The Americans: The Day After
May 11, 2016 9:45 PM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Everyone watches The Day After, William questions the merits of liquefying organs, Page drives a Camaro, Oleg and Tatiana take their working relationship to the next level, Pastor Tim looks forward to a trip to Ethiopia and a talk with the Jennings, Philip and Stan play racquetball, and Elizabeth plays Young Hee's husband Don.
posted by orange swan (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
First impressions: Dang, that's a nice butt.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:17 AM on May 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


If someone had seen me during the honey pot scenes, they would have thought I was watching the scariest horror movie ever made.

:(
posted by sallybrown at 4:29 AM on May 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


The Day After aired when I was 10. I didn't see it, but most of my fifth grade classmates and my teacher did. They were all terrified by it. I remember the days when we feared nuclear war, and this episode was a good recreation of it.

I've read that in one of the on air discussions about The Day After, someone said that the nuclear arms race was like a room full of gasoline holding two parties, one of which had 7,000 matches and the other of which had 9,000 matches, and they're both worrying about who has more because they think the one who has the most is the safest. That's an excellent analogy and one which I want Elizabeth to be forced to listen to.

How good was Holly Taylor's portrayal of a 16-year-old just learning to drive? The mix of terror and exhilaration, the Camaro lust, it was all just so pitch perfect.

Oh, Oleg, do NOT do pillow talk with Tatiana. She is never not on the clock. When she said, "Who knows about this?" I thought, oh man, here we go. She's totally going to use the information for her own gain, and the man who went against orders and didn't report the supposed nuclear missiles heading towards Russia because he knew it must be a mistake, thus saving the world from nuclear war, will wind up getting a bullet in his head when he should get a medal.

Oh, Pastor Tim, you naive stooge. Yes, by all means do sit down with the Jennings and dig for more information. If you ever come back from Ethiopia.

Stan and Tori have broken up. It seems a shame, because although I thought she was crazy at first I had gotten to like her. She may have bought into EST a little too heavily, but she seemed like a very honest, reasonable, kind person to me. However, Stan still wants Sandra back, and I can't say I blame him, because she is several cuts above Tori. Anyone think there's a chance Stan and Sandra might get back together? She did seem to be softening towards him.

The Elizabeth and Don scenes were horrible to watch. I'm in hopes that Don will make a clean breast of it to Young Hee and that Elizabeth will find her blackmailing attempts to be all for naught. I want Young Hee to throw Elizabeth down, sit on her, and force feed her hot peppers.
posted by orange swan at 6:42 AM on May 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


The guy who didn't report the missiles is a true story!

On the blue

And again


Question: William said there are FBI details on everyone at the lab. Has no one paid any attention to his wife? Especially if he's the important Level 4, his family should be watched more closely.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:58 AM on May 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Tatiana's reaction made me wonder if perhaps she's a spy for the U.S.
posted by sallybrown at 7:20 AM on May 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Throughout the run of the show we've seen Elizabeth be sexual in the line of work many times, but this is the first time she's clearly shown distaste for it... And in the end she was far, far less physically intimate with Don than with her other marks.
posted by Sublimity at 10:21 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's so strange to hear the english version of Peter Schilling's Major Tom (völlig losgelöst). This is the version I grew up with.
posted by Pendragon at 10:28 AM on May 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've read that in one of the on air discussions about The Day After, someone said that the nuclear arms race was like a room full of gasoline holding two parties, one of which had 7,000 matches and the other of which had 9,000 matches, and they're both worrying about who has more because they think the one who has the most is the safest.

Apparently that was Carl Sagan!
posted by oakroom at 10:36 AM on May 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's so strange to hear the english version of Peter Schilling's Major Tom

At first I thought it was Romeo Void's Never Say Never, which is also kind of fitting.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:44 AM on May 12, 2016


Yes, I hated the honeypot scene and I dread whatever's next in that subplot. Watching Paige's driving lessons reminded me of teaching my daughter to drive. That first trick Philip pulled, "That's enough for today," really works.

