The Americans Review: "Covert War" (Episode 1.11)

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<i>The Americans</i> Review: "Covert War" (Episode 1.11)

“This isn’t going to end well for you, old lady.”

I know it’s only April, but that line will be hard to beat as TV quote of the year.
In “Covert War,” the CIA takes the fight to Moscow, killing Zhukov, the man who recruited Elizabeth. Elizabeth wants revenge. Claudia tells her she can’t have it, but not before telling her a CIA officer named Richard Patterson was in charge of the operation.

Filled with rage, Elizabeth defies orders and comes up with a plan to destroy Patterson. She learns his routines and that he has a weakness for the ladies. This is where the show lost me a little bit. A high-ranking CIA operative wouldn’t be suspicious of a woman who comes on to him so strongly and knows the music he likes and his affection for crossword puzzles? It was lazy writing that got the show where it needed to go without really making sense. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense that Elizabeth wouldn’t kill the CIA guy after he knows exactly what she looks like (She’s not Clark Kent. The wig and the glasses don’t disguise that much). Would the speech he gave to Elizabeth really be that upsetting?

By the end of the episode, Elizabeth realizes that Claudia wanted her to kill Patterson so she would be shipped back to Moscow for disobeying direct orders. Now Elizabeth is fighting battles on all fronts—against the United States, against her own agency and against her husband.

I do fear the show is already getting repetitive with Elizabeth and Philip. She goes to his hotel room, ostensibly to tell him to come back home only to find out that he’s already rented an apartment. But Elizabeth is too proud to tell Philip that she made a mistake and she wants him back in the house. Somehow, on a show about spies and political intrigue, their relationship has devolved into a will-they-or-won’t-they romance.

And honestly, enough already with Martha. I simply cannot take how pathetic she is. The scene where she excitedly introduces “Clark” to her parents was painful to watch. I accepted long ago that things are not going to end well for Martha. The show needs to get to it already.

Susan Misner, who has been made a series regular next season, did amazing work in this episode. In a moment of clarity, Sandy realizes it’s not Stan’s career that is keeping him away from his family. “The only bad guy here is you, Stan,” she tells him. Stan is bewildered by Sandy’s actions. It is as if up until this point, he had never really considered the impact his behavior was having on his family. He is a stranger in his own family—not understanding why his teenage son is wearing makeup or where his wife’s wrath is coming from. He tries to break things off with Nina. It’s his wife’s discovery of his adultery that makes him call off the affair and not the all kinds of wrong it is for him to be sleeping with an informant.

After having the back-to-back deaths of Amador and Gregory, this episode felt somewhat uneventful with the willing suspension of disbelief being stretched more than usual. Perhaps the hour was a necessary placeholder to give viewers a break before the final two episodes of the season.

Other thoughts on “Covert War”:
• It’s nice to know that amid all the covert KGB spy work, Elizabeth has time for a night of dancing and drinking.
• Keri Russell looked like she just stepped off the set of Felicity in those flashback scenes. I seriously need to invest in whatever moisturizer she uses.
• With her promotion, Nina now knows that the KGB has planted a bug in Casper Weinberger’s office. Will she tell Stan this information? I’m thinking not until she needs to use it as leverage.
• I loved Elizabeth marveling at how all three-year-olds have to do in America is play.
• Was that a knowing glance between Stan and Agent Gaad when Patterson said it was a couple who kidnapped him? I still believe there’s a chance Stan is playing the long game with his neighbors.