The Americans Review: “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow”

(Episode 4.03)

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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow&#8221;

Does Pastor Tim have nine lives?

For the second week in a row he escaped certain death.

Elizabeth and Philip meet with Pastor Tim and, to their horror, learn that he has told his wife about them, and that he’s still considering what to do. He tells them his pastoral duties end where his duty to the greater good begins. But obviously, Pastor Tim doesn’t truly understand what Elizabeth and Philip are. If he did, he would know that he is putting himself in grave danger. He also doesn’t seem to grasp how much trouble he will be in, by withholding this information from the FBI. “Let’s all think about this for a few days and talk again,” he tells them. As I was watching this episode I immediately wrote in my notes “PASTOR TIM IS SO STUPID.” But now that I think about it, what Philip and Elizabeth do is so horrifying, how could Pastor Tim even possibly fathom what they are up to?

But a plan is hatched. Elizabeth and Philip will take the children to EPCOT for the weekend and while they are gone, Pastor Tim and his wife will get into an accident. Philip knows that Paige will figure out what has happened. But Gabriel assures him that “people believe what they want to believe,” and that Paige will never know for sure. Philip wants to go back to Russia. He tells his wife he has an alarm going off inside him that is saying “run, run, run.” But Elizabeth thinks they can’t take their children to a country they don’t know and where they don’t speak the language. Interestingly, neither of them discuss the most obvious choice which would be to defect. Maybe Philip doesn’t bring it up because he knows Elizabeth would never go for that plan. The world weariness Matthew Rhys is bringing to Philip this season is so palpable. You can feel his utter exhaustion at his family’s no-win situation.

Elizabeth is having fun at work. Her latest assignment has her posing as a Mary Kay saleswoman and working a target, Young Hee (Broadway star Ruthie Ann Miles). Why is Young Hee so important? Who will she lead Elizabeth to? I’m looking forward to that reveal.

When Elizabeth and Philip go to see Gabriel, he is barely conscious on the floor in a pool of blood. Apparently he’s been exposed to glanders. They go to meet with William who, after trying to flee, gives them a shot of strong antibiotic. He tells them that for 24 hours they can’t leave Gabriel’s apartment. “Guess we’re not going to EPCOT,” Philip says.

Paige is furious that Pastor Tim has told his wife. She trusted Pastor Tim and he betrayed that trust. She’s not able to hide her anger even after Philip tells her how important it is that she not get mad at Pastor Tim. Paige is so not cut out for this work, and hopefully that is obvious to everyone now.

Philip talks to Sandy about being a little nicer to Stan, given how much he’s been through. Is this Philip just trying to get back on Stan’s good side, or is he really being a friend? What’s so great about Matthew Rhys’ performance is that it’s most likely a little bit of both.

Stan’s suspicions of Martha continue to grow. He’s now following her and realizing that two nights a week she doesn’t come home. He enlists Dennis to try to help him. Stan still doesn’t believe they’ve found the real person who planted the bug in Gaad’s office. “The whole thing with Gene doesn’t sit right,” he tells him. Dennis, who already has an established crush on Martha, tells Stan he won’t help him, but he will take Martha to dinner. The walls are definitely closing in on Martha. She needs to come up with a plan. Stat.

EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a slight variation of the episode title. As Philip and Elizabeth contemplate visiting the community of tomorrow, everyone’s future is bleak.

Stray observations:

I still think Nina is up to something. Do you?

Claudia is back! It is always so great to see Margo Martindale.

Anyone want to take bets on how many more episodes Pastor Tim can survive?

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.