The Americans: Rififi
May 2, 2018 9:56 PM - Season 6, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Henry comes home for Thanksgiving, Aderholt updates Stan on counterintelligence's activities, Elizabeth goes to the movies and Chicago, Stan is grateful for his freedoms, and Philip makes some business decisions and corresponds with Oleg.
posted by orange swan (35 comments total)
Elizabeth offering high-school athlete Henry a smoke illustrated how disconnected from parenting she has become. And ugh, haggard Elizabeth alone in Chicago, stop making me empathize with you!

Henry has raised himself well, but being confused just because his mother called him is kinda sad. (Also, note what a calm, observant, problem-solving young man he is, and ponder again why he hasn't been recruited.)

Also E's verbal seduction of a guy not much older than her son is an echo of Kimmy/Phil.

Where the hell are all these different ops going with 4 eps left? The Haskards, French film kid, Harvest in the 2nd city. Plus what's happening with Oleg, the Rezidentura lady. Etc.

That it's now also Paige as well as Phillip watching Elizabeth take that phone call; and P & P fake-smiling at Stan is eerie. (But during Stan's speech we were deprived of seeing Elizabeth's vein pop.)

There was a time I thought Stavros was perhaps planted by the Centre to low-key monitor P&E. I guess the dramatic purpose of his firing was to show Phil being a business hardass (& to give a good bit player a Moment).
posted by NorthernLite at 10:37 PM on May 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I guess the dramatic purpose of his firing was to show Phil being a business hardass...

I saw it as a metaphor for Phillip officially severing ties with his past. Who knows? Stavros might still turn out to be a plant. I'm pretty sure the Centre has no idea the agency is circling the drain. But, if they did find out, they'd see it as a serious threat to the mission.

I missed why E was targeting the french film kid. That seemed to come out of the blue, but I'm sure they explained it at some point, and it just escaped me.

That phone call between E and Henry was just so sad. She has utterly no clue how to be (or play) mom anymore.

Mailbot with a *HUGE* cameo! I could hear the fans cheering from coast-to-coast.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:32 AM on May 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

Where the hell are all these different ops going with 4 eps left? The Haskards, French film kid, Harvest in the 2nd city. Plus what's happening with Oleg, the Rezidentura lady. Etc.

As we come down to the end, the significant missions seem to be:
—Finding the 'man inside' referenced by Breland, who the Centre interprets to be a Soviet mole feeding information to the CIA
—Gathering intel on the summit negotiations, and feeding the info back to the Centre who will either put it to use from the motherland or assign another op on US soil to influence the outcome
—Dead Hand

My straight-up speculations:
The Haskards: They are here less for the mission than for the human element. While Glenn and his briefcase are an important source for collecting details on the summit negotiations, the real purpose of the story is the pathos of Erika’s illness, and how her situation is maybe not getting Elizabeth in touch with her feelings, exactly, but maybe making her aware that she might have some. The fact she sat in her Chicago hotel room, with all the worries and doubts in her head, and started sketching that television seems to point to the real reason the Haskards were introduced.

Film kid: They've gone as vague with him as they did with Young-hee at the start, so it's hard to say; he works for a Senator, so I'm guessing this has something to do with the mole. He appeared after Philip made it clear he'd salted the earth wrt the Kimmy operation, so it's decent odds he's the new way in.

Harvest: If Counterintelligence have been surveilling him and running him down based on his tradecraft, there's a good chance this will provide a strong link to Elizabeth, and maybe Philip. Feels like they're setting up the possibility that one of them, or Marilyn, will be lost or caught during the process of extracting him.

