The Americans: The Summit
May 16, 2018 11:09 PM - Season 6, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Philip brings Elizabeth up to speed on his spy activities. Elizabeth's nursing job comes to an end, and her relationship with Jackson takes several turns. Stan continues piecing together information and watching the Jennings. Renee gets notice of a job interview. Philip visits Stavos, tries on a new suit, and rents a video. Elizabeth questions an order from Claudia, and asks Philip to relay a message to Oleg.
posted by orange swan (54 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Man when Philip tried on that suit, my thought was that's a suit you get buried in, which shows how much the tension was ratcheted up for me this episode, holy damn. And the number of thousand-yard stares, Philip to Stavros in particular, damn was that something.
posted by Carillon at 11:17 PM on May 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh man so much happens I forgot to mention even the burning of the painting. Testament to this show about how much can hang on a lighter and canvas.
posted by Carillon at 11:20 PM on May 16, 2018


- Erica: Sad but predictable ending. Elizabeth showed some humanity (by committing a grisly murder).

- Jackson: I was shocked that Elizabeth let him go. Humanity again.

- Painting: Heartbreaking. I was sure she'd keep it.

- Stavos apparently knew they were Russian spies for years and didn't say anything out of loyalty.

- Surprisingly Philip and Elizabeth find themselves on the same side, and we find out exactly where Elizabeth's loyalty lies: to the Communist party, and perhaps the country. Not to Claudia, not to The Centre. If the party wants Gorbachev to stay in power... suddenly she's on Team Oleg.

- No kids in this episode, although Philip has a picture of Henry (and not Paige) on his travel agency desk and tries to call him.

- Stan: talk about a slow burn, he's still fermenting his hunch from last week despite one of those eyewitness drawings looking just like Phil, not to mention the drawing of Clark he got from Martha long ago.

- Renee: With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.

- I thought Elizabeth's turn from conspiring-against-Gorbachev-must-always-follow-orders to freethinking humanitarian was a little bit sudden.
posted by mmoncur at 2:43 AM on May 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I didn’t think her turn was that sudden. We have seen all season her working with blinders on to how badly things were going and it took Phillip to get her to start to open her eyes. Then you have the death of that lady who was slowly forcing her to be human.

I’m so happy they’re on the same side again. P&E against the world 4 eva!
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:34 AM on May 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Man when Philip tried on that suit, my thought was that's a suit you get buried in...

Same here! That was just a very weird scene. I mean, with all the financial problems, he goes and buys a nice expensive suit? Then again...Buying a nice suit, calling Henry just to say "hi", renting and watching a video from his homeland...That all strikes me as stuff a man who knows he's about to die does. Maybe he expected Elizabeth (or, more likely, a face he doesn't know) to come after him?

Choosing (and burning) the canvas was really interesting, and I haven't quite parsed the symbolism in there. Out of all the canvases she could have chosen, Elizabeth picked the only one in the room that wasn't a distorted/fractured face. It was a pained, older face, to be sure, but a full, un-fractured image. I assumed she'd have to destroy it, as it could easily connect her with Erica and her husband, but the deed was so ritualistic.

When she was taking photos of documents at Erica's house, was anyone else expecting Elizabeth to be discovered by Erica's husband and we'd have a second body in the house?

Elizabeth letting Jackson go was super shocking. I thought he was done for. I'm assuming Elizabeth saw the scared child in him.

Elizabeth echoing Jackson's "I don't understand" when she's confronting Claudia was a nice touch. Though, I don't think The Center will let Elizabeth go like she let Jackson go. I sort of half-expected her to shoot Claudia with the same weapon she was supposed to shoot the Russian negotiator with.

......................
I’m so happy they’re on the same side again. P&E against the world 4 eva!

Well...They both might be on Team Gorby now, but there's still a huge divide between the two of them. She'll never forgive him for spying on her. I loved Philip's reaction to Elizabeth wanting to meet with Oleg. Like he was going to let a soulless killer like her anywhere near him.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:39 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I thought Elizabeth's turn from conspiring-against-Gorbachev-must-always-follow-orders to freethinking humanitarian was a little bit sudden.

I found this a really interesting angle to explore, particularly against the events we’ve seen this season. Personally I felt it was less a turn to freethinking humanitarianism than adherence to her own ideology.

Everything we’ve been shown of Elizabeth has been, for lack of a more precise phrase, ‘Communist Idealist’. She would fit in perfectly in any piece of Socialist Realist art. Her first loyalty, even before husband and children, is Party and Country, and she works for the goals and good of the Party — as she showed in her conversation with Claudia. She followed orders unquestioningly for so long because she trusted that the people giving those orders were doing so in service of the greater good of her people. She could stomach the awful things she did because, like she told Betty, she really did believe that those awful things would make the world a better place.

So finding out that what she’s learnt about Nestorenko is irrelevant to those who are giving her orders, and that they’re willing to assassinate and discredit a loyal Party member to further their own interests at the expense of the greater good, is in its own way probably as much or more of a betrayal than finding out Philip was informing on her — particularly once he tells her that he was putting his country first. And after Philip’s comment in the opening scene about how everything they do is on them, she’s likely thinking of all the things she’s done in pursuit of the Dead Hand objective, things that now don’t even have the virtue of being for the cause she believes in.

