The Americans: Stingers
April 1, 2015 8:54 PM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Paige makes a clear demand. Phillip and Elizabeth wrestle with existential issues. And Henry really digs Eddie Murphy in SNL.
posted by Abon Sapi (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sepinwall's recap.
posted by Abon Sapi at 8:56 PM on April 1, 2015


I think we all remember having that discussion with our parents.
posted by chrchr at 9:28 PM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Holy crap, that situation with Paige being alone all day and Stan coming to dinner was like something straight out of Hitchcock.

That Linda Ronstadt wig on Elizabeth was the most attractive one she's worn yet.

Nina brings the scientist tea with lemon.

Henry's SNL sketch recreation killed me, as did his beginning-to-crack voice. I love that kid and hope he continues to get more to do.

Oooh, Stan's subconscious suspicion of Martha has begun to surface! And he was right about Zinaida! The guy has good instincts if he'd just learn to trust them.

I can't believe how much I crave seeing the next episode of this show every week. It's on my mind all week. I keep thinking that it's not Wednesday, so I don't get to see it tonight, and then counting the days until I can. I've never looked forward to any show this much, not even Mad Men. This week especially I don't see how I can wait to see the next episode.

Just read tonight that The Americans has been renewed for a fourth season. Yay!

Paige: "Are you trying to turn me into a travel agent?"
Elizabeth: "Oh, HA HA."
posted by orange swan at 9:43 PM on April 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


Wow that was great. They really played the scene with Paige well. Full props to the actress, she stepped up and delivered.
posted by Nelson at 10:19 PM on April 1, 2015


I wasn't expecting the Paige scene to go that way, with her confronting them like that. It went unexpectedly well, all things considered. The bit where Stan comes over for dinner...I kept wondering if she was staring at Stan and thinking "Do I rat-out my parents to the Fed next door?" or thinking "Holy shit, the Fed next door is in mom and dad's gang, too!"

Speaking of Stan, I loved his Strat-o-matic talk with handheld-addicted Henry. It seems perfectly logical that Stan would be into Strat-o-matic, too. A little more fleshing-out of his character. Also, loaning the seized bootleg of Tron to Henry (as well as the monster VCR!)

I'd like to think he suspects Liz and Phil of...something...and is developing Henry as an informer, but I think it's more that he's using Henry as a surrogate son. And, honestly, Henry kind of needs a surrogate father, so watch that relationship closely, I guess.

The Kimmy scene was pretty weak other than showing how important Phillip has become in her life. I still think Phillip is being set-up by Gabriel to get caught in that mission. There's no way he's going to be able to safely swap-out tapes on a weekly basis.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:56 AM on April 2, 2015


It's interesting that Henry has finally become a character; they've given him precious little screen time this season. This episode clearly is developing him in a variety of ways. His breaking voice and his spank bank, his clumsy repeating of Mister Robinson lines, his electronic football, his awkward friendship with Stan as two castoffs. I'll be curious to see where this goes.

Also is it me or did this episode place a weird emphasis on the characters' last name, Jennings? I don't recall ever having heard it before, and suddenly they repeated it a few times. Probably means nothing, just stood out to me.

Why did Paige go to the travel agency? I took it as an unspoken desire for her just to check up on her parents, verify they at least have the job they say they go to every day. But it played more as a sweet daughter-at-work scene than a surveillance mission. Maybe echoes Henry's hiding his sexy girl photos in a whole in the floor. Their kids already have some tradecraft!

I agree that Kimmy scene was weak, particularly since that story has been building to such an uncomfortable climax. Also confused on the logistics of it. She calls.. who? And then somehow that ends up in a phone call at Philip's home which Elizabeth takes and passes to him. Maybe Kimmy has a number for her boyfriend's answering service?

I appreciate that the show doesn't keep teasing us with the Big Secrets. Paige now knows her parents are spies. We now know that Zinaida actually is working for Soviet intelligence. A lesser show would have teased us with that stuff for a whole year.
posted by Nelson at 7:55 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I took it as an unspoken desire for her just to check up on her parents, verify they at least have the job they say they go to every day. But it played more as a sweet daughter-at-work scene than a surveillance mission.

I assumed it was her little spy mission, too. Maybe couple that with Pastor Tim stopping by earlier. Once she was there and mom and dad are there, too, she really has no option other than to become that daughter-at-work thing. It sounded like she used to be there with them a lot when she was younger (Legos in the bottom drawer.)

Did anyone else feel like the mission trip to Kenya sounded a bit like foreshadowing?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:19 AM on April 2, 2015


Did anyone else feel like the mission trip to Kenya sounded a bit like foreshadowing?

I could easily see that turning into a training thing for Paige. This show is so good, I hate that there's a break between seasons.
posted by pjern at 10:47 AM on April 2, 2015


Yeah, I think either her pastor is playing a long con or Paige will otherwise be forced to kill her way into the game somehow on that trip.
posted by Abon Sapi at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2015


Paige now knows her parents are spies but not that they also kill. I bet the season ends with Paige blurting out her secret to the pastor, who the Jennings then get rid of, and she figures that out.
posted by Gyan at 1:19 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


The way Elizabeth had the hotel clerk eating out of the palm of her hand, wow. Kudos to both actors.