The latest Slate podcast episode features a couple of FX Powers That Be and the Js discussing their working relationship.
posted by kingless at 1:06 PM on May 12, 2016


Evidently, Reagan was treated to a private showing of The Day After, and came out highly shaken. That, combined with Nancy Reagan's lobbying (which was encouraged by her psychic advisor), caused Reagan to begin to back away from his earlier hard-core anti-Soviet positon.

So a movie helped save the world. Fact is stranger than fiction.
posted by happyroach at 1:43 PM on May 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Love this show. It combines my love for spy stuff and sentimentality for my high school years. The pastor Tim thing hits a nerve for me, because youth groups were a pretty big part of the social scene where i live at that time, regardless of how hard you might party when you weren't at church. Lots of "Kum by yah" and "it only takes a spark". In the fall of 1982, I went with a couple dozen other high school students from all over my state on a church trip to DC and NYC. The overall theme of the trip? Nuclear disarmament. We met with someone from The Sojourners, went to the U.N. and heard someone from the staff of the Russian diplomat in New York speak. Pretty eye opening for someone from a little town in a very conservative state, especially when we played a game involving our shoes that was supposed to illustrate world power and the german exchange student with us put his shoes in the US pile and not the USSR's pile like the rest of us. That was the first time i realized the whole world didn't see the US the same way we saw ourselves.

I also like the warning about the Day After because like many others, we watched it at school. We also watched movies with graphic pictures of dead drug users and beheaded motorists. Schools in the 80s were all about the scare tactics.
posted by domino at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, Pastor Tim, you naive stooge. Yes, by all means do sit down with the Jennings and dig for more information. If you ever come back from Ethiopia.

I don't think Pastor Tim needs to pack any long books to read on his way back.

Evidently, Reagan was treated to a private showing of The Day After, and came out highly shaken. That, combined with Nancy Reagan's lobbying (which was encouraged by her psychic advisor), caused Reagan to begin to back away from his earlier hard-core anti-Soviet positon.

So a movie helped save the world. Fact is stranger than fiction.


My favorite thing about that: The Day After was directed by Nicholas Meyer; the project he did just before it was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Meyer was on a hell of a tear in the early 80s.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


If the best moment of acting in last week's episode was Elizabeth's speech to Paige about being stuck following Pastor Tim, the best this week was the look Philip had on his face in the car after Paige said it would better if they all went to the church event. He knew in that moment that Paige was good at working assets - a natural, maybe, once she put her mind to it. It was a beautiful mix of a hint of pride but mostly terror and regret about bringing her into the spy game. He was always opposed to the Center's plan to do so, but now he's been forced to and she's actually good at it. That whole scene was a masterclass of acting.
posted by bluecore at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2016 [12 favorites]


Oddly, the one thing that stood out to me were the granite countertops in Young Hee's kitchen. I don't recall granite being a thing back in '83. I think stuff like Corian was all the rage back then.

Anyway...The scene with Don was so sad for Elizabeth. Betraying the closest thing she's actually ever had to a friend. Covering Don's junk with (hopefully) faux sex mess was the dagger to her heart.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 PM on May 13, 2016


I agree with both your points, Thorzdad.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:53 PM on May 13, 2016


I watch this show every week and I can't recall why they are after Don. Can someone refresh my memory?
posted by pearlybob at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2016


I don't think they've really revealed why they're after Don, but I suspect he's a source who can get William access to level four.
posted by chrchr at 8:39 AM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, that is why they are after Don. Philip urged Elizabeth not to go through with her planned "seduction" of Don because he and William both thought that the Soviets shouldn't get their hands on the virus William had found out about, but Elizabeth, ever the fanatic, thought that if the Americans had the virus the Russians had to have it too, because mutually assured destruction something something, so she went ahead with the operation.
posted by orange swan at 9:47 AM on May 14, 2016


The english version of Peter Schilling's Major Tom was also used for Deutschland 83, also on the cold war. If you haven't seen it yet, you might want to track that down.
posted by mirthe at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of puzzled that apparently the Soviets don't have samples of these viruses already. I mean, it's not like Marburg or Lassa are US state secrets. Even in 1983, the scientific and world-health communities knew about these lethal viruses. And, given that the USSR was relatively influential in Africa at that time, it seems odd that they couldn't get their hands on samples more easily than all this time-consuming cloak-n-dagger stuff.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:17 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


That seduction / honeypot scene was so great. Almost as cringy as Philip and Kimmie, although different stakes.

