The Americans: Only You


"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
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Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

4 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

I had nearly the same reaction to this one that you did. I'm ever fascinated by how I can both root for and against all the characters, almost simultaneously. I want Stan to succeed, but I also don't. (Yes, he lost his partner, but he killed Nina's friend!) I want Phillip and Elizabeth to succeed, but I also don't. (Yes, they've done awful things and are "the enemy," but I care about them and their kids!)

I found myself profoundly affected by Gregory's death. I actually sobbed during that final sequence. And then I felt bad about that, because even though he was such a good man to Elizabeth --- loved him telling her to find someone who will love her for her strength and dedication --- he was also a traitor and a killer. But ... I still mourn him, and I'm deeply sad for Elizabeth. It's funny how we as an audience are just as caught up in putting the personal ahead of our presumed "ideals" as the characters on the show often are.

CrazyCris said...

Another fascinating episode! Week in, week out this series definitely does not disappoint!!!

I'm definitely leaning much more strongly on the Elizabeth-Philip side of the war, but also find myself cheering on Stan on a regular basis! And I find myself really curious as to the possible endgame for this series (hopefully years away)! "Our" guys can't win, history isn't on their side. Plus after having killed Amador I don't see Philip turning himself in to Stan and hoping for a deal for crossing over...
I just know the next episode can never come soon enough for me! ;o)

Suzanne said...

This is probably my favorite show on TV right now. I always look forward to it each week and luckily it never disappoints. I agree with all of your points, Billie, about how well they make us see things from different characters' viewpoints. One minute I was feeling guilty for being worried that Stan would become suspicious of Phillip in his hotel room and then the next, I am seeing Stan lie to Nina so easily and feeling that he is the bad guy.

Another angle to this episode that I loved was the exchange between Elisabeth and her daughter when she mentioned that her own mother would never have allowed her to talk as the daughter does. It hit me that Paige has no clue how serious Elisabeth's statement is and how far removed her own life is from the one Elisabeth lived. I found it interesting that Elisabeth is really assuming a pretend parenting role in many ways, raising her children as "Americans" in away that is very unnatural feeling to her. Yet, I felt so badly for both kids in that scene, too, since I felt like them: Elisabeth, just let Phillip move back in already! ;)

That being sad, I loved Gregory, too, and hated to see him killed. I found Elisabeth's relationship with him to be very romantic. It seems that Kerri Russell's characters always become involved in love triangles where it is hard to decide which guy is best for her!

What a complex show.

ChrisB said...

This episode was profoundly moving. Gregory's death was very sad, but didn't surprise me. I don't see him in Moscow.

The part that jumped out at me was when Elizabeth was trying to convince Gregory to go. She was talking about how metropolitan Moscow is, filled with art and culture. I found that a fascinating character beat as it is difficult to imagine a city with more art and culture than DC. For her, it somehow doesn't count.