Back in S1, after Claudia had them abducted and interrogated, Elizabeth tells Philip that she was hurt that day as well, by ‘the people I believed in, the people I trusted most my whole life’. The Centre and the Party are where her loyalties lie, and she seems to be realising now that much of what she’s been tasked to do since Mexico City has not only not been ordered by them, but may have been in direct opposition to them, which means she’s been used to work against the beliefs she’s held her entire life. Asking Philip to transmit her message to Oleg was her showing her true loyalty.

(I'm currently watching The Expanse as well, and Elizabeth's storyline this episode is reminding me a bit of Bobbie, who had to defect from Mars and become a traitor in order to do 'her true duty to Mars'. Or, hey, Sydney Bristow and SD-6.)
posted by myotahapea at 5:23 AM on May 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


Stavos apparently knew they were Russian spies for years and didn't say anything out of loyalty.

Was this everyone else's interpretation too? I took it as Stavos knowing they were up to something shady, that they were always whispering in the backroom with the photocopier going. Maybe fraud, maybe drug trafficking, but I don't think he explicitly knew they were Russian spies.
posted by bluecore at 6:24 AM on May 17, 2018 [19 favorites]


I really like how so much of this season, Claudia has been a benign grandmother figure while Elizabeth eases Paige into the life. Margo Martindale dropped her voice and showed that steely edge she has when she revealed that The Centre was, in effect, plotting a coup.

I do not see how Elizabeth makes it out of this season alive. The show has done a really good job of showing how much pressure she's under and how alone she is. I think she let Jackson go because he's practically Paige's age, and she knows how sloppily she cultivated him in the rush to the summit.

- Renee: With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.

The only think I can think of is that she's going to be some kind of deus ex machina so that Elizabeth and Philip can survive the end of the show. I might be okay with that.
posted by gladly at 6:35 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


~Stavos apparently knew they were Russian spies for years and didn't say anything out of loyalty.
~Was this everyone else's interpretation too?


While Stavros' revelation was not specific, I think we are meant to believe that Phillip thinks Stavros is saying he knew they were spies. I know I assumed Stavros meant "spies" given that he's a Russian and, so, probably has some amount of exposure to having suspect activity going on in the workplace.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:26 AM on May 17, 2018


Stavos is Greek, and I don't think he knew more than *something* was going on in that back office.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 AM on May 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


The character's name is Stavos, not Stavros.

When I mentioned that Stavos was Russian in a previous thread, other commenters said he wasn't Russian, but Greek. I'm not sure this is correct. So far as I recall, there has been no reference to Stavos' ethnicity in the show, and Anthony Arkin (son of Alan Arkin!) who plays Stavos is an American of Jewish, Russian and German background on his father's side, while his mother, Barbara Dana, seems to be of English background (she's a descendent of Longfellow's). People have been going by the name, I think, but while Stavros is a Greek name, Stavos seems to be an unusual name and its origins are unclear. It's also unclear what accent Anthony Arkin is using, or whether that's a matter of an actor not nailing an intended accent or whether the accent was meant to be deliberately ambiguous.

I'm on the fence about this, because it seems so unlikely that Elizabeth and Philip would ever have hired a Russian to work so closely with them when he would be so much more attuned than the average American to any little slips in their cover, but I also don't know why the show's creators would have made Stavos Greek, and if so, hired an American actor with Russian roots to play him. It's all very strange and neither explanation makes much sense.
posted by orange swan at 8:16 AM on May 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


I do not see how Elizabeth makes it out of this season alive.

I do. "The work always continues," Claudia said. I can imagine the worst punishment Elizabeth can get is to find herself still an active agent at the end of the show. Which means Stan has to die, but that's already on the horizon, I think.

I'm assuming Elizabeth saw the scared child in him.

She saw Henry in him.

What a fantastic show. The scenes between Elizabeth and Philip were electric, and the ratcheting tension in so many scenes that could have ended in more deaths - Jackson, Stavos, Erica's husband - kept me riveted. I still think making the travel agency business woes such a big part of this last season was a waste of precious plot time, but the rest has been so great I'll forgive that.

With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.

Stan is going to start wondering very soon if the current love of his life is also a Russian sleeper agent. This will crush him. He is doomed.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


When she was taking photos of documents at Erica's house, was anyone else expecting Elizabeth to be discovered by Erica's husband and we'd have a second body in the house?

I felt like the way it was shot he could just look down the stairs and see her. I was thinking "maybe at least move a few feet to the side?"

When they were reviewing the sketches in the FBI room, there was that one that screamed out "Philip" even at a quick scan.

When Jackson came out to meet Elizabeth with the box/bug, between that look on his face and the fact that the black plastic straps that had been around the box were missing, I was ready for agents to swoop in from everywhere; I thought Jackson had been found out and instructed to keep his meeting with Elizabeth as a trap.

With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.
Maybe her background check is going to trigger something.

My favorite delivery of a line was from Claudia:

C: The very top leaders of the KGB and military are behind this.

E: But not the party?

C: We’re all in the party
posted by mikepop at 8:59 AM on May 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


When I mentioned that Stavos was Russian in a previous thread, other commenters said he wasn't Russian, but Greek. I'm not sure this is correct.

I was the one who first mentioned this, and what I said was that I'd always assumed he was Greek, based on his name, and that it was unclear as the actor is American and doesn't seem to be doing a specific accent.

