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The Americans Review: “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

(Episode 3.09)

TV Reviews The Americans
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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?&#8221;

I used to work at a non-profit. It was a start-up where everyone was overworked and underpaid. There were times when the amount of work that had to be done was overwhelming. Often I would look at everyone and say (half) jokingly, “This is all too much. I need to lie down on the floor.”

That’s how I felt while watching this week’s episode of The Americans. It’s all too much. I need to lie down on the floor. Where to begin? Let’s start with Martha, who seems to have gone all in for a penny, in for a pound on the treason thing. She’s making pasta for Clark while dropping hints that the mail robot is out for repairs and Agent Gaad is on the brink of losing it. So Martha knows Clark is a spy of some kind, but still doesn’t get that her entire marriage is a sham. She just thinks Clark is the spy who loves her. “I just needed to know and now I do,” she tells Clark. But what does Martha really know? I’m still hoping that she’s playing the long game with Clark. Doing what she has to to survive, while confessing what she’s done to Agent Gaad, but I doubt it. There’s a reason Philip trusts her.

For his part, Philip would really like to keep Martha alive. “It’s only normal that you’ve developed feelings for Martha. I understand,” Elizabeth tells him.

Elizabeth tells Hans that they can no longer work together because Todd (the student they kidnapped last week) knows what he looks like. Hans then kills Todd in a graphic—and by his admission “messy”—way. He’s doing what he has to do so he and Elizabeth can keep working together. My theory—Elizabeth told Hans this, knowing he would kill Todd. That way she gets points with Philip for sparing his life, while still not letting Todd live.

Because Elizabeth is that cold and calculating! Which brings us to the episode’s most shattering sequence. The Centre gives Philip and Elizabeth the orders to bug the mail robot. When they go to do this, Elizabeth finds Betty (Lois Smith), who has come to the office at night to pay the bills. She clearly reminds Elizabeth of her own mother, but Elizabeth does what she has to do and kills her. Smith is a fantastic actress and she nailed her scenes with Keri Russell. The look of horror on Betty’s face when she realizes that there’s no way she’s getting out of this situation alive is devastating. Also Betty is so not buying what Elizabeth is selling about the ends justifying the means—that killing her will make the world a better place. “That’s what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things,” she tells Elizabeth.
Oleg and Stan, not knowing that Nina might not need saving after all, hatch a plan to get Zinaida to confess to being a spy. The plan doesn’t work, but does result in a bump on the head for Stan and the two unlikely allies sharing a beer. Their plans seems flawed in general though. Why did Oleg have to beat up Stan as part of the plan? It just makes Stan look incompetent.

At the end of the episode, Gabriel asks Philip what’s wrong which sends him over the edge. “The problem is you Gabriel and all this talk,” he tells him before adding, “And now my job is to look out for my family because no one else will.” For Philip, family always comes first and now that he’s made that point exceedingly clear to Gabriel, I fear for Philip’s safety. And for Martha’s. And for Paige’s.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go lie down.

Other thoughts on “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep:”

• Can’t remember if I’ve said this before, but I so don’t want to play Words with Friends with Gabriel.
• Week three without Kimmy. Interesting.
• “How much longer? “I’m trying Elizabeth.” I love this exchange because it’s reminiscent of a typical conversation any husband and wife could have.
• We’re getting much more insight this season into how much Paige must take care of Henry. She knows how he’s affected if he doesn’t get enough sleep. But do his parents?


Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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