The Americans Review: “Martial Eagle”

(Episode 2.09)

TV Reviews The Americans
Share Tweet Submit Pin
<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Martial Eagle&#8221;

Philip is unravelling.

In the final scene of tonight’s episode, Philip goes to see Pastor Tim, the man who runs the church Paige has been spