The Americans: Salang Pass
February 25, 2015 10:29 PM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Elizabeth arranges for new housing and career opportunities for her friend from AA, Martha and Clark consider enlarging their family, Paige shops for a new dress, Stan and Oleg discuss ways and means of reaching their common goal, and Philip and Kimmy spend a quiet night in. Soundtrack: A Flock of Seagulls.
posted by orange swan (7 comments total)
The longer it goes on, the more improbable the "Martha and Clark" setup is, especially when you remember all the other things Philip has going on. He can't be spending more than a small handful of hours a week with Martha (if that), yet we're to believe she's a-ok with the arrangement? No one is that gullible, are they? I mean, when does Philip get time to actually be at the travel agency, which is, afterall, part of their cover story.

Anyway...I was grimacing all through the Phil and Kimmie scene. God, it seemed to go on forever, and it was just...sooo creepy. I was hoping Phil would be able to get out of there without any intimate contact, and it really looked like he would until she woke up and kissed him. Gah!
Odd, though, that Phil didn't have the bug on him to plant, just in case the opportunity presented itself, which it did.

Phil's remembrance of his training was so sad. He's in a lot of pain right now. I really fear for him. I really think Elizabeth is going to be turned against him, because of his weakness.

Speaking of which, Elizabeth shows once again who the cold-blooded one in the family is. Did we see how she came to identify the guy working on his car as a Northrop employee?

And, yay, for some Flock of Seagulls! I saw them around this time. They opened for the Go-Go's at Purdue.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:40 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Philip could easily spend maybe three nights a week and Saturday or Sunday with Martha, see Kimmy twice, check in with Gabriel a few times, spend maybe ten to fifteen hours at the travel agency, and still have some time to spend at home with his own family.

That said, Elizabeth and Philip are extraordinarily hard working. It must be really hard to keep the travel agency going (they do seem to know what they're doing there and to at least do some of the work), do all the housekeeping that has to be done, take care of their kids and be out all night on operation. I suppose it helps a lot that they don't have to put in full time hours at the travel agency. Two days' work a week from each of them would probably do it, and they can claim to be off doing this or that for the travel agency when they're really on operation or just sleeping because they were out all night. I notice that they don't have any real friends or social life (anytime they spend time with someone socially, it's for an ulterior motive) or hobbies. They also surely don't do spy stuff all the time. They must have quiet weeks here and there, and things must be easier than they used to be because the kids are old enough to help around the house and be left on their own. The question I do have is, who took care of the children when the Jennings had to go out on an operation and Paige and Henry were too young to be left home alone at night? Did the Russian network supply a babysitter?

Showing the training Philip got to prepare him to have sex with anyone was... well, way to take all the glamour out of espionage work. Ick!

When Philip was talking about how he has to "make it real" when he's having sex with someone he isn't attracted to, I found his response to Elizabeth's, "Is that how you do it with Martha?" to be a little surprising. Instead of saying, "Yes," he says, "I guess." Which to me seems to indicate he does have some sort of real feelings for Martha. (Admittedly Martha always seems to be enjoying sex much more than Clark.)

Philip's effort to counteract Elizabeth's efforts to turn Paige into a USSR spy by buying her a Yaz cassette and a new dress amuse me. What could be more American?

Oh, Stan. It may be over with Sandra, but that doesn't mean you have to take up with messed-up EST lady.
posted by orange swan at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2015

Martha brought home files on all the Northrup guys; we saw Clark going through them in a previous episode. So that's how they figured out who they could take out of the picture so Elizabeth's sponsor could take his job.

I think Rhys is killing it in the Phillip/Kimmie scenes (his unsettledness, his discomfort, his hyperawareness of how icky the situation is), but I would still like for this particular operation to end soon because it is squicking me out. Seeing the seduction part of his training helps illuminate how much they were trained to work past discomfort, fear, disinterest, personal inclination, even revulsion - but it mostly made me sad as it reminded me how their training and dehumanization went hand-in-hand.

I still think Oleg is underestimating the new woman at the Soviet consulate, and it could come back to bite him in the butt. Pretty sure she knew exactly what he was fishing for, if not why.
posted by julen at 12:44 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Basically this episode just reminded me that for all of Philip and Elizabeth's good qualities, they are dangerous if not evil people.

Ugh, being crushed under a car is a phobia of mine.
posted by Monochrome at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2015

When Philip was talking about how he has to "make it real" when he's having sex with someone he isn't attracted to, I found his response to Elizabeth's, "Is that how you do it with Martha?" to be a little surprising. Instead of saying, "Yes," he says, "I guess." Which to me seems to indicate he does have some sort of real feelings for Martha. (Admittedly Martha always seems to be enjoying sex much more than Clark.)

And I thought when she asked him if he had to make it real right then and he said no, his unspoken "do you?" was gut-wrenching.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:16 PM on February 27, 2015

The strange thing is that when Philip is telling Elizabeth that sometimes he has to "make it real" with her, I thought it couldn't possibly be the same thing as having to "make it real" with someone else he has to sleep with as a spy. I'm sure it's really common for people in a relationship to sometimes "take one for the team" by having sex with their partner when they don't really feel like it, but having sex with someone you love and are attracted to (and Philip certainly loves and is attracted to Elizabeth) because you want to make them happy and you know you'll enjoy it once you get going is NOTHING like having sex with someone who doesn't interest or attract you at all.

Perhaps his answer stems more from his growing depression and weariness than it speaks to his relationship with Elizabeth.
posted by orange swan at 1:36 PM on March 3, 2015

This TV show continues to execute at a very high level. There's a lot of emotional nuance on display here, and weird nuance at that. Philip's not attracted to the Kimmie, he's disgusted at the idea, but he may yet have sex with the Lolita to further the Soviet enterprise. Elizabeth and Philip's marriage is just beyond the pale, the emotions there, the tenderness and love and deception and randomness. (I think the Martha / Clark sham marriage is an interesting counterpoint. He's more engaged and real in some ways with her.) It's just a bunch of confusing and uncomfortable emotions very masterfully displayed, I love it.

I agree with the comments here that the plausibility of Philip maintaining so many different lives is a bit hard to swallow. Particularly Martha, but then she's basically a doormat in so many ways that I guess he can get away with it. In that one scene with Elizabeth scouting out the Northrup victim she was walking a dog. I just kept wondering; where'd she get the dog?
posted by Nelson at 11:16 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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