Is this the first time we've seen Elizabeth express heartfelt regret for something she does as a spy? Normally she's full of zeal and conviction and while she might not want to do awful things, she does them for reasons. She did this for reasons too but betraying her girlfriend may be one thing too many. Particularly chilled by her line at the end of "I'm going to miss her". Because presumably the next step is for Young Hee to find out and that will be the end of her friendship.

I also appreciated the moral dilemma of giving William's intel about a new virus to Command. The way William approached Philip, and then he debated it with Elizabeth, and then made the decision. And asked William why he asked Philip to do it in the first place. All the ambiguity they feel kind of reinforces how noble the spy's intentions really are. They honestly believe they are making Russia and the world a safer place.
posted by Nelson at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2016


They honestly believe they are making Russia and the world a safer place.

Arguably, the core mission of intelligence gathering on foreign soil by all sides does make the world safer, since not knowing what the other side is doing can lead to some seriously insane paranoia on the part of the political leadership.

This is not so much the case with other missions aimed at destabilizing or sabotaging the other side, or involving murdering and harming people in general, of course.
posted by Pryde at 11:28 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is this the first time we've seen Elizabeth express heartfelt regret for something she does as a spy?

In Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? (season 3, episode 9) Elizabeth regrets murdering Betty (indirectly, yes, but she does insist that Betty take all those pills) enough to cry.

"You think doing this to me will make the world a better place? That's what evil people say when they do the things they do."
posted by kingless at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


This episode fits so well with this post on the blue about the smallpox virus and why it hasn't been eradicated. William is right of course, but so is Elizabeth.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:12 AM on May 18, 2016


I was too young to see The Day After when it originally aired, but did see it a few years later on video or perhaps a rebroadcast before Reagan left office. It didn't faze me. Not because I was too young to understand, but because I had been having worse dreams since as long as I can remember. Not only that, but reading the book War Day, which covers the aftermath, was far, far more disturbing than even the weird-ass end-of-the-world dreams I had as a kid. I guess not being seriously emotionally affected by depictions of or actual disaster that is one of the few advantages of growing up in an abusive family. (or so I'm told..I barely remember any of it, although when I was told about it severity of it years later I finally understood why I had the personality I did as a kid)

Anyway, I was aware that other people found it and Threads to be quite upsetting, but seeing the characters' reactions in The Americans helped me understand just how much more upsetting it was to most people than it was to me.

And I also found it a trip to hear Major Tom, since it featured in Deutschland '83 and I had literally never heard it before, so it had a strong cold war spy association for me already.
posted by wierdo at 1:11 PM on May 18, 2016


I'm kind of puzzled that apparently the Soviets don't have samples of these viruses already. I mean, it's not like Marburg or Lassa are US state secrets. Even in 1983, the scientific and world-health communities knew about these lethal viruses. And, given that the USSR was relatively influential in Africa at that time, it seems odd that they couldn't get their hands on samples more easily than all this time-consuming cloak-n-dagger stuff.

As an idiotic non-virologist I assumed it might be to have samples of the specific strains the US was using so that the Soviets could try to develop antivirals or countermeasures? But this interview with Alexander Kouzminov of Directorate S mentions that the Soviets also planned dead drops of bio warfare agents in the US to deploy in the event of all-out war. And you'd use local germs for that rather than trying to bring them in from outside.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:44 AM on May 19, 2016


I was 21-22 in 1983, so I remember The Day After vividly, and it was hella grim and depressing, so I'm super-glad I didn't know any of the details of this Lassa Marburg Glanders shit at the time!
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2016


I realized what Elizabeth was up to when she asked Don to move her furniture. Dammit.

I thought she sort of looked down on Phillip for his attachment to Martha ... but then she got attached to Young Hee. And probably prided herself on not letting her friendship keep her from completing the mission.
posted by bunderful at 4:28 PM on May 20, 2018


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