The Americans: I Am Abassin Zadran
April 15, 2015 10:04 PM - Season 3, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Gabriel and Claudia discuss the future of Directorate S and Paige Jennings; Paige tests the limits of her independence and familial memories; Oleg and Tatiana essay to find merit in Mail Robot's work; Agents Beeman and Aderholt compare theories; Martha entertains two surprise visitors.
posted by orange swan (31 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy shit that last scene!
posted by The Gooch at 10:25 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I almost thought Philip was going to rip his entire face off and reveal himself to be Lizard Man.
posted by orange swan at 10:41 PM on April 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


David Icke was right!!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:26 AM on April 16, 2015


Phillip's coming-out all over the place. First Paige and now Martha. Deep down, I always hoped that Phillip would be discovered by the intersection of Martha and Beeman. But, it kind of looks like that's been defused.

I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of Paige going to Russia with Elizabeth. It just seems too convenient for them to get their hands on Paige. Plus, I have a hard time believing she'd agree to go there, despite the focus on family.

I was kind of surprised to hear Gabriel express agreement with Phillip, when meeting with Claudia. He always seemed to be working against Phillip.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:56 AM on April 16, 2015


Most tension-filled wig removal ever!
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:33 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Claudia! I want to know what the back story with Gabriel is there. Lots of hand touching.

I am going to use the phrase "Probably turned into some potluck poster-making singalong" often, hopefully with commensurate levels of disdain.

I love the palpability of Elizabeth and Phillip being pressed in on all sides. The atmosphere was really good on this week's episode. Lisa's husband is going to be "accidentally" run over any day now, right? He clearly does not know what he got himself into.

I agree that Paige going to Russia with Elizabeth is unlikely, but the Centre wants to recruit Paige so the extra level of disaster is something they would be incentivized to manage. Plus, they'll be able to observe her in person instead of relying on 2nd/3rd hand feedback. I wouldn't be surprised if they send a cute boy to chat her up and evaluate her while in Russia.
posted by julen at 5:37 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jared Connors killed his entire family and Directorate S nearly got shut down over it... but hey, the Centre is still going ahead with trying to recruit Paige Jennings anyway. I hate ideologues.

Elizabeth's efforts with her friend the Northrup employee aren't going well because her husband Martin is trying to get the upper hand. I can almost see Philip and Elizabeth grousing over this in bed some night: "Why can't we ever do one little espionage job without everything going off the rails and our having to slaughter someone? GOD."

Oleg and Tatiana may have been right to save the Mail Robot project, because Mail Robot was in the background when Aderholt and Beeman exchanged their thoughts on the illegals targeting the office, then gave a happy beep beep and sped away, for all the world like some electronic version of the Road Runner. Also, Oleg gets to break out his best American accent. You know he's been practicing that one in private.

Paige breaks my heart but at the same time the situation is hilarious. Paige is a dream teenager: very intelligent, perceptive, good-tempered, mature, responsible, and well-behaved. She is five months' younger than Kimmie, and look at the contrast between them: Kimmie gets a fake ID, parties, smokes pot, gets drunk, and tries to bed middle-aged men, while Paige looks after her younger brother, does the family laundry, stays up late doing algebra homework, tactfully urges her mother not to smoke, goes to church, and demonstrates against nuclear armament and apartheid. And when she finally gets her murderous, treasonous, lying parents to tell her part of the truth about what they do, they're all, "YOU HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES NOW YOUNG LADY," and she's too much the goody-two-shoes to say, "FUCK YOU. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE MORAL HIGH GROUND HERE."

The Centre may agree to the trip to Russia if it will further their plans for Paige, though they wouldn't allow it on humanitarian grounds.

Abassin Zadran had no idea that he was bragging about his Commie-knifing skills to the very last people he ought to.

And yes, that final scene with Philip revealing his own appearance to Martha, as well as the scene with Martha on the phone with her parents. This show really knows how to dial it up to 15 out of 10. I don't know what Philip's planning to do now. Reveal all to Martha so that he can enlist her help? It seems like a Paige-type situation, where he's basically counting on Martha's love and loyalty and trying to find other options than violence to deal with the situation, such as the truth and a trip to Russia. I can't believe Philip can bring himself to kill Martha, though it is what the Centre is going to want. Even if Martha were willing to spy for the Soviet Union, which seems very unlikely, she doesn't have the skills or, probably, the temperament for it. They're going to see her as nothing but a risk and want her taken care of. But then they can always have someone else do it. Hans seems like the kind of eager beaver who'd be up for it.

