The Americans: The Great Patriotic War
April 25, 2018 10:39 PM - Season 6, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Tatiana catches up with Oleg, Elizabeth gives Philip a good time and a work assignment, Stan gives Renee some career advice, Erika gives Elizabeth more lessons in drawing, Paige plays pinball and goes on the offensive against her intern boyfriend and his wingman, Stan visits Sofia with cake, Gennadi with pizza, and Philip for a beer, Philip tests Paige's sparring skills, Claudia, Elizabeth, and Paige talk about Russian history and their own history and test the merits of olive oil, and Philip's relationship with Kimmie takes a few new turns.
posted by orange swan (63 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wtf this show is amazing
posted by Carillon at 11:15 PM on April 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


So many thoughts.

The whole throughline of the sparring scenes was so well-handled. Beginning with Elizabeth and Paige in training mode in the garage; Paige is taking confidence from these practice sessions with her mother, and seeing physical confrontation from the perspective of her own abilities. Then Philip, who lurked on the sidelines of their training, observing but saying nothing, turns up at her flat and shows her ‘how we do it in the field’, unceremoniously overpowering her with a few ruthless moves and showing her how little she really knows, and how much she would be at the mercy of a trained opponent. The whole thing was a beautifully crafted parallel between Paige’s current situation and Elizabeth’s training flashback with Timoshev in the pilot.


That being said … Paige throwing down at the bar was not great in terms of keeping a low profile, but fuck yeah was that cathartic.
posted by myotahapea at 2:16 AM on April 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've said it before, but Elizabeth is just a straight up serial killer now.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:58 AM on April 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


I guess Elizabeth isn't a completely irredeemable monster, now that we know she isn't a child-killer. I'd love to know how much (or if) the writers debated whether or not to have her kill the child. Obviously, they wouldn't have shown it, but three body bags at the scene would have said it all.

Does the phone conversation with Kimmy now mean Philip won't go to Greece? Elizabeth won't be happy about that. Or, will he take a trip, just to cover his ass? Maybe to shadow Kimmy and thwart the kidnapper?

I've been waiting for Paige to do something stupid like what happened at the bar. She's just so blindly naive, even as she is full of self-confidence from Elizabeth's training. Her opinion of Philip must have been pretty bad, given her dismissive "I'm not like you" comment. Hopefully, she understands the full lesson he gave her, otherwise she's very likely to meet her end at the hands of a quiet, unassuming foe, one that she dismisses as weak.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:58 AM on April 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


now that we know she isn't a child-killer.

I think if that kid had turned and gotten a look at her she would've done the needful...
posted by Burhanistan at 4:59 AM on April 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've said it before, but Elizabeth is just a straight up serial killer now.

She's not a serial killer. Every killing she's committed has a clear objective and are all done in service of the mission. She's highly compartmentalised, single-minded, and a fanatic, but she's not killing people just for the sake of it. She doesn't shy away from it and, with the possible exception of Natalie Granholm, doesn't enjoy it, but has also shown that she's not psychologically unaffected by it — she was clearly upset about Betty's death, and tried to leave the safehouse once she realised Sofia was there as well, to give just two examples. But she forces herself to accept the necessity of what she does, and truly does believe that what she's doing will make the world a better place, because she's a fanatic. She's been indoctrinated into a fucked-up system and is operating from a fundamentally flawed premise; it's true that she has done reprehensible and unforgivable things in the name of the cause and may be beyond redemption at this point. In a lot of ways she's very similar to Chiwetel Ejiofor's Operative in the Firefly film. But none of that makes her a serial killer.
posted by myotahapea at 5:40 AM on April 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


I think if that kid had turned and gotten a look at her she would've done the needful...

She was definitely thinking about it, and it sure looked like she was having a problem deciding what to do.

I keep thinking about Philip's phone call to Kimmy, and his declaration that he has to move on. He wasn't speaking as Jim, but as himself. Thank you, EST, I suppose. In any case, he's realized he needs to look to the future (It's also kind of sad that the only woman in his life that he can talk to is Kimmy.)

I contrast Philip with Elizabeth and Claudia, stuck in the past, still fighting a war that doesn't exist anymore, and trying to drag a new generation (Paige) along with them. Ultimately, all they can offer Paige is the past...peasant dishes and millions dead. The Soviet Union is circling the drain just as surely as the travel agency is going under, both undone by unwise expansion and economic forces.

I'm beginning to wonder if Philip isn't going to defect, or at least become an informant.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:15 AM on April 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Possible anachronism: did bottled beer have twist off caps in 1987?
posted by ShooBoo at 7:41 AM on April 26, 2018


Yes.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:03 AM on April 26, 2018


And now we have two more shattered Teacups which won’t be coming back together, to pluck a reference from Hannibal.

Couldn’t help but wonder if Elizabeth’s post-sparring sweat is what tipped off Gennady. We see her leave home immediately after, implying she didn’t shower. And when he comes into the kitchen he sniffs once, then turns round and looks at the door she’s hiding behind. If so, a great detail — it’s the sort of thing a former pro athlete would be more likely to notice.

I remember seeing the crime-scene photo of a woman’s body in a hallway in the season previews and was mildly curious who it might be. Then in the premiere we’re shown Sofia with her updated, darker hair, and from that point it was just a question of when the hammer would fall.

