The Americans: One Day In The Life Of Anton Baklanov
April 9, 2015 5:21 AM - Season 3, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Philip and Elizabeth continue to deal with Paige. Clark schools Martha. Oleg and Tatiana read English. Elizabeth wears garters. And the FBI candy machine is broken.
posted by Thorzdad (12 comments total)
Is anyone else waiting for Paige to ask Liz and Phil if they've killed anyone? I really thought she was going to spring that one on Elizabeth during the car scene. They've finally come clean with Paige, and are doing their best not to lie to her, but would Elizabeth admit to killing people to her daughter?

I had totally forgotten that garters were quite a big thing back in the 80's.

I was distracted by something here at home at the time, but I seem to recall a scene where Elizabeth tells Phillip to "take condoms." Was she referring to his visit with Martha? Or was that implying that Phillip and Kimmie's relationship has moved to the next level offscreen? Or was it something else?

I love the name for the "operation" of having a bug in Mailbot, as it moves throughout the FBI building...Zephyr.

The Nina/Anton story is quickly becoming interesting, for all its sombre, low-key staging. Is Nina truly developing empathy for Anton? Or is she faking it?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:33 AM on April 9, 2015

At this point, Paige is still stuck on "can I actually believe them, or is this whole spy thing another elaborate lie?" She's groping around trying to find a way to verify that they're actually spies but she doesn't know enough about being a spy to ask the questions that would actually accomplish that (just as well, really...the question "so can I meet your handler?" would open up a can of worms), so she's stuck asking stuff about the travel agency and quizzing them about their real names, trying to either trip them up or find something tangible that makes the whole spy thing real. It's why she's so frustrated when Elizabeth can't go visit her dying mother - an actual visit would've been something tangible, but just talking about it, it could still be just a lie. She'll get around to asking them if they've killed anybody, once she decides she really does 100% believe that they're spies, but she wasn't there yet this episode.

I would assume Elizabeth would answer with something about doing what's necessary for The Cause/to make The World A Better Place, although her encounter with Betty from the repair shop may make her more uncertain about using that one on Paige. As might Paige's whole "don't call me honey" and "how can I believe anything you say" - hard times for Elizabeth's rock-solid certainty that she's doing the Right Thing.

Is Nina truly developing empathy for Anton? Or is she faking it?

With Nina you can never tell. I mean, you can ask the same question about her and Stan, even her and Oleg to an extent. I speculate that the reason she's so good at her job, with this guy just like with Stan, is that she finds a way to develop real affection for them....just not quite enough affection to keep her from double-crossing them when necessary.

I can't help but think Anton's line about not wanting to wake up next to strangers that someone else chose for him had to resonate with her, though.

And I know we're not supposed to talk about stuff that was in the previews, but...CLAUDIA! WOOHOO!
posted by mstokes650 at 8:06 AM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

And I know we're not supposed to talk about stuff that was in the previews, but...CLAUDIA! WOOHOO!

I know! I saw that clip and really perked-up.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2015

The upcoming credits really made me happy, too.

I really like the set design for Gabriel's apartment - it's barebones and transitory furnishing. It can be abandoned or packed up in an hour. One comfortable chair, one table and 3 chairs, and not much else. Everything we see has been there for the single focus of managing Phillip and Elizabeth - the game, the food, the one pot. Even the comfortable chair is a solo chair, tucked in a corner. That said, Gabriel has been looking more and more ill over the season, and I wonder if he's going to die of natural causes soon.

Paige's attempts to process all of this and fit it into a black-and-white perspective is fun because she's also trying to figure out what this means to her. Her questions are about their relationships with Stan, Elizabeth's dying mother, the people they work with. It's like she's trying to find a water level for how betrayed she is/should feel.

I think Nina's #1 priority is saving herself. She uses her instinctive emotions to achieve those goals allowing herself to feel in the moment, but strategize in the long term. She's excellent at compartmentalizing. She's sympathetic, and she gets him, but she will use their shared secret (his letters to his son) to drive a connection that she will use to her advantage.

Part of me thinks Martha is getting away with fooling Walter Taffet, but part of me thinks he's giving her rope.
posted by julen at 10:31 AM on April 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

That's just going to make it that much more painful when she has to kill him, of course.

They're going to need a bigger suitcase.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:17 PM on April 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

It was most surprising that Elizabeth could "turn on" wetness; women typically can't do that- it's psychological. Tension and focusing on it would kill it for most women. Clearly Elizabeth is a super spy to be able to just make that happen.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2015

I think she was actually into it, and that's why she turned down the second encounter, because it freaked her out.

