Guest Review The Americans

The Americans 5×10 – Darkroom

"Say hello to the machine sitting next to you. Because that’s what you are. Machines."

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This show has elegantly crafted complex, multi-dimensional characters over the years, so it’s wholeheartedly satisfying to see those characters immerse in a happy moment every now and then. Philip and Elizabeth have been through so much turmoil, so watching them finally make their marriage official is one of the year’s most stunning developments. In true The Americans fashion, the marriage itself is a captivating, brilliantly edited sequence unlike anything I have ever seen on television, with every single line of dialogue spoken in Russian, making it all the more powerful and impressive. What a masterpiece of a twist.

However, while Darkroom reminds us that this show is prestige television, it’s still going through an unusually lackluster and disappointing season. There’s no real sense of urgency, particularly with anything Tuan-related, and it saddens me to admit that I’ve started to lose interest in some of the supporting characters this year, even Pascha and his parents.

There are also way too many loose ends and disparate storylines this season. While it’s more likely than not the show will tie everything together perfectly in the end, it’s completely difficult to be invested in Oleg’s Moscow subplot at the moment if it has nothing to do with Paige’s spy hijinks. The latter continues to have some of the most intriguing developments so far, made all the more horrifying this week as Philip and Elizabeth take a look at the disturbing notes Pastor Tim has made about the Jennings, but in the grand scheme of things, it still doesn’t exactly further the plot any more than I’d like. And with only 3 more episodes left this season, a little bit of fast-paced plotting couldn’t hurt.

Bits in Disguise

– Philip and Elizabeth offering Paige the choice to decide whether the Centre should get involved in Pastor Tim’s life is too much pressure to put on a teenage kid who recently found out her parents are Russian spies, don’t you think?

– The dead silence during the dinner scene at Oleg’s parents’ house was chilling.

– In an alternate universe, there’s a sitcom about the double dates between the Jennings and Stan and Renee.

– The more I think about it, the more I believe Stan’s fate will turn out similarly to Hank’s on Breaking Bad.

– Not buying Claudia’s excuse about the wheat coming from a stolen Kazakh variety. But then again, neither are Philip and Elizabeth.

– How gripping are those EST speeches? I was thoroughly mesmerized this week and wanted more.

– Father Andre using their real names (Mikhail and Nadezhda) during the basement ceremony was a brilliant touch.

– Heartbreaking moment as Paige watches her parents get to work in the laundry room, prepping for the dark room. You ain’t seen nothing yet, P.

– The Bauhaus song playing during the final montage as Pastor Tim’s hurtful words splurge on the screen was such a perfect capper to this uneven episode.

– How could Philip and Elizabeth not give poor Paige a hug after reading those words?!

Quips from the Motherland

Elizabeth: It wasn’t exactly lying, Paige. We kept things from you. We had to. To protect you and our family. And when you were ready, we told you.

Paige: You did something so huge and no one even knows.
Philip: That’s how it works.

Elizabeth: Why does this bother you so much?
Philip: It just does.
Elizabeth: The Centre has nothing to do with them. Come on. And what if they do? So what?
Philip: I don’t want Stan to be like Martha.

Howard: You’re in the dark. So what do you do? You hold out your hands. Makes sense, you don’t want to bump into anything. But if someone turns on the light and there’s nothing there, do you feel stupid? You probably look pretty stupid. If you’d felt something, would that have made you smart? The point is when you’re walking in the dark, you don’t know the answer, but you have an instinct for how to move forward. The instinct is neither right or wrong. It just is. We’re all machines. Say hello to the machine sitting next to you. Because that’s what you are. Machines. Go ahead. Say hello. Your lives are mechanically programmed: stimulus, response, stimulus, response, stimulus, response. But what if we’re nothing more than machines programmed to respond to stimuli, what are we to make of the notion of enlightenment? Enlightenment is knowing the truth, accepting that you are a machine.

Conclusion
The show is still falling short when compared to previous seasons, but a heartwarming development five seasons in the making and a visually stunning ending makes this episode worthwhile.

Chris Rating
B

2 comments

  1. I agree. There remains, for the most part, a lack of action during this season so far. But I have faith it will lead to something juicy at some point.

    I share your thoughts about Stan ending up with Hank's fate. But I don't think that will happen until during the final season. Before then, I believe he will learn the truth about Philip and Elizabeth with dramatic consequences. They have been teasing it long enough. I would love it if that was the outcome of Season 5. A “Oh Shit” expression on Stan's face and then cut to black.

    Like

  2. I really hope they surprise us and turn the Stan storyline in a completely unexpected direction but so far all signs point to a tragic ending. Having him discover the truth this season would certainly help! Fingers crossed.

    Like

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