The Americans: The Rat
April 20, 2016 8:00 PM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Paige and Elizabeth enjoy some Korean food while Henry continues his video game marathon. Meanwhile, Martha faces several difficult truths, and William sets up a meeting.
posted by duffell (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oh Martha :(

I don't blame her, but ohhhh Martha :(
posted by sallybrown at 5:23 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


"When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you"
posted by sallybrown at 5:31 AM on April 21, 2016


Where the hell does Martha think she's going? How can she possibly think she can hide from both the FBI and the KGB? I'm surprised that the KGB is genuinely planning to get her out of the States, though. I thought they'd decide she's of no further use to them (because after all, she isn't, unless she wants to work for the KGB as a courier, which I doubt) and put a bullet in her head. However, she won't exactly be happy living in Moscow on her own after it's been made clear to her that her marriage was a sham. She's a conventional 1980's-era American and probably despises the Soviet regime. Witness her horror at discovering who Philip really works for -- though it stretched credibility that she didn't ask about that before now. Ironically, she ran away from Gabriel because she felt she couldn't trust him and Philip wasn't there to reassure her, though it's really Philip she can't trust. The one thing that she thinks she still has is her relationship with Philip, and she doesn't have it at all.

I'm impressed with how quickly Stan, Aderholt, and Gaad started putting the pieces together once they zeroed in on the right suspect, if a little disconcerted with the amount of personal information they had on Martha. How on earth did the FBI know about Martha's broken engagement and abortion?

Also, these new revelations made me feel even more for Martha than I already did. She's always gotten the shit end of the stick from men, it seems. She's an extreme representation of what happens to women who want so much to have a romantic relationship work out that they try too hard and give too much and put up with too much and are too trusting... and then pay as much for it in terms of devastating consequences as if they'd committed a crime. It's such a painful portrayal because it's so true and so common.

I enjoyed the little meta joke of Henry being served Korean food. Keidrich Sellati is part Korean, and it says on his FX page that he's very into exploring different cultures. He has probably educated the rest of the cast on Korean food rather than the other way around. Young Hee did not appear, though I'm pretty sure Elizabeth was quoting her when she said that line about tofu being a source of rubbery protein. I could just hear Young Hee saying that.

Gabriel told Philip and Elizabeth that William's partnership "didn't work out". That's a euphemism and a half, because it turns out that Eliza was shipped back to the USSR against William's will and almost certainly against hers as well. William's life makes Philip and Elizabeth's look like a joyride.

It seems like Oleg and Tatiana are going to be getting together now.

Mail Robot didn't seem to be present. I'm imagining it in future episodes, however, sadly hovering near former Martha's desk and occasionally making little shows of passive aggression towards the replacement secretary, such as keeping files from her or running over her foot.
posted by orange swan at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised that the KGB is genuinely planning to get her out of the States, though. I thought they'd decide she's of no further use to them (because after all, she isn't, unless she wants to work for the KGB as a courier, which I doubt) and put a bullet in her head.

It's a little surprising, yeah, though I'm pretty sure her outburst in the street has sealed her fate. Gabriel already seemed iffy about exfiltration, and presumably only went along with it to ensure Phillip's continued allegiance. Now, though, his earlier fears about Martha being a serious liability have been confirmed all over again. She's uncooperative and can make not only Phillip, but Gabriel too. I think the "bullet in her head" scenario is assured now.

I'm impressed with how quickly Stan, Aderholt, and Gaad started putting the pieces together once they zeroed in on the right suspect, if a little disconcerted with the amount of personal information they had on Martha. How on earth did the FBI know about Martha's broken engagement and abortion?

I assume the FBI has files like this on all of their employees, or at least all those who have access to highly sensitive information. It was probably a part of Martha's job application and onboarding.
posted by duffell at 7:29 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The other thing that struck me was... Stan and Aderholt didn't have warrants to search Martha's and Clark's apartments. Was it realistic that they'd do it anyway?
posted by orange swan at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2016


I was suprised that it didn't seem like the KGB had anyone watching Martha's apartment. I know bringing her in was a surprise but watching her and Clark's places should have been a no-brainer.

I still hold on to my prediction that Martha kills herself, especially likely when she finds out Phillip/Clark is not going to be going with her wherever she goes. Phillip took the gun so that's probably out but she's still got the pills and if she takes them no one is going to call 911.

Elizabeth was really supportive of Phillip's care for Martha, even knowing he had real feelings for her, until it turns out Phillip has feelings for her too, not just Clark.

Now we have a bit of timeline. Only three weeks since Phillip showed himself. That was the 2nd to last episode last season. So much happened in those three weeks!
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:38 AM on April 21, 2016


The other thing that struck me was... Stan and Aderholt didn't have warrants to search Martha's and Clark's apartments. Was it realistic that they'd do it anyway?