Oleg: He's there to gather intel about Dead Hand for Arkady, but having him back seems to be more about widening the scope, and pulling some of our secondary players in for the final reckoning. Having him involved is fleshing out the story beyond just Philip and Elizabeth, bringing in the context of glasnost and the divide between the hardliners looking to the past, and the reformers looking to the future (the angle with Tatiana and the Rezidentura works toward this as well). Plus, more Oleg.
posted by myotahapea at 6:57 AM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've said it before, but fucking Dead Hand. That circuit board (thanks, Teacup, looks like not everything in your pouches was useless after all) led back to the operative in Chicago, and the attempted sensor theft at the warehouse points back to the DC illegals. Kovtun and the Dead Hand element look set to singlehandedly burn down the entire Illegals programme for a few pieces of tech to build some ridiculous Dr Strangelove-esque Doomsday machine.

Directorate S is no easy master but it’s been shown over the course of the series that, for all the difficult things they ask of their agents, they do value them. Because the Illegals aren’t ‘their’ assets, Kovtun and his associates seem to see them as expendable, only worth as much as they can deliver, and sacrificing them and all their future potential is acceptable in service of their single greedy objective.
posted by myotahapea at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Re: Film kid/Jackson Barber

US political history is not my strong suit, but it seems the senator he works for (Sam Nunn, D-Ga) was made Chair of the Senate Committee of Armed Services in 1987 and was active in nuclear threat reduction at that time. So it's likely Elizabeth is working him for some angle regarding the summit.

Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (created in 1991 but according to Wikipedia it dates back to a 1986 Congressional meeting)
US-Soviet Arms Talks, October 1987 (C-Span video; Nunn appears about 20 minutes in)
posted by myotahapea at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth accusing Philip of having sex with Kimmy because he wasn't get any action at home was pretty off the rails. The kind of thing you know isn't true even as you are saying it, but you say it anyway. It's like the stress on her is increasing exponentially.

Probably the most we'll see of Henry unless the FBI raids his school once they find out about the Jennings.

Not many lines for Paige this week, but a lot of significant facial expressions.

Philip and Elizabeth teaming up for one final mission should be pretty epic. No guess on the soundtrack for that, but probably not this.
posted by mikepop at 12:53 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Isn't the intern the same guy Paige slept with ? The one Elisabeth told Paige not to get info from ?
posted by Pendragon at 1:29 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

After checking IMDB, apparently not. Never mind...
posted by Pendragon at 1:31 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Philip and Elizabeth teaming up for one final mission should be pretty epic.

I have a hard time believing Phillip is going to Chicago to help the mission. I think he's going to try and rescue Elizabeth.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Philip may be either helping or sabotaging the mission, but, yeah, he probably wants to help Elizabeth.

I'm wondering if he wants to help Elizabeth not just because of her haggardness and the fact that she called Henry (indicating direness and love) but also in part because he found and saw the drawings which he interprets as an additional glimmer of redeemability/humanity or something.

Only on episode six!
posted by zeek321 at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

That opening fight between Elizabeth and Phillip was rough. As unfair as Elizabeth's accusation that Phillip wanted to sleep with Kimmie was, Phillip started the conversation by accusing Elizabeth of killing the Teacups in front of their 7 year old son, as if he believed she did it on purpose. That seems pretty unfair as well, as opposed to asking her what happened.

I liked how they brought in Henry to calmly underscore to Phillip and Elizabeth how screwed up they are. First he's troubleshooting Phillip's business troubles, then he's calmly inquiring into their relationship issues. When did Henry get so observant? And Phillip's outburst over the car racing game was hilarious.

Damn, firing Stavros was cold. All those new people, and you fire Stavros? And tell him you consider him a friend? Ugh, Phillip.

I'm holding out hope that this exfiltration mission will heal a little of the giant rift between Phillip and Elizabeth. I don't see a happy ending to the series, but I'd like them to not go out hating each other.
posted by the primroses were over at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2018

Keidrich Sellati finally gets to do the 'Previously On …'!