My read on Elizabeth’s pausing outside Ilya’s room was her determining whether he had heard anything, and if so what to do next. She clearly didn’t plan to kill him — their surveillance verified that Sofia and her son were being housed separately, and we see her try to leave once she realises that Gennady isn’t alone. Even after killing him it’s possible she would have left Sofia and Ilya unharmed if she thought she could get out of the house clean. I saw it more as her checking on the kid to see if he’d heard anything, and that killing him was, if not out of the question, the last resort, though arguably the situation she left him in wasn’t much better. The expression on her face, as she slid away and stood framed against that blank, dark wall, looked pained, as thought she was imagining the fate she had doomed him to.
posted by myotahapea at 8:10 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


They're making Elizabeth's character more despicable in order to make her potential ending more palatable.
posted by drezdn at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Slate's matching podcast episode is out.
In Episode 5, “The Great Patriotic War,” she talks with stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys about Elizabeth’s loneliness, Philip’s failures as a businessman, and the significance of the fight between Philip and Paige. She then chats with showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields about Paige’s youthful rebellion, whether Elizabeth honey-trapped Philip, and why Philip changed the nature of his relationship with Kimmy. Finally, the show’s stunt coordinator, Ian McLaughlin, talks about the characters’ fighting styles.
posted by kingless at 11:12 AM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Did Liz honeypot Phil or did Phil honeypot Liz? They both wanted to get something out of the other. Their relationship is so messed up now.
I thought it was funny how when Paige was fighting with her parents she was doing these big graceful dance kicks that they could easily take advantage of instead of just like punching and scrapping like she did at the bar. I thought it was a great scene to show how both Philip and Elizabeth are doing their utmost to be good parents in their own ways. Like Elizabeth is really trying to get Paige set up for a comfortable life in the family business like any mom would. And I loved Philips line “She CAN do it I’m saying she SHOULDNT.”
posted by bleep at 12:28 PM on April 26, 2018


Drunk Claudia is the best Claudia.

If Gennady’s behaviour in the safe house scene with Stan is a representative example of his personality I wouldn’t want to be married to him either.

Sarcastic Philip and Badass Philip are my two favourite Philips, so his dismissive schooling of Paige about what she thinks she knows followed by fending off her attack with literally one hand in his pocket at the start, then incapacitating her without going above resting heart rate was great to see.

Claudia’s backstory at Stalingrad, and losing most of her family during the war was predictably rough. I got the sense that it was true, but this is Grannie, after all, so who really knows? I wouldn’t put it past her to exaggerate or spin even the details of her own past if she thought it would hit the right notes with Paige.

Episode title for next week indicates a bit of film noir ‘research’ may be germane prior to viewing.
posted by myotahapea at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


This episode!

I'm at the point where I squeeze my eyes shut during Elizabeth's kills. I've never been one for violent movies/ TV, but it's been so integral to this show, I went with it. However, this now relentless, out-of-control cycle she's in is too much for me. I cannot stand to see her slit another throat, people.

[Digression: I'm in a minority that has found myself wanting to defend Elizabeth in the past, even though I'd despise her IRL. Before this season, Phillip was just as active in the Awfulness. So it bugged me that Americans relate to Phil cos of his affable like of Things American, the sports cars and line dancing.]

However, the most disturbing scene of all for me was the Paige/ Phillip fight. As with Elizabeth, I've had empathy for the Paige character over the years. But even during last night's strong episode, I was a bit eye-rolly at her actions/ words, from the bar onward. However, then Daddy came to school her, and yikes. That was so unnerving. It felt like time slowed down during that sequence.There were a few points where you saw how he could have easily KILLED her, or if he were a predator, sexually assaulted her. (And yes, the parallel to Elizabeth's rape at the hands of an instructor added to the goosebumps on the neck.) One of the Vox writers said he felt like throwing up after seeing it.

And of course, every week now I feel like we're taken on a New Ride of speculation as to what's going to lead to the end. Something to do with Paige, the Teacups' murder, the Haskards, Oleg? Or Phil, lawd, telling a CIA official's daughter to avoid Commie countries. What the hell, Phillip/Mischa?
posted by NorthernLite at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wouldn’t put it past her to exaggerate or spin even the details of her own past if she thought it would hit the right notes with Paige.


I wouldn't doubt that it was all true, and I liked how this was the show's way of showing us how high the stakes are for Elizabeth & Claudia personally & why Elizabeth in particular is so ruthless.
posted by bleep at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2018


Digression: I'm in a minority that has found myself wanting to defend Elizabeth in the past, even though I'd despise her IRL. Before this season, Phillip was just as active in the Awfulness. So it bugged me that Americans relate to Phil cos of his affable like of Things American, the sports cars and line dancing.

Yea, this. Prior to this season Philip had killed more people, and yet Elizabeth was routinely characterised as a monster while ‘poor sad Philip’ got the sympathy. Everybody loves Stan, even though he snatched a young guy off the street and put a bullet in his head for no reason but revenge; Elizabeth stops Philip from dealing with the mark who got off on beating her with a belt because getting the intel from him and getting out clean was more important to her. People cheer characters like Walter White, who regularly killed, destroyed lives, and justified monstrous acts in service of his own ego or his desire for power; Elizabeth doesn’t even have an ego in that sense, she doesn’t want power or recognition or personal gain of any kind, yet she is judged more harshly.

I feel it’s at least in part because she doesn’t behave in the manner expected of a woman: she’s closed off, and doesn’t make it easy to like or understand her. She gives off the aura of not needing anyone. We don't get a 'way in' with her: she doesn't revel in her inner badass, or wield her skills in a way that is cathartic or makes it easy for the audience to identify with, she's all business and ruthless efficiency. She is hard and uncompromising, rarely wavers or shows weakness or hesitation, and doesn’t demonstrate emotion or remorse over the people she’s killed. But what good would her feeling bad do? It won’t change anything, or make those deaths any less necessary*. In her mind she’s a competent and efficient soldier fighting a covert war, and how she feels about what she has to do is irrelevant, because it will still have to be done whether she feels bad about it or not. Her coping mechanism is to work harder, to be better, because in her mind that is the best way to win the war she’s fighting and bring an end to the terrible things she does in service of the cause.