While I'm not married to the idea that Stavos is Greek, I will argue the point that I doubt Phil and Liz would hire a Russian immigrant to work in their cover business*; it's a risk not worth taking. They need to remain inconspicuous, and while there's not necessarily anything suspicious about a Russian employee, it is the sort of detail that may be noticed and remembered. Not unlike Pantene-advert-worthy hair, or smoking like a chimney.

*Or anyone from a Soviet satellite, for that matter.
(I'll also throw in my lot with those saying Stavos twigged to something being hinky, but not necessarily that the Jenningses were spies. It makes sense he picked up on this as he seems to have been there the longest, but I wonder how many others may have suspicions.)

posted by myotahapea at 9:08 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Not unlike Pantene-advert-worthy hair

It's Vidal Sassoon!
posted by guiseroom at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's Vidal Sassoon!

D'oh! My bad. Though in my defence, my hair is flagrantly neither Vidal Sassoon nor Pantene-advert-worthy, so perhaps that was a Freudian slip revealing my own biases ...

posted by myotahapea at 9:28 AM on May 17, 2018


And on the subject of the travel agency:

I still think making the travel agency business woes such a big part of this last season was a waste of precious plot time, but the rest has been so great I'll forgive that.


I actually enjoyed this bit of things. It may not be entirely relevant to the central plotline, but along with the factional elements at play in the USSR it gives a sense of capitalism vs. communism that broadens the scope of the final season and the stakes of what Philip and Elizabeth have been doing all these years. After quitting the spy trade Philip had a pretty big hole in his life which he apparently tried to fill with the ‘American Dream’, throwing himself into the business and embracing the capitalist life. And not only wasn’t he all that good at it, but it seems like he may not have even known exactly why he was doing it. In conversations with both Henry and Stan, Philip has alluded to taking out a loan and expanding because that’s what you’re supposed to do to grow your business, and implying that he was happier with things as they were, asking why things can’t just ‘stay the same size’. (The fact that the outer offices are all renovated but Philip and Elizabeth’s private space remains the same as ever is a nice visual metaphor as well.) There's a sense that, though he didn't enjoy it, spy work was something he was very good at, and now that he's left it behind he's adrift.

Thematically I think it also works that things are falling apart on both sides — Elizabeth is struggling under the spy work, and Philip is struggling under the entrepreneurial work. All those cringeworthy moments of motivational talks and staff firings are showing Philip’s business failures, alongside Elizabeth’s mission failures, and puts them both in a similar place, mentally and stress-wise. (Philip’s been out of the spy life for three years, but his face sure doesn’t show it.) For the first time in both their lives, they’re both failing, and things around them are falling apart.
posted by myotahapea at 10:03 AM on May 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


What an episode! I was convinced that Philip was going to commit suicide, with the suit and the call to Henry and the old tape. Sooooo relieved when Elizabeth had her conversation with Claudia and got home in time for her to connect with Philip and for them to get back on the same team.

I was also very relieved that Philip didn't kill Stavos. I didn't think he would but the look on his face when Stavos said he always knew they were up to something but was raised with loyalty and would never tell--oh, man. Just a testament to the tension and dread in this episode that I thought every single scene was going to end in murder.

I'm wondering whether Renee is like, counter-counter-intelligence? She could be a Russian agent (either Center-motivated or on Gorbachev's side, keeping tabs on Elizabeth) but I keep thinking maybe she's with some other agency...MI6, CIA.

It made total sense to me that Elizabeth would feel so betrayed and played by Claudia and the Center. And probably really foolish in that way you do after betrayals, like, 'how could I be so stupid to assume that the Center's goals were the same as the Party's goals".

I was shocked Elizabeth let the intern go. I was also shocked that he told her what he found?! For someone who ostensibly is a film buff, have you never seen any spy movies before? Like dude you're gonna die!! Find some new black straps and put everything back the way you found it! Paste a smile on your face, act like everything is fine, and then GTFO!

The scene with Erica was so moving. Elizabeth brushing Erica's hair back and kissing her on the forehead was a lovely moment in a grim scene. I think that Elizabeth's work with Erica, and Erica's insistence on Elizabeth's participation in art/humanity/beauty, helped lay the groundwork for her to hear what Philip's been saying and make the decision to tell him to tell Oleg about her conversation with Claudia.

I don't think it's going to happen but dear god I hope P&E get a happy ending. I don't think I've been more attached to T.V. characters and I have a feeling the final two episodes are going to be devastating.

(also, in the previews for next week's episodes--I knew they should have just killed Pastor Tim!!)
posted by stellaluna at 10:46 AM on May 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Margo Martindale dropped her voice and showed that steely edge she has when she revealed that The Centre was, in effect, plotting a coup.

Well, we're talking about Character Actress Margo Martindale here, of course she acts the hell out of these scenes.
posted by Pendragon at 11:20 AM on May 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


What an episode! I was convinced that Philip was going to commit suicide, with the suit and the call to Henry and the old tape.

Let's face it, admitting to Elizabeth that he was spying on her was tantamount to committing suicide.
posted by mikepop at 11:51 AM on May 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


Slate's matching podcast episode is out.
First, she talks with showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields about Philip’s truth-telling, an unusual act of kindness on Elizabeth’s part, and why the characters on The Americans watch television. Then we hear from Alyssa Monks, the artist who created Erica Haskard’s paintings, about how she felt when she learned that Elizabeth was going to burn a piece of art that holds special significance for her. Finally, The Americans’ design team—production designer Dan Davis, set decorator Mila Khalevich, and art director Tim Goodmanson—talk about the challenges Season 6 presented.
posted by kingless at 4:36 PM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Has Elizabeth ever shown tenderness to anybody outside her family? That was pretty amazing.

