The Americans: Pastor Tim
March 24, 2016 9:38 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Nina gets her visit from her husband. Oleg and Elizabeth both get bad news. Paige and Henry get a computer. Henry and Stan talk man to man, Philip and Elizabeth talk EST, and Philip and Stan don't talk. No one seems willing to take Philip and Elizabeth's little vial of destruction off their hands, and Elizabeth discovers that Paige has confided in Pastor Tim.
posted by orange swan (32 comments total)
 
Nina leaves a trail of broken hearts in her wake regardless of what she does.

Good on Elizabeth for being open-minded and supportive about Philip's exploration of EST.

That Russian airline captain was far worse than useless. Martha makes a much better operative than him.

Oooh, Paige, you are a player. You checkmated your parents' plan to dispose of Pastor Tim by being upfront with them about having told him. I don't know what Philip and Elizabeth will do now. I'd go to Gabriel and ask for advice. Probably the best thing they can do is have another operative take care of it, making the death look like either an accident or natural, while Philip and Elizabeth are innocently at work, or at home with their kids, in which latter case they would preferably also have someone else there too, such as Stan if he and Philip patch things up first. Even then... no one seems to have considered the possibility that Pastor Tim might have told Mrs. Pastor Tim.

Henry continues to be awesomely quirky and interesting. And fragrant.

There was no Martha and no Mail Robot in this episode. I very much did not like that.
posted by orange swan at 5:45 AM on March 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I waited and waited for this thread to appear so as to make this incredibly insightful comment:

♫ Touch me, baby, tainted love ♫
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:00 AM on March 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, I realize Stan's "let's bond over our shared interest in teacher boobies and then go upstairs so I can give you cologne" conversation with Henry was not at all intended to be . . . untoward, but it was still fucking gross. This may be due primarily to Stan's general creepiness.

I did very much enjoy learning that Stan's Kraft mac and cheese is better than Elizabeth's because he cooks it al dente, though. Yet another way in which Elizabeth is clearly a failure at all-American motherhood, heh heh.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:13 AM on March 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't know what Philip and Elizabeth will do now. I'd go to Gabriel and ask for advice.

Judging from the previews, that's exactly what they do. Or, in any case, Gabriel finds out about Pastor Tim. There's no way Paige won't freak-out and blame her parents if Pastor TIm turns up dead or missing. She's smart enough to do the calculus.

Loved hearing Tainted Love. Was that the Soft Cell version? It sounded a bit off, like it was a close reproduction.

I'm not sure Elizabeth is completely cool with Philip going to EST. I took her reaction more like she's processing it and needs to investigate it more. Though, I wasn't sure which she had more of an issue with, Phillip going to EST or Philip having drinks with Stan's ex.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 AM on March 25, 2016


I'm not sure Elizabeth is completely cool with Philip going to EST. I took her reaction more like she's processing it and needs to investigate it more.

Well, she didn't immediately roll her eyes, snort in derision, or call it a "potluck poster-making singalong," so that's a pretty positive reaction, for her. God I love Elizabeth.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:48 AM on March 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


Another thing I meant to mention in my comment but forgot... Gaad's reference to his meeting with Gene's parents, and his comment, "We know we didn't do it." Ah! So the FBI has its wits about it and is questioning whether Gene's suicide was what it appeared to be.
posted by orange swan at 9:19 AM on March 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm flabbergasted to discover that there are no uproarious Felicity vs. Elizabeth video montages on YouTube. Like, Felicity saying a tearful pre-summer goodbye to Ben to the strains of "La Cienega Just Smiled" crosscut with Elizabeth offing someone or mocking Pastor Tim. If only I had the skills. . . .
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:54 AM on March 25, 2016


It amused me no end that "Tainted Love" was that clearly quite hip and trendy young woman's soundtrack of choice. That song has been such a piece of cheese and such a joke for so long it's hard to realize it was ever cutting edge.

Paige's leather clogs were a joy. I also note the presence of the sewing machine in Paige's bedroom, which was a fun detail given that we've never seen her or Elizabeth doing any sewing.