Martha's expression in that final scene was a compound of WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING I AM SO FUCKED. There wasn't even any room for OH HAI HUSBAND YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN I EVER REALIZED.
posted by orange swan at 5:40 AM on April 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


That scene with Martha on the phone with her parents, I totally thought she was going to kill herself after she got off the phone. It didn't help that the next time we are in her apartment, at first all we see is Clark being concerned. I'm glad she didn't though, even though she probably will be killed eventually.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:49 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope we've seen the last of the Clark wig. Poor Matthew Rhys. Only a few of Keri Russell's wigs have been unattractive, while Rhys routinely gets stuck with horrible ratty-looking things that look like they were scraped off the floor of the nearest hair salon.
posted by orange swan at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who else thinks the pastor and wife are actually Directorate S agents tasked with "assisting" Paige's recruitment? Yeah, because after this episode, their role seems a little too convenient.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 7:50 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whether or not they are Directorate plants, I definitely think there is far more going on with "Pastor Tim" and his wife than what appears. They've been too important to the story to simply be a pastor and his wife. They don't have any kids, do they? That's especially out-of-character for a pastor.

The other take on them could be they are more of a low-key Jim Jones type of operation.

In either case, I see an air crash en-route to Africa in their future. That or killed by insurgents on the ground.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of speculation that Pastor and Mrs. Tim have an agenda, but while I'm prepared to be wrong about this, I'm betting that they really are what they seem: generally decent and well-intentioned people who want to help Paige because they care about her and have clued in to the fact that something is up with the Jennings family. And they have just cause for thinking that. Remember the time Philip went over to the church and confronted Pastor Tim in a state of thinly concealed murderous rage? Wouldn't you be concerned about a young girl's safety and well-being if you'd had the kind of encounter with her father? And I bet Paige has told them some things about her home life: that her parents have no extended family and almost no friends, that they are frequently out half the night, that there was that time her parents woke up her and her brother and took them to a cabin in the middle of nowhere for a surprise, sucky "vacation".

A strong argument against the idea of Pastor and Mrs. Tim being any sort of operative is that being pastor of a large, active church would be wildly incompatible with any kind of espionage work. It is a busy, busy lifestyle. There are daily events at a church like that. There are not only Sunday services (for which he must prepare programs and write sermons) but also prayer meetings and club meetings for children and choir practices and a youth group program and probably social events for the adults and retreats and annual trips abroad and the political demonstrations we've seen, as well as weddings and funerals. Churches often do outreach work too, such as working in homeless shelters or with underprivileged kids. Pastor Tim and his wife would be expected to not only take an active lead in most of these events, but also to visit members of their church in their homes or at the hospital/nursing home, and to be on call for anyone in need or who just wants a listening ear. Pastors' wives usually don't have jobs because the church expects them to do a full schedule of the same kind of work their husbands do. Good luck faking the kind of background needed for this kind of placement too. Pastor Tim would have to be a Bible school/theological graduate to be hired as a minister. To even get into such a school, he'd have to have a standing affiliation with a church and personal references from his pastor and other church members. Then, once he graduated, he'd have to have fairly extensive experience as an assistant pastor before he'd be given the job of leading such a big church.

And yes, pastors usually do have children, but perhaps there were infertility issues.

So I'm casting my vote on the "they just want to help and while they know something is wrong they don't know what they're dealing with" side.
posted by orange swan at 9:33 AM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I dunno. I can think of worse covers than being a pastor in a DC suburb, where tons of government employees work and live and attend church. People confide a lot to their pastor. And, the pastor gets invited to a lot of homes. Pastors also depend on other lower-level pastors as well as volunteers to do a lot of the day-to-day things.

I mean, you're probably right that they're exactly as they seem. All I'm saying is it doesn't seem totally impossible that the pastor is an agent for someone.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:20 AM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the subject of the pastor and his wife, is it not creepy, generally, for an adult couple to invite a teenager over for a sleepover? The one thing I found a bit off about this episode is that the implication seemed to be that what was "wrong" about the sleepover situation is simply that Paige didn't ask first, not that it was super weird for a teenage girl to be the sole guest at a sleepover at an adult couple's house.
posted by The Gooch at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah. That is super weird. I guess that sort of led to me asking if they had kids.

Oh! I know! The church is actually a front for a white-slavery cartel, and the trip to Africa is their yearly shipment of young girls out of the US! Phil and Liz bust them, and in the process reveal themselves to the authorities.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2015


... and then Philip really does rip off his face and reveal himself to be Alien Lizard Man....
posted by orange swan at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


What does Martha think Clark is?
Why is Martha still with Clark?
Why hasn't Martha turned Clark in?
Why didn't Martha tell her parents about Clark?

I love this show, I really do. But the Martha / Clark story is infuriating to me. I think the conceit is that Martha is such a mousey woman with such low self esteem that she's grateful to have Clark in her life. Even if he's only there every fourth day, it's a secret marriage, and he makes her plant a spy bug in her FBI office. She knows he's not FBI. So what does she think he is? Why does she put up with it? It's particularly frustrating to me because she's a great actress and as the show's gone on they show Martha has some internal strength. She can lie confidentially to the real internal investigator, for instance.

