The Americans: Dinner for Seven
May 26, 2016 3:47 AM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

The Russian plan for Don is revealed. Elizabeth spends quality time with Pastor Tim. Stan invites Oleg out and invites himself to dinner (again). Paige learns something new about her mother.
posted by mediareport (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good news: fulfilling its promise that the low-rated show's ending would be driven by creative rather than financial concerns, FX just renewed The Americans for a fifth and sixth season, with 23 episodes left after season 4 concludes.

Some high-level exec at FX must really, really like this show.
posted by mediareport at 4:03 AM on May 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


In my gut, I knew that, eventually, Paige was going to experience Elizabeth in action, though I thought the set-up was kind of lame. Directly after telling Paige she would do anything to protect her, Elizabeth kills a man. Poor Paige. She walks around with this scared, shell-shocked look on her face as it is.

Now we know why the Center was asking for an older woman with perfect English and computer skills. To accompany Phillip and Gabriel to Don's office and make copies of his computer drives. Odd assumption that Don would take them back to his office and not a conference room or somesuch.

Best moment of the show though...Everyone sitting around the dinner table and Pastor Tim asks Stan what he does. Henry pipes-up that he's an FBI agent. Pastor Tim replies with a shit-eating "Really?" and you suddenly realize Stan and Henry are the only ones in the scene not in on the family secret. Comedy gold.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:51 AM on May 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


I knew I recognized the step-mom! She's from the Leftovers!

Yay for seasons 5 & 6. Although I think keeping it on much longer than that may lead to a drop in quality. Are they going to keep going until the wall comes down? At the rate they're going it will take 8 more seasons (2-3 years so far for 4 seasons).
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:44 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Young Hee's distraught voice on the phone... goddamn it, I can't, I can't.
posted by duffell at 6:05 AM on May 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Loved Stan's conversation with Oleg. That really went in a different direction from what I was expecting - Stan gets unhinged by Gaad's death and goes ballistic - instead going for a more nuanced emotional payoff. Great stuff.

That moment on Paige's face when she and Henry walk in on the parents hugging in the hallway is so sweet, and such a great contrast to the moment on Paige's face at the end. Although I wish they'd found some less obvious way to let Paige know what her mom is capable of - that whole parking lot setup felt like something out of OBVIOUSMORALITYLAND where thugs are painted with such a dark, simplistic brush. Felt like a scene from another, lesser show.

Odd assumption that Don would take them back to his office and not a conference room or somesuch.

Yeah, that sure was a looooong con to set up something so dependent on a series of coincidences to get into Don's office. Didn't really work for me, but the Vulture recap gets it right, I think:

It sounds even more convoluted all typed out like that, and frankly, it strains credulity when it works...On an emotional level, though, it works like gangbusters. The realization of just how much damage has been inflicted on this family — and the fact that Young Hee will never know what happened to her good friend Patty — is absolutely gutting.

And is Elizabeth working Pastor Tim? Is she really getting counsel? Can she even tell the difference anymore? Love those scenes for their ambiguity; so well done.
posted by mediareport at 7:16 AM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


(I mean, it's clear Elizabeth is working Pastor Tim, from the dinner invite on (and the way Philip pipes up "oh yeah, come by for dinner" was a great moment indicating he still doesn't have his head fully in the game), but the rest of it blurs the line between her job and her self beautifully.)
posted by mediareport at 7:21 AM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Loved Stan's conversation with Oleg. That really went in a different direction from what I was expecting - Stan gets unhinged by Gaad's death and goes ballistic - instead going for a more nuanced emotional payoff. Great stuff.

I assume Stan's working Oleg here. His casual mention of Oleg's brother, and how the FBI wanted Stan to use him as leverage, suggests to me that "something" may very well end up happening to Oleg's brother and when that happens, Stan will have left a trail of breadcrumbs for Oleg, hoping he'll turn to Stan as someone on the American side he can trust.
posted by duffell at 7:23 AM on May 26, 2016


I love that Elizabeth is clearly working Pastor Tim--he absolutely eats it up when she shows "vulnerability" and asks him for advice--but at the same time, it's plausible that she really wants the reassurance and answers he tries to offer...

