The Americans: Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow
March 31, 2016 8:16 AM - Season 4, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Paige copes with new burdens that come with her family's secret - as Philip and Elizabeth struggle to contain their cover without destroying their daughter.
posted by LizBoBiz (21 comments total)
 
As the room fills with gas fumes, Henry is the match that's about to be struck.
posted by Kinbote at 8:27 AM on March 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Elizabeth at a Mary Kay meeting is awesome. Philip, on the other hand, is looking shaggier and shaggier as the season develops. I was really hoping for scenes of the family at EPCOT.

Anyone else think Paige is going to do harm to Pastor Tim?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:31 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


It looked like the start of spy training for Paige. "Just go work on your pastor for us honey. Here's some tips." And it looks like she may come to the conclusion on her own that pastor Tim needs to be taken out.

I think Martha may be falling even more in love with Philip, what with all this sexy spy stuff now. Too bad that Stan caught on now that Philip is going without his disguises with her. Maybe Stan does catch them, but Philip plays it off as an affair.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:47 AM on March 31, 2016


The small stuff was so good in this episode: Pastor Tim telling his wife (it was the one thing that could unsettle Paige any more than she's already unsettled). The bureaucracy leading to the peevish announcement of 6 unaccounted for copies. Elizabeth and Phillip tackling the infectious diseases guy as he ran from them. The infectious diseases guy complaining about the lids for the containers the Soviets sentThe wine snob (and I presume actual eventual target) at the dinner table. The internal memo about how the FBI doesn't feel and the return of the mail robot. Phillip casually mentioning "a lying incident with Paige" to Sandra.

I suspect the Pastor is going to keep pushing for more information and alienating Paige. She asked her parents for details on what they did, but I think she'll be reluctant to tell Pastor Tim whatever they eventually tell her.
posted by julen at 4:51 PM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, but best of all: CLAUDIA is back.
posted by julen at 5:51 PM on March 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh my gosh this episode was great.
One small thing I noticed: The way page said "I felt so stooooopid" sounded so heartwarmingly East Coast to me. Awww East Coast I miss your vowel sounds.

My insane headcanon for this episode is that Gabriel was attempting to take out Phil & Elizabeth himself by poisoning himself and subsequently them with the stuff. Unlikely sure but I made myself lol. Even still, taking out the Jennings family might not off be off the table for the Center.
posted by bleep at 8:53 PM on March 31, 2016


*Um, Paige. Not sure how that happened...
posted by bleep at 9:21 PM on March 31, 2016


Also - Young Hee is such an instantly & incredibly likeable character. I hope nothing bad happens to her. :(
posted by bleep at 10:02 PM on March 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


The mere concept of Elizabeth at a Mary Kay sales meeting is hysterical. I do love her new wisecracking friend Young Hee, and Elizabeth can't resist her either -- she genuinely enjoys herself around her. And doing the Pepper Dance. Though a mouthful of bread might have been more helpful.

Philip and Elizabeth trying to put a good spin on their work for Pastor Tim was a sight not to be missed. And of course Pastor Tim has told his wife Alice all about the super secret spy stuff. Not smart. The man ought to have known his wife is a blabbermouth, because that is one terrible quality in a pastor's wife, and it surely would have caused problems before now. The guy may mean well, but he's not terribly with it.

The FBI does not feel, except for Agent Gaad, who feels very strongly indeed about undocumented copier use. MailRobot is privy to Stan and Aderholt's conversation, so the Embassy is going to know Martha's under suspicion. She'll have to play it straight for awhile.

Nina's back in prison and escaping in dreams.

The Jennings are going to Epcot Center! Except they aren't! Here's hoping they postpone the hit on Pastor Tim, because Pastor Tim and Alice dying in an accident while Philip and Elizabeth are mysteriously away for 40 hours is REALLY bad timing.

Next episode... exit Gabriel? A dinner date for Martha?
posted by orange swan at 10:25 PM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyone else think Paige is going to do harm to Pastor Tim?

It feels like they're going there... but I hope they don't go there. Paige has values, she shouldn't even be considering something like that, and she doesn't even know her parents are assassins so doing it to impress Mommy wouldn't make any sense.

And if they expect me to believe someone who didn't think though all of the implications before telling the Pastor about her parents can get away with murder without leaving huge clues...

Also, I didn't realize what "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow" meant until two days after I saw the episode...
posted by mmoncur at 11:38 PM on March 31, 2016


Oh, but best of all: CLAUDIA is back.
And, Gabriel is suddenly at death's door. Hmmmmmm...
posted by Thorzdad at 6:04 AM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Young Hee was great! Apparently the actress is an acclaimed Broadway star.

Return of two of my favorite characters: Claudia, and Mail Robot!!!
posted by matildaben at 9:35 AM on April 1, 2016


I missed Claudia... when did she appear in this episode?
posted by aabbbiee at 1:25 PM on April 1, 2016


"Here's hoping they postpone the hit on Pastor Tim, because Pastor Tim and Alice dying in an accident while Philip and Elizabeth are mysteriously away for 40 hours is REALLY bad timing. "

Yeah, that's where I think they're going with this, although I'm not sure that the result will be that Pastor Tim is actually killed. But the set-up, I think, is that Gabriel already contacted the center and the assassination is going forward while Philip and Elizabeth won't have an alibi, Paige will be deeply suspicious, and they won't be able to stop it. Unless they ask Paige to intervene. Which is what I think will happen. I don't think that they are willing to risk their daughter to the degree to which would result in them being mysteriously out of the house at the exact same time that Pastor Tim and his wife die in a car accident. They won't be able to contact the Center to stop it, Paige will be their only recourse, and that will set up a whole host of problems. They're in a situation of worsening "lesser of evils" choices.