*within the scope of the mission, or in service of achieving an objective.
posted by myotahapea at 4:41 PM on April 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


Well the writers really took the gloves off this week

Hang on, let me try that again without accidental puns
posted by duffell at 4:54 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well the writers really went for the jugular

Fuck.
posted by duffell at 4:55 PM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


They're really not pulling any punches
goddamnit

My read on Elizabeth’s pausing outside Ilya’s room was her determining whether he had heard anything, and if so what to do next....The expression on her face, as she slid away and stood framed against that blank, dark wall, looked pained, as thought she was imagining the fate she had doomed him to
100% this.. and the dread on her face as she tried to figure out if the kid had heard and she'd have to kill him too.

his dismissive schooling of Paige about what she thinks she knows followed by fending off her attack with literally one hand in his pocket at the start, then incapacitating her without going above resting heart rate was great to see.
I'm torn on this scene. The schooling had to happen, but the way it happened... it feels like a betrayal, like Philip taking his anger at his wife out on Paige.
posted by coriolisdave at 5:42 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I feel it’s at least in part because she doesn’t behave in the manner expected of a woman

The word we're both avoiding is misogyny. And I too was going to bring up innocent blood on Stan's hands. (Didnt Nina tell him the murdered man was going to become a doctor?)
Not to mention the question of Stan's basic competence as a counterterrorism agent. I certainly hope when P&E's cover is finally blown, he doesnt get some glory for it. We will see, I think, the poor schmuck's mortification at the revelation.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:27 PM on April 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


We will see, I think, the poor schmuck's mortification at the revelation.

Hope so. He's a joke, though it's not his fault. He's also a murderer, which is his fault.
posted by zeek321 at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2018


Not to mention the question of Stan's basic competence as a counterterrorism agent.

It didn't go well last time I said Stan was a bad FBI agent, but let's face one thing here: The Russians were easily able to find both safe houses and ultimately kill Gennady and Sofia by following Stan, acting on information that he inappropriately told his wife.

Prior to this season Philip had killed more people, and yet Elizabeth was routinely characterised as a monster while ‘poor sad Philip’ got the sympathy.

I think we got some reminders in this episode that Philip is just as bad. First with his willingness to sleep with Kimmy (maybe it's legal now but it's still a power imbalance) and then his aggression fighting with Paige.

That said, I always felt like Philip was on the verge of growing a conscience and turning on his team, and in the phone conversation with Kimmy I think this finally happened. He's been reluctant before, but he's never actively interfered with a mission.

By the way, since his name came up and we're talking about anti-heroes... I never rooted for Walter White. He was a self-centered sociopath who would sell out his friends and family just to get what he felt he was entitled to.

There aren't any Walter Whites on this show. Elizabeth may behave like a serial killer, but she's a soldier trying her best to live up to her idealistic beliefs. Phil is a former soldier starting to come to terms with what he's done and with a changing world. Stan's always tried to do the right thing. Oleg is almost a saint. Claudia's a patriot. Paige just wants to do good and be a good daughter. That's what makes it interesting...
posted by mmoncur at 7:04 PM on April 26, 2018


think we got some reminders in this episode that Philip is just as bad. First with his willingness to sleep with Kimmy (maybe it's legal now but it's still a power imbalance) ....

Agreed it's icky, although I read his face as doing it out of duty - to me, that read as a hail-mary to try and complete the thing his wife asked him to do.

The Russians were easily able to find both safe houses and ultimately kill Gennady and Sofia by following Stan, acting on information that he inappropriately told his wife.
Wait, what? I know they targeted tailing Stan, but I must have missed where his wife came into the picture?
posted by coriolisdave at 7:17 PM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Stan really should have been on the watch for a tail.

When Stan visits the Jennings, he raids their fridge. When he visits Gennadi and Sofia, he brings them food. Food is to Stan what EST is to Philip.

Sofia has a much nicer safe house than Gennadi, but then in her case there is a small child to be considered.

Whatever the actual facts were regarding Claudia's experiences in WWII, it's a pretty safe bet she went through horrors, especially if she really was in Stalingrad at the time.

Regarding the 26 million Russian dead vs. 400,000 American dead in WWII, Claudia neglected to mention that the Soviet military officials spent the lives of their soldiers with less concern than if they'd been as many kopeks, which drove the death count up hugely. And, of course, the Americans weren't fighting the war on their own turf, which meant almost no civilian deaths for them.

Oh Gennadi, you big dumb oblivious manchild, you are a poster boy for emotional labour.

Elizabeth has been too tired for sex for awhile, and now she wants it... and coincidentally the next morning she wants Philip to get back in the spy game and pull off an especially heinous operation.

Elizabeth's "let's get Kimmie imprisoned in Bulgaria" plan is way too long a shot. There has to be a better way.

Vince, you really do need a better wingman.

Paige, going to town on that asshole was not smart. Also, Paige, you are awesome.

Stan's suggestion that Renee apply for a personnel job at the FBI is actually really good and shows that he takes her abilities and her desire for more meaningful, important work seriously. This is a guy who learned from the failure of his first marriage.

Erika's iron determination to spend her remaining time both producing art and awakening the artist within Elizabeth is so raw.

"I thought about you all the time." Oleg, you left Tatiana and married someone else. She does not want to hear your "Separate Lives" bullshit. Shut up.

