The Americans: Clark's Place
April 14, 2016 6:10 AM - Season 4, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Paige asks more questions. Henry and Philip reconnect with friends, while Elizabeth continues to grow a new relationship. Martha gains a couple of secret admirers.

Noah Emmerich directs this episode.
posted by LizBoBiz (24 comments total)
This week's Soviet character scenes were really interesting - Oleg's father, the old school Soviet, feeling increasingly out of time and out of place in a Soviet Union that is crumbling & dissembling; Oleg, the jaded idealist who feels betrayed and lost and alone; Arkady, the power player who backed the wrong horse and doesn't know how that will impact him. In the 1930s-70s, he'd have been yanked home and lucky if he survived. In the 1980s, things are both the same as they ever were and increasingly desperate and piecemeal. Then you have Gabriel, in the field, barely able to breathe between coughs and trying to keep everything knit together. Even Hans, who is apparently being used as a support team, is a bit wishy-washy.

As I was watching Elizabeth watch Phillip call Martha, and see him tell Martha that he loved her at the end, I actually said out loud "Holy crap, she reads lips!" It wasn't so much a revelation (of course she reads lips, it's a useful spy skill) as a the revelation of yet another new challenge for her. That's why I read the show-ending sex was as much a pressure release as Elizabeth defending her turf (i.e. Phillip).

I think Aderholt and Stan should have taken MailRobot with them on their buddy stakeout.

Watching Stan's son be weirded out by the closeness of Stan and Henry was a really nice touch. Henry is Stan's healthiest relationship, and even that is something of a proxy.

On the actor front: I had no idea that Alison Wright was British. Also - Holly Taylor (who plays Paige) is really good at portraying all the complexities of Paige's conflict.
posted by julen at 7:34 AM on April 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

This was a terrific episode, especially for a mid-season chess piece mover.

All the talk of patriotism and heroism in all the stories makes me think it must be a heavy foreshadowing of somebody changing sides. I can't say who, though. Oleg would seem obvious, but I almost think the writers too clever, and therefore he must be a red herring.

One interesting historical detail: The Reagan speech was from March 1983, and was detailing the Star Wars program (which of course our "heroes" have already discovered to be useless). That's (I think) why Elizabeth guffaws so loudly when she sees it on the TV.

Finally, I don't think "Under Pressure" has ever been used as well as it was last night.
posted by General Malaise at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

As I was watching Elizabeth watch Phillip call Martha, and see him tell Martha that he loved her at the end, I actually said out loud "Holy crap, she reads lips!" It wasn't so much a revelation (of course she reads lips, it's a useful spy skill) as a the revelation of yet another new challenge for her.

It's a complicated mess, of course. Phillip/Clark has to give Martha what she needs, namely, a caring husband. I suspect acting as a target's husband takes a real emotional toll on him. The level of intimacy required to successfully pull the project off means Philip has developed real feelings for Martha.

I think the sex was less defending her turf as it was her way of bringing Philip back to their shared reality and as a way of comforting him. I think Elizabeth is more concerned for what the arrangement is doing to Philip mentally, than whether he would ever prefer Martha to her.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:54 AM on April 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

It can be two things.

Personally, I thought it was more than a little unnecessary to show quite so much -- the skirt-hike got the point across adequately -- and putting it at the very end of the episode, after it had already been heavily implied that they were about to go completely sex bananas made it feel especially tacked-on.

But after my confusion in last week's thread, I appreciated that there was a whole scene devoted to clearly explaining that William is, in fact, without any shadow of a doubt, a Russian himself.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think Elizabeth is generally concerned for Philip. She knows that he does actually care for Martha (Elizabeth's jealousy over Martha was covered back when she wanted to do it with Clark I think). The look on her face while he's on the phone did seem to be one of anger but literally everything she does the rest of the episode indicates that she is concerned about Philip, not angry with him. Like Thorzdad said above about Philip's mental state.

Oleg found the one person who understood how Nina's death effected him: Stan, because it effected Stan in the same way.