The other possibility is that Tim and his wife are killed and Paige goes nuts about it. There was a huge amount of foreboding in this episode -- they lampshaded Philip's sense of impending doom. What I found myself thinking through much of the episode is that they very well may be about to fundamentally alter the show, changing Philip and Elizabeth's status in some profound way. (I'm not sure how or what I'd be willing to believe.)

"It feels like they're going there... but I hope they don't go there."

I don't think they're going there -- it would be utterly out-of-character for Paige. It would be contrived in a way even worse than Pastor Tim also being a spy would have been contrived.

"I missed Claudia... when did she appear in this episode?"

Gabriel met with her. It's not that she's his handler, but that she's their displaced handler where Gabriel was brought in specifically to deal with them in her place because of their long relationship and trust in him. I think that Claudia still has a lot of operational influence. And what we saw in that scene was Gabriel arguing repeatedly that they need to just be called back to the USSR, that it's over for them and safer for everyone if they leave the US. But Claudia -- either repeating the Center's bias or her own -- keeps insisting that they stay. And IIRC this repeats a past scene involving the recruitment of Paige where the audience, in watching the Jennings' arguing about it with Gabriel, were led to believe that Gabriel really wanted this when, in fact, he was against it as revealed in his scene with Claudia. Philip, particularly, doesn't entirely trust Gabriel anymore but unbeknownst to him, Gabriel really has been advocating for exactly the kinds of things that Philip wants specifically because he cares about the whole family.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:23 PM on April 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


But the set-up, I think, is that Gabriel already contacted the center and the assassination is going forward while Philip and Elizabeth won't have an alibi, Paige will be deeply suspicious, and they won't be able to stop it. Unless they ask Paige to intervene. Which is what I think will happen.

I suspect you're right. That would be interesting, either Philip and Elizabeth calling Pastor Tim to warn him or having Paige frantically racing to save them. Or tipping off Stan and the FBI somehow so they could protect Tim.

What I found myself thinking through much of the episode is that they very well may be about to fundamentally alter the show

I've expected for a long time that they'd end up altering the show one or two ways: (a) Phil and Elizabeth become informants for the FBI, worried about The Center finding out. Or (b) -- looking more likely now -- they make a decision that causes them to be "burned" by The Center and now they have both the FBI and the Russians to worry about.

I figured (a) was coming because it's the standard American TV thing -- "See, they're good guys after all." And I've been impressed that that hasn't happened.

--
One thought: We don't know for sure that Gabriel has Glanders. He has seemed kind of ill for a while, and if that vial survived being punched by Stan you would think it wouldn't crack open. But I guess they have to assume he does until they know for sure...
posted by mmoncur at 9:28 PM on April 1, 2016


"Phil and Elizabeth, you just got glanders. What are you going to do next?" "We're not going to Disney World."

I rewatched the episode taking notes. So rich, from script to cinematography to acting.

Open on Phillip sleeping, vulnerable, now unmasked to Martha, then cut to Elizabeth- still very much disguised and seeking a new mark. Follow with the trippiness of them having a chat about their biz with Pastor Tim. (All kinds of things in this episode you thought you'd never see. Like Elizabeth having a good time with her bud.)

Note some camera placement /blocking, for instance in the Phil/Paige scene. The angle starts up high, almost like a spycam in the ceiling. And Phil kneels to talk to Paige about the pastor like he's praying at her bed.

And how amusing or ironic some lines become because of what we know. "I told Elizabeth about EST." "How'd it go?" "She didnt kill me." I outright laugh when Elizabeth or Phil go into full B.S. mode, like telling Paige, Oh, no, no one ever gets hurt because of us.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:08 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I came to call out the bit about Elizabeth and Phil lying to Paige about how they never hurt anyone. Because that's a lie that's going to be very hard to explain away. I guess they realize it's a temporary lie, one to keep her comfortable and OK with them while they indoctrinate her further into being a Russian Spy. But the lie came so easily, and it's such a monstrously large lie. Most of this season they've been talking about how they keep their relationship with Paige working, how they keep her trusting her parents. There's no way that's going to work.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on April 3, 2016


God I wish Young Hee could be Elizabeth's for-real friend. Or better yet, mine -- and trust me, I've never said that about a Mary Kay rep before.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:59 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I LOVE the implied reveal that it was the Center/Claudia pushing for Paige to be indoctrinated and Gabriel trying to push back against that but ultimately toeing the line, what with him wanting to evacuate the Jennings immediately and Claudia/Center forcing him to convey their wishes. It colors every previous conversation with Gabriel when we know that his manipulation of Elizabeth and Philip against each other was him just following orders. I can almost see a young Gabriel being like Philip, a good soldier with a trouble conscience.
posted by coolname at 8:17 PM on November 15, 2017


I just got into the show a couple of weeks ago and have been binge-watching and following the discussion here ... a couple of years behind.

I really, really love Young Hee. Especially when Elizabeth says she's embarrassed about the pepper incident and Young Hee deadpans: "Me too. You should never come here again." I hope she shows up again.

Nina dreaming about Stan - so I guess she did have some feelings for him which isn't all that surprising. A few episodes ago when Nina brought up her husband to whatserface, the roommate she was manipulating, I thought she was lying, but nope.

Pastor Tim telling his wife about his parishioner's parent's Russian spy work, and *then* telling the spies about it, was incredibly stupid and naive. The fact that he doesn't seem to realize the risk he is taking on not only for himself but also for his wife is mind-boggling ... but it does go along with the well-meaning-but-not-super-bright minister thing.

So Aderholt is asking Martha on a date? I can't wait to see this ...
posted by bunderful at 3:06 PM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


This episode was a painfully obvious backdoor pilot for Young Hee's 1980's Korean-American family sitcom. They better get a full season order.
posted by skewed at 10:41 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


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