Talk about a heartbreaking exit.
Everything about Gabriel’s last few days in the States was expectedly devastating, not just for us for losing the immensely talented Frank Langella, but for Philip too. After all, he and Elizabeth never wanted Paige to be included in this life, so to hear Gabriel say “you were right, she should be kept out of all this” is a gut-wrenching moment for Philip. The look on Mathew Rhys’ face conveys everything from hurt to devastation to utter shock, all in mere seconds.
The rest of the episode is just as depressing, immaculately depicting the Jennings’ double life as anything other than glamorous. Despite the spy hijinks which might be occasionally fun, The Americans insists that no matter how good the cause, these people are still miserable doing what they do, thanks to the sacrifices they unwillingly have to make. Take Paige breaking up with Mathew for instance, which might not be earth-shattering news for anyone, but its ramifications on Elizabeth are obvious when she realizes Wheat Guy is double-timing her Brenda. Both women are unsure how to feel about these developments, and Keri Russell and Holly Taylor are amazing in these scenes. If there’s anything this show does well, it’s drawing parallels between two minor subplots with so much subtlety and nuance as it does here with Elizabeth and Paige. Absolutely impressive.
Even Stan’s storyline is all about making sacrifices when he is told to transfer out of counterintelligence after he completes his current mission. His sacrifice to Oleg might be the biggest one yet since the other party is oblivious about any of this, which makes this plot an even more depressing viewing experience. If Renee does end up being a spy, and there were a couple of hints this week, then we’re headed towards a series of explosive and tragic bombshells in the coming episodes.
Bits in Disguise
– I loved every single moment of Paige and Gabriel’s meeting. It was seasons in the making, and it did not disappoint at all.
– The mail robot is back and I couldn’t be happier!
– Good lord, Philip and Elizabeth’s disguises on their Mississippi trip were ridiculous.
– If we never see Mathew again, then good riddance. He was starting to get on my nerves lately.
– Renee mistakenly refers to Indiana University as “U of I” instead of “IU”, which means she’s either really a KGB spy or this was a slight misstep on the writers’ part. Either way, this continues to fuel the theory that she’s up to no good.
– Anyone find it weird that the camera zoomed in on the framed picture of Oleg’s dead brother? Is there a twist here I’m not caught up on?
– Mathew Rhys, who directed this episode, did a wonderful job focusing on Philip’s speechlessly shocked face in the closing moments of the episode.
Quips from the Motherland
Gabriel: Marx says if we choose to work for all mankind, no burden can bring us down because our sacrifices are then for the benefit of all. And your parents have sacrificed a lot for others. They’ve stood for something larger than themselves, and that takes courage. And you’ve shown a lot of courage too.
Paige: I haven’t done anything.
Gabriel: Yes you have. Despite all the garbage that you have had to deal with, you asked for the truth, and you faced it. And I think that’s courage.
Elizabeth: (to Paige) I remember the day you started first grade. [Gabriel] said, “You need a pencil, a notebook, and a brain. You buy her the first two. She has plenty of the third”.
Tim: It’s a good thing to realize that there are things bigger than you. Most people never figure that out.
Philip: It’s okay to care.
Elizabeth: No, it isn’t, Philip. Not for me.
Another clever and beautifully depressing episode of The Americans.