This was a real nail-biter for me; I can't wait to see what happens next with Stan and Martha.

What a great show.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:00 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Are you guys trying to make me into a travel agent?"

That phone call near the end, from Paige. That was interesting. It sounded like coded language for "they thought I didn't know", to me anyway, or am I mishearing something? I admit that whole initial weird dialogue from Pastor Tim in the first scene just solidified the idea that he's working for the same people Phillip and Elizabeth are, and both ends looping like that was pretty solid.

I love how Oleg's ploy is panning out. Arkady doesn't take any shit, and he'll soon find out Moustache Man was a "compartment" of one. And once that bit of information gets out, then what? Could be "a lot of trouble" alright, not least of all if Stan picks up Zinaida. Good thing Nina's plan doesn't seem to involve her! The prospect of Stan catching up with Martha, and seeing Clark for the first time. Wouldn't that be a delight.

And that footnote about Yousef does not bode well. We know how the Russian war in Afghanistan ends. It's chilling to me, each time they dig a little further into what the CIA are up to there, they discover just how much further ahead the CIA are, and how far they're advancing, against soldier's like Phillip's son, who has refused his early ride home. Though it seems Phillip took that information in and gave the only answer he could; to treat his child "more like an adult", as Pastor Tim might advise. Phillip and Elizabeth have children closer to home to consider, too, after all.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:36 PM on April 2, 2015


This is the second week in a row that this show has brought tears to my eyes. All those scenes with Paige were some of the best television there is.

"That phone call near the end, from Paige. That was interesting. It sounded like coded language for "they thought I didn't know", to me anyway, or am I mishearing something? I admit that whole initial weird dialogue from Pastor Tim in the first scene just solidified the idea that he's working for the same people Phillip and Elizabeth are, and both ends looping like that was pretty solid."

I was thinking that, too. I feel like there's a foundation for the pastor actually being a spy, too. But the big problem I see with that theory and that interpretation of the phone call is how Paige reacted when Stan came over for dinner at the end of the episode. And, also, while I can believe that she'd already have known but not let on that she knew, I don't see her reacting to the news from her parents that way if she had known. So, in the end, I think it makes more sense to conclude that the pastor is who he seems to be, that Paige knew that she needed to call him to reassure him, and she's tentatively decided to go along with it for now.

Outside of an abusive situation, and even when someone's as idealist and activist as Paige, I still have trouble seeing a child turning their spy-parents in to the authorities. And, given the nature of Paige's activism (though her religious belief works against this), and her mom's careful cultivation of her agreement with Paige's ideals, I think that Paige's idealism will break in the direction of her parents. It makes me sad, though, because there's no path that she could choose that won't lead to a lot of pain and disillusionment, eventually. But that's basically the reality of youthful idealism -- Paige's situation is just an extremely stark and intense version of it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:37 PM on April 2, 2015


Ah yeah, things getting surreal when Stan came over does strongly suggest she didn't know what her parents were up to, exactly. Though she clearly knew something was up, and was encouraged to confront Phillip and Elizabeth to exact the truth. Whether this was done because Pastor Tim is also working for the Motherland and was responding to the rebuff in Phillip's office, or because that's ... just the kind of advice Rev No-Boundaries would give, I dunno. But yeah, the Stan moment does make Paige knowing before the confrontation a lot less likely. She was probably just being obtuse on the phone to protect her parents.

I also don't see Paige turning in Mom and Dad. Elizabeth's "cultivation", as you put it, might contribute to that. Ultimately I think it was wise of her to have moved forward without Phillip. Paige is very bright, and she had been saying for a long time now that she knew something was up. Sooner or later there was going to be a confrontation. And when that time came, who better to break the news about the truth: the one who had been spending one-on-one time with her talking about justice and doing what's right, even if it means breaking the law, or the one who dismissed activism as something they did "when they were young", with all that behind them now?

Phillip, despite his best intentions, ultimately fell into the same trap a lot of parents fall into: wanting to shield your children from cold, harsh reality - even when you know sooner or later, your kids are going to have to face it. Elizabeth, who taught Paige to swim by tossing her into the pool, is not that kind of parent. I think this is why Phillip gave her that grim nod in the kitchen to break the truth to Paige: he knows it's right to some day treat your child like an adult; he's just not good at being in that position. Elizabeth is.

It's the classic push-against-pull that a lot of parents go through: the twin impulses of readying the kids for adulthood, and trying to protect them at all costs. Phillip and Elizabeth have both impulses, of course, but they are both strongly inclined towards one or the other.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:20 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be shocked if we don't see Paige do something fairly hardcore, maybe killing someone, before the end of the season.
posted by signal at 12:19 PM on April 3, 2015


They seem to be signalling that harm could come to Paige but I hope it's just a red herring.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:51 PM on April 3, 2015


I thought Paige was gobsmacked when Stan popped by to cadge dinner because it suddenly occurred to her what he did for a living. His job is to catch her parents, and it was such a mindfuck she couldn't stop staring at the fact her parents were having him over for dinner. It must have been mystifying and scary.

