The Americans Review: “Arpanet”

(Episode 2.07)

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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Arpanet&#8221;

Oh that Nina. She’s a survivor.

Nina used the only weapon she believes she has to bring her enemy closer in “Arpanet.” After Oleg helps prep her for Stan’s lie detector test and she passes, we find Oleg and Nina in bed in a swanky hotel room. Does Nina have true feelings for Oleg? I doubt it. She cannot let him find out that she originally betrayed Russia. Making Oleg her lover is her only option, and her game just became that much more dangerous.

“You have no armor. Nothing to protect you except your wit, courage and beauty,” Oleg tells her and, honestly, does Nina need more than that? Kudos to the wonderful Annet Mahendru who is able to simultaneously play Nina’s bravado and vulnerability and make both utterly believable.

Much has been made about how well Oleg and Nina are playing Stan, but Nina is playing Oleg with the same aplomb. With both men, she uses the fear of being murdered to get them to help her. “If I fail this test, they will kill me,” she tells Arkady and Oleg. Now she has both men where she wants them. Oleg is clearly smitten, and Stan is ready to betray his country and turn over the files Oleg wants. He’ll do it to keep Nina safe. “We are together now. Forever yes?” Nina to Stan. Stan’s progression into betraying his country has been so slow and happened in such micro-steps, I’m not even sure Stan is fully aware of what he’s doing. But he’s on a slippery slope of self-destruction.

Kate continues to be the worst handler Elizabeth and Philip have ever had. “You look like a spy in an old movie,” Philip tells her. Their current assignment is to bug the Arpanet technology. “A bug the size of a rat?” Philip says. “Technology is not my strong suit,” she tells Philip. I’m wondering if anything is her strong suit. Clearly, she is completely unable to protect her charges. And in The Americans death pool, I pick Kate as the next to go.

Philip enlists the help of journalist Charles Deluth (returning guest star Reg Rogers) to gain access to the Arpanet technology. Things don’t go according to plan (do they ever?), and when an employee forgets his wallet, Philip kills him. We’ve seen Philip be exceedingly callous many times. But killing this random employee just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, really gets to him. Now he’s killing for a cause he doesn’t even understand. “X’s and O’s on a virtual highway. I don’t even know what that means,” he tells Charles in disgust.

Philip and Elizabeth once again turn to Lucia for help in infiltrating the site where Contra field commanders are being trained. Lucia wants to exact revenge on Captain Larrick, but Elizabeth warns her, “The operation and Larrick are bigger than your wish for revenge. Larrick is a monster, but he’s our monster.” Still Lucia “burns hot,” and Elizabeth is rightly concerned that her volatile, reactionary ways will get them all into trouble.

The menacing Larrick tells Elizabeth he is no longer able to help them because he’s being sent to Nicaragua. But I doubt we’ve seen the last of the “extremely dangerous” Larrick.

Other thoughts on “Arpanet”:
—Henry uses his new telescope not to look at the stars but to spy on his neighbors and learns they are going on vacation. He then breaks into their house so he can finally play the video game he’s been asking for all season. He’s picked up some of his parents’ skills to get what he wants.
—Nina lies for most of the lie detector test. But she answers the truth, looking right at Stan, when asked, “Do you know who killed Vlad?”
—The key to passing a lie detector test? According to Oleg—squeeze your anus. Good to know.
—I don’t think a coffee shop is a great place for an espionage meeting, but that’s just me.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Americans? Do you think Kate is the next to die? Does Nina have real feelings for Oleg? Talk about it below.

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