So what does Martha think Clark is?
posted by Nelson at 9:21 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I were in Martha's shoes, I wouldn't get in a car with an accented-man who says he's a friend of Clark's and has been watching for me to leave my apartment. The actress that plays Martha is amazing and I'd hate to see her leave the show but "death becomes her."
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 12:18 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why hasn't Martha turned Clark in?
Because that would incriminate herself. I don't think "but my secret fiance said he worked for the government and asked me to do it" is enough to let her go free.

I think they show Martha as a smart woman who immediately understood what was going on with the bug and immediately destroyed the evidence quite competently. And then she did not really know what to do. Telling anyone would incriminate her. And she likely feels tons of shame. And she probably still loves Clark, despite everything. Her life has been turned upside down. I feel like she's handling it pretty well, given the huge amount of trouble she's in.

She understands that Clark is working for some kind of foreign agency. She either does not want to know the details (because it's already so bad and she doesn't want any more details because she is in big trouble anyway and more knowledge cannot make it better) or she just knows he must be a Russian spy because it is obvious to her now and there's no reason to spell it out (because that again would make it even more real and it's already unbearable as it is).
posted by blub at 1:22 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


the look on Matthew Rhys's face when Martha isn't swayed -- the drop into utter defeat, sadness, awareness of what her words meant -- horrified me as much as the subsequent wig-pull. this show relies so much on the subtle powers of its actors because it consistently has the camera linger on facial expressions rather than movement or action -- which makes sense, because it's a show about masks and confidence games. everyone nails it, every single week. chills, man.

if the pastor turns out to be more than a pastor, I'll be a little disappointed. what's great about the pastor is that, while in a sense he's exactly what he claims to be (which is part of why Paige is so attached to him), he's also overreaching and a little creepy. he's almost like an inversion of the "spoil-sport ruining our fun" character in other prestige dramas: the fact that we know what Phillip and Elizabeth really are actually make Pastor Tim more sympathetic, because he's actually right to be so protective of Paige even though he doesn't know the half of why. scenes where Phillip and Elizabeth try to maneuver around him, especially when Paige is present, are fascinating.

on a smaller note, I loved the extended shot of Henry alone in the living room, playing video games, perfectly teenage-boy content despite his entire family disappearing into its various dramas and crises. he's by far the most successful "Other Child in a Prestige Drama" I've ever seen, simply because the writers embrace his peripheral status.
posted by Kybard at 6:25 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


blub, I agree Martha must know that Clark is somehow a foreign spy. And I like the idea she's not asking more questions because she doesn't want to face the truth. I just wish they'd show us that, give the actress time to tell that story. I mean there's a huge amount going on in the show and not a lot of time, but they've found a slice to make both Nina and Stan solid multi-dimensional characters. Martha mostly is just this one dimensional victim and it frustrates me because there's a lot more there struggling to come out. Still, good for her for confronting Clark, it at least gets us past this clumsy moment.

I also agree that Rhys acted that moment really well. Him pulling the wig off surprised me, I was certain he was going to calmly reach forward and choke the life out of poor Martha.
posted by Nelson at 6:44 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah...I'm pretty frustrated by how Martha has been written through all of this. I can't imagine any woman settling for the ridiculous sort of "marriage" she has put herself in with Clark. And, then, willfully planting the bug? At the intelligence agency she's worked long and hard for? I can't imagine anyone being that naïve or desperate for love. She's almost like a throwback stereotype.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2015


It shouldnt be that unbelievable that someone would participate in a marriage like that. People participate in online relationships where the other person is a total lie.

As for willfully planting the bug, up until then Martha had been just supplying Clark with intelligence and copies of some files. During that time she falls in love with him. He then proposes to her, then convinces her to plant the bug. This was a slow process and Phillip is a professional. Its totally believable to me. He also played a tape of her coworkers bad mouthing her.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


She's almost like a throwback stereotype.

For a woman who is, what, in her early 30s? the early-mid 80s isn't at all that far removed from the 60s or even 50s. For women who are feeling pressured (by society or their own desires) to marry and have children this is absolutely believable, even in this day and age. And LizBoBiz is right that Phillip is a professional; it's not that Martha is naive rube, it's that Phillip has been able to allay all her concerns when they pop up.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:35 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to find that interview with the creators from earlier this year in which they talked about why they constructed Martha like this. I thought it was the Sepinwall interview, but no luck. In any case, the producers said that in researching other women who discovered they were married to a Russian spy, they pretty consistently found that denial or rationalization was a really strong reaction, and that after learning about their spouse's real identity/motives, it was horrifically bleak for the spouse. Suicides, alcoholism, pdenial, holding onto anything to keep their heads above water since nothing about their world makes sense any more.

