The Americans Has Become an Incredible Show Filled with Utter Despair

(Episode 4.11, “Dinner for Seven”)

TV Reviews The Americans
The Americans Has Become an Incredible Show Filled with Utter Despair

We are all going to need therapy when this season of The Americans wraps up. Seriously.

The show has gone from the nail-biting tension of the first half of the season, to the utter despair and sadness that is permeating the back-half of this season. All this time I’ve been curious about the long con Elizabeth has been pulling on Young-Hee and Don. Finally we learn what it is. “Peggy” tells Don she’s pregnant and then her “family” (including an incognito Philip and Gabriel) visits Don at his office telling him that Patty committed suicide. They want money from Don. He needs to go to the bank to get it, leaving Patty’s “father” (Gabriel) and “mother” to thoroughly search his office.

What horrible people come up with these plans? Think about it—they have to pick the person with the right combination of vulnerability and guilt, and then set up an elaborate scheme that takes months to pull off. And the kicker? The whole thing might have been for naught! They didn’t even find the freakin’ level 4 codes in Don’s office. Elizabeth destroyed two people’s lives and the KGB didn’t even get what they needed.

The scene that killed me was when a distraught Elizabeth calls in to listen to her message from devastated Young-Hee. Elizabeth is so sad that she even seeks counsel from Pastor Tim. Keri Russell’s performance is so nuanced. Is she turning to Pastor Tim because she truly finds comfort in his words? Or is this one more way to endear herself to the man who poses the greatest danger to her family? A little bit of both? I would think Elizabeth herself doesn’t even truly understand her motivations.

When Elizabeth and Philip aren’t busy ruining lives, they invite Pastor Tim and Alice over for dinner—another move in the “keep your enemies” closer strategy. Pastor Tim feels bad that his wife threatened them, so won’t a nice pot roast smooth things over? Except Stan shows up and invites himself for dinner. I love this version of Stan—the lonely divorcee who is just looking for a home-cooked meal and someone to talk to. Pastor Tim is visibly shocked to learn that the Jennings’ next door neighbor is an FBI agent. “We lived here first for a long time,” Elizabeth tells Pastor Tim later.

Both Stan and Elizabeth are becoming unraveled. Increasingly talking out of turn, Stan tells Philip that his old boss was killed and that he knows the KGB did it. Stan cuts all ties with Oleg, referencing the time when he killed Vlad as retaliation for the death of his partner Chris Amador. “I don’t want you on my conscience too,” he tells Oleg. At this point, how will Stan even survive learning the truth about Philip? He’s the reason Gaad’s dead. If he hadn’t told Philip that Gaad was in Thailand, Gaad would still be alive. The way this series rolls, I feel like Stan could have a nervous breakdown.

Through it all, Elizabeth is still trying to train Paige, explaining to her that the fact that Pastor Tim and Alice feel bad works in their favor. After Elizabeth picks up Paige from the soup kitchen, they are confronted outside by two men (looking like they came straight out of central casting under the heading “bad news”). Elizabeth fights them both off seemingly killing one. This is such sloppy work by her. Pastor Tim knows she was there and might be able to connect the dead man to the woman he knows is a KGB agent. Elizabeth is well trained. Surely she could have scared off her attackers without killing one of them. But she is becoming unhinged. Plus now Paige has seen what her mother is truly capable of. Will she ever believe her again, when she claims that she and her father don’t hurt people? Elizabeth has shown her full hand. There’s no going back.

Stray observations:

I’m assuming the KGB put some sort of obituary for “Patty” into the paper, right?

I love that Alice is shocked that Elizabeth cooks dinner, because I feel exactly the same way. Even I don’t have time to cut up fresh vegetables every night.

“That you’re out on a limb and you’ve handed me a saw.” That Pastor Tim does have a way with words.

Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal ®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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