I don't see Martha making it out of this season alive. WHY does she not ask Clark what the hell is going on? I find it so unbelievable she would be putting her entire life on the line for an absentee husband who hasn't even told her what's going on with him.
posted by something something at 6:49 AM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

It was most surprising that Elizabeth could "turn on" wetness; women typically can't do that- it's psychological. Tension and focusing on it would kill it for most women. Clearly Elizabeth is a super spy to be able to just make that happen.

I think it's more that Elizabeth actually gets off on this sort of thing. For all we know, killing people might be the hight of arousal for her. She seems to be really good at, and more than a little enthusiastic for, killing.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2015

I'd say it definitely scared and alarmed her, and certainly weighed on her. She has been trying, for a long time now but especially this season, to move away from that particular part of the job, as she really wants things to improve between her and Phillip. He's fully aware of this, and that's also why he didn't seem entirely thrilled when she came home and woke him up for some consolation (hers or his though, maybe both?).

One thing to bear in mind about Nina's motivations here is the fact that she could have handed over Anton's letters home and slam dunked this thing. But she didn't. Yes, she wants to survive, and as long as she believes that's possible, her turning on her new confidant will always be there, looming. If she stops believing it, though, where else is there to go for her? She may realize sooner than later that whoever wins, she will probably lose.

Right now the Paige situation seems to be contained. She's still reeling, and as was pointed out upthread, is probably just trying to get a hold on what she even can believe before she starts asking about poisoned umbrella tips and one-time pads. But at least for now, she isn't even about to tell hapless, innocent Henry, let alone the feds.

And I love the "just stare at the tip of his nose" advice. I actually had a chance to use that one today. Thanks, KGB!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:09 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Two other questions come up for me with two episodes left.

1) Where the chips will fall for our now confirmed defector/agent. Stan is there for a stunned minute listening to Gaad slowly losing his shit, Zinaida wasn't there at all. I feel the story is moving in the direction of wanting to nurture the Anton and Nina partnership, so Stan's pursuit will likely roll into the next season.

2) Poor Maurice has stepped in the wrong direction, again, but I'm not sure things will end with him dead soon, not least of all given we know Northrop-Grumman made Stinger missiles. Once Phillip and Elizabeth hear what they will very likely hear in that hotel room, Maurice will be a person they will need to contend with.

And I seriously hope things go more Surrogate Dad as opposed to some of the other ways it looked like things with Kimmie might go, and fortunately haven't. Maybe from what I gather from this thread may be a new handler will help steer things in a better direction. Or not! You never know with the Center.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:45 PM on April 10, 2015

"I was distracted by something here at home at the time, but I seem to recall a scene where Elizabeth tells Phillip to 'take condoms.'"

She said take Hans, which is who we see give Philip the sign that no one was surveilling Martha. That really disappointed me because I can't see how they would have anything to do with Hans at all after how he proved what a loose cannon he was.

I appreciate the discussion about Paige above because I didn't understand at all her reaction at the end of the episode. But, yeah, that makes a lot of sense if she was angry if she thought that "can't go seeing dying grandma" was convenient.

I really like how they're handling this -- I totally expected Paige to be drawn in by Elizabeth's discussion of her childhood because that's the kind of stuff that Paige has really felt the absence of. And I think that Paige initially responded to it, but then thought, maybe this is all a lie, too? And that's pretty realistic psychology and not typical television. You tell someone that you've been lying to them all their life, they're not going to think, okay, from now on I can trust you to tell me the truth. They're going to think you're still lying to them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:01 PM on April 10, 2015

Paige's 20 questions at the start of the episode were great. Finally a moment where I can identify with one of the characters! Like what the fuck, so many questions, how does this spy thing work? "Where do you store all your wigs Mom?" etc. Hilarious.

I took Paige's being upset at the end as just a reflection on how bleak their lives are. She just learned that grandma existed yesterday, and now today she learns that grandma is dying and no one can even visit her. It's pretty awful. I also took it as a sign that Elizabeth and Philip are way overstepping in being honest with Paige. She may say she wants that, but in her heart she's still a teenage girl and can't handle it all at once.

Loved the scene with Maurice trying to shake down Elizabeth to get more Northrup info, and identifying her as running the show. He's not dumb even if he's an addict. Sadly he is dumb on another level and I agree he's likely to end up dead.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 PM on April 11, 2015

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