Totally brutal that when she asks him what to do when there's something in your head you can't stop thinking about--after they bat the idea of prayer and God back and forth--he says, "The only thing that really matters is that we treat each other well." That single thing is the only things she has not done in the Young Hee situation... or pretty much ever, in her entire professional life.
posted by Sublimity at 7:28 AM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Duffell, it's entirely possible that this is a ploy on Stan's part, but Oleg's brother is already dead (Oleg went to the funeral in Russia), and it doesn't seem that he has another one.
posted by permiechickie at 7:44 AM on May 26, 2016


Shit, I lost track. Well, then.
posted by duffell at 7:45 AM on May 26, 2016


WTF was Gaad referring to right before he went on vacation, then?
posted by duffell at 7:46 AM on May 26, 2016


WTF was Gaad referring to right before he went on vacation, then?

Using it as an entry point, a way to get close. Something along the lines of, "Russia killed your brother in a pointless war, why are you fighting for them?"
posted by bluecore at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


That Young Hee call was heartbreaking. It's obviously really getting to Elizabeth, thankfully, otherwise we'd soon cross the rubicon of her being a completely unredeemable character to me, as Walter White did in Breaking Bad.

I suspect Don won't be able to take the guilt of what he thinks he did. He's already been getting more and more distant just from the guilt of cheating. I think he might kill myself, and then Elizabeth will have to live with completely destroying the family of a wonderful friend. And for what? They didn't even get the codes.

This show has always been about how far Elizabeth will go before it destroys her and her family. Philip was ready to defect in the pilot to keep the family together, so everything that's been happening with Paige and Young Hee is because of her dedication to the mission. I hope she pulls the ripcord before it's too late.
posted by bluecore at 8:05 AM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I want to believe that Elizabeth is working Tim (or, more accurately, helping Paige work Tim). But, another part of me wants to hope that Elizabeth is sincere in what she's seen in Paige (re: becoming active in the church) and the whole Young Hee thing has really gotten her to question what she's doing.

...he says, "The only thing that really matters is that we treat each other well."
I believe the quote was "What matters is how we treat each other." No mention of "well". Probably a difference without distinction, but the lack of "well" makes the thought much more encompassing.

It would be great if it turned out Tim was trying to work Elizabeth. But, deep down, I know Tim is more akin to the tethered goat in the T-Rex pen.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:53 AM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I want to know the tech that they used to hook a Commodore 1541 drive to an IBM PC. That's some next-level shit, right there.
posted by pjern at 10:54 AM on May 26, 2016 [19 favorites]


It appeared that the killing occurred near the end of the walk from the church to the car. Why did Elizabeth park so far away? More time with Paige?

Slate's podcast for this week's episode is a conversation with an expert on KGB technology who's a consultant for the show. They don't discuss connecting computer equipment.
posted by kingless at 11:26 AM on May 26, 2016


I don't think Elizabeth is working Pastor Tim. She just lost someone she probably considered as close of a friend as you can have in that line of work, and completely destroyed her husband in the process. Don is likely going to kill himself and Elizabeth realizes that. She's at a pretty low point right now. That would screw up anyone that doesn't have some severe psychological issues, and I think they've shown that they aren't psychopaths and that they don't like killing people or ruining their lives. She tried to avoid this situation but she didn't have much of a choice, now it is weighing on her. Pastor Tim is a huge vulnerability for them but he has always been decent, and he is a much better choice than EST.
posted by bh at 12:07 PM on May 26, 2016


Really? That first scene where Elizabeth stops by Tim's office read so much like a seduction scene I laughed out loud. Every conversation Elizabeth has with Tim has the unspoken subtext, "WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT TAPE HAVE YOU NOTICED NONE OF US ARE MENTIONING THAT DAMN TAPE?" It's always on Elizabeth's mind, for sure, and it's difficult to imagine any interaction Elizabeth has with Pastor Tim *not* at least in part being about how she can manage this threat to her family.

That some of those interactions also clearly hint that Elizabeth is getting pastoral counseling at the same time doesn't mean she's not always working him as a spy, too.
posted by mediareport at 12:28 PM on May 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


It appeared that the killing occurred near the end of the walk from the church to the car. Why did Elizabeth park so far away? More time with Paige?

They weren't at the church they were at a food pantry that from the walk looked to be in the city. I assumed that she had to park so far away because parking in the city can be inconvenient.