Oooh, the sheer rage coming out of the normally calm and self-contained Tatiana. You've made a dangerous enemy there, Oleg. Can't say I blame her. From her perspective, Oleg betrayed their country, got William killed, and derailed her career. Arkady, who also suffered a career setback over it, wasn't angry but then it wasn't his operation and he wasn't sleeping/considering a future with Oleg. And it all did no good, other than taking William out of operation, because the Russians got the Lassa virus anyway.

And... Oleg is now in serious danger. Tatiana knows he has to be up to something, and she won't rest until she figures out what. I would not want a furious Tatiana on my tail. If the Russians get the least proof of what he's up to, he's dead.

The Rezidentura tea set is really kind of fabulous.

Elizabeth is out of patience with Paige's mistakes.

Paige: Why would I sleep with someone if I didn't like him?
Philip and Elizabeth: Ummm.

The FBI should have been watching the entire safe house, not just the front door. Remind me never to defect to the U.S.

Elizabeth caught up to Sofia a little too fast for realism. It's also unlikely that Illya would have heard nothing of the two murders. Although in this case I am happy to suspend disbelief. That poor little boy.

Paige was so confident of her combat skills, and now she's going to be sleeping in her closet again. Thanks, Philip.

Claudia breaking out the vodka is definitely peak Claudia.

Are Claudia, Elizabeth and Paige even going to be able to look at each other when they sober up? Paige, you need girlfriends for drunken sex talk.

In an earlier season Elizabeth said that she was 17 when she joined the KGB and had never had a boyfriend. Now it seems there was at least one previous encounter, if not an entirely successful one.

Philip's reached his breaking point. He won't allow either Paige or Kimmie to be sacrificed.

"Something's wrong with you." You got that right, Kimmie. Now go tell your father all about Jim. Though, if you do... you will probably have to forget about Greece.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 PM on April 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


One thing that occurred to me during this episode is that surely somewhere inside the vast apparatus of the KGB (or is it the GRU now?), somebody has the means to find a group of teenage girls on their first trip to Greece and arrange it so they are caught with drugs and transported to Bulgaria. Why does it need to be Phillip?
posted by whir at 10:26 PM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Russians were easily able to find both safe houses and ultimately kill Gennady and Sofia by following Stan, acting on information that he inappropriately told his wife.
Wait, what? I know they targeted tailing Stan, but I must have missed where his wife came into the picture?


Halfway through Episode 1, Renee is talking to Dennis Aderholt's wife at a party. She mentions "that one case" that Stan and Dennis are working together, "the couple." and says "I heard their marriage was in trouble." Elizabeth overhears the conversation.

20 minutes into Episode 4 Claudia and Elizabeth are talking about this conversation. Claudia has connected Renee's mention of "a couple" with a courier she heard was defecting with his wife and child. Later in the episode we see Elizabeth's team starting to follow Stan to confirm that it's the same couple.
posted by mmoncur at 3:38 AM on April 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I loved the scene between Tatiana and Oleg, and her righteous anger with him. As viewers we see him as one of the good guys and want him to escape unscathed, but seeing their history from Tatiana’s side was a reminder that nothing is ever black or white. He acted on his conscience by passing the intel about William to Stan, but by doing so he also got people killed (William and, by extension, Hans), got Arkady thrown out of the country, nearly ruined the career of a woman he was involved with and who seemed to genuinely care about him — and it was all for naught. William would have retired after that operation anyway, and the Centre still got their hands on the Lassa virus.

And in the end, Oleg committed treason, avoided being executed (like Nina) only by the grace of his family’s privilege, and now has a wife and a baby and a Ministry position and still enjoys all the benefits of his status back home; Tatiana worked her ass off to earn her post and remained loyal but only barely kept her job after he ensured the failure of her operation, and will likely never again be considered for a Rezident position as a result. The least he can do is not get shouty with her for doing her job and reporting something he actually did, and causing him to suffer some of the consequences of his actions. He could take a lesson from Omar: It’s all in the game, yo.
posted by myotahapea at 4:26 AM on April 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


One thing that occurred to me during this episode is that surely somewhere inside the vast apparatus of the KGB (or is it the GRU now?), somebody has the means to find a group of teenage girls on their first trip to Greece and arrange it so they are caught with drugs and transported to Bulgaria. Why does it need to be Phillip?

KGB and GRU are separate at this time — witness Tatiana's comment to the new Rezident over tea that Oleg's 'not here for the GRU, he's not here for us, and he's not loyal'. And my admittedly limited understanding of the two organisations seems to indicate there's a fair bit of rivalry between them so it's unlikely the GRU would give aid to a KGB division. (Possible exception would be if General Kovtun is involved with them in some way, as this arguably affects Dead Hand, but that's a reach and anyway the amount of bureaucracy that would need to be overcome in that case makes it seem unlikely.)

As for Elizabeth's operation against Breland, yea, there are likely a load of other ways to try to get Kimmy to cross the border into Bulgaria. Even if Elizabeth dealt with Breland herself there would still need to be a lot of other people involved beyond Philip — border guards, prison interrogators, someone to supply the drugs, leverage in Bulgaria to get her released once the intel is obtained — so finding someone to befriend Kimmy/her group and initiate a day trip or something similar would likely not be too difficult. But they're on a tight deadline, and the chances of that part of the mission succeeding are vastly higher with Philip involved, as 'Jim' has far more influence over her than some random holidaymaker they might meet.