I hope we see more of Henry than just this Thanksgiving visit; his evolution into this rational, level-headed near-adult over these three years is a welcome surprise, and my favourite part of an excellent episode. It really says something that it almost seems he has swapped roles with Philip and Elizabeth — he’s evaluating his parents’ emotional states and calmly problem-solving how to stay in private school, while his mother is offering him cigarettes and his father is throwing tantrums over slot cars. It was a great levelling influence to have him walk in as an outsider and immediately read both his parents’ situations for what they are.
“She’s so unhappy.”

Hearing that is a shock, even though all the signs have been there since the start of the season. We’re so used to seeing Elizabeth in her superhuman mode that it’s easy to write off her affect as just exhaustion, or worry, or stress, or almost anything else. But no — actually, she’s sad, and she probably doesn't even realise it herself. Having Henry, the family member least close to her, the only one not aware of her true identity, be the only one to see it, and see it so obviously, made it all the more poignant. 

And such mixed feelings during that phone conversation between he and Elizabeth. On the one hand, you really feel for her; she’s at the end of her tether, doing her best to plan an extraction she knows has a high risk of failure, trying to have a moment to connect with the son she didn’t even get to say goodbye to before leaving, knowing there’s a chance she won’t come home again. And then you remember that this distance between them is a direct result of her choices. She could have walked across the street to give him a hug goodbye before leaving, but she didn't. She could easily know all those details about his life and have a real relationship with him if she hadn’t always put work first, if she hadn’t written him off as his father’s ‘department’. And while Philip understands the meaning behind that call, Henry’s just ‘Huh. Whatever’, and shrugs it off, because he’s grown so accustomed to his mother not being a significant presence in his life. In an alternate, more obvious universe there’s a Harry Chapin song playing over that scene.
posted by myotahapea at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

Philip has spent half this season thus far punching numbers into a calculator and poring over papers with a furrowed brow.

Philip: There was a couple that was murdered in front of their 7-year-old kid.
Elizabeth: I didn't do it in front of their kid! He was in another room!
All righty then.

That showdown with Philip and Elizabeth felt like the world's nastiest game of chess. Philip attacks. Elizabeth makes a defensive move. Philip counterstrikes. Elizabeth tries to attack. Philip deflects. Elizabeth tries another offensive move, and Philip boldly checkmates her.

Mail Robot is able to take the elevator? That's really kind of impressive for 1987 technology. But maybe it just wanted some buddy time with Stan and Dennis and hurried into the elevator accidentally on purpose, then looked studiously at the numbers, too polite to try to include itself in their conversation.

"You got any more steam you want to blow off?" Aderholt has had it with Beeman's disaffection.

Aderholt is a damn good agent. Give him one thread to pull on and he runs with it.

I counted at least three occurrences of acid wash denim in this episode. It was an acid blast from the past.

Henry, I feel your pain over your country music-loving dad, but count your blessings. At least *your* dad never wore a Grand Ole Opry ball cap.

Henry and Philip aren't wearing their seat belts. Tsk.

Henry has impressive problem solving and networking skills for a 16-year-old. Also, being away from home so much means he's more objective and has heightened perception when he does come home.

Doesn't the directorate have someone a little... younger... to sic on Jackson Barber? As attractive as Elizabeth is, he is not going to be interested in a woman nearly twice his age, especially when he can tell she's only pretending to know about foreign films.

Why oh why would the directorate pay utility bills in advance? No one does that. And that freaking beef and potato stew was such a concern?

I hope Claudia's people don't reuse the same few names.

"You're an adult now. I don't have to hide things from you." Except marital problems and undercover KGB operations, murders, lies, theft, honey pot duty...

When your marriage is on the rocks and you're sick of ruining people's lives during covert spy operations, a battery-operated toy racing car crashing can seem like THE LAST FUCKING STRAW.

I'm taken aback that Philip was able to simply refuse to work the Bulgaria operation. Surely Directorate S would have something to say about that. With a phone book.

Poor Stavos is going to wish he'd tripped Mr. Philip on some of those line dancing nights. You better hope the FBI never questions him, Philip. He'll sing. And promptly.