Now that Elizabeth has refused to do this job, the chance of Claudia bringing in Paige in some capacity seems very high.

I am frankly not optimistic that somebody in the Jennings family is going to be dead before this is all over.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:57 PM on May 17, 2018


The writers definitely want us to think Phillip is contemplating killing himself.
posted by mediareport at 9:19 PM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


- >>Renee: With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.

The only think I can think of is that she's going to be some kind of deus ex machina so that Elizabeth and Philip can survive the end of the show. I might be okay with that.


I guess Renee could turn out to be a Russian agent who torpedoes Stan's investigation. I like that better than the three other scenarios I thought of for using this plot line in only two episodes:

1. Renee is a sleeper agent, but her only mission turns out to be showing up at the FBI office for her interview, pulling out a weapon, and wreaking havoc on the office.

2. Renee is a sleeper agent and after Philip and Elizabeth are caught / killed / exfiltrated, we see Stan going back to work and her reporting on him, just to show that his life continues to be miserably ironic after the show.

3. Renee is not an agent, and they're just bringing her to the FBI building because something is going down there and they want to use her as a hostage / damsel in distress to complicate things for Stan.
posted by mmoncur at 10:40 PM on May 17, 2018


Re: Renee...The show has been very good at not doing the "surprise! character x has always secretly been..." thing. They show you who/what a character is pretty much up-front, so, to me, for Renee to suddenly be revealed as an agent/spy/celebrity chef would be completely out-of-form for the show. Then again, Stavos revealing that he knew something nefarious was going on at the travel agency kind of came out of left field, so...~tosses coin~

One little detail that has puzzled me (and, I'm probably making much more out of it than it deserves)...P&E's talk in the bedroom (when she gives the message for Phil to give to Oleg); At the end, Elizabeth says she has to go back out. As far as we know, she now has no active job to do, now that she's refused to kill Nestorenko. So, where is she going?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


also, in the previews for next week's episodes

Aaggh, please don't do this! Some of us avoid previews to enjoy the show more.
posted by mediareport at 4:53 AM on May 18, 2018 [17 favorites]


As far as we know, she now has no active job to do, now that she's refused to kill Nestorenko. So, where is she going?

To watch him. She told Claudia definitively that she wasn't going to carry out the hit, so she knows they may still send someone else to do the deed and presumably intends to stop them if they do.


Aaggh, please don't do this! Some of us avoid previews to enjoy the show more.


SECONDED.
I was pretty upset when I read the bit above I won't requote; I don't watch previews for a reason, so please don't spoil upcoming plot points in threads.
posted by myotahapea at 5:27 AM on May 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


After Philip talked to Stavos, the next scene was Philip in disguise and I was like "No! Stavos!"

...and then they show Philip renting some videos...

So, what is up with that suit? I immediately thought "funeral" but then I wondered under what scenario does Philip get a funeral? I thought maybe he is planning to meet with Henry's friend's dad or something, try to get a loan? Now I'm wondering if he's going to sneak into the summit and take a bullet for Gorbachev if necessary? Maybe he defects at the summit in order to through the conspiracy into disarray? All of this sounds outlandish.

The thing with Elizabeth is interesting. She's had little problem killing traitors and defectors before, but here she is being asked to kill a loyal Party official who is acting at the explicit behest of the leader of the Party, because the hardliners at the Center think he has the wrong idea about what is good for the country. And worse, she is asked to participate in putting a lie over on the Party and country on behalf of the Center. Even if she is ideologically aligned with the hardliners, I can see why she might not be willing to participate in a coup to achieve their goals. If Gorbachev is so out of step with what is good for the USSR, why can't the Party censure or recall him? And for Claudia to say that they have been manipulating and lying to her to protect her has to be hard for her to take. What protection does she get out of this? A cyanide pill so she can't implicate anyone further up in her actions.
posted by nequalsone at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’d be curious to know more details of what’s going on behind what basically seems to be a coup attempt back home. It's been kept pretty vague — Claudia says the Centre is involved, but as Oleg is in the country at Arkady’s behest and Arkady is Deputy Chief of Directorate S, it doesn’t seem as clear-cut as everyone being on the side that has been giving Elizabeth her orders this season. If nothing else, I have a hard time believing Arkady would send Oleg into danger if he didn't have the power or support to make use of Oleg's intel.

If Elizabeth does end up protecting Nestorenko from being killed by another Russian agent, that will be the end of her career with the KGB, and I think she knows it. Refusing the mission would likely be a black mark on her record, assuming Claudia reported it for what it was, but moving from ‘conscientious objector’ to going full rogue could put her in serious danger if the people Claudia is working with got (have?) the upper hand. If things play out in this direction, defecting/getting caught by the Americans or running is likely their only option, as she could never go home again without being shot for treason.

