This season has proven on multiple occasions that The Americans is a depressing slow-burn waiting for a bomb to go off, but Dyatkovo drives that message home with one of the most unsettling sequences on television.
Of course I’m talking about Philip and Elizabeth putting Natalie/Ana at gunpoint in the episode’s final act. It’s a disturbing, heartbreaking sequence made all the more unnerving by that gruesome ending. There was no doubt in my mind the woman was going to bite the dust since she was a disgrace to the Russians, killing thousands of men and betraying her home country, but watching her innocent husband get shot just seconds before she dies was a whole other story. The look on the Jennings’ faces as they stand on the side of the murder scene while their victims bleed to death is a bleak and horrifying visual, and the beauty of that scene is how it pushes Elizabeth to the realization that they are indeed monsters, as Pastor Tim eloquently mentioned, who need to go back to Russia. It’s a game-changing, masterful development for a character who hasn’t struggled nearly as much as Philip when it came to “doing the right thing”, which makes this all the more impactful. Our anti-heroes may be villains after all, and it’s so fascinating to watch them wrestle with this truth.
The rest of the episode isn’t as gripping, especially Oleg’s subplot in Moscow which has started to drag by now. Too much time is spent on investigating the secretary, and while those scenes do offer some intriguing albeit brief insight into Oleg’s mindset, it all still feels unnecessarily detached from the rest of the show. It could all just be table-setting for now, so let’s hope the final two hours weave everything together in the best way possible before the show bids farewell next season.
Bits in Disguise
– What a depressing teaser with Philip juggling being with Henry to being with Tuan as we flashback to his childhood moments with his father. The French music playing in the background made it even more depressing for some reason.
– Loved Henry going to the FBI headquarters with Stan who insisted that this is a very lonely job. These two have such a positive dynamic, which makes me all the more worried about whatever the show plans on doing with Henry.
– Henry’s infatuation with the mail robot is priceless and oh so very understandable!
– Tear-jerking moment as Ana/Natalie admits to being the murderous traitor just seconds before her husband walks in.
– Elizabeth pulling the trigger when she sees Philip choking is both jaw-dropping and predictable, if that makes any sense.
– Stunning camerawork as we zoom out of the dining room while Natalie bleeds out on the floor and the Jennings watch in horror.
– This season has really been underutilizing Margo Martindale, one of the show’s greatest assets. Not cool, writers.
– While this was certainly a difficult watch, the hardest death this show has produced yet is still without a doubt Elizabeth letting the innocent old lady overdose in season three’s Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?.
Quips from the Motherland
Philip: Do you think Paige wanted us to see those photos?
Elizabeth: I don’t know. She already told us.
Philip: But maybe she wanted to see us read them right in front of her.
Elizabeth: Or maybe she was just moving too fast.
Henry: You have, like, the best job in the world.
Henry: Well, what’s no great about it?
Stan: Well, the FBI is basically…you know, I can’t explain it to you, Henry. Because I don’t trust you.
Henry: You don’t trust me?
Stan: No. I’m not allowed to. You are the greatest kid in the world, but I have to think of you like you could be a spy. That’s what the FBI is like.
Gruesome and gut-wrenching, this is one of the strongest episodes of the season.