I think Liz is doing a little of both. She's working Pastor Tim but also using her real emotions to do so. And she needs to talk to someone too. I hope she doesn't kill herself after all this!
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:29 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I knew that something would come up soon where Paige would have to witness what a bad ass Elizabeth is. I figured Phillip would reign it in if it was him but I knew Elizabeth would go all out and worry about the aftermath later. Paige is going to either go completely nuts or decide that she is all in. The Don arch.... Ahhhhh. Poor Young He!! That just kills me. The dinner party.... I love the character of Stan, by my goodness. He's so clueless. When everything finally comes together for him....it's going to be huge....I can't wait!!. And they are showing Henry standing up and walking. Could he join the club soon?? Love love this show!!
posted by pearlybob at 2:58 PM on May 26, 2016


Maybe the day will come when we'll see Stan drop by Philip's prison cell for dinner. "Hey, you got some of those chips from the vending machine?"

Oh Henry, you are sooooo oblivious. I know you're only 14, but Paige had figured out something was up by that age.

That dinner is the one and only time Pastor Tim will ever get to feel street.

Aderholt uncovers Betty's murder. Don't look behind you, Mail Robot.

Not even Elizabeth can make flirting with Pastor Tim flirty. I don't know if we needed three scenes of them having basically the same conversation, though it was an interesting development.

Oh Don & Young Hee, you break my heart. I want Young Hee to make a Mary Kay revenge sales call on Elizabeth in prison. "Nice, huh? Want it? Can't have it."

Every time I think I've seen the worst possible wig on Philip, I find out I haven't.

My money says Stan's working Oleg by pretending to be too principled to risk his life. And Oleg has thoughts. He can play the spy & politics game, though he's usually too happy-go-lucky a guy to bother. And why play the game when you can get your father to do whatever you want?

Those rapey thugs were the only two of Elizabeth's victims for whom I felt no sympathy. It's going to be amusing to watch Elizabeth try to soft sell the existence of her mortal combat skills.
posted by orange swan at 5:24 PM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh Henry, you are sooooo oblivious.

Henry has known his parents are spies for years now, see, and when we can't see him he's upstairs rolling his eyes because no one else in the house knows the laundry chute carries voices directly from the kitchen to the a/c vent by his pillow.

Do not underestimate a teenage suburban boy's ability to keep a secret.
posted by mediareport at 5:43 PM on May 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


Every single member of Paige's family has now saved her from a sexual predator. I don't know what that means.

As so much of this now revolves around her, I wonder if she'll eventually do something like hook up with Matthew, but in that Americans-ambiguous way where we don't know if she's playing him (Elizabeth Jr.), or if it's a Romeo and Juliet, as someone termed it. But first we have to see how she reacts to what someone on twitter called the ultimate take your daughter to work day.

Oh, this show. First the most awkward -and fraught- dinner party. Then Elizabeth and Tim chatting philosophy. Or something. And finally another ending to match Nina's death in shock value. Hey kid, meet your REAL mom. (But one thought about how it went down- I don't think Elizabeth would've let that guy walk away with her ID no matter what. Cash yes, her whole wallet, no.)

Good to see these callbacks to earlier developments. Not only what happened at MailRobot Hospital, but Stan's guilt over killing that young Russian. (He was referring to that? Or to things Nina-related?)

And speaking of him:
STAN (to Phil): You have no idea how bad the KGB is.
No, Stan, YOU have no idea. Aderholt is totally carrying your ass at work. If Aderholt lived near P and E the fricking show would be over already.

Although the way he's obviously falling apart does make me empathetic -just as we relate to our fave Russian spies' angst. I have felt (am feeling!) the same crumbling of my work world for much more mundane reasons.
posted by NorthernLite at 5:52 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


MAILBOT IS RELEVANT

Other than how amazingly awkward the dinner scene was, on a level never seen since the dinner party episode of the Office, that's really all I have to add.
posted by General Malaise at 6:51 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Other than how amazingly awkward the dinner scene was, on a level never seen since the dinner party episode of the Office, that's really all I have to add.