It was a rough day for Oleg. His brother is dead and he found out that he betrayed his country for nothing because he won't be getting Nina back.

Vasily is such a genuinely good, decent man. Both he and his successor as rezidentura, Arkady, are such incredibly effective bureaucrats who also genuinely care about those in their charge. Arkady in particular has several times put his own career at risk to do what he thought was right, and he never, ever loses his cool, even under serious provocation. He makes Gaad look like an undisciplined adolescent in comparison. You'd never see Arkady attacking a poor, defenseless Mail Robot, is what I'm saying.
posted by orange swan at 10:50 AM on March 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


They filmed Henry entirely sitting down so you wouldn't notice he's now 6'7" and playing college basketball. Forget glanders, the Soviets need to get on that cologne that makes a kid go through puberty in a week. (Henry's actually already working for The Center. That's why he's cultivating Stan.)

Even as Phil/Eliz agonize more and more over what they do, I'm feeling less concerned over how they'll end up by series end. Like, not worrying if they go out Bonnie & Clyde style. (Oh, damn you, TheAmericans, I still will be kind of freaked out.)

But I'm Martha-centric. I want her to survive, but her journey into the darkness is fascinating. I think one possible storyline is she becomes more and more a willing accomplice, only to go apeshit when she finally learns of the Main Wife. (I could go on and on about my long-term plot theories.)

Oh, how all the interpersonal relationships resonate in the work. How will Oleg, who's already been in cahoots with The Enemy, feel about his homeland now that war has taken his brother. And then how that story has paralleled with Phil/Mischa's concern over his other son, also at war.

There's a lot of geometric shapes going on: Triangles like Phil/Elizabeth/Martha. Elizabeth, her mother and Paige. Stan and his two Rsn. bromances (Phil, Oleg). Nina and the however-many-sided group of men she's entangled in her life.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:02 AM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


A meaty tidbit for Team Pastor Tim is an Operative: the CISPES brochure in his desk drawer is from the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, a group that fought US intervention in El Salvador and was infiltrated by the FBI on suspicion of being a communist plot. I don't think this means he's secretly a communist, but I do think it means he isn't a "my country right or wrong" type either, which makes his failure to report Elizabeth and Philip to the authorities a bit more comprehensible. The guy did get arrested for protesting nukes, after all. He is someone who values doing what he sees as moral right over the letter of the law.

That dream that Elizabeth had -- on the first viewing I didn't know who the man who attacked Paige was, but on a second viewing I clued in that he was Elizabeth's rapist who was killed in the very first episode of the series, and he forces Paige down onto her stomach and yanks down her trousers as he did to Elizabeth when he assaulted her. Though we've never heard her acknowledge it, Elizabeth really is fearful that Paige will have a life like hers. She may want Paige to work for the Soviets but she doesn't want Paige to have to pay the price she has. And she's deluding herself about what Paige working for the Soviets (assuming she'll agree to it, and good luck with that) will really mean for her.
posted by orange swan at 11:26 AM on March 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Even as Phil/Eliz agonize more and more over what they do, I'm feeling less concerned over how they'll end up by series end. Like, not worrying if they go out Bonnie & Clyde style.

I always figured Elizabeth would die of massive skull fractures that result when she unexpectedly slams headfirst into glasnost and perestroika, at which point Philip will go "Oh thank fuck," move to Cali, and open a TCBY franchise.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:40 PM on March 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh gosh, forgot to note my pick for Line of the Week: "I liked you better as a blond."

Dylan Baker is a national treasure.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:47 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Henry's actually already working for The Center. That's why he's cultivating Stan.)

Maybe. Or maybe the big turnaround will happen when Stan finally goes over to see Henry's brand new Communist 64.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am 100% positive the Soviets have bugged/equivilant that computer. If this show was set 5-10 years later, they'd totally be reading Paige's email, but now they'll just be reading school papers and when Henry starts dialing up to BBSes.

There's a curious parallel between the shakiness of the Lev/Stan and Stan/Phillip relationships. Stan is SO lonely, and I think he's going to be offended that Martha chose someone else instead of the shared mission of the job, too. He's so out of step with women that it usually interferes with him doing his job, but Martha closing herself off to him could work in his favor if it stokes his suspicion.