Henry's perhaps not quite so observant and perceptive when it comes to his own relationships with girls.

Stan's Thanksgiving toast is possibly the most hostile in history. And it would only have gotten worse if Elizabeth had been there, popping a forehead vein in an effort to restrain herself.

The FBI has work potlucks? I bet most of them make their wives prepare the food.

Hoo boy, Aderholt's on to the fact that there's a Russian Orthodox priest involved now. Shouldn't someone have told the priest not to wear his vestments when meeting with agents?

Oleg's getting all super secret spy tech with Philip's missive. I half expected him to break out a decoder ring.

So now the next episode is going to be all about Philip and Elizabeth's extraction of the Chicago agent, which is clearly going to be fraught.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Omg omg omg. So much is going on!
posted by k8t at 9:53 PM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

When film kid turned down Elizabeth at first I swore she was going to finally see the value in Paige being willing to sleep with people. And I thought on top of all the other stress, Elizabeth is going to feel like she isn't fuckable anymore.
posted by k8t at 10:43 PM on May 3, 2018

I don’t know why it’s only hit me this week, but I’m pretty sure that death is the only acceptable end game for Elizabeth. She’ll never happily “retire” and truly sees herself as a solider for her country.

I felt very nervous when Philip went to their garage almost directly after the scene where Stan and Dennis are talking garage rentals.

I *think* Elizabeth went after the intern on her own initiative (taking Paige’s idea). It was interesting to see her change her tact when asking him out didn’t work —- went for the job angle next.

When Henry says, if I don’t *graduate* from St. Edwards, then all this has been for nothing, I can’t help but think about how much his parents have really ruined his life. Unless things go on as they are, there’s no path for Henry that isn’t tainted with his parent’s misdeeds. And he’s the only Jenning left who isn’t complicit.
posted by CMcG at 5:31 AM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Having lived in Chicago for a time I couldn't help taking a closer look at Harvest's details in his file and damn — there are worse commutes to be sure, but they give his residence in Skokie, what looks to be his office in Ukrainian Village and his stash house in Cicero. I'm wondering where it is that Elizabeth is looking to grab him from, particularly as much of that route can be done via expressway/Lake Shore Drive.

As soon as Philip said “Have a seat, Stavos” you knew what was coming — I didn’t stop cringing throughout the scene. Matthew Rhys is so good with these subtleties.

Oh, the jeans. Paige and those puffy pleated specimens, tucked into her boots — she looked about 3 feet tall.

All that acid-wash in general made me think of Hans when we first meet him, shyly flirting with Elizabeth over what she thought of stone-washed jeans because he was thinking of getting a pair, and then I got sad.

Slot Cars — 1/24 of the size, 3/8 of the fun. So true for Philip.

The Feds are tracking Orthodox priests now as well — and the last time we saw Father Andrei he told Elizabeth to bring Philip to their next meet.

“Any more steam you want to blow off?”

For a hot second I thought Aderholt was suggesting Stan should pull a Gaad on Mail Robot in the lift.

Moment of unintentional hilarity: Oleg’s invisible ink chemicals in a shaving kit. (At least I think that’s what it was; from what I could see on the green bottle it read 'ПРОХЛАДНАЯ СВЕЖЕСТЬ' which would translate to something like ‘cool freshness’ so likely after-shave?) One look at that beard, Oleg, and nobody’s going to believe you have any non-nefarious reason to travel with that stuff.

You know it’s a sketchy operation if even Marilyn is questioning the viability of Elizabeth’s plan.
posted by myotahapea at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think it would be interesting if Elizabeth uses her Dead Hand suicide pill to end the artist's suffering in a rare act of empathy, only to need it when she's cornered by Aderholt & Stan.
posted by bluecore at 7:37 AM on May 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I really wonder what Philip's conception of the endgame is. I'm dying to know what message he sent to Oleg. I'm guessing he needs to get rid of staff at the travel agency just to keep the business afloat, but I also wonder if he is thinking of it as a quick source of cash that will allow him to pay Henry's tuition in advance for the next year because over the next few months all bets are off for him and the business anyway. He can't leave Henry will a failing business but he can leave him with good education from a name institution.

