NOTE: Since there is a spoiler warning on the front page, you don’t need to bother with rot13 in comments – but please use some boilerplate as your comment’s first para, to prevent spoilers from showing up in “Gifts of Gab” there.
You can even just use the FP excerpt – here it is again, for your copypasta pleasure:
This post will be full of spoilers up to and including the S3 finale of FX’s excellent Cold War spy thriller / family drama / wig-extravaganza, The Americans. Click at your own peril, Comrade.
I am short of time, so this will be a few bullet points.
Here’s the AVClub’s recap of the S3 finale; I’d encourage you to check it out, since it makes the astute observation that the toy Philip is fiddling with as he waits to murder and frame the FBI computer tech is, like Philip has come to feel, a robot (though I wish the reviewer had gone the extra mile and also noted that the robot is red); also, it has a screen shot of the Paige/Elizabeth bathroom scene, which was simply lovely; as I’ve said, this is a show which often does not call attention to its cinematography in the flashy way that, say, Breaking Bad did; but when it does, it goes for broke. Its framing and composition reminds me of a classical religious painting; if anyone knows a specific one that is being referenced, point it out in comments.
I. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Oh, wait, I said that already. But Paige breaking, and telling Pastor Tim what she knows, makes two times the Centre may have radically misjudged the ability of an (American) teen to handle the truth. Paige is breaking differently than Jared did, but she’s breaking all the same.
II. Or, is she? It’s worth remembering, Philip and Elizabeth are NOT truly “The Americans” here – Paige and Henry are. I wonder, with Stan’s newly-elevated profile at work and his friendship with Henry, if the next stage of the game is the children against the parents. As the show has occasionally dipped its toes into something like horror, it would be an interesting (though perhaps difficult to pull off) move if the game from here on out resembles something like The Stepfather, especially as the show has spent three seasons getting us to empathize with Philip & Elizabeth – who, looked at in another light, are moral monsters.
III. Speaking of horror and “monsters”, Philip waiting in a 1983 geek’s apartment to murder and frame the FBI computer tech to save Martha’s bacon, is shot much like a typical “serial-killer” sequence. WE know that Philip is actually in a deep depression (“I feel like shit, all the time”, he tells Yousef; later, he haltingly, abortedly attempts to tell Elizabeth something similar), but without that context he appears bored as he waits to chloroform then stage the hanging of another innocent bystander.
BUT, as he writes the “suicide note” (“I’m sorry. I had no choice.”), we know those are his true thoughts, and start to wonder if his apparent recklessness lately – being the one to actually tell Paige after resisting the idea; forcing the Centre to facilitate Elizabeth’s visit to her mother (“Grow up!” Gabriel snaps at him); preserving Martha’s life well past her time – are actually actions akin to the fabled guilty serial killer who WANTS to get caught, who wants all the lies and violence to end.
IV. It’s an ongoing theory that Pastor Tim may himself be a KGB agent, compartmentalized from P&E so that they do not know this (for that matter, he may not know of them). If he is, that may resolve Paige’s phone call, but further destroy the poor girl. If he’s not, he’s in grave danger. Is her “confession” and their convo covered under clergy privilege? Is the Jennings’ phone monitored by the Centre? I would think so, but on the other hand monitoring their phone might be an unacceptable security risk to the KGB – if the tap were to be discovered by US LEOs for any reason, they might question why the phone of a supposedly average American travel agent family is even worth tapping.
V. I am unclear as to whether Oleg knew exactly how Beeman was going to expose Zinaida – presumably, that tape now means Beeman and/or the FBI have leverage over Oleg, as they could blackmail him with it. Was that always part of the plan, and Oleg decided to risk it because he loves Nina? Or did Beeman screw over Oleg too?
VI. Beeman keeps his job (and even gets some juice with the higher-ups); but Gaad hates him, Aderholt mistrusts him, and Nina is still stuck in Siberia. But Nina’s storyline continues – who IS worth trading for her? Hmmmm….perhaps a certain pair of deep-cover Illegals who happen to be Stan’s neighbors?
VII. I really hope they are not setting up a possible Philip/Sandy Beeman affair. I do like the fact that they keep returning to the est “radical honesty” well – maybe it’s est that blew this whole thing open.
VIII. The neglect of Henry continues apace. Philip doesn’t even bother to call, or go get him, when he gets the message he’s hanging out with Stan again. Philip just wants to go upstairs and listen to the radio for Afghanistan news that might tell him something of his “other” son (but Philip ultimately feels disconnected from that too, trailing off with Yousef when he attempts to use the saving of the lives of Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, as justification for the horrible things he’s done).
IX. “Could you do that? Let me go away forever?” “You would never have to do that.” Oh, Elizabeth honey, you never could read people.
You’re not answering the question she asked you.