Guest Review The Americans

The Americans 6×09 – Jennings, Elizabeth

“We do not want you to lose who you are.”

The Americans.jpg

There’s only one episode left, and it still amazes me how The Americans is balancing plot advancement with character development effortlessly this season.

Things are Topsy-Turvy

Even though we’re very close to the end, seeing Stan get in contact with Pastor Tim and questioning him about the Jennings is still one of the most jaw-dropping moments of the show so far. This, topped only by Philip’s sudden run at the end of the episode, makes for an anxiety-inducing sequence that can only mean trouble for Philip and Elizabeth.

Too Topsy-Turvy?

It’s appropriate that The Americans goes incredibly dark and depressing in its penultimate episode giving that the show’s general tone has always been on par with Breaking Bad’s (bear with me just one more time as I continue to compare both shows).

However, it does seem suspiciously convenient that all the domino pieces have started to topple off each other at the same time when we had quite a few number of slow-burn episodes over the years, including a highly disappointing fifth season. In Jennings, Elizabeth alone, Elizabeth kills Tatiana (in public, in broad daylight too!), Oleg is captured, and Claudia and Elizabeth get into an irrevocable fight. Every one of those plot points is executed to near perfection, particularly Margo Martindale’s flawless and Emmy-worthy performance during her one-on-one with Keri Russell, but there’s so much destruction going on all of a sudden, making this season seem more in line with The Amazing Race and less consistent with previous seasons.

Russell, Keri

I probably sound like a broken record, but there’s no denying that Russell delivers a noteworthy and one of her best work yet this week. Whether the show is traveling back in time to her younger Russian days through haunting flashbacks, which perfectly mirror Paige’s current state of mind, or struggling to fight against her more human emotions (she packed the wedding rings!), Russell absolutely owns the character. For instance, take the script’s lousy explanation behind Elizabeth coming clean to Claudia about the failed mission. In the hands of a lesser actor, it’s tough to accept this sudden move from a skilled Russian spy; however, Keri Russell (and by extension, Margo) has proven over the years just how close Elizabeth and Claudia are, whether it’s with one simple look or a nice gesture such as letting her save her own skin as things go south.

And things are going south, alright. Judging by the final scene, it seems that the Jennings are about to escape (or attempt to, at least), and if that’s not an excellent way to kick off the final episode of the series, I don’t know what is.

Bits in Disguise

– What an incredibly powerful teaser. Not a single line of dialogue and yet still chilling nonetheless.

– Are you #TeamElizabeth or #TeamPaige? It’s hard to blame either party, especially after hearing Elizabeth’s side of things and how she was born, but I can’t help but think “poor Paige” every time she’s on screen.

– With that said, their exchange is one of the most captivating scenes of the season and exactly why this show is unlike anything else on television (read it entirely below).

– Are we going to see Henry at all in the series finale? I’d be quite disappointed if we don’t.

– One of my favorite lines of the show so far is Paige snapping at Elizabeth and telling her that, looking back, a part of her always “knew”. How heartbreaking.

Quips from the Motherland

Elizabeth: If you knew me, you’d know never to lie to me.
Claudia: The work you put in, the sacrifices you made. Our time with Paige. It was all for nothing, Elizabeth. You destroyed it all today. The damage you’ve done is indescribable. Far worse than all the good you’ve done over these years.

Claudia (to Elizabeth): What’s left for you now? Your house? Your American kids? Philip?

Paige: Looking back, I’ve always known, Mom. Every time, every lie, my whole life. And I know now.
Elizabeth: I had nothing to do with that boy.
Paige: No wonder Dad can’t stand to be in the same room with you.
Elizabeth: Excuse me?
Paige: You lie about everything. How many times? How many men? Were you doing this when I was a baby? You’re a whore! Does Dad know he married a whore?
Elizabeth: Stop it!
Paige: Why? You don’t want to know the truth? The truth is that moment you told me who you really are, I should have done what Henry did Get as far away from you as possible.
Elizabeth: That’s enough! It doesn’t mean anything to me. I wasn’t brought up like you were. I had to fight. Always. For everything. People were killed, they died, all around me. If I had to give everything so that my country would survive, so that it would never happen again, I would do it gladly. We were proud to do whatever we could. Sex? What was sex? Nobody cared. Including your father.

Conclusion

An intense and gripping hour of television, and a perfect segue into the show’s final episode.

Chris Rating
A-

2 comments

  1. Though not as intense as Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias, Jennings, Elizabeth is still an effective penultimate episode of the series.

    I was surprised by Claudia’s response to Elizabeth’s betrayal. I thought she would be outright angry or that scene would take a violent turn with Claudia trying to kill Elizabeth only for Elizabeth get to her first. But how went down instead fits in with how their relationship has changed during the three-year period. Claudia’s response was no different from that of a disappointed parent.

    The Elizabeth-Paige scene was painful to watch. But it needed to happen. Elizabeth couldn’t conceal certain aspects of spy work from her daughter forever. I am curious to see the fallout in the series finale. And Henry will be a part of the final episode. I think it was mentioned in the promo that the Jennings are going to New Hampshire after picking up Paige which I believe is where Henry’s school is.

    1. If this was any other show, I would’ve expected Elizabeth to kill Claudia right then and there. Not that this show is predictable, but it’s certainly more subtle than that.

      I’m trying soooo hard not to watch any promos or anything! Still just a couple of days left 😭😭

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