I was surprised he so directly and so quickly told Elizabeth about his warning to Kimmie. It seems like it would have been smarter, in terms of Kimmie's welfare, to keep that under wraps until it was too late for Claudia et al. to put together an alternative plan. But really, as suggested by Philip's decision at the end, his focus is more on saving Elizabeth, if possible, not Kimmie. But it is not like he can just "extract" her. Obviously, she is her own woman and more than committed to her own path. I don't think of Philip as paternalistic toward her, so I guess he is going to just keep confronting her while staying close enough that he will be there if she reaches a fork in the road.

I feel like Philip is going to have to kill Stan to save Elizabeth or Elizabeth is going to have to kill Claudia to save Philip but they'll both end up dying anyway. I'm kind of bracing myself for it. Stan's gotta die at the end, too, right? He can't walk away like some sort of Columbo or Inspector Clouseau. Henry and Paige will be The Americans. Paige will be under such close surveillance for the rest of her life that the Center will never even be able to contact her again. She'll live alone with her secrets and two warring souls inside her. Henry will have a prestigious private school education, connections, and the ability to mix socially with the right kind of people.
posted by nequalsone at 8:01 AM on May 4, 2018

I feel like Philip is going to have to kill Stan to save Elizabeth

After Paige's sparring with Philip last week, I've been thinking she's going to have to have some high-stakes moment where she has to commit to the spy life, or admit to herself it is more than she can handle. What if Paige has to kill Stan to save Elizabeth and/or Philip?
posted by mikepop at 8:32 AM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm taken aback that Philip was able to simply refuse to work the Bulgaria operation. Surely Directorate S would have something to say about that. With a phone book.

If anything I would expect it to be the opposite; he chose to quit, so why would they use someone who doesn't demonstrate loyalty. Elizabeth can't tell him anything about her operations, or even what his own daughter is doing, because he's no longer one of their agents; they're not going to force him to undertake a mission when they could go another way. And the Centre knows they would have little to gain and a lot to lose if they pissed off someone with as much information as he has — the phone book was deployed when he was one of their agents being interrogated under suspicion of treason, not a civilian turning down a mission. If those were their methods they would have executed or repatriated him when he quit. My guess is that knowledge of his involvement didn't go past Claudia.

The FBI has work potlucks? I bet most of them make their wives prepare the food.

Seemed to be the bog-standard post-Thanksgiving leftovers spread, as they were in the office on Friday. That guy who walked wielding a container said 'Emily's sweet potatoes' as though they were a tradition of sorts.
posted by myotahapea at 9:10 AM on May 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can see Paige pulling a gun on Stan and then just melting or Philip or Elizabeth getting between Paige and an antagonist, taking a bullet for Paige, but I can't see her actually pulling the trigger. It doesn't seem like where the writers are going (but I also thought they wouldn't have Philip have sex with Kimmie either). Everything that is happening is damaging so many people, but I feel like the main price will be paid by Philip and Elizabeth. Maybe I am taking storytelling conventions too seriously, but that's my sense.