Quoting for brilliantly apt comparison.
posted by Superplin at 8:27 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Upon watching this I immediately started thinking, "Maaaama... just killed a man."
posted by raysmj at 8:30 PM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Will Pastor Tim now be on an FBI watch list of rabble rousing, fence chaining, lib-rul trouble makers?
posted by jaruwaan at 8:30 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was surprised that Tim and Alice avoided acting suspicious when they found out Stan was an FBI agent. Whether everything would possibly have fallen apart right then and there, I'd expect that the visceral reminder that they could get in serious trouble would cause Tim and Alice to have second thoughts about keeping this secret. I don't think that's the direction the show is going, but it would be an outcome from this encounter that makes a lot of sense.

The best lies are mostly truth, especially when it's part of a long-term relationship. The key skill that Philip and Elizabeth use in cultivating assets is nurturing trust and we see again and again that they leverage real things -- real emotions, real aspects of the relationship -- in order to do so. To the degree to which Elizabeth allows Tim to see that she's genuinely frightened and in need of reassurance, is the degree to which Tim will instinctively trust her and be more comfortable, which is what they need. And Elizabeth can satisfy some of her needs, too, just as Philip did with Martha. And, of course, as Elizabeth did with Young Hee. As Gabriel with does with them. So it's not one or the other, it's both.

Likewise, the scene with Stan and Oleg. I agree that Stan is setting something up. Everything we've ever seen about Stan is that he's an angry person who lets things eat away at him. That points to both interpretations of that scene. He's motivated now to do what Gaad told him to do, and that's play hardball with Oleg. But, at the same time, he feels great guilt about murdering that young Soviet embassy staffer and to some degree I think he likes Oleg. Not really likes him, but they have a connection because of Nina. So he was drawing upon some real things with what he said to Oleg -- it's why he's in the past been unwilling to put Oleg through the ringer. He expresses that part of himself to Oleg, which clearly generated a response from Oleg. Oleg has long been pretty casual and open with Stan -- he thinks of himself as clever and competent, but he's not a field agent. Stan is nurturing trust, he's setting himself up to be the good cop. Someone or something else will be the bad cop.

I agree that the mugging scene was heavy-handed. In fact, I sort of have to fanwank Elizabeth's kill move because killing random people in the street (even in self-defense) is definitely the sort of thing that deep cover spies work really hard to avoid. My fanwank is that she was emotionally unsteady and a direct threat to Paige in that context just short-circuited her better judgment. If this show is as smart as I think it is, next week she'll be castigating herself for turning the guy's knife on him rather than just disabling him. Anyway, even so, this particular scene was contrived. I like the idea of Paige accidentally seeing what her mother really is capable of, but I'd have preferred that it have happened in the context of something that was more organic. It's not implausible that this particular situation would happen, it's just that it's too convenient for the plot, coming out of left-field like that.

Similarly, the thing with Don. That was a lot of work for the very uncertain possibility that he'd take them to his actual office and leave them alone in it. I like the idea of it -- of engineering an extraordinarily stressful and unusual situation such that Don would violate security protocols. That make sense. But he could have made numerous other choices that wouldn't have worked out for them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:49 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


When I saw the title was "Dinner for Seven" I tried to think of the most awkward possible 7 people for dinner... and I totally called it correctly. Man, that was awkward.

I'm also imagining a future meeting between Stan and his boss where the boss says "So you had DINNER with the RUSSIAN SPIES who lived NEXT DOOR? And the PREACHER and HIS WIFE who were there knew they were spies, and YOU DIDN'T?"

Totally not buying the Don project. That made no sense at all. I am not a Russian spy and I can think of a better one: while Patty is babysitting their children, Mysterious Stranger shows up and kidnaps them. Patty calls them at their hotel screaming. Mysterious Stranger calls them and says he will kill the children unless Don takes this hard drive to work and copies the data and so on. Patty stays with them to make sure they don't do anything stupid like call the cops.

Terrible, but definitely more likely to work than their convoluted sexcapade. Don't want to involve the children? Maybe Patty is the one who gets kidnapped. Don is a nice enough guy he probably would have betrayed his employer to save the life of Young Hee's friend.