The Jennings marriage looks like it’s in a bad place right now as well, but I’m still optimistic about the relationship between Philip and Elizabeth. Knowing he informed on her, and his comment about her not being a human being were clearly incredibly hurtful to her, and I love the way the show has now put them on the same side ideologically while the path to getting there has divided them personally. But I can’t help thinking about the little ways Elizabeth has shown loyalty to her marriage over her duty, primarily with Claudia: when telling her about Kimmy, Elizabeth only said Philip wouldn’t do it, not that he had given Kimmy an explicit warning; and even before she learnt of the plot against Nestorenko she didn’t tell Claudia that Philip had been informing on her. If all the feeling was dead on her side I think she would have passed along that information. Oddly, I can live with the idea of one or both of them dead or imprisoned at series end, but not that they would finish things out hating one another.
posted by myotahapea at 9:10 AM on May 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more I think Elizabeth's refusal to kill Nestorenko really laid her character bare, in ways good, bad, and tragic. I was just discussing this with my wife and I summed it up thusly: "Elizabeth isn't a sociopath. She's a delusional soldier."

Elizabeth's true loyalty is to the party, the country and, above all, the communist cause. She doesn't particularly enjoy killing or harming people but she's able to do it with a business-like efficiency because she *really* believes that she is serving something that is bigger than herself and bigger than the people that she harms. She thinks the cause she is serving is Good-with-a-capital-G and that she is really helping it prevail; she clings to the hope that the horrible things she does will someday, maybe far in the future, lead to a better, more just, world.

Of course, she's completely, batshit, delusional.

And the Nestorenko mission shows precisely *how* she is batshit delusional. The entire mission laid bare that she's not serving the cause, she's not moving the world towards justice, however slowly or violently - she's a pawn in a game being played by people far more powerful than she is. Elizabeth clearly sees that Nestorenko is a patriot who believes he is doing his duty - just as she thinks she is - and that her mission is simply a power play between factions back in Moscow. She might be delusional, but she's not stupid; there's no way that this mission could be justified in terms of "the cause" now that the details are out there. So she backs out. She doesn't even hesitate, really.

But the tragic thing is that she's really been doing the thing that they asked her to with Nestorenko all along. The whole Nestorenko mission could be read as a parable for the Cold War. Instead of Gorbachev and anti-Gorbachev factions, you've got the US and the USSR. She's been a pawn in a power game her whole adult life, but that power game played out on a global scale. And it was never about the cause, not really; it was about which side was winning. People who are far more powerful than Elizabeth took advantage of her belief in the cause, her loyalty - and her intelligence and skill - to make her do their dirty work.

Now, I don't think Elizabeth is about to realize all of this (and if she did, she'd probably have a breakdown). But that whole plot point really laid bare that P&E, for all their violence and cool sexy spycraft and whatever else are just tools of the powerful, and always have been. I think Phillip knows this, although he might not quite put it that way. But the really tragic thing about Elizabeth's character is that she doesn't know this, and really can't know it; even now I doubt she'll ever see the connection between the Nestorenko mission and the work she's devoted her life to. She's peeling back a tiny layer of understanding here, if she peeled back more, her whole world would collapse.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:05 PM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I did take particular notice that Elizabeth didn't tell Claudia about Philip and Oleg (though she doesn't know that it is Oleg specifically, the fact that there are Soviet operators reporting back to the USSR outside of official channels would be pretty interesting to Claudia).

I agree that Philip and Elizabeth think of themselves as soldiers. It is the very foundation of their lives. Whether they are fighting a cold war or a hot war is a technicality. And aren't all soldiers delusional to some extent? That's what keeps them from being sociopaths—not counting the minority who are sociopaths. Philip definitely knows they are pawns. He tells Elizabeth, "They tell us what to do, but we are the ones who do it. The responsibility is on us." And, although she lashes out when Philip says "Be human and think for once," she is coming to terms with it.
posted by nequalsone at 12:58 PM on May 18, 2018


I thought the reason she took that particular painting is because the subject resembled her mother.
posted by matildaben at 1:07 PM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Do Philip and Elizabeth even *know* Oleg? Am I forgetting a subplot where they actually met? My memory of this is that Oleg knew of them, because he worked on Directorate S, and knew how to contact them because Arkady was the head of Directorate S, but that neither Oleg nor Arkady had ever actually met them. Is that so?
posted by chrchr at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2018


The tension was so high in this episode. In every scene, I felt like one of the characters was capable of killing another character.

I definitely thought that Phillip was going to kill Stavos instead of pick up a movie.
posted by JennyJupiter at 4:33 PM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Chrchr, I believe that is the case. He knows of them, but has never met them (until he reached out to Phililp) and has no further knowledge.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:36 PM on May 18, 2018


Do Philip and Elizabeth even *know* Oleg? Am I forgetting a subplot where they actually met?

No, and no. The illegals are deep cover and kept totally separate from the 'legal' Russians working in the open in the US. Oleg gained the clearance to read their files, and IIRC he was working on Martha's exfiltration, but he didn't know their identities. As deputy chief of Directorate S Arkady would know how to signal them, which is how Oleg was able to contact Philip once he arrived in DC, but they have no details about one another and only met twice, this season. (Philip made contact with Arkady once, to warn the Centre away from Paige, but he did so by surveilling him and approaching in disguise.)

I definitely thought that Phillip was going to kill Stavos instead of pick up a movie.