That being said, the entire plan is hinky, even with Philip involved. There are so many potential failure points, up to and including the ones Philip laid out that I'm surprised Elizabeth is suggesting it, particularly as it all seems to stem from their inability to collect the wire recordings because Kimmy is away. Given that premise it seems far easier to surveil the house and have someone break in and switch the tapes or have 'Jim' entice Kimmy back to DC for a weekend at a convenient time. I'm choosing to interpret it as another bit of evidence of how the two of them are stronger together, and that much like his ill-advised expansion of the travel agency, without Philip's moderating influence Elizabeth's plans aren't as viable.
posted by myotahapea at 6:01 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


somebody has the means to find a group of teenage girls on their first trip to Greece and arrange it so they are caught with drugs and transported to Bulgaria. Why does it need to be Phillip?

The plan is to get Kimmie to go voluntarily to Bulgaria and then plant drugs on her and arrest her. Kimmie isn't at all likely to agree to go to Bulgaria at the request of a stranger. Abducting her in Greece and smuggling her over the border would be really difficult.

Her coping mechanism is to work harder, to be better, because in her mind that is the best way to win the war she’s fighting and bring an end to the terrible things she does in service of the cause.

Let's not forget that Elizabeth's father was shot for desertion. Elizabeth will never go out that way, whatever the personal cost.

Everybody loves Stan

I don't. I think he has his good and bad points, and I find him very "real", but I don't find him to be a lovable or even attractive character.

It didn't go well last time I said Stan was a bad FBI agent, but let's face one thing here: The Russians were easily able to find both safe houses and ultimately kill Gennady and Sofia by following Stan, acting on information that he inappropriately told his wife.

I agree that Stan really screwed up on this one.
posted by orange swan at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oleg is almost a saint.

Wednesday night I had a dream that I was part of a group of seven people who were locked up in a Soviet psychiatric hospital and that Oleg, who was also part of the group, orchestrated a plan to break us out. Even though there were two of us who couldn't run as fast as the others, Oleg refused to leave us behind, and we all got away. I think I may have bought into the "Oleg is a shining beacon of goodness" thing a little too heavily, so it was good to see that scene with him and Tatiana, with him sleazily trying to play on her emotions and her not taking the bait and instead giving him a piece of her mind.
posted by orange swan at 6:29 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was really taken by how the sparring scene worked in the last episode of last season, and this was really well done too. It really encapsulated the entirety of the relationships between Elizabeth, Philip, and Paige. What it lacked in subtlety as compared to "The Soviet Division" it made up for in intensity. I was starting to cry in the final phase of Phil and Paige's interaction. I don't think there was any softer way for Philip to deliver the message. Paige is living in a dream world and you can't reason with a delusion. That might be stating it too much as a universal, but Paige has developed a shell of self-concept and pithy explanations (probably some fed to her by Elizabeth) about herself, about Philip, about "the work," etc. that were not even stressed by seeing Elizabeth with someone else's blood and brains splattered all over her face. I recall the scene with the three of them in the darkroom looking at photos of Pastor Tim's diary where he wrote whether or not Philip and Elizabeth are monsters, they certainly have done monstrous things to Paige. At some point between then and the beginning of this season, Paige has found a way to explain away that idea and we know who was the catalyst. I was a bit surprised that Philip didn't stick around afterwards but perhaps he felt Paige needed to work through the message of his demonstration herself. It was a little abrupt to go so quickly to the next scene with her at the safe house with Elizabeth and Claudia. I would have expected a moment or two to show her frustration or introspection but I think maybe this was merely a crack that weakens her shell.

I don't know about any one else, but I immediately thought Elizabeth was making up her first sexual experience (harmless and sort of plausible) on the spot while thinking about what happened to her during training.
posted by nequalsone at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


Oh, I just have to add that it was pretty heartbreaking that Philip finally chose to draw a line in the sand after his encounter with / seduction of Kimmie. I guess the show has to make him a tragic figure, but that was a difficult thing to see. The whole thing is so messed up, and there are obviously real emotions on both sides. Just before, Philip had said how proud he was of her and referred to her as a woman. It was like he was wearing his "dad" hat, which he seemed to acquire specifically to guide the relationship away from romantic intimacy, but simultaneously he was trying to convince himself that she is not a child--after just telling Elizabeth "she's just a kid!"

It was interesting that he later made the phone call to Kimmie in his Philip clothes. It seems to be reinforcing the message that Philip is who he "really is" now, at least as much as he is Mikhail but probably more. It seemed like he could have done a better job with the breakup speech, but maybe it was a little unpolished because it was supposed to be honest and relatively spontaneous.

And I'm not sure how effective cryptically warning her not to go to a communist country will be in protecting her. Greece has a long border with Bulgaria and is accessible by car. It seems like she could be having a drink in a cafe with friends and wake up in Bulgaria. Someone mentioned upthread that maybe Philip would go to Greece to protect her, but things are coming apart locally, I suspect he is planning on taking a more active role in separating Paige from her minders, and he cannot really spend two weeks (the whole summer?) stalking Kimmie in Greece... Although I guess he could go there for a few days as planned and intentionally flub and abort the mission. Actually, that sounds pretty likely now that I think about it. I hope she doesn't get killed. That would be too much to take, as well as fulfilling a really regressive trope.
posted by nequalsone at 7:55 AM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I want to say something about Philip's adventures in capitalism, too, and how the show plays this and how it must appear to Elizabeth vis-a-vis Philip's seduction by the American Way of Life. But I won't.
posted by nequalsone at 8:02 AM on April 27, 2018


Paige is living in a dream world and you can't reason with a delusion. That might be stating it too much as a universal, but Paige has developed a shell of self-concept and pithy explanations (probably some fed to her by Elizabeth) about herself, about Philip, about "the work," etc. that were not even stressed by seeing Elizabeth with someone else's blood and brains splattered all over her face.