I don't mind the weirdness -- the USSR didn't exactly win the cold war, after all, maybe they weren't perfect -- but with all of the time Gabriel spent saying there was NO OTHER WAY, it seems a bit weird that I can think of several ways that would have been more likely to work.
posted by mmoncur at 12:12 AM on May 27, 2016


Totally not buying the Don project. That made no sense at all. I am not a Russian spy and I can think of a better one: while Patty is babysitting their children, Mysterious Stranger shows up and kidnaps them. Patty calls them at their hotel screaming. Mysterious Stranger calls them and says he will kill the children unless Don takes this hard drive to work and copies the data and so on. Patty stays with them to make sure they don't do anything stupid like call the cops.

Terrible, but definitely more likely to work than their convoluted sexcapade. Don't want to involve the children? Maybe Patty is the one who gets kidnapped. Don is a nice enough guy he probably would have betrayed his employer to save the life of Young Hee's friend.


Agreed that the Don plan didn't seem rock-solid, but the idea you're presenting is much more dangerous. No way the authorities aren't notified or tipped off (good chance they're trailing Don, as they did with William), and even if they somehow get the codes, every single person involved is going to be debriefed for days, and the "Patty" cover wouldn't stand up to 20 minutes of serious scrutiny.
posted by duffell at 5:14 AM on May 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


It struck me last night that they may have planted the seeds of how the Pastor Tim thing unravels -- the mugger that got away. They're a couple blocks away from the food bank. It won't take long for the news of a dead body to reach Pastor Tim. Maybe the police find the one that got away and he describes the suburban mom and her daughter, or maybe the mugger is homeless and frequents the food bank so he goes to the pastor there to confess his involvement in his friend's death. Either way, Pastor Tim realizes Elizabeth isn't as peaceful as she says she is. He could even believe her version of events but wants her to go the police because that's just what you're supposed to do. When she refuses, they've got a problem.

I'm not sure if this is a flash-point thing that causes their demise this season, or if it's another brick in the wall that slowly helps Paige realize Pastor Tim and his wife are a loose end that need to be cut. I suspect the latter.
posted by bluecore at 5:57 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kathy Geiss as Gabriel's wife during the sting on Don! I was thinking I knew her but Alan Sepinwall pointed it out.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:29 AM on May 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


but with all of the time Gabriel spent saying there was NO OTHER WAY

One of the great things about Gabriel's character, though, is that he's deliberately unreliable. At least half of his job is to work P&E, by whatever means necessary. I think the reason there was "no other way" is that he needs Elizabeth to never have stability, and as much as possible it has to be her own doing. If she ever got her feet under her for any length of time, she'd go full Philip and the four of them would disappear like smoke. It's been seven-plus months since she killed Lisa and had to get through the Martha situation, he needed to make her destroy her only friendship.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:35 AM on May 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yay for seasons 5 & 6. Although I think keeping it on much longer than that may lead to a drop in quality. Are they going to keep going until the wall comes down? At the rate they're going it will take 8 more seasons (2-3 years so far for 4 seasons).

I think it's pretty confirmed that 6 will be the last season, and will be a little shorter, and that everything is now on a well-planned final glidepath.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 9:19 AM on May 27, 2016


I felt this episode was pretty clumsy. Total agreement that the Young Hee plot was just too convoluted. And the killing at the end was deus ex machina of the worst sort. I think the writers got themselves a bit in a plot corner and just had to write themselves out.

But the awkward dinner + Elizabeth working Tim was pretty great. Also both Tim and Alice trying to apologize / make up for the whole tape threat. "Oh yeah I didn't really mean to threaten you, dangerous Russian spies, let's be best friends 4ever". Give me a break.

Is this the first time we've seen Gabriel do fieldwork? Not much of a disguise! I wonder what his cover is in the US, and how long he's been there.
posted by Nelson at 3:01 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just dropping in to let all the mail robot fans know that you can get a mail robot t-shirt...
posted by Sublimity at 4:22 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Fulfilling its promise that the low-rated show's ending would be driven by creative rather than financial concerns, FX just renewed The Americans for a fifth and sixth season.

THANK YOU, FX . . . and please continue to piss off and die, NBC, you Hannibal-cancelling halfwits [sobbing].
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:31 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Everyone sitting around the dinner table and Pastor Tim asks Stan what he does. Henry pipes-up that he's an FBI agent. Pastor Tim replies with a shit-eating "Really?" and you suddenly realize Stan and Henry are the only ones in the scene not in on the family secret. Comedy gold.