I briefly considered this when Stavos told him he knew there were shenanigans afoot in Dupont Circle's back office, remembering the blood-freezing look — You know about that? — on Clark's face when Martha mentioned his 'toupée'. But I didn't think Stavos was in much real danger; if he meant to act on that knowledge it's more likely he would do so immediately after getting fired, not because Mr Philip showed up all sad-sack at his front door. And given Philip's current state of mind, I think he would need to be pushed pretty far to be able to kill someone again, particularly someone he's had such a long relationship with, and who has no reason to lie to him at this point.
posted by myotahapea at 5:05 PM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Elizabeth may put everything second to serving her country, but she certainly doesn't like it when Philip does the same to her.

Jackson wasn't very quick to clue in, but then I suppose he wised up a lot faster than Martha, and she was a lot older than him.

So I guess Marilyn doesn't get a stamp?

Claudia's never met Gorbachev. And doesn't want to. She doesn't seem to have any respect for him.

That good-bye kiss on the forehead.... Elizabeth had grown to love and respect Erika for her toughness, intelligence, and dedication. They really were very similar people.

I wish Elizabeth could have found an easier way of dispatching Erika, who had already suffered so much.

That broken paintbrush was a little too on the nose.

I kind of want to slap Elizabeth for taking one of Erika's largest and most high-impact pieces. She KNEW she'd have to destroy it.

I said in an earlier thread that Jackson would never be interested in "Wendy", due to the age gap. I forgot to take into account that 21-year-old guys tend to go for whatever they can get, especially if they're a little on the dorky side.

Gregory's former colleague could remember that Gregory's girlfriend had "incredible hair" but couldn't say that it was like Elizabeth's?

That steely look on Philip's face when Stavos refers to "whatever was going on in the back room", yikes. The Jennings have been way too complacent. They really shouldn't have had regular long-term contact with anyone, although that in itself would be a red flag, so....

Oh Jackson, you will never know how thin the ice was beneath your feet.

That suit fitting meant something, though I am afraid to consider what. I don't believe Philip would commit suicide, though. He'd never do that to his family.

I wasn't too clear on whom Claudia was directing Elizabeth to "take care of": Nestorenko or her "contact at Sam Nunes' office". You'd think one would want to be more careful with one's pronouns when giving a kill order.

Philip has to go undercover to rent a Russian movie. I'm imagining him wanting to rent Dr. Zhivago or War and Peace and Elizabeth putting her foot down (and grinding her heel) on the idea.

Elizabeth wouldn't kill a Russian unless she *knew* the person was a traitor. And in Nestorenko's case, she not only saw no evidence he was a traitor, she knew him to be a stand up guy who would help clean up a dying woman's vomit instead of leaving it to her hired nurse.

I doubt Elizabeth's ever seen or heard anything of the power plays that would go on in the Soviet government. She signed up so young, has been away so long, and always followed the directives of the Center. Finding out that there are divisive forces in the government must be seriously messing with her sense of purpose, of rightness.
posted by orange swan at 8:09 PM on May 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I could say this every week but Keri Russell’s face is a damn national treasure. All the nuance and emotional complexity, as she wordlessly ends Erika’s life, then struggles through the decision to burn the painting, then the instinct and compassion fighting each other as she weighs the ramifications of either killing or releasing Jackson. This woman better get ALL THE WORK now this series is done filming.


I wish Elizabeth could have found an easier way of dispatching Erika, who had already suffered so much.

The showrunners made an oddly poetic comment in the podcast about how for Elizabeth, killing is her ‘art’, just as much as painting is Erika’s. And while at first I thought it was just a sly wink to have her dispatch a painter with a paintbrush, it makes sense that Elizabeth would know just how to do it so as to make it appear natural, so that neither she nor Glenn would be implicated in the death — which in 1987 was apparently a real concern. A more humane end would likely have been more detectable.

(And only on this show could Elizabeth’s subtle eyeroll as she leaves the besotted Jackson with his room service in the hotel room bed, and Claudia’s perfectly contemptuous ‘No.’ when asked if she’d ever met Gorbachev, reach the levels of high comedy.)
posted by myotahapea at 5:37 AM on May 19, 2018


I would so watch a spinoff/alternate version of this show from Claudia’s perspective.

She’s always been inscrutable and vaguely menacing, and Margo Martindale has done a great job of giving her a scorpionlike quality — her only real interest in Philip and Elizabeth (and now Paige) is their efficacy as agents, and everything she does is in service to that. She doesn’t hesitate at using tactics such as emotional manipulation, and even deliberately drove a wedge between them (by telling Elizabeth that Philip had slept with Irina) when she felt their growing unity might threaten her ability to control them. Every action, every word is calculated and has a specific purpose. I think of her as a sort of self-aware Elizabeth — the same amount of ruthlessness and dedication, but without the idealism. (I guess that’s what dining on rats in the bombed-out shell of one of your greatest cities whilst watching everyone you care about die does to you.)

The revelation in their last conversation, that Claudia was feigning ignorance about Dead Hand and knew it was a small piece of a larger objective is more disturbing the more I think about it, as the implications cast the entirety of their work under her into question. Claudia is the one who seemingly manipulated Elizabeth into going off-book and seeking retribution for Zhukov’s murder, and was obviously upset Elizabeth let him go. (As she demonstrated with memorable deployment of taser and scalpel.) Her orders to interrogate them in the search for the mole came from ‘far above Zhukov’s head’. Given this history and what Claudia said in her and Elizabeth’s last conversation, any order they’ve received from her could be suspect, as she’s clearly on the side of the hardliners and there’s no way to know how long they have been a factor. They may have been right to ‘fire’ her as their handler at the end of S1.

