"Why is the KGB running around like cut off chickens?"
It never occurred to me that the KGB would go nuts if an American president were shot. Or why. Fascinating.
Richard Thomas is doing a great job as Gaad, Stan's intense boss, who was determined to find a KGB link to the assassination attempt. It's interesting to see this through the lens of history, because it seems obvious to me that he is just asking for the Cold War to turn nuclear. Is that what he wants?
But of course, the real draw of this series is how our KGB heroes dealt with the situation. The opening scene where Philip and Elizabeth were having a romantic rendezvous in a hotel was just fascinating. It was like they had to leave their fake lives and their fake marriage in order for their real selves to have a love affair. But they split again when they started dealing with the fallout of the assassination attempt. Elizabeth was a good soldier for the Motherland, ready to tell their KGB handlers every detail of what was happening without considering the consequences, while Philip was questioning their orders and holding back information, using his own judgment.
The scenes with Stan and Nina, his reluctant double agent, gave me insight into what was motivating Elizabeth. Like Nina, Elizabeth's world view is still Soviet, even after spending most of her life in the United States. Elizabeth saw General Haig's actions as an obvious precursor of a military coup, because that's what would have happened in the U.S.S.R. But Philip is an American now, like their kids, and he never thought there would be a coup. Elizabeth allowed Philip's opinion to guide her in the end, and that prevented "Operation Christopher" from going down. I wasn't quite sure what "Operation Christopher" was, except that it obviously included assassinations of people high in the U.S. government. Did Philip just prevent World War III?
While Elizabeth was digging up that wonderfully booby-trapped storage locker in the woods, we got an interesting flashback to an incident in her childhood where her mother turned down much-needed food because she refused to be obligated to anyone. Elizabeth's mother taught her that she could only depend on herself. But the outcome here was the opposite. Elizabeth was glad Philip was right, and she was willing to lie to their handlers to protect him. The final scene was the two of them making love at home and in their own bed, suggesting that their American life together and their marriage is slowly becoming real. Despite my previous obsessions with two other spy shows (here and here), it isn't the spy trappings that I like about this series -- it's the focus on Elizabeth and Philip, and their complicated relationship. I'm so very happy that the writers seem to get that.
In other news, Stan's wife (what was her name?) is not happy in D.C., and she's angry that he talked to Elizabeth and Philip about his job, but not to her. (Gee, it's certainly handy that Philip and Elizabeth have an FBI counterintelligence agent across the street that they can discreetly pump for information, huh?) Apparently, Stan's previous undercover assignment was not good for his marriage. Lack of marital communication is a big theme in this series, isn't it?
I also felt bad for double agent Nina, and thought for a moment that she was going to be killed. Stan appears to feel bad about the situation; he tried to be kind to her. I really liked him gently trying to correct her English slang. I think I like Stan.
-- The Reagan assassination attempt took place March 30, 1981. The Jennings's masqueraded as members of the Vice President's staff; back then, the VP was Poppy Bush.
-- Elizabeth unhesitatingly killed that poor security guard. Another reminder that our two "heroes" are also bad guys.
-- Phillip made contact with Charles Duluth, code name 'Sparrow', who is apparently a fake defector and a reporter.
-- Margo Martindale was back and she has a name now: Claudia. She didn't have a lot to do in this one, but can I mention, since it's my turn to review, that casting Martindale as the KGB boss made me happy?
-- I really liked what daughter Paige said about the news constantly showing the same clips of Reagan getting shot, as if repetition would bring about another outcome. It reminded me of the famous definition of insanity. Maybe that explains network news.
-- This week's wonderful antiquated tech: the super spy phone room. Not unlike Bobby's on Supernatural, and for the same reason.
-- Paige is hanging out with Matthew Beeman. Maybe the Jennings's and the Beemans will end up in-laws in the series finale many years from now. It could happen. The Americans just got early renewal; we're getting a second season.
I really enjoyed this one. Three out of four booby-trapped storage lockers,