Oh my god yes, and the look on Alice's face as she studiously gazed anywhere but at Stan and pushed her food around her plate made my entire week. She had just gotten done giving Elizabeth the whole passive-aggressive non-apology apology in the kitchen "I didn't ask for any of this . . ." and more or less mended fences, and there's Stan to get her all freaked out and riled up again, ha. I especially love how they wedged big ol' Stan in mid-table so he'd look extremely smushed and out of place.

Also, I used to want someone to kill the hell out of Stan Beeman, and I still do, but now I want them to torture him first. What a fucking non-stop freeloader -- he's like a stereotype out of a bad 60s sitcom. Jesus Christ what a clammy sadsack this man is; I don't know how such a spineless needy baby ever managed to get out of the white supremacist undercover thing alive.

I'm definitely living for the moment when he learns who he has been clinging to and sponging off of all these years. I don't really "root" for P&E per se (just sympathize in some ways), but dear god do I hope Stan Fucking Beeman does not triumph over them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:45 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Every time I think I've seen the worst possible wig on Philip, I find out I haven't.

It was horrible, and PERFECT for the "you knocked up my sister, tried to make her get an abortion, and drove her to suicide" context.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:58 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Btw, Mail Robot has its own Twitter account.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:04 PM on May 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Odd assumption that Don would take them back to his office and not a conference room or somesuch.

FWIW, I did not find this odd; his office is probably the only place in the building he can be sure he won't have co-workers popping by, seeing them and wondering who they are and why they're there. They've put him in a situation where not only can he not get rid of them but he desperately needs to avoid letting anyone else know they have any connection to him; his office is (presumably) the one part of the building he has that level of control over so that's where he'd take them. It's clever because they're not actually blackmailing him, but they're letting his own guilt effectively make him blackmail himself. Now, he could've fought them more on the "not letting them stay in the office alone" front but I assume they probably had something ready for that - maybe Gabriel would've "fallen down" and hurt his hip, or some other way to make it even harder for him to force them out.

I didn't love the out-of-nowhere muggers, and I agree that killing the guy seemed an uncharacteristically un-calculated, sloppy move by Elizabeth (unless she pre-arranged the whole thing somehow? Not convinced of this, exactly, but with her showing up unexpectedly to pick up Paige instead of letting Tim drive Paige home, and then with the long walk back to their car, the possibility that Elizabeth decided it was time to deliberately push Paige over the next big hurdle to super-spy-dom crossed my mind) since she could've just as easily non-fatally incapacitated the dude, but wow am I dying to see how Paige handles it. Just when she was starting to have a handle on things fate has apparently conspired to push her way back out of her comfort zone again.

Yay for seasons 5 & 6. Although I think keeping it on much longer than that may lead to a drop in quality.

The article makes it very clear that it's going to be a 13-episode season 5, a 10-episode season 6, and then they're done. I think the fact that they get to know exactly how much time they have left, this far in advance, is only going to help elevate this spectacular show even further.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:03 PM on May 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


what a clammy sadsack this man is

Beeman truly is awful, isn't he? Is there anything that redeems him? Maybe his guilt over Nina, that seems genuine, only then he failed her too so fuck him.
posted by Nelson at 9:06 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


He really sucked the life out of Sandra, didn't he? I think I mentioned a few seasons ago that I'd love to see more of Stan's back story. This is obviously not the man she fell in love with. What was he like when they met, and just before he went deep undercover with the white supremacists?
posted by Room 641-A at 10:35 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised by all the hate for Stan, especially since I see him and Elizabeth as two sides of the same coin:

Backstory that emotionally scarred them? Check.
Co-workers have been killed in the line of duty? Check.
Lover has been killed because of their actions? Check.
Has committed murder and despicable acts to further their cause? Check.
Dedication to their job is destroying their family? Check.

Where's the empathy? His best friend, his co-worker IT guy, his boss, and his lover have all been killed in a war in which he's fighting. His co-worker was spying for the other side right under his nose. His only remaining friends are his sworn enemies working against him and live next door. And the sponging for food? It's not the food, he's lonely.

