TV Review: FX’s The Americans 4×8, “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”

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Let’s get this out of the way, “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears” may be a great episode of The Americans, but it’s just the worst episode title to go with. Fortunately, Matthew Rhys’ first time behind the camera has paid off incredibly well, as we bring a number of plotlines to a head and take a significant step forward by the time the episode ends. Some tragedy exists in what we see, but it makes me very excited for what is to come, while acknowledging just how deep things have gotten so far.

The mostly dialogue-free opening is a good one. We’ve had lots of speculation on what would be happening to Poor Martha over the last few episodes and while I cannot rule out never seeing her again, this was a pretty strong finale for the character. Between staring blankly at a peanut butter jar and putting all kinds of emotion in a blank face, as she looks to Philip, while taking off in a small airplane, Alison Wright was pretty terrific right up to the end. There may be separation for Philip between what he cares about and what he loves, but you certainly realize how terrible he feels about the situation, which is enough to make EST a major aspect of this episode.

We return to EST this week in some interesting ways. Philip is mostly cold towards Elizabeth, as he reads a book from EST and we then get the surprise that Elizabeth goes to a meeting to check it out. She reveals this to Philip later on, which puts the Jennings in a shouting match. It starts out calm, as Elizabeth talks down on EST, laying out what she sees as a ruse. Philip is not having it, but it brings up some past history between both of them. Gregory is brought up (Elizabeth’s former contact and lover), along with Philip’s former Russian lover and the mother of his other son. It’s a big confrontation that has been coming for longer than I have been letting on, when considering how much I support the Jennings’ relationship as being mostly stable these days.

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Good thing Frank Langella makes Gabriel a character you really do not have to suspect, when he lays out the niceties. Gabriel legitimately cares for the lives of his agents, which is why some welcome humor is found in him getting in the middle of these two fighting. He also realizes that the stress level of this ‘job’ has really gotten to a boiling point. Margo Martindale returns for just long enough to give Gabriel some grief about how hard the job is getting, but it is not enough to stop Gabriel from giving the Jennings the closest thing they’ll have to a vacation.

Let’s get back to that though. The rest of this episode basically helped raise tension that could have led to something far more dramatic, but instead led to new beginnings. Stan and Aderholt are pretty amazed and pissed that Martha had gotten all of this around them. Gaad is still stunned and ends up being called to the director’s office, with merely some words from Stan to hopefully keep him at ease. Stan could use some of that himself, as he has divorce papers on their way to him in the midst of all this and is practically babbling to Philip about the situation, after awkwardly arriving to have a beer with him.

Things are decidedly more mixed with Elizabeth. She is still working her mark, Young Hee, which now includes sneaking into movies (The Outsiders, of course. #Symbolism). However, work with one of her past marks, Lisa, goes a lot worse. Apparently things have not worked out and Lisa is back on the sauce. It leads to a realization that Elizabeth will not be able to keep her mark quiet and she is forced to kill her. Liz also yells at Paige, which was both a little sad and also pretty satisfying. Yes, a lot happens and it all concludes with what the title of this episode alludes to.

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Early on Henry talks about how excited he is to see David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear and yes, we all get to see it and hear parts of the original ABC broadcast. While performing the illusion, Copperfield stated, “Our ancestors couldn’t (enjoy rights and freedoms), we can and our children will”. It plays well into this episode and is greatly envisioned thanks to seeing how all the arguments are basically handled off screen so we can see a seemingly brighter future, which actually gives us a look at the children of the future.

The first thing we see, once the show cuts to 7 months later, is both a mini-golf course’s Statue of Liberty and the pregnant belly of Pastor Tim’s wife Alice, as the two play with Paige. The Jennings all seem to have things under control, even though Paige is annoyed to now have to report on her activities. New beginnings come with a cost, as always. And what will that cost be, when it comes to the new FBI Agent in charge? Stan’s talk with a now relieved Gaad leads to discussion of the status of Oleg and how to proceed.

This was an eventual episode of The Americans, ungainly episode title aside. The jump means the Jennings will likely be getting back into action, but in what way? Will Paige be more involved? Are the glanders samples still a thing for William? What is Henry up to now? I have so many questions and look forward to seeing what this new momentum means for the series.

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Other Things Behind The Red Curtain:

“Don’t be alone Clark” – I hope the brief stop in Cuba worked out well for Martha.

Philip talks about wanting to take up hockey and seven months later he has pads and a stick. Good for him.

Concerning Oleg and Tatiana – we’ve continued to check in on the two of them and Stan’s conversation with Gaad may mean we’re going to really move things forward with their involvement.

No Scrabble for Philip this week.

Henry Watch – He was all about Copperfield and finally got to go to Epcot!

Alice is now pregnant, so we can only hope there is no new trouble for her and Pastor Tim.

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Aaron is a movie fanatic. He is from Orange County, California, but earned a degree or two at UC Santa Barbara. He describes himself as a film reviewer, writer, podcaster, video game player, comic book reader, disc golfer, and a lefty. There are too many films, TV shows, books, etc. for him to list as favorites, but he can assure that the amount of film knowledge within his noggin is ridiculous, though he is always open to learning more. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else he is up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com, and check out his podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.