I think Kimmy called Phillip's message service to leave a message. This is the period just before/as answering machines got big. It was more convenient for spying, too!

I'm not so sure that the Russians would have set up (someone pretending to be) a priest/preacher/reverand to be a sleeper/recruiter. That's a role that would have required a lot of study/immersion of a religious tradition that could eat away at the Soviet philosophy and guidance. On the plus side, you might be able to get blackmail info and influence if your church catered to powerful people, but the danger of being corrupted by religion would be a warning sign for the Russians.

That said, something is up with that dude ... and I wonder if Paige is going to have to do something to him by the end of the season/beginning of next.
posted by julen at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2015


I think if the pastor is more than what he says he is then it's probably something like a double-agent or sympathizer rather than KGB mole, yeah.
posted by Abon Sapi at 1:51 PM on April 5, 2015


I'd be shocked if we don't see Paige do something fairly hardcore, maybe killing someone, before the end of the season.

In my most fevered dream, it would be Gabriel. Maybe to rescue her parents (or maybe just Phillip) from his clutches.

On another, possibly related, subject...Is there any chance in hell Paige and Kimmie's paths would ever cross? Perhaps outside of school? At some event where Phil would be with Kimmie?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:51 AM on April 6, 2015


Wow, you guys, I totally don't get this with Paige doing some dastardly and hideous deed soon. She's a sweet innocent girl. Also she'd need years of indoctrination and training before she could do anything useful. Look at how careful Elizabeth was with Handsome Young South African Man, the time spent showing him learning how to follow and observe. That was just one aspect of his training. Realistically it should take years to get Paige to the point where she's servicing a dead drop, much less dropping someone dead.

My fear is they are arranging this all to get her off the show. Either she's shipped back to Russia for training or else something terrible happens and she's removed form the chessboard. That'd sure bring the show to a darker place.
posted by Nelson at 6:39 AM on April 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I thought Paige was gobsmacked when Stan popped by to cadge dinner because it suddenly occurred to her what he did for a living. His job is to catch her parents, and it was such a mindfuck she couldn't stop staring at the fact her parents were having him over for dinner. It must have been mystifying and scary."

The problem with that interpretation is that Stan never, ever tells anyone outside of the office that he does counterintelligence work. Not even to his wife. In every example of his talking about work to family and friends, he's been extremely vague. So Paige doesn't know that his job is to catch her parents -- not even generally, because most Americans assume that the CIA does domestic counterintelligence and that's part of why Homeland ends up showing a lot of unrealistic and illegal stuff of the CIA working domestically (which they aren't legally allowed to do).

I think that Paige was freaking out in the non-specific sense that this was a government agent, an embodiment of the authority that her parents are operating against and that even if she doesn't know or think that Stan has a specific interest in Soviet agents, he's right there in their house.

"I'm not so sure that the Russians would have set up (someone pretending to be) a priest/preacher/reverand to be a sleeper/recruiter. That's a role that would have required a lot of study/immersion of a religious tradition that could eat away at the Soviet philosophy and guidance."

I don't think that's any greater an ideological threat than all the capitalist and bourgeois history and values they had to be trained and immersed within. That was always a problem for KGB field agents; religion is just one part of it. It's a risk in a different sense, though, in that a large portion of the population retained their religious beliefs secretly, and asking an agent to explicitly be religious would intersect that. On the other hand, I'm not sure how big an attraction a protestant (and possibly evangelical) church would be to someone who's most likely Russian Orthodox.

It's an aspect of American culture and the red scare that the atheism of Soviet communism looms as large as it does. The Soviets were never as paranoid and suppressive of religion as they were of many other things -- they outlawed public worship and destroyed and replaced churches, but the mere belief in god and private practice of religion was never as stigmatized or was a cause for intense scrutiny as so many other kinds of beliefs, speech, and activity were. Elizabeth's paranoia about it was something I was always a bit ambivalent about, feeling that Philip's reaction was more realistic but, on the other hand, Elizabeth is very much a party loyalist who's deeply internalized everything and so it makes sense that she'd be a more ardent and dogmatic communist than even her superiors. That's not that common for a spy -- they tend to be more pragmatic.

"Wow, you guys, I totally don't get this with Paige doing some dastardly and hideous deed soon."

Yeah, I agree with this. I have a hard time seeing Paige committing any violence unless there's some amazing and convincing character evolution there and in the context of a very believable storyline -- sometimes writers and actors and directors manage to do things they shouldn't be able to do, so it's possible. But very unlikely. What I can see happening is that she's forced by circumstances to further compromise on her very strong idealism for her love of her parents. (Which, by the way, I do think that her parents being ideological warriors will appeal to her at some level because her parents' apparent lack of any strong values previously bothered her and her religious activism is partly a response to this.) It's hard to imagine her cooperating or even not going to the authorities if she knows her parents (or someone working with her parents) kills someone else, especially Pastor Tim, but I can sort of imagine how it could come to that and in a way that I'd find convincing. They'd have to work really hard at it, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:51 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am so freaking pumped for tonight's episode guys!
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:32 AM on April 8, 2015


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