Everything that Stan has done, Elizabeth has done too, right down to the lover that was killed because of their mistakes. The only difference is that Philip and Elizabeth have managed to hold the family together (so far), although Stan's not actively training a daughter to be a KGB agent, so I guess he's got that going for him. He's a broken, flawed man, but pretty much everyone is broken and flawed on this show, which is what makes it so great.
posted by bluecore at 5:51 AM on May 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


He doesn't even know yet that Martha was married to his best friend!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:16 AM on May 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh Elizabeth is a monster when you look at the story from the outside. But from the inside, in the show, Elizabeth is a nuanced and interesting character. We sympathize with her emotional conflict as she monstrously turns her daughter into a spy. We cheer for her as she succeeds in various dangerous operations despite murdering people. She's the protagonist, we want her to win. That's the brilliance of this show's writing; we're rooting for the bad guys. And unlike Breaking Bad most of the time we don't even feel the dissonance.

Maybe that's why Stan is written as he is, he's the grey foil to the pleasingly colorful Elizabeth and Philip duo. Bluecore is right that Stan's story is parallel to Elizabeth's in a lot of way, and in any rational sense we should have great sympathy for him. But then the writers don't make him empathetic, he's just a loser. It's just as emotionally manipulative as the way the writers make Elizabeth and Philip the heroes, only the opposite outcome. We dislike him.
posted by Nelson at 8:49 AM on May 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


And unlike Breaking Bad most of the time we don't even feel the dissonance.

Yes!!
posted by Room 641-A at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2016


Elizabeth is a nuanced and interesting character. We sympathize with her emotional conflict as she monstrously turns her daughter into a spy.

And is that even so different than raising a kid to be the kind who'll join the military and perhaps kill and be killed in some war that might be ill-advised and pointless?

And speaking of that, another one of the things you find yourself being sucked into admiring about P/E is the level of commitment. They have sacrificed in ways that not even a regular military soldier does. Imagine giving up the entire life you could have had, to live among these "foreign" people (even if their standard of living is better than it would've been back home). Never getting a leave back home. Never even speaking your mother tongue.
posted by NorthernLite at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


How did Elizabeth turn down Gabriel's pieriogis? "My mother used to make pieriogis just like this for breakfast, when we had eggs."

Elizabeth, you're a monster.
posted by chrchr at 12:59 PM on May 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm sure that a fair amount of my antipathy to Stan is about: a) the fact that I've had a vague loathing and distaste for Noah Emmerich ever since The Truman Show, which is probably a testament to his acting ability, and b) Elizabeth has gone through exponentially more trauma and deprivation than Stan ever since her childhood, but does she whine and wallow in self-pity? No, she (and Nina, and Martha) sucks it up and soldiers on and channels it all so much more healthily [snort] into stoicism, repression, and general chilliness, which is just a more appealing set of coping mechanisms to me. YMMV.

And is that even so different than raising a kid to be the kind who'll join the military and perhaps kill and be killed in some war that might be ill-advised and pointless?

And speaking of that, another one of the things you find yourself being sucked into admiring about P/E is the level of commitment.


I still maintain that P&E are no more monstrous or immoral than any other soldier from any country. Pretty much every U.S. "war hero" who has ever had a statue or appears on currency killed way, way more people and damaged more lives than the Jennings have. It's just part of the shittiness of political conflict and competition.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:31 PM on May 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am pretty bored with Paige. She has been moping around for about two seasons now. It's like Breaking Bad, where Jesse spent the last 24 episodes frowning and crying.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:52 PM on May 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, hey, who is that man that's living with the Jennings family now? I think I heard Paige call him "Henry."
posted by Room 641-A at 5:39 PM on May 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think Stan is an extraordinary character (and Noah Emmerich an amazing actor), regardless of being pretty unlikeable, because he's the other side of a bunch of coins. He is very much Elizabeth in many ways, but he's also Mr. American DadDude 1984 - inaccessible feelings and all, so much like Philip but also entirely unlike him - dealing with the state of masculinity after Vietnam, and the realities of law enforcement, which is a thing that often irritates me about TV. He's sort of given everything up for his country, but we don't let those people off the hook. He's walking talking PTSD in a time when that simply wasn't a thing, with the failed marriage and distant kids and clouded judgement that goes with. He's almost a distorted mirror of everyone else, from Paige to Arkady.