As far as the endgame from Elizabeth's perspective, I think it was "spy or die" (or maybe "spy and die") until recently, but could the situation in Chicago be letting some other thoughts leak in? Was there a hint of "we have to talk about what to do about Philip" from Claudia toward the end? Elizabeth might think he will be allowed to continue with a separate life in the US indefinitely or repatriated to the Soviet Union if things get dicey, but the Center is probably a bit more clear-sighted about Philip being unextractable at this point, and a now a specific threat to the mission, leading Claudia to a strategy that Elizabeth can't live with...
posted by nequalsone at 9:31 AM on May 4, 2018

Slate's matching podcast episode is out.
First, she talks with Stephen Schiff and Justin Weinberger, who wrote Episode 6, “Rififi,” about how distance has helped Henry see family dynamics more clearly, why Stan is so mad at Agent Aderholt, and why Philip decides to join Elizabeth on an out-of-town adventure. She then chats with Weinberger about his work as the show’s script coordinator. Finally, Amanda Pollack, who has been an editor on The Americans since Season 1, explains how she pieces the show together.
posted by kingless at 11:41 AM on May 4, 2018

I really enjoy this fanfare in particular. It would probably be tough but I'd like to watch the final couple episodes live with you all.
posted by k8t at 7:27 PM on May 4, 2018

Mail Robot is able to take the elevator? That's really kind of impressive for 1987 technology.

I recall around that era, at a local hospital, there being a cousin of MailBot being used to transport medical samples, meds, and other stuff roaming the halls. It navigated the place using magnetic strips laid on the floors. It also could navigate into elevators.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

That early scene in the kitchen was a reminder of how well this show does (verbal) fight scenes, the most memorable obviously being the one which came in the wake of Martha’s departure. With so much history between two people you know where the flashpoints are that trigger a “dragster-style, zero-to-argument in 1 second approach”. Philip not only harmed her operationally by torpedoing the Kimmy operation, but personally as well, by ultimately refusing her the one time she asked for help. And because Elizabeth doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings she needed to lash out, and so picked the thing she knew would hurt him most, even if she didn’t believe it was true. Their sniping this episode felt a bit like a less extreme version of George and Martha.

Philip’s confronting her about the Teacups and their son was also a nice reminder of something obvious, but which I hadn’t thought directly about very much before: Elizabeth doesn’t have anyone to question the morality of what she does and speak the truth, free of context. Everyone she could talk to does the same work, so she exists in this bubble where the only debate is over degrees and details. Philip confronting her with the bare fact of these people being killed and their son being left to find their bodies, and Elizabeth immediately throwing justifications at him is probably one of the only times she’s had to face direct condemnation for something she did (the other being Betty's dying words), and her panicky defensiveness shows it did upset her. The same when she packs her bag and storms out on Thanksgiving — likely a part of her knows there really isn’t a way to justify walking out on her family on a holiday for a mission, but she doesn’t know how to not do what is asked of her, always, so she channels that frustration into hating on Philip for quitting and leaving her to do everything, even though she told him herself that he should stop.

My read of their final phone conversation was that like with Kimmy, Philip is putting his wife before his conscience. Coming from Elizabeth, admitting they ‘need more people’ is the equivalent of a scream for help, though she’d never come out and ask directly. And he still loves her, and now understands she’s unhappy, and can’t bear to leave her that way. So he’s going to help with the mission, not because he really cares whether they get Harvest out or not, but because he knows his wife can’t not do it, and that she can’t do it alone. They're in it together, and now it’s just a question of how badly things are going to go in Chicago.
posted by myotahapea at 6:46 AM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Henry has raised himself well, but being confused just because his mother called him is kinda sad. (Also, note what a calm, observant, problem-solving young man he is, and ponder again why he hasn't been recruited.)

Number one thing you look for in recruiting an agent is a hook, some need to exploit. Sure he's capable, has all the necessary skills. But there's not much of a hook for them to exploit. Well there is now, money. But it'd be awfully cynical & cold to say "sorry son, money's run out - unless you come spy with us!" Plus I'm not sure how well it'd work to be both the source & solution to the same problem.
posted by scalefree at 10:17 AM on May 5, 2018

Vulture: The Delicate Fury of Keri Russell on The Americans

This episode was exceptional even by the high standards set by the rest of this show. I'm excited and terrified to find out what happens in Chicago.
posted by simonw at 1:48 PM on May 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I feel like if the writers and everyone can stick the landing going into the last few episodes here, this show will go down in TV history, and they will, at some point, get their "Masterclass in TV Storytelling" award from the critics and general public. (My perception is that this hasn't happened quite yet, on a wide scale anyway.) With this episode I felt that they were setting the stage for a perfect marriage of drama and character going into the finale. If they can keep that tone, they're geniuses.