I think this is exactly why Philip's sparring session and wordless departure was so effective. Everything she's been getting from Elizabeth is 'positive', for lack of a better word: reinforcing the progress she's made and either telling her that she's not ready for other things yet or that she'll never be called upon to have to do them. I'd imagine this is also why she was relatively unfazed at seeing Rennhull's brains all over her mother's face — her takeaway wasn't that it was gory, unpleasant work, it was that Elizabeth won. She's absorbing a sense of invincibility by only seeing the work through a very specific lens that Elizabeth and Claudia have a vested interest in maintaining. Philip stepping in and treating her exactly as she would be treated by an opponent in the field, and then leaving her to grapple with that feeling of helplessness alone is a much more effective lesson than doing a load of talking, which she would likely try rationalise away.
posted by myotahapea at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


When Kimmy and Philip are in Michigan, watch Kimmy after she gets in the car and Philip walks around to the driver's side. She lets out a huge yawn. She brushes off meeting him in Greece. Having written off the idea of any sort of romantic relationship long ago (and probably after having a relationship or two in college), she is indeed moving him to the sidelines of her life. Unfortunately Philip only breaks and decides to try and help her after he seduces her.

Elizabeth is taking too many risks and too many long shots (Rennhull, the Bulgaria plan) plus having a lot of bad luck. If everything wasn't already going to fall apart, I think they'd have to pull her from the field after the summit. When she meets Gennadi in the alley, the FBI agent gives her a look that says he is going to remember her, just in case something happens later (as I'm sure he is trained to do). He'll no doubt relay this encounter now. And didn't Elizabeth have a similar look/disguise when she fought with Gaad in S301? Is there an FBI sketch of her on file somewhere from that episode? If they make a new sketch, will Stan finally recognize her?

Agree with all that Philip was cruelly effective in setting Paige straight about her (and his!) abilities. He still has a dad moment when he softly says "Not bad" as he leaves.

Paige probably still has some level of PTSD from when they were attacked and she saw her mom kill the attackers and subsequently had to come to terms with her family's true identity. In the bar she had ample opportunity to be more defensive and evasive until the bar workers could help her, and her hair-trigger punch to the first boy as he came up to ask if she was ok was definitely not necessary. Immediately after she shows up at home, desperate for more sparring.

I'd imagine this is also why she was relatively unfazed at seeing Rennhull's brains all over her mother's face — her takeaway wasn't that it was gory, unpleasant work, it was that Elizabeth won

And I doubt she ever got the full story. Elizabeth told her she pushed him too far/fast, but left out how he was going to shoot her, she tackled him, and he shot himself only after realizing it was that or being overpowered/tortured/blackmailed/killed. Paige might think he showed up and made some speech and then just shot himself.

Stan is initially happy to hear Sofia wants to return to Gennadi, but after he visits Gennadi I got the impression he had second thoughts about where she would be better off. They never show him telling Gennadi the news that visit. Still, she ends up there. In fairness, if you're locked in a safe house by yourself all day the odds of you just drinking beers and watching TV probably increase. Stan was careless about being tailed and it doesn't seem like the safe house guards were being especially vigilant either. Sofia's location seemed even less secure.

They continue to keep Renee ambiguous - on the one hand, getting Stan to think it was his idea that she take on some soft of FBI office job is classic manipulation. On the other hand, you would have expected this to happen sometime in the elapsed three years between seasons.
posted by mikepop at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


They continue to keep Renee ambiguous...

I don’t think she’s so much ambiguous as she’s just a civillian. A minor MacGuffin. Probably future body count.

The show hasn’t ever been big on surprises in the manner of keeping someone’s identity a secret until a big reveal. You know who people are and what team they play for pretty much up front. To have Renee played so...ordinary...for so long and suddenly be revealed to be CIA, Mossad, MI6, etc. would be really odd for the show, I think.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:39 PM on April 27, 2018


Yes, I agree that Renee isn't up to anything. She's simply a well-meaning but naive and outspoken person who loves Stan and idealizes the FBI. We're just seeing some sort of table setting with her.
posted by orange swan at 6:13 PM on April 27, 2018


And didn't Elizabeth have a similar look/disguise when she fought with Gaad in S301?

I thought that was her John Denver look. Regardless, they'd have a good estimate of her height, and if enough sketches pile up they'll start to get a better overall idea of her appearance.
posted by myotahapea at 4:16 AM on April 28, 2018


As if everything else wasn't enough, this was also a really depressing week for sex.

Over the course of the series I’ve got comfortable with the slow burn approach, so the introduction, then culmination, then resolution of the Kimmy/Greece storyline in a single episode gave me whiplash.

“You’ve grown into a smart, interesting, woman.
This endgame has been dangled for so long and avoided so creatively I didn’t seriously consider it as a way to execute Elizabeth’s plan, and then they turn round and pistol-whip us with it in the space of a few words and Rhys’ spot-on delivery. (Hearing that gave me a full-body cringe and the entire scene played out in my mind to a soundtrack of 'oh please don't'. But like mikepop said, Jim isn't as interesting as he once was so he needs to change the dynamic). Somehow they found a way to make this payoff feel even more disturbing than the suggestion of it did several years ago, when Kimmy was first introduced as Philip’s latest honeypotting target; on top of everything else it now also feels like a betrayal. Philip’s change of heart, and warning to her as he ended their relationship was a tiny spot of redemption, but I fear what it will mean for Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage.