P&E may not realize it, but coaching Paige on how to handle the pastor is step one of spy training.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2016

Oleg's father seems like a pretty decent and principled man. There was speculation in last week's thread that he had a hand in Nina's execution. I don't believe it. I think he made an honest effort to save her for his son's sake. He's the kind of father who may try to get his sons to do what he thinks is right for them, but will yield whenever they insist on having their own way, regardless of how ill-advised he may think it, as he did when Oleg's brother insisted on remaining in Afghanistan.

Arkady was the most upset we've ever seen him. The man who until now has never lost his cool or raised his voice slapped his hand against the arm of his chair. For Arkady, that's the equivalent of beating up the Mail Robot. He cared about Nina as he cares about all his staff and he's frustrated by his own powerlessness and by the ruthlessness of the regime he serves.

Martha's popping Valium and washing it down with wine. And now Aderholt, like Stan, knows something's going on with her and they won't rest until they figure out what it is. That poor woman. Things are already so horrible for her and they're just going to keep getting worse.

I didn't catch that Elizabeth had read Philip's lips!

We're five episodes in to the season and there's been no Kimmy -- not even a mention, so far as I'm aware. Isn't Philip working her anymore? Surely he must be, because a 15-year-old would need regular attention from him if she's not to lose all interest in seeing him.

The situation with Pastor Tim and his wife is almost the first false note this show has sounded. She's totally going to blab the news all over the congregation.

It was great to see a little more of Young Hee.
posted by orange swan at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

The parallel plots of Paige having to make up with Pastor Tim and Philip having to make up with Stan made me see a theme that "fixing" a problem by making up with someone is in some ways more difficult than doing so by eliminating someone. Because you have to make a connection. Stan is feeling the pain of losing someone, as he had been warned would happen in this job. And Philip, who has come to love Martha, is feeling the pain of knowing that he will probably have to never see her again or possibly kill her or be complicit in her death.

Amazing acting from EVERYONE in this episode.
posted by matildaben at 8:07 PM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I ptta say I was impressed by Stan's emotional honesty. Acknowledging that Phillip hurt him and that he doesn't have many friends here so it stings all the more? I guess EST is really paying off.
posted by Carillon at 9:25 PM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seriously, Paige is still busting into her parents' bedroom without knocking, even after the traumatic 69 incident?

Best line of the week: "May the soil be as soft as feathers." Is that an actual Russian idiom?

Pretty sure it would be impossible for this show to have too much Young Hee. She should get her own spin-off! Someone please write a smutty fanfic in which Young Hee and Martha meet-cute at the supermarket, ditch their crappy lives, and run off to Tucson together.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:06 PM on April 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

I love Young Hee! It seems like Elizabeth gets from her the thing she needs-- she's another outsider who feels like a Martian because she's not an American. I wonder if she'll balk at following her orders regarding Young Hee, in the same way Philip is trying to protect Martha. I fear that it's going to lead to her having to kill Young Hee's husband to get the Level 4 access codes for the bio-weapons lab, destroying the family that welcomed her with such open arms.
posted by bluecore at 5:41 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

What are her orders for Young Hee? I somehow missed that important detail. Obviously, she's to work her, but for what gain?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:48 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think they've revealed the orders yet, or if they did I missed them too. I got the sense it was a long con related to the overall season goal of getting the Level-4 containment access codes for the bio lab, like the way she worked the aircraft factory worker, but that could be completely wrong.
posted by bluecore at 6:30 AM on April 15, 2016

I'm wondering about Kimmy too. That was such a skeezy plotline last season but they set up a really serious payoff. It's as important to Philip's emotional development as his love for Martha is. Being a spy forces him to emotionally commit to romances he doesn't want to be having. Martha is going to tear him up slowly, but Kimmy might just blow him up all at once. I fear the showrunners got scared of the plot and have buried it though.

I loved the sex scene at the end between Elizabeth and Philip. I didn't see it as Elizabeth comforting / controlling her husband, I saw it as a couple still in love and with erotic passion for each other. A reminder that despite all the complications and disguises, at some point they can strip all that off and just make love. It gave me hope for them as a couple.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2016

Re: Kimmy...I'm really hoping the producers realized exactly how creepy that particular plotline was and have quietly dropped it, hoping no one notices. It's either that or Paige brings a new friend home and it's Kimmy.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on April 15, 2016

I hope the Kimmy plot ends without any further creepiness too! My hope is that having sex with a 15 year old girl is finally the one thing Philip just won't do. We see him do all sorts of terrible things and feel guilty about it: murders, adultery, exploiting people to their death. But not too guilty, there's very little Philip refuses to do out of ethics as opposed to practicality.