So in that vein, Martha tries to hold onto love/marriage as her life saver, a unifying reason why she's in this situation (since everything else about her world is crap now - her actions taken out of a sense of patriotism turn out to be treason; she's betrayed her work colleagues, her husband is a cipher wrapped in an enigma, smothered in special sauce, she has no one to talk to), but found it terrifically hard with a husband who was only there one or two times a week, who isn't experiencing what she's experiencing, and who is not the man she envisioned him to be, and who is trying to build up that true affection is there so that she keeps on keeping on. His regard for her is the only tiny flare of hope or hope of happiness for her, and she can't even trust that.
posted by julen at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine any woman settling for the ridiculous sort of "marriage" she has put herself in with Clark.

I have settled for even less than Martha has and for a much longer time frame than she did in order to get a tiny amount of companionship and affection, which came packaged with empty promises, dishonesty, neglect, and a narcissistic lack of concern for the anguish it caused me. It happens. And let's remember what Philip did to get her to bug Gaad's office: he played her a doctored tape in which a number of the men she worked with including her boss laughed about how ugly she was. That step taken, there was no way out for Martha. She has no options whatsoever now other than to hope Clark will guide her through the horrible situation he's put her in.
posted by orange swan at 10:59 AM on April 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Aha! I found that interview I was talking about before:
I may have said it to you a hundred times, but this is based on real cases where illegals married unsuspecting women. I think there’s three reported cases where we know about what happened at the end, when the truth finally came out, in each of these three cases after many years of marriage. In one of the cases, the woman absolutely refused to believe it. Even when the police were presenting her with irrefutable evidence, she was in denial. There was nothing you could say; she just never believed it. In another case, the woman got up from her chair, walked over to a window and jumped out the window. Just immediately killed herself within five seconds of being told. And in another case, the woman hung herself an hour later. So you have two out of three suicides. I’m not suggesting that’s where our story is going because who knows where our story will go. But how horrible what they’re doing is, to me, it’s already at peak horror. I don’t know. What twist could it take to get any worse?
I found this while looking for that article, too: The producers on the Christian Conversion storyline (to the Christian Post). This may provide some input into the nature of the Pastor (or not, who knows with Producers)
posted by julen at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well now it seems only a matter of time before Arkady receives the fruits of success in the form of Stan's little speech recorded via mailbot. That's probably morale-boosting, if not directly helpful, for The Cause. But not nearly as helpful as how Phillip and Elizabeth played the CIA and got Abassin to essentially sabotage the entire Stinger operation. Even the Northrop operation went well, all things considered. It's always a thrill seeing those two at their very finest at spycraft.

But we can't forget that The Americans is essentially a show about a family. Elizabeth seems as secure in the direction her relationship with Phillip is going (that little smile of hers when he made that deep, mournful sigh on being reminded he had to visit Martha was a nice touch) as she is on very shakey ground with Paige. Phillip is having a bit more luck, it seems, but for whatever reason it's Elizabeth that Paige seems to be really angry at.

Not that the Center is helping, of course. That diner scene pretty much stripped any hope I had that the Jennings might have some wriggle room to raise a normal family - Claudia's the one behind Gabriel's insistence on turning Paige? It's over. Unless Elizabeth gets another chance to beat the crap out of her, maybe.

But the real hopeless case here is Martha, of course. Every word she told "Clark" should be enough to have convinced him he's lost her, or at least, she's too far gone to not be seen as a huge liability. She never asked for this, and it tears me up, but it's hard to see an exit for her.

On the bright side of things, how about that Hans? Not too shabby at playing in the minor leagues, is he? I look forward to seeing how he progresses.

I still wonder about the defector, though. Things have got to come to a head there one way or the other.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:21 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Americans: The Unwiggening!
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:52 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


About Creepy Pastor Tim, let's not forget that the whole reason Paige got involved with him and his potluck poster-making singalongs in the first place is the incidental girl who just incidentally befriended Paige and incidentally chatted her up on the bus trip to see nonexistent Aunt Helen and then promptly handed Paige over to Creepypasta Pastor. Which, when the Jared Kills Parents info was revealed, initially led me to think Pastor Tim was a Centre handler, but that's probably too obvious for this show. But many interesting parallels between how E&P recruit and groom assets and how the church does.

One of the funnest parts of the show is Elizabeth's drippingly sarcastic raging atheism. And I'd sort of like to slap Paige around on general principles; god what a PITA.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:08 PM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I saw something online about how the cast of The Americans have a running in-joke which involves them adding, "Fuck you, Paige" to the dialogue in rehearsals. I can see the humour in that. How annoying must it be to have a 15-year-old who's so damn right all the time?
posted by orange swan at 4:36 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


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