In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, it seems plausible to me, especially since Stan has shown himself to be a "whatever it takes" kind of guy, including abducting the KGB underling and shooting him in the head when his partner was killed. And don't forget in the very first episode he broke into Philip and Elizabeth's garage during the night to look in the trunk of their car.
posted by bluecore at 12:40 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Oh, Martha" is exactly what I said last night, too.

She can't go back, she can't go forward, and the present is a prison of questions she doesn't want to answer or think about at all. She has the advantage of knowing how the Bureau is likely to act to come after her, and the small size of the KGB team that will also come after her, but her options are extremely limited without much money, no gun, and I think Phillip took her pills, too. She's going to find herself squeezed into a new yet just as uncomfortable corner.

She's not suited to be a courier - she's too well known to the FBI, has no training in following/evading/tracking or other basic spycraft, has been under tremendous strain - and is self-medicating, nervous, and prone to assumptions that make her feel better, and worst of all: she has no loyalty to the USSR, just Phillip.

I actually assume they planned to tell Phillip she was going to Moscow, and once they got her out of the US, they were going to kill her. They've done something similar before.

People were yanked back to the USSR for ideological reasons (questioning too much, becoming too Americanized, not telling leadership what they expected to hear) and for competency reasons (failure to complete missions, not doing tasks, becoming suspect to western forces). My impression was that Eliza was in the first group, not the second, which would faintly echo Centre concerns about Phillip.
posted by julen at 2:02 PM on April 21, 2016


Dylan Baker is amazing in this season. I'm sure I've seen him in stuff before, but I mainly know him from The Good Wife, where his acting is interesting but his character is one-note. He's got so many facets here.
posted by matildaben at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, these new revelations made me feel even more for Martha than I already did.

Yeah, it's bad enough what Philip is doing to her, and I hated hearing about (but was not surprised by) the shitty fiance in her past. But what bugged me most and has all along, is how Stan and Aderholt and the FBI in general treat her. I hate that these smug-ass sexist dicks have their greasy hands all over her Kama Sutra book and her private records and talk about her in these condescending judgy terms. I mean yes, I get that she's a criminal, but they've always been so patronizing and pitying and gross about her as a person that I JUST HATE that it's these particular guys rather than some anonymous total stranger law enforcement people. If I got arrested tomorrow, at least it wouldn't be my asshole coworkers pawing through my stuff and looking at my browser history.

Also, WTF kind of rinky-dink operation is the KGB? I'm starting to think the K stands for "Keystonevich." You've got an asset you really really need to keep away from the FBI one way or another, and since you're ostensibly a professional espionage organization, you know that assets tend to lose their shit and go off the rails in this type of situation. How would you fail to foresee that they might wig out and try to run? But no, you just leave Martha alone with a disabled old man and nobody guarding the door or down the street to intercept her if she decides to make a break for it. Jeez louise! At least Philip took her fucking gun.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:13 PM on April 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Why wasnt Gabriel in disguise at the safe house?

Anyway, good script by Josh Brand, fine directing by Kari Skoglund. And outstanding acting all around.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:50 PM on April 22, 2016


My assumption was that as soon as Martha saw Gabriel's face she was effectively dead. And moreso now that everybody knows she's seen Phillip without a disguise. But then again I'm not 100% sure where Gabriel's loyalties lie here.

I thought that maybe the low-budget approach was because Gabriel / Phil / Elizabeth were doing this all on their own without the Center's approval. Arkady did say there was someone they may need to exfiltrate, but he could have been talking about somebody else...

Agreed on Dylan Baker! I liked him on The Good Wife but I like him even better on this show. They should absolutely keep him around.

I kind of wonder if Pastor Tim and his wife were killed two weeks ago and everybody's been two busy with all of the other stuff to notice.
posted by mmoncur at 9:56 PM on April 22, 2016


Why wasnt Gabriel in disguise at the safe house?

I don't think he had any advance warning that Martha would be there; Philip just brought her over. Then Philip and Gabriel called Elizabeth and the Center, who contacted the Rezidentura.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:22 AM on April 23, 2016


My assumption was that as soon as Martha saw Gabriel's face she was effectively dead. And moreso now that everybody knows she's seen Phillip without a disguise.

Definitely. They'll at least try to help out Americans who are actual agents like Elizabeth's boyfriend Gregory. But Martha has never been brought into the fold; she's just an asset/dupe who does things for Clark, not because she believes in the cause. She's dead meat.

