by Billie Doux
"Did you tell him how lovely Moscow is in the spring?"
It's so interesting how this series consistently manages to make us sympathize with both sides at the same time.
I felt sad for Gregory. Yes, he was a traitor to his country (bad), but he was also a veteran of the Civil Rights movement and had reason to be unhappy with his lot in the good old U.S. of A. It wasn't the Motherland and socialism that motivated him, though; for Gregory, it was all about Elizabeth. ("Only You".) When his only options became prison or Moscow, Gregory just lost interest in living. His death scene wasn't tense or exciting or tragic. It was sadness in slow motion, set to mournful music.
This wasn't just Gregory's episode, though. There's a lot going on with Stan Beeman. He seemed like such a nice guy to me at the beginning of the series, haunted by his past working undercover as a white supremacist, trying to fix his marriage, super concerned about the safety of Nina, his vulnerable double agent. But in the past couple of episodes, he's turned into something of a hard ass, and he's keeping his true feelings to himself. He couldn't level with Sandra. He banged on Philip's motel room door and brought beer, obviously planning to schmooze, but couldn't bring himself to confide in his new friend. (Philip couldn't entirely conceal how tense he was, either. He must have thought at first that the FBI really had caught him.)
Stan is having trouble with what he did. Killing Vlad, who turned out to be KGB in name only and a friend of Nina's, was a mistake that Stan can't acknowledge. He certainly can't tell Nina that he killed her friend because he was angry and upset about Amador and wasn't seeing the situation clearly. If and when she finds out, their relationship may be over.
If this episode had an underlying theme, it was how ugly things can be: Moscow, Philip's motel room, the junkyard, the grayness of the weather, Gregory's suicide-by-cop in the street. There is nothing about vengeance, the Cold War and what is happening on this show that is bright and clean and unambiguous.
And that brings me to Philip and Elizabeth and their bizarre marriage. She made him move out because she was angry about Irina, but the circumstances just weren't that cut and dried and she was clearly starting to feel bad about it -- especially since Paige and Henry were so utterly miserable. And Philip offered to kill Gregory for Elizabeth. Not exactly the sort of flowers and candy gift a man usually brings home when he's hoping to make up with his wife, but in this case, Philip knew what Gregory meant to Elizabeth and what it would do to her to have to kill him herself. That offer was actually rather sweet. I'm glad neither of them did it, though.
Bits and pieces:
-- The KGB tried to infiltrate the Civil Rights movement? That is fascinating. The Americans is turning into a weekly (non-boring) history lesson.
-- I knew, of course, that Richard Thomas's character was named "Gaad," but I just now internalized that the boss at FBI Counter Intelligence is called "God".
-- I didn't know "exfiltrate" was word. Live and learn.
-- Martha told Stan that Amador had asked her out again. She may have given Stan a clue about what really happened to Amador.
-- Amador's ring, the big clue that led to Gregory's death, was probably symbolic of something. Any suggestions?
This episode made me think. The show makes me think. But I'm never sure how to rate it. What did you guys think? How many hidden rings out of four?
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.