If looking back on this season and seeing “A Day In The Life Of Anton Baklanov” as the low-point means anything, it is the fact that this superb season of The Americans has rarely made a misstep and when it did, it was only because of an episode that decided to take the hand of the throttle a bit, following the previous week’s bombshell being dropped. Yes, after seeing Paige learn the truth in last week’s episode, this week is a much more subdued affair, with some of the plotlines being pulled closer to closing off for the season that only has two episodes left, while we allow Paige and the other Jennings to sit back and consider how things have changed. Sure, this is not one of the highlight episodes of the season, but only because this show has decided to take room to breathe.
This episode logically starts off with Paige in full inquisitive mode. She arrives downstairs in the kitchen and has nothing but questions for her parents. She is appropriately scolded. Paige cannot just ask her parents questions that dive through the layers of a world carefully constructed by her parents, when an Eddie Murphy-quoting Henry is just bouncing around within earshot. With that said, she does need a rest from all the stress that this has brought upon her. Unfortunately, no amount of consoling is currently working. Elizabeth can try to talk to her daughter all she want, but Paige needs time to both get away from her brother’s obsession with the SNL star and deal with this massive revelation.
This whole season has kept us looking in on how parenting has functioned in regards to Paige and what Elizabeth and Philip can do, given their obligation and duty to bring her into the world that they have hidden from their children. Now the big secret is out and we are essentially in a holding pattern, as we wait to see what the next big move is. Gabriel is now in the know, so I am sure this show will either allow Frank Langella to finally do more than offer sage (and sometimes adversarial) wisdom, or have him cap off the season with the next big mission the Jennings, including Paige, may have to involve themselves in.
Elsewhere, this episode kept things largely straight forward, with the bonus of getting to spend a bit more time with Nina. She continues to work on her mission to learn from Anton, which goes about as well as it can. Nina snoops around Anton and his things, learns some key elements about what he was forced to give up, upon arriving back across Soviet lines, and uses the information to continue working on gaining his trust. Nina being Nina, I can only imagine she is doing what she can to get herself out of her prison, but who knows. Perhaps she can find a way to take Anton back with her, if she does actually find herself making a break back to America.
The other big play this week comes from Martha, which is nice to see again, given how well Alison Wright has been used in this back half of the season. Obviously Martha is concerned about an upcoming meeting with Taffet, who seems to know everything. The thing is, he does not know anything, which is exactly what “Clarke” makes sure Martha is aware of. It was great fun to see Philip teach Martha some of his tactics when it comes to lying. It makes me wonder how things will play out, if Martha does in fact become more involved in the espionage plotting and finds herself having to use some new techniques against her husband.
All of that said, watching the actual interrogation playout was neat from a directorial level. Seeing this show essentially put Martha into a scenario the Jennings are pros at makes for a way to have the show find some dynamism with the rest its cast. I can only imagine we will be seeing Holly Taylor allowed to do some wilder activities as Paige in the next season.
There is not much more to say here, as we get enough to lead us into next week, which will likely bring things back to the CIA Afghan Group and possible more of a building up of tension in regards to the results of asking about the bug in Gaad’s office. That said, we did get to see Elizabeth in full seduction mode a few times. If one thing has been made clear, we get to see the Jennings balance a sense of disconnect as well as a level of control, when it comes to where their heads are at. Given the stresses in their non-professional lives (the non-spy stuff), it is amazing they still manage to get so much done.
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