But I also don't dislike him at all. There's a heart there, that I think a lesser actor wouldn't be able to show.

Also I'm pretty sure they did camera/chair fuckery on Henry, a la Elf, to make him smaller than tiny Paige at the dinner table.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:23 PM on May 29, 2016 [6 favorites]




Pastor Tim = Dollar Bill? OMG.
That wig for President.
posted by marylynn at 2:06 PM on May 31, 2016


"The Americans" acting team is all over Twitter. I mean, check out Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell fancoupling out on Alison Wright (TV's Martha)
and then pitching Joel Fields for roles in the show.
posted by chrchr at 4:46 PM on May 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


You guys have made me want to 1) revive my Twitter account and 2) have tacos al pastor for dinner.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:49 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I said "acting team". They're a cast.
posted by chrchr at 8:34 PM on May 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


We all noticed the mail robot rolling by just as Stan and Aderholt were talking about it -- so now the center knows that they suspect that the robot is a mole-bot. poor mail robot.

I was certain that some of the discomfort at the dinner table had to do with Tim's activities -- no one mentioned counter-intelligence, just that Stan worked for the FBI, so Tim might have as much to hide as anyone....we don't actually know that his work in Ethiopia, and his 'disappearance' are above board, now do we?

I absolutely loved how E used her emotions, both with Don and with Tim, to sell her craft. Stellar work. and that moment, just after she and Phillip embraced, when the kids came home and the switch had to be flipped, and she had to be back to "Mom" .

I think Stan is simply telling Oleg how things stand, and now that Gaad has been killed, it's game on. No more easy meets to exchange pleasantries and the occasional nod and wink, it's hardball time. I like you, but you're on the other side, and that side has taken too much from me to allow me to go soft on you.

I was pretty surprised by how they chose to reveal Elizabeth's skills to Paige. this show usually relies on a bit more nuance, so I am trusting that there is more at play.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:13 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have had a retweet from Joel Fields pretty quickly after I tweeted something, which I was pretty amazed by. And Costa Ronin seems quick on the reply/retweet too. It's great to see how those involved in the show are involved in social media/podcasts etc.
posted by Megami at 9:41 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've actively tweeted about the show, so too had multiple RTs/faves from producers and actors, and at least one was following me. (LOL I just went back to check how many, and saw the @FBIMailRobot account is too.)
posted by NorthernLite at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't really think of anything cooler than being followed by Mail Robot.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:22 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was certain that some of the discomfort at the dinner table had to do with Tim's activities -- no one mentioned counter-intelligence, just that Stan worked for the FBI, so Tim might have as much to hide as anyone....we don't actually know that his work in Ethiopia, and his 'disappearance' are above board, now do we?

I thought this wasn't hinting at anything particularly interesting about Tim's work, just that there's a value-conflict between stalwart FBI-man, patriotic upholder of the law/government, and leftist anti-nuke pastor, who holds protests against US/Western government actions.

(And so the added danger in that moment is Stan maybe getting a different mental picture of the Jennings, now that he sees "their" pastor is a leftist.)
posted by nobody at 5:40 AM on August 20, 2016


It was a really small moment, but Stan rubbing his palms and looking so damn happy at being invited to/crashing a lamb roast dinner was the first time that I actually, genuinely felt sorry for Stan.
posted by coolname at 12:19 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Stan is so awesome. The main thing about Stan's awesomeness is that it stems from his awfulness. In his defense, he's not a mooch, the families are both over at each other's houses all the time--Henry practically lives over at Stan's, eating up his frozen macaroni and cheese. Does Stan ever complain?

Also, I love Pastor Tim and Elizabeth lampshading their ridiculous living arrangement. E: "You can't choose your neighbors." PT: "Eh..you can't?" E: "Well.. we lived there first."

It was such a good episode in so many ways, but the mechanics of the Don hustle strain credulity (everything goes to shit if he puts them in a conference room, or as "executive administrator" what if his office has an anteroom or something like that?), and Elizabeth has previously been established as such a bad-ass that she should have been able to keep those guys from ever getting within five feet of page or having time to pull a knife. Those two things were really out of place in a show of this quality.
posted by skewed at 8:02 PM on August 5, 2018


« Older Last Week Tonight with John Ol...   |  Wynonna Earp: Keep the Home Fi... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster