s jacket was wired with a bug, but not a recording device. Elizabeth had to be nearby to receive the signal and make the recording with the other half of the device.

When Elizabeth was eavesdropping at the pizza place, they also established that Glenn couldn't bear to wear the jacket, and possibly even watch baseball, without his wife. You're probably right about the bug, too, but I don't think he was going to go at all without his wife.
posted by terilou at 9:36 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth has put her work before everything else in her life

this is straight-up false to fact. every second of this whole miserable season has been how it is because she put Philip before the work. Philip got to be his fun-loving line-dancing jovial motivational-speaking travel-agenting American dream-self stress free for three years, every single murder and loathsome sex act and bad decision done by Elizabeth alone, by herself, no backup[1], as her gift to him. he quit because SHE TOLD HIM TO. because she said she couldn't stand to watch him suffer. that was the season 5 finale. they were both prepared to sacrifice for the other; he said he couldn't stop if she wouldn't, because she couldn't do it alone, and she said she wouldn't let him do this to himself. she won.

three years on, she sees how much he values what she gave him but how little he thinks of it as her gift. as if his brand-new morality is a sturdy house he built with his own hands, not a tiny lifeboat floating on a sea of blood.

[1] Paige most certainly does not count, as she is so incurious it hurts to watch and cannot be relied on for anything, being an idiot.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:23 PM on June 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


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