Philip is getting the stressed-out presentation here, but I think Elizabeth is actually more likely to crack just because she's still not dealing with a bunch of stuff, at all.
posted by julen at 2:52 PM on March 25, 2016


Here's something that's been banging around in my head...
That flashback of Philip killing the boy with the rock, while a nice look at his past, seemed terribly...obvious. Kind of like the gun on the mantle.

Stay with me now...

I think we're all in agreement that Gabriel has it in for Philip, for some unspoken reason. Now, what if Gabriel is the father of the boy Philip killed?

I know this is way more "Luke, I am your father" than the show tends to go, but still...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 PM on March 25, 2016


I think Elizabeth will be proven right about Pastor Tim --- he's a narcissist who "kind leader" thing is an act. Paige will be forced to see it and while, not killing him, will be put in a position where she has to "take him down" in someway.
posted by CMcG at 5:35 PM on March 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


If I know anything about parenting it's that Philip and Elizabeth have to make Paige kill Pastor Tim now. It's the only way she'll learn.
posted by chrchr at 11:05 PM on March 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


~A meaty tidbit for Team Pastor Tim is an Operative: the CISPES brochure in his desk drawer is from the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, a group that fought US intervention in El Salvador and was infiltrated by the FBI on suspicion of being a communist plot.

~Philip and Elizabeth have to make Paige kill Pastor Tim now. It's the only way she'll learn.


Won't it be fun if Paige kills Tim and it turns out Tim was an FBI operative using the pastor position to infiltrate CIPSES?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:26 AM on March 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how adult this show is. Elizabeth's talking to Philip about EST, Stan's totally awkward relationship with Henry. Even the central plot theme of murdering Pastor Tim, a silly a setup as it was, was handled with nuance and complexity. I genuinely liked the turn the plot took with Paige confessing her betrayal, and Elizabeth getting so, so angry and then sort of letting it lie. What a mess.

I miss Claudia. Gabriel is great too, but I miss Claudia.
posted by Nelson at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2016


Do you guys ever think about this show as like another take on the "gritty superhero" theme we've been getting for awhile. Liz & Phil have a lot in common with superheroes - living a double life, doing extreme acts for what they think is right, being real introspective and conflicted sometimes (at least Phil obviously is but I can tell Elizabeth is getting there in her closed-off way), putting their loved ones at risk. I also think about Elizabeth in terms of superhero a lot because of how nice their house is, and that she's apparently handling all of that by herself with occasional help when she's pissed off at Paige. I wouldn't be surprised if she's also legit running the travel agency and handling peoples' vacations in addition to being a stone-cold killer.

Also something I noticed and was curious about - have you guys ever seen a house shaped like that? A suburban u-shaped house with a big courtyard in the middle? I have not, ever. Is it a DC thing?
posted by bleep at 3:54 PM on March 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Jennings live in Falls Church, Virginia, not DC.
posted by orange swan at 4:06 PM on March 26, 2016


Also something I noticed and was curious about - have you guys ever seen a house shaped like that? A suburban u-shaped house with a big courtyard in the middle? I have not, ever. Is it a DC thing?

Oh, I am so thankful you mentioned the weird house configuration because every single time someone pulls into the Jennings' driveway, I'm like, "What a stupid U-shaped design. It has to be a pain to get the car into the garage straight when you have to do like a double turn from the street into the driveway and then into the garage or the parking space next to the garage." Plus backing out of the garage? A nightmare! You'd have to back straight out just far enough to get clearance to then go forward while turning left toward the street but not so far that you back into the house or bedding plants behind you. Or you'd have to back out while turning so as to back straight out into the street. This actually distracts me from the storyline constantly.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:07 PM on March 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


The house and the whole street looks 90s to me, from the architecture to the colors, inside and out.

