TV Review: FX’s The Americans 3×12, “I Am Abassin Zadran”

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Sorry, this one may be a little shorter than normal, but along with the covert battle that is the Russians versus the Americans, I will be checking out more adventures between the rebels and the Empire at the Star Wars celebration this weekend. That said, “I Am Abassin Zadran” is a fine episode of The Americans, which continues to capitalize on the character relationships that have paid off the best this season. Martha and Paige have been given a lot of attention throughout season 3 and even the return of Claudia (!) couldn’t take over what the main source of contention has been and continues to be. Truths are being revealed and with only one episode left, I can only imagine some big shifts may occur.

With that in mind, let me backtrack to Claudia. It is great to see Margo Martindale, especially after watching the series finale of Justified the previous night and reminding myself of how great she can be in almost any role. Now she gets a chance to sit opposite Frank Langella, as the two of them converse about spy stuff. I honestly have not tried to detail the true-to-life scenarios that The Americans has entangled our characters in because I honestly have little to say in that regard. The show is great at finding ways to make things add up historically to some degree (despite a certain inevitability of the Cold War), but I have far more regard for it concerning the character drama taking place. As a result, it is just great to see Gabriel and Claudia interact and share a sense of history, despite it being the first time we have ever seen them together. With that in mind, they do share some information regarding what is going on in Afghanistan, which may surely have an effect on where things go plot-wise for the Jennings.

Speaking of the Jennings, before jumping onto what happened with them concerning their daughter and Martha, this episode does get its title from what eventually takes place at the hotel they had worked to infiltrate. We watch Elizabeth and Philip go through the motions of getting all the access they need by sounding convincing and looking official. This allows them to have a discussion with one of the Mujahedeen commanders. They do their job and murder frenzy occurs. Okay, it is a little less intense than that, but we see the bloody sight of two men killed and one standing by, waiting to be discovered and take responsibility for what he believed to be the correct actions. It is intense stuff, but The Americans does not shy away from the harsh realities of what the jobs of these spies can result in. This is what leads to me accepting the harsh realities that two seemingly innocent people must contend with.

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Holly Taylor has been terrific this season. Dramas that fit in the same vein as The Americans seem to often get bogged down by both the wives of the main character (see Breaking Bad) and the daughters (see Homeland). This show does not have that problem and instead allows these characters to be among the most interesting. For Paige, Taylor has really come into her own as far as delivering on what is required of her this season. Being suddenly thrust into the realization that everything is not at all what it seems has been a longtime coming, but it opens up so many new doors now. Paige continues to question everything she thought was true, which must be surely serving as a good test regarding how useful she may be to the KGB. It is a tough position, but hopefully the finale will find a way to settle Paige in some sense.

Poor Martha is unfortunately at her wits ends with things. This week she is surprised by Stan, who has questions. As I made sure to note last week, Stan is a smart agent. He may not yet have all he needs to understand the extent of what is really going on, but he has suspicions leading him in the right direction. As a result, he questions Martha, which freaks her out and leads to Philip having to deal with it. Unfortunately, a pickup by Hans, followed by certain assurances is not enough to keep Martha together. She is ready to get away from everything, as she understands what is at stake for her (it rhymes with “streason”). In all of this, Alison Wright sells the emotion and the idea that Martha has finally had enough of her strange marriage situation with Clark.

This is what makes the ending so fascinating. Philip reveals his true self and I am not sure where things will be headed next. I don’t ever ask myself about how much Philip actually cares about Martha. A reveal like this certainly nudges me in a certain direction. It does not ensure a certainty, but it does seem like some kind of finality to the Martha situation may be coming as a result (hopefully in a good way). This episode of The Americans keeps the action to a minimum and continues to work well with its characters. It is a step up from the placeholder seen last week and a great way to build us up for next week’s finale.

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Other Things Behind The Red Curtain:

  • Henry is still into his games, but needs to be in bed by 10.
  • No news from Nina this week, so we’ll hopefully see what happens there.
  • Elizabeth is still dealing with Lisa as well, which really just seems to serve as a way to complicate things. Ideally there will be some sort of payoff, but more than likely we will follow up on this in season 4.
  • I love that Stan has a map in his head of what seems to be going on as far as the illegals running around D.C. Too bad he is not a little bit sharper though.
  • Mail Robot was almost given the boot, but luckily Oleg and Tatiana spoke up about the possibilities that could be taken advantage of, using what Mail Robot really knows.

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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.