[The network has to be thinking about a long tail of income from syndication, as the show gets more popular retrospectively. (I mean, I know nothing about this stuff, but I believe Americans viewership is really quite low, isn't it?)]
posted by sylvanshine at 6:49 PM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Elizabeth didn’t kill anyone this episode!
posted by Nelson at 10:23 PM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, note what a calm, observant, problem-solving young man he is, and ponder again why he hasn't been recruited.

Maybe because we’re so close to the end, but I’ve been thinking more about this question lately. In theory the Centre was taking the ‘heir and a spare’ approach with the two known Illegals families, hence going for Jared and Paige instead of Amelia and Henry. I’m working on the assumption that they weren’t settling for just one 2nd generation agent, because it’s the Centre, so even if Jared was successful they still would have started on Paige.

So perhaps since things are going pretty well with Paige they’ve left Henry alone … but you’d think especially now that the Connors have been lost they’d want to develop someone else. We don’t know the scope of the Illegals programme in the US so perhaps there are a handful of potentials around the country, but Rob and William show that not all Illegals were couples. Still, I’m surprised the Centre wasn’t at least requesting reports on Henry, to evaluate his fitness as a prospective agent. Always good to have a plan B in your back pocket.

I would agree that if he could accept the ideology Henry might make a better agent than Paige, particularly in light of the events of the past couple episodes, which highlight Henry’s observational and problem-solving skills, as well as showing Paige’s preference for acting on impulse and disregarding how her actions fit into the bigger picture. A large part of being a good agent is understanding that you are a small piece of a huge puzzle and putting objectives before emotions, and it looks like Henry may be more well-suited to this than his sister.

Obviously he hasn’t been openly recruited for narrative reasons; having to keep one family member an outsider increases the tension and makes for more dramatic storytelling. But it’s also starting to seem that keeping him a total innocent is deliberate. Here is this kid whose parents are Soviet citizens who have been in America illegally for over 20 years. His sister is at least on her way to becoming a traitor, if she couldn’t be legally defined as one already. I think Henry’s being kept out of it as a way to demonstrate the fallout if the rest of his family is captured or killed or repatriated. ‘What will Henry do when he finds out’ is a compelling question, moreso than telling another version of Paige’s story with him.

The kids in the story that inspired the series have me pretty worried for him, though. Despite knowing nothing about their parents’ actions, they had their citizenship stripped and were sent to Russia. Unless Henry gets some kind of Hail Mary — Stan advocates hard for him, or something similar — if the Jenningses are exposed there’s likely not a very good end for Henry.
posted by myotahapea at 4:52 AM on May 6, 2018

Indeed--I feel like "what will Stan make of Henry when he finds out" is an interesting question. I could see him advocating hard for him (and maybe getting disillusioned when the US government decides instead to use Henry for leverage), but I could just as easily see Stan questioning EVERYTHING he thought he knew and writing Henry off as a knowing agent (and very good actor).
posted by duffell at 5:38 AM on May 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

What the heck was that line about patchouli oil and foot touching? I rewound and watched it multiple times and never caught who they were talking about...
posted by Golem XIV at 10:23 PM on June 24, 2018

Patchouli oil was about the artist with cancer.

This episode was so much better than a few recent ones. You can tell that everyone is giving the final season their all.
posted by Monochrome at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2019

I loved that they watched Rififi, and talked about the 28-minute, silent heist in that movie; the grave digging scene in the season opener was clearly a tribute.
posted by mabelstreet at 10:35 PM on July 9, 2019

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