Did anyone else notice the shot when Elizabeth tells Paige that her grandmother died? It's shot from the side, with Elizabeth on the kitchen side of the wall and Paige on the living room side of the wall, such that the wall is between them. Then Paige crosses to the kitchen -- walking right through the wall on some Kitty Pryde shit -- to embrace her mother. It's on the nose as hell, but I really like it when this show gets all Hitchcock with the visual metaphors.
posted by chrchr at 4:21 PM on March 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah I thought that was nice too chrchr. Seriously on the nose with the "coming from out of this room into that room", even the colors were different, but still nice for that.
posted by Nelson at 5:04 PM on March 26, 2016


I haven't actually thought about the house before now that much. That said, I had actually been assuming that there were 3 houses in each fenced-set of houses in some cutesy early new urbanism design, complete with terribly considered parking. (I had been thinking that the interior set seems part of a square house with attached garage).... BUT having it be one house with 2 wings - one for the garage, and one for a formal room/bathroom/dining room downstairs, parental bedroom upstairs would also make sense. By the 1980s, Northern Virginia developers were already trying to squeeze as much house and amenities in the smallest amount of lot, which usually meant a semi-concealed garage entry that was still on the front of the house.

I've been in a number of Virginia houses built in the 1960s/70s/80s with a center house core with wings stretching out both in a straight line and out in a rough U formation (the wings often 2-4 steps lower than the center part of the house. Often the wings are just 1 story high. These houses are often built for the upper middle class, or the aspirational middle class, so that would fit the image Phillip and Elizabeth are trying to convey.
posted by julen at 6:05 PM on March 26, 2016


Ya I too was originally thinking it might be a duplex, but a duplex would be an odd choice for them to have bought for this purpose. I also got the sense it was some kind of aspirational DC suburbs "cram them in but make them feel important" type design so I feel vindicated.
posted by bleep at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2016


The show is set in and around Washington, but it's all filmed in and around NYC. Those weird u-shaped houses are on a cul-de-sac full of 'em in White Plains. Some additional googling reveals that there are several similar homes on that same cul-de-sac currently on the market, which can be yours for around eight hundred grand. That seems insanely reasonable for a 2,829 square foot home 25 miles from Manhattan, but then I'm used to the Canadian market, which is insanely unreasonable.

And, yeah, good eye, chrchr: They were all built in 1989.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:35 PM on March 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well, I lived in the 1990s for ten years.
posted by chrchr at 11:58 PM on March 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Oh, and it looks like those houses are all triplexes, which is why there's one garage door on one side, two on the other, and three front doors in the middle. And three mailboxes. And guest parking up the wazoo.

It looks like a weirder and weirder choice of location the more I look at it.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:18 AM on March 27, 2016


It looks like a weirder and weirder choice of location the more I look at it.

It's almost like a version of "typical americanski home" you might see in some cold-war comedy. It really is a weird looking home. There must be some reason such an unusual place was chosen by the production team.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:46 AM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The house itself is pretty visually interesting - large and showy, with set back and semi-hidden or protected entrances. The entrance to it requires you to drive past it, do a u-turn around one of the concrete-edged median plantings in the street and come back to the house, where you have to navigate into the driveway/garage. It gives you a sense of being both open and private.

You have the black fence out front that defines the boundaries between mostly white houses, even when there isn't much of a yard to fence off. Everyone is close to each other, but everything is sectioned off. When Phillip and Elizabeth come home, they have to twist and turn to disappear into their garage, and it's lack of direct sightlines is both a benefit (easier to do spy stuff/handle unexpected issues) and a detriment (Stan surprising them in the garage several times, most notably in the last episode).
posted by julen at 12:06 PM on March 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I think Elizabeth will be proven right about Pastor Tim --- he's a narcissist who "kind leader" thing is an act. Paige will be forced to see it and while, not killing him, will be put in a position where she has to "take him down" in someway."

My guess after watching the episode tonight is there's a reason that Pastor Tim heads out into nowhereland to write his sermons and that's that he's having an affair. Elizabeth will find out and find a way to get Paige to find out, and her trust in Pastor Tim is shattered.

FYI it's kind of surreal reading these threads a year after everyone's commented but hey, that's where I am and where you were. I don't often add my insights or speculations because I worry someone'll show up and forget the "we don't talk about next episode's contents" rule.
posted by komara at 10:35 PM on July 1, 2017


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