That being said, there is a sense that Claudia does now care about Elizabeth, and not just as an agent, and not just because of Paige and the fostering of that relationship. She clearly has a great amount of respect for her dedication and work ethic, but small moments, like playing Tchaikovsky or asking if she’s sleeping, seem to indicate there is a bit of genuine feeling. I do believe she kept Elizabeth in the dark at least in part to shield her from the consequences if the plot to remove Gorbachev went bad. And her statement to Elizabeth at the end of their conversation, saying she can’t force her to do anything but to please keep quiet and not throw away her years of service, seemed as much a plea as a warning. That statement says she won’t report Elizabeth’s refusal to carry out orders because she knows the consequences would be severe. But if Elizabeth does act against this mission Claudia is likely to not only stop her by any means necessary, but also do what she can to see that Elizabeth is punished for it.
posted by myotahapea at 7:06 AM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ahhh, I am going to have to make an effort to stay up late (for me) and watch the last episodes live. This episode was so good! Count me among those who can live with an unhappy ending, as long as we have Philip and Elizabeth going out on ok terms with each
other.

I definitely didn't view Elizabeth's response to the revelation of the coup as a change in character for Elizabeth. As others have said, she's a soldier. She believes in her Party, and she sees this plan as a threat to the Party, which it is. It's a coup attempt, and even if she's sympathetic to the interests involved, her loyalty is to the Party. And, frankly, I don't think she's any more delusional than anyone else who dedicates themself to a movement. Soldiers are hardly the only ones who believe their actions are important even though more powerful forces are acting on a different level. I'm not arguing that her choices are morally justified because she believes they are in service to a greater good, but I think dismissing her as delusional is unfairly reductive as well.

I was a little surprised she let the poor intern live, tbh, but I do think we've seen enough of her struggles with things before that it didn't feel out of character to me, esp after Philip's "it's all on us" speech. His opinions affect her more than he credits.

There is still so much going on. I have no idea how these last episodes are going to go, but I'm so excited for them.
posted by the primroses were over at 11:15 AM on May 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Elizabeth trying to wedge that oversized portrait into her station wagon (Volaré!) was some much needed comic relief.

I didn’t take Philip’s actions to be indicative of suicide, but rather his acknowledgment that this last mission is probably going to get him killed. I might be splitting hairs though.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:45 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I honestly have no idea how they're going to play Renee, which I guess is a testament to how well they've teased us with the possibility she's a plant too.

Stan could have Philip & Elizabeth at gunpoint, and she could suddenly appear and shoot him so they flee. Or Claudia could get word of Elizabeth conspiring with Oleg, consider them too much of a liability, and send her to kill them both. Or Stan could have Philip at gunpoint but let him go because of their friendship, and before Philip flees he could mention maybe Renee is a plant too-- which could F with Stan's mind even if she's totally innocent and just a red herring all along.

I do think it's telling when Stan was starring at their house, he told Renee he was looking at the moon instead of thinking about how maybe his neighbors are Russian spies. Maybe it was too crazy to say out loud, but maybe in his gut he doesn't totally trust her?
posted by bluecore at 8:44 AM on May 20, 2018


I was chief of disguise at CIA. ‘The Americans’ got a lot right.
“The Americans” gets the tradecraft and the technology of the 1980s generally right, at least the way it worked when Ronald Reagan was president. The script is littered with dead drops and communication protocols, disguises and cyanide pills, secret writing and signals that were used for impersonal communication with your agent or your team. It is all properly executed; it is done the way we did it, and it is one of many ways that Joe Weisberg, the creator of this series and a former CIA officer himself, shows his hand and his familiarity with CIA tactics and methods. He and I went to the same tradecraft school at the agency, and we learned the same lessons. When I watched Matthew Rhys, the husband on “The Americans,” speed in reverse through an FBI roadblock in the final episode of Season 1, well, I have practiced that maneuver countless times, wrecking more than one car while learning the procedure. They did it right.
posted by kingless at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


“The Americans” gets the tradecraft and the technology of the 1980s generally right, at least the way it worked when Ronald Reagan was president.

Interesting article; thanks, kingless.

According to that link Jonna Hiestand Mendez and her husband Antonio Mendez, another CIA officer, not only have a forthcoming new book on spycraft, but they also have a website.

Antonio Mendez has published a couple books on his own, and is the man who ran the Tehran operation to free the American hostages; Ben Affleck played him in Argo.
posted by myotahapea at 1:46 PM on May 20, 2018


Maybe it was too crazy to say out loud, but maybe in his gut he doesn't totally trust her?

Stan can’t be that revealing about an investigation, even to Renee. He can talk in vague generalities, but I would imagine saying “we’re hot on the trail of a bunch of soviet spies and I think the Jennings’ are two of them” would be a serious breach of protocol.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 PM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: Stan can’t be that revealing about an investigation, even to Renee. He can talk in vague generalities, but I would imagine saying “we’re hot on the trail of a bunch of soviet spies and I think the Jennings’ are two of them” would be a serious breach of protocol.

Certainly, but he could've sent something like, "Did you ever notice anything weird about the Jennings? Their odd schedule? Always leaving in the middle of the night?" but instead he said he was looking at the moon.
posted by bluecore at 6:37 PM on May 20, 2018


- Renee: With only two episodes left, I have absolutely no idea why the writers are giving her a job interview at the FBI.