FWIW, this interview with the showrunners indicates that Kimmy is on the back burner.
We'll return to them when something is happening that is of sufficient dramatic interest that it makes sense for us to show. And that might be in the next six months of their lives or a year or two years later.
This 2015 interview with the showrunners goes into detail on how they created and cast the character. Good god it's skeezy even just reading about them constructing this skeezy plot.
posted by Nelson at 10:55 AM on April 15, 2016

I think Aderholt and Stan should have taken MailRobot with them on their buddy stakeout.

I would watch this spinoff, with MailRobot just rolling back and forth on the back seat. Maybe a road-trip story with them in one car and Young Hee and Martha in the other.

P&E may not realize it, but coaching Paige on how to handle the pastor is step one of spy training.

Oh, I think they absolutely know what they're doing, and you see them (well, mostly Elizabeth) checking with each other every time they give her another tiny push. This can go one of two ways: she takes to it and joins the cause of her own free will, or she kinda unwittingly goes far enough that she'll be too afraid of the personal consequences to back out - which is basically what Clark has done to Martha. The Centre had been leaning on them for some time to start training Paige, they knew how to do it.

(I have some very, very bad feelings about what Paige might eventually end up doing or being...guided to do...with Pastor Tim. I want to be wrong about that and also for Kimmy to never reappear, for the same reasons.)

Noah Emmerich was the guest on the podcast this week, and so it came up that the actual final line of the script is simply the direction "Philip and Elizabeth fuck hard." I suspect we are not supposed to know exactly how to interpret it just yet.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:59 AM on April 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Looks like Alison Wright will be playing Ginni Thomas in Confirmation.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:04 PM on April 15, 2016

One thing that stood out to me was how Paige was at Pastor Tim's with shiny polished hair looking very grown up and then at home wearing a t shirt with frizzy hair, looking just like a kid. I was impressed when Elizabeth was like, no. You are still a kid, you need to not know everything. For example that we almost died and as a consequence of that you're going to be offered up in exchange for Pastor Tim. I'm always impressed when tv characters actually take the time to parent their kids.
posted by bleep at 11:35 PM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have a bad feeling about Martha. She's not going to survive this season, is she?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:19 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have you ever not felt that way about Martha? That particular sword's been danglin' for a while now.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 AM on April 18, 2016

I just now realized the story symmetry between Martha and Nina.

Poor Martha.
posted by Nelson at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, that's spot on. I didn't realize this is all about Nina and Martha and their parallels.
posted by about_time at 4:40 AM on June 22, 2016

"Under Pressure" was actually released in 1982, so they could have used it in previous seasons, considering this show's themes, I'm surprised they didn't do it earlier.
posted by skewed at 4:47 PM on August 4, 2018

[scene with passionate story from Salvadorean priest to the Pastor about how the good work of E&P saved him and his flock from Romero's fate, followed by]
P: "You think that guy's really a priest?"
E: [shrugs] "iono."
[they drive off]

Arkady & Oleg - They both think well of Nina. But Arkady really needs it to be the case that "they" don't just execute people for nothing, that Nina must have done something wrong. Oleg isn't so sure--not just because he favors Nina, but also he's not sure that the Soviet government always has a reason for the things it does.

2 episodes in a row, a scene has started with a bus pulling to a stop, and each time I think: are they going to find the airport security guy in the back? But it's always just somebody spying on Martha. It occurs to me that while Hans is running counter-surveillance, we could use a little Elvis Costello - Watching the Detectives on the soundtrack.

Paige may be better at the spy stuff than her parents give her credit for. When they peek into her room at night to check on her: "He was nice. And you're right; he cares about me." Like Stan said about when he was undercover, you just tell them what they want to hear and they buy it.

Man do I love me an "Under Pressure" closing montage.
posted by mabelstreet at 6:16 PM on June 29, 2019

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