I'm betting that the person that the Center told Arkady they need to extricate to Moscow is Philip. He has now been compromised, has drawn the attention of the FBI via Martha, and has shown mixed loyalties or lack of discipline too many times.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:30 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


If they are taking Martha to the USSR, it's only so they can de-brief her thoroughly before shooting her.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Arkady told Oleg and Tatiana that the person they needed to extricate was an American and a secretary, and he used female pronouns. He definitely meant Martha.
posted by orange swan at 10:20 AM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


As soon as they hear the tapes from our pal the MailRobot, the Centre will have to accept that Phillip's instincts were right that Martha was in trouble. If Martha falls into FBI hands, even before knowing what an unmasked Gabriel looks like, she can help the FBI center in on Clark. The Centre KNOWS Phillip and Stan are friends, and wig prowess can only go so far when you have a witness who has seen your bewigged asset naked multiple times.

Stan was already suspicious, but Aderholt got suspicious enough during the date that Martha's undetected days were clearly numbered. And any time two people start comparing notes, it gets more dangerous.

I loved that Gad's reaction was nicely multi-layered - first for the agency being penetrated, secondly for personal betrayal, then thinking of the implications for his job (and the excuses he would have to rely on), then right into the practical proove-and-solve mindset.
posted by julen at 11:23 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was wildly unrealistic of the KGB to expect Philip to be able to keep his disguise secret from a woman he was married to for three years. Not only that, but Martha would have easily been able to identify Philip, wig or no wig. The KGB rage seems a little unwarranted.
posted by orange swan at 2:47 PM on April 23, 2016


Arkady told Oleg and Tatiana that the person they needed to extricate was an American and a secretary, and he used female pronouns. He definitely meant Martha.

Thanks! I have no idea why I idiotically spaced that out.

I am concerned about Philip in general, though, especially after the introduction of William as someone whose partner "didn't work out." Philip is already on mighty thin ice with Gabriel and the Center over Paige, Kimmy, etc., etc., and the Martha thing is much worse.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:28 PM on April 23, 2016


A little late to this, but it is killing me to know what the angle is on Elizabeth's new target. Perhaps works in the monstrous germ lab?

I love seeing her work a mark. She develops a really charming rapport that's fun to watch. Her response to the perpetual buying of the newest and latest Cabbage Patch Doll: "That's America for you." is one of the touches in this show I really enjoy.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2016


The tension in this episode was palpable. I don't normally have strong emotional responses to TV or movies, but this was so hard to watch, and not because it was gruesome or gory but because it was so very real and human and unresolved. This is what good writing and directing and producing and acting looks like. It seems so simple and understated on the surface but beneath every action and word and cut are layers of meaning. This is quality television at its finest.
posted by sardonyx at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: I love seeing her work a mark. She develops a really charming rapport that's fun to watch. Her response to the perpetual buying of the newest and latest Cabbage Patch Doll: "That's America for you." is one of the touches in this show I really enjoy.

The sad thing is I think it's a genuine friendship with Young Hee. Philip got the one thing he needed from Martha- unconditional love- and Elizabeth is getting the one thing she needs from Young Hee- a genuine friend who understands what it's like to feel like an outsider in America. Philip always took to America easier than Elizabeth (cowboy boots, etc) but Young Hee understands what it's like to feel like an alien. Anyway, yeah, I suspect her husband works in the lab with Dylan Baker, and perhaps the only way for Dylan Baker to get a promotion to the higher level of containment would involve something horrible happening to Young Hee's husband, so she might have to destroy the family that welcomed her with such open arms.
posted by bluecore at 6:39 PM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Holy Chekov's Gun! I think everyone's caressed that pistol but the Mail Robot.

I was certain that Gabriel was going to kill Martha, with the mission for Philip just an excuse to get him out of the house. It's the only thing that makes sense, honestly, there's no way she gets out. The Rezidentura moving kosmos-and-earth to try to get her out is really hard for me to believe.
posted by Nelson at 9:13 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


The sad thing is I think it's a genuine friendship with Young Hee.

I think so too. She's referred to her as "a friend" at home, and made a recipe she got from her "friend." And I think she talked about how much fun she had. She's pretended to be friends with marks before (i.e. the lady that worked at the defense contractor) and never brought any of it home.
posted by mmoncur at 2:17 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Once again, Martha doesn't get to keep anything...including her agency to take her own life.

The backdrop of everything that's happening is the decay of the Soviet Union. So the fumbling of the KGB is to be expected as part of everything starting to fray at the edges. Nothing has gone smoothly this season. None of the Russians are as effective as they have been in previous years. I'm not sure the KGB have the capacity to be as ruthless as everyone expects them to be at this moment in time.
posted by dry white toast at 8:45 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Operation Zephyr has got to be the most ironic name on this show. How long will it take them to sift through the reports to know for certain that the FBI is onto Martha? MailRobot held up its end of the bargain...

I grew up with the same dinner plates they used in the dingy house they take Martha to. I'm starting to question everything.
posted by mabelstreet at 7:13 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


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