Suppose the show doesn't end with the Jennings exposed as spies; suppose they die in a "mysterious" fire or car wreck or something. And who knows what happens to Stan? (He probably dies before the show's end, but hey, you never know.) I can imagine a final epilogue scene consisting of Renee welcoming Paige to her job interview. "Zdravstvuyte."
posted by duffell at 6:37 PM on May 20, 2018


duffell: Suppose the show doesn't end with the Jennings exposed as spies

I think that has to happen. It's the Chekhov's Gun of their relationship. Stan has to realize the people he was hunting were living next to him the whole time. Not only living next to, but his best friend.
posted by bluecore at 6:48 PM on May 20, 2018


Elizabeth had a few feels this week. Wow.
posted by k8t at 1:13 AM on May 21, 2018


I know it's a lot to accomplish in just two more episodes, but...Has anyone thought about the possibility of Phillip and Elizabeth (and, I guess, Paige) being turned (by Stan?) and bringing down the entire illegals network?

I mean, now that they're both tuned-in to the coup, they might be open to it, in order to save their homeland.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:04 AM on May 21, 2018


Delicious episode again, still some of the finest TV writing available. But Elizabeth's turn was too quick for me. Well some of it. I was on board with her deciding not to murder Nesterenko; Elizabeth's always shown herself to be independent and never enjoyed killing for its own sake.

But her decision not to eliminate Jackson, that came too fast and too out of character. He's an enormous threat to Elizabeth's safety; of course he's going to go right to Sam Nunn's staff and confess what he's seen. And she knows that, Jackson is so weak willed he won't be able to bear the secret for 24 hours. I guess she thinks she's safe for the disguise. But she used that same disguise to meet other people in public at a restaurant. It's a well established identity to burn and her investment in it puts her at risk.

I also had a hard time with how clumsy Claudia was in revealing the entire coup plot to Elizabeth. Claudia has shown us, above all us, to be a master manipulator and controller of her agents. She gives them the illusion of agency; even in this episode, where she tells Elizabeth she can't make her do anything. But all the time she maneuvers them to do exactly what she wants. So this time for her to awkwardly be like "well I didn't tell you everything and we here in the Center are betraying the leader of the country; you in?" didn't feel right to me. Maybe Claudia was counting on her Paige's-babushka-shtick to bind Elizabeth more closely to her. Maybe she forgot how Elizabeth nearly killed Claudia a few years back.

But I guess these awkward moments are just the writers being in a hurry to finish everything up. There's so much emotion written into the stories, it's hard to be true to every scrap of it with just a few hours to go. Same goes double with Paige's absence; I fear the writers just couldn't figure out how to fit her in other than making her the center of her storyline.

FWIW, the Russian film that Philip naughtily rented is The Garage, a 1980 Soviet comedy. This article speculates a bit about what it might symbolize without coming to any real conclusions other than "Soviet movie".

Thrilled to see how they conclude the story. I'm finding it tragic now that Elizabeth basically is on Philip's side in the whole larger spy game even while being deeply furious that he betrayed her trust. The irony that Philip's own questioning of her is probably what led her to change her opinion on her role. Also I'm on record from last year saying Renee is going to turn out to be nothing at all, just Stan's amazing wife better than he could possibly hope for. But also that he won't trust that, in the end, will cast her away thinking she's an agent. That Stan is doomed to loneliness.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on May 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I know it's a lot to accomplish in just two more episodes, but...Has anyone thought about the possibility of Phillip and Elizabeth (and, I guess, Paige) being turned (by Stan?) and bringing down the entire illegals network?

My feeling is that this is unlikely, at least for Elizabeth (and Paige). There’s a huge distance between disagreeing with events happening in your home country and turning traitor by handing over highly classified information which would cripple your country’s intelligence service to the enemy you hate — the latter is a pretty scorched-earth move. Elizabeth may not be happy with the developments Claudia informed her of, but my bet is that she would want them to be dealt with internally. If she was going to involve the Americans, I would expect it to be in a more precise manner; something like an anonymous tip that Nestorenko needs to be protected.

And considering the lengths she was willing to go to on Harvest’s behalf, willfully defecting and handing over the Illegals programme to the FBI, potentially giving them the means to roll up all the networks on US soil, arresting and imprisoning probably dozens of people like her and her team is not something I could see Elizabeth doing on any terms; she may go down during this mission but she won’t burn her fellow agents in the process. It’s possible Philip might be willing, but he’s not the same man he was in the pilot, and now that he and Elizabeth are on the same side ideologically I don’t think he’d make that kind of decision unilaterally.


Certainly, but he could've sent something like, "Did you ever notice anything weird about the Jennings? Their odd schedule? Always leaving in the middle of the night?" but instead he said he was looking at the moon.

Before you say anything, it’s just some weird hunch you’ve got … saying it to someone else makes it real. Until Stan has incontrovertible proof I don't think he’s mentioning this to anyone.
posted by myotahapea at 8:25 AM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Folks, I'm calling it: Chekov's wall clock is due to make an appearance.

For those that have forgotten, a Fanfare link!

My how... time passes.
posted by sylvanshine at 4:08 PM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I didn’t get the gagging with the paintbrush (other than the metaphor). Maybe I’ve watched too many forensics shows, but wouldn’t the paintbrush leave bristles in her throat and make it more obviously a murder?
posted by liet at 9:47 PM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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