And P&E’s earlier scene of intimacy was, IIRC, the first since the ‘queen of the rodeo’ bit in the Kansas hotel room early last season (and Philip’s morning-after glow seems to indicate it has been a while). The show has always used sex between them as a way to underscore the state of their relationship, and this instance had a feeling of loving warmth to it that we haven’t seen before — which seems fitting both for where they are now, and the fact they’re actually married. But there was an undercurrent to it that was almost as uncomfortable as Philip and Kimmy; Elizabeth’s sitting on the bed, holding Philip in her gaze and then caressing his cheek felt both genuine and manipulative. She seemed to both want that moment of connection with her husband and also to exploit it, as she did over coffees by pitching the Kimmy operation. I doubt it’s for nothing that when we first see her the morning after, she’s alone, in her usual smoking spot outside.


Oh, I just have to add that it was pretty heartbreaking that Philip finally chose to draw a line in the sand after his encounter with / seduction of Kimmie.

In this week's podcast (linked above) the showrunners gave a good insight into this: they characterised it as Philip choosing his wife’s needs over his preferences. He loves her, and it must wear on him to know that his quitting made her work significantly harder. He doesn’t want to do it, but she needs this and she never asks him for anything, so he chooses her over his conscience. But afterward the burden of it all crashes down on him again, and he can’t live with it, so he ends his relationship with Kimmy and warns her off as best he can without breaking cover.
posted by myotahapea at 4:43 AM on April 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


As someone who had a fraught relationship with my own father, I found the Paige - Philip combat scene Interesting. Lots of anger on Philip's end there.

The Vulture review pointed out how children of dysfunctional partners often serve as proxies for the parents' anger with each other and...yeah.

I do think part of it on Philip's side was to show Paige how it would be if she was matched with a physically stronger opponent. I read his long walk to the elevator as resignation: I think he sensed there would be no deterring Paige from her current course. The next natural step for him was to try to save Kimmy from a factually different but politically similar fate...also to save himself from more incurred guilt on behalf of a régime he knows is weakening.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:30 AM on April 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I got to this episode late this week, and don't have a lot to add to the discussion. At this point, there is just so much going wrong for the Jennings, I can't tell if I'm dreading the endgame or want it to hurry up and break the tension.

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2018


The Jennings are vulnerable on so many fronts right now that I couldn't possibly guess what will ultimately do them in. I'm just... waiting to see what happens. The writers on this show are amazing and have made very few missteps, and I trust them to come up with a fitting end. And I won't mind too much if something terrible does happen to Philip and Elizabeth because they really are doing monstrous things and must be stopped. At this point, I am only invested in a few outcomes: I want Paige, Henry, and Oleg to be safe, and I want to know what happened to Young Hee and Don.
posted by orange swan at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2018


And while we're discussing this, and my above comment is the first mention of Henry in this entire thread, back at St. Edwards, Henry's all, "Uh, does anyone remember that I exist? Has anyone paid my tuition? Hello?"
posted by orange swan at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, poor Henry. The kid spent so much of his home life being either underestimated or scolded. His parents couldn’t hide their incredulity at his intelligence and educational success, and then got angry at him for wanting to go to a posh private school instead of being left alone at home most nights or cut off mid-convo so they could minister to his sister. His mum comes home from a long convalescence on his birthday, only for his parents to leave them with a sitter whilst they go out honeytrapping with Emmett and Leanne.

By the time Paige got pulled into the spy biz he was an afterthought, rarely talked about other than to verify he wasn't around to overhear. The one unambiguously good thing we've seen them do for him was letting him go to St Edwards. Now because of his dad’s bad business sense he might get yanked out of an environment where he’s happy and thriving and thrust back into a home that’s a shell of the one he left, with a mother who at this point would likely have difficulty picking him out in a police lineup.

I almost hope Henry takes a page from the Rory Gilmore book of higher-education financing and goes to Stan or Chris’s family or someone else behind his parents’ backs and works out the money for school by himself, in a big middle-finger to the family he’s last priority for. And if the series ends with the Jenningses dead or imprisoned or fleeing back to the motherland, Henry better get adopted by Stan.
posted by myotahapea at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't help but watch the earlier seasons and my, I'm not sure if events this season are callbacks. A few tidbits from S2:
  • Stan's first wife taking drawing lessons and saying to Stan that drawing is supposed to help you reclaim parts of yourself you've lost...
  • Arkady commenting to Nina about newb Oleg: "He'll be the ruin of us all."

posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:37 AM on April 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Henry, as a character, is such an enigma. Are the writers holding the character in reserve to play a crucial part of the end game? Will he be the one to clue Stan in to who his parents really are?Or, is he metely a character that, after being introduced, never could be fit into how the story was evolving, yet couldn’t realistically be written out?

I have to think his earlier closeness with Stan is going to be paid-off somehow. Or, get Stan killed.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow. So much going on. This is an amazingly dense show. The one thing that hit me the hardest was the fight scene between Paige & Philip. When he had her in the headlock pushed up against the wall it had an overtone that was perilously close to rape. That was just incredibly disturbing. I don't even want to think about it. But there it is. Rape is about violence & helplessness. From father to daughter? Ugh.
posted by scalefree at 8:32 PM on April 29, 2018


That was just incredibly disturbing. I don't even want to think about it. But there it is. Rape is about violence & helplessness. From father to daughter? Ugh.

I think the point was to drive home to her just how perilous what she's doing really is. Given Paige's mindset at the time, simply telling her would have fallen on deaf ears. There was also a more subtle lesson there...Be wary of even those closest to you.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:51 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I totally got the point, that he wanted to show her how much further she has to go in her training, that she's oversure of herself & can quite easily be outmatched by a more skilled opponent like him. It's still a disturbing image with overtones of rape. I understand she was never danger of him actually doing it to her - god! He just wanted her to feel out of control of herself in exactly the same way she would if he really were a rapist so he put them in the kind of pose she might find herself in & let her instinctive fear of being controlled like that do the rest. I'm sure it was a difficult scene to film, it was difficult to watch.
posted by scalefree at 4:25 AM on April 30, 2018


Now because of his dad’s bad business sense

I'm really waiting for more of this to unfold. I can't help but think that there's more to it than that the business is struggling in expansion. I think it will play into something larger.
posted by entropone at 6:23 AM on April 30, 2018


And when he comes into the kitchen he sniffs once, then turns round and looks at the door she’s hiding behind.

I missed this detail, but it makes me think of all the cigarettes she's been smoking, and how she must reek of it in these episodes.
posted by cardboard at 7:18 AM on April 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


If we're talking sniffing, then we also should talk coughing. Mr. Teacup was doing it (although we don't have to worry about him anymore) but so was Oleg. I wouldn't normally obsess over such a silly little detail, but in this show, we've come to realize there are no silly little details.
posted by sardonyx at 7:35 AM on April 30, 2018


The word we're both avoiding is misogyny.

Exactly. I’m similarly aware of being in the minority wrt Elizabeth, and was hesitant to call it out this openly, but since I started hearing/reading commentary about her I’ve felt it was a large part of what drove the negativity toward her.

… it bugged me that Americans relate to Phil cos of his affable like of Things American, the sports cars and line dancing.

That's the other half of it; Elizabeth is unapologetic about hating American culture and values, and I think at least some of that negativity is reactionary in nature. Philip feels remorse for the awful things he's done, and he misses the Soviet Union, but also takes pleasure in his American life. These things make him more palatable — see? He likes us! He's not so bad! — which is a distinction between them that was made early in the first season.

But Elizabeth radiates Otherness. She stands in judgment of the West, and focuses on the worst aspects of it. She doesn't fit in, and doesn't want to. So it's comforting to demonise her, because if she's a monster that also means she's wrong, and her opinion can be dismissed.
posted by myotahapea at 10:15 AM on April 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh we cringed when Phillip had sex with Kimmie but he was redeemed when he warned her!
posted by k8t at 11:43 PM on April 30, 2018


I'm grateful they finally pulled the trigger on Chekov's Virginal 15 Year Old Girl. Even if Kimmie's 20 now. When they first set that up with her at 15 we were all in horror here on Fanfare, "surely Phillip can't go this despicably far". And he didn't, at least for 5 years, and then he had the decency to look disgusted with himself. I think that was the first incident where I really understood that the Jennings are monsters, they are not heroes, despite all the show's excellent writing that makes us sympathize with them.

I agree with the comment up-thread that they're having Elizabeth kill so many people to prepare us for her eventual justice. I mean this episode was a straight up assassination, "go take this guy out". And as we said in the previous discussion; why would the Soviets want to go so far to take out some relatively minor defector? Why use one of their most valuable secret agents to do it? All crazy. But it sure sets up Elizabeth even further for her fall.

I could watch Drunk Margo Martindale in anything.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was strongly reminded this episode about the sex training that Philip (and Elizabeth, but i think the flashback was his) had to endure, with countless different partners of different ages, etc. They had Philip fixate more explicitly on Paige's deficient fight training, but they brought up her sexuality too, and Philip was clearly horrified at the prospect. I didn't get the impression it was normal dad protectiveness about a normal boy, but horror at thinking about the "training" Paige still needs to be an effective agent. Her lack of sufficient fight training, given that she has had at least had SOME fight training, really drives home the fact she had had zero sex training and is utterly unprepared for that part of this life, yet seems to be dabbling in it anyway.
posted by gatorae at 4:50 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think Phillip’s fight with Paige was really good for two reasons: 1) to show that young whippersnapper what fighting really is and 2) to show that even in spy training, P&E work better as a team. Paige needs her father’s emotional side, she won’t be any good if she’s 100% Elizabeth because she’s not Elizabeth.

This show, guys! So many feels!
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:19 PM on May 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Message to whoever put this episode together: the scene with Stan arriving at the safe house and walking past the now-orphaned kid with his teddy bear? You probably should have put that after a commercial break or something, instead of tacking it on after the Philip/Paige fight. I don't think there's anything that could follow that scene and not have the emotional wind sucked out of its sails.

I don't think the episode ever explained how Elizabeth knew which apartment the Teacups were in.
posted by komara at 7:08 PM on May 22, 2018


I don't think the episode ever explained how Elizabeth knew which apartment the Teacups were in.

In Mr and Mrs Teacup, we see Elizabeth task Marilyn and Norm with following Stan; we later see them tailing the FBI agents and surveilling the safehouses.
posted by myotahapea at 5:48 AM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


> In Mr and Mrs Teacup, we see Elizabeth task Marilyn and Norm with following Stan; we later see them tailing the FBI agents and surveilling the safehouses.

Sure, I saw all that, how they found the buildings that they were in. But Gennadi was in an apartment building, and surveilling Beaman entering an apartment building doesn't give you his apartment number or which window to enter through from a fire escape, you know?
posted by komara at 6:49 AM on May 25, 2018


(and I know ultimately it doesn't matter, they found out where he was through some method - I'm just unaccustomed to this spy show not showing me every detail of these people's craft or whatever)
posted by komara at 7:08 AM on May 25, 2018


the punches were nice but Paige in the drunk scene, christ on a cross. her "lol you had to fuck soldiers for food so you wouldn't starve, that's funny" giggly response to Claudia's calm disclosure was just

just, that's absolutely consistent with her characterization, but she could be worse than her mother AND her father if anybody ever gave her the chance. not more effective, just worse. there's no amount of vodka or sheltered upbringing that explains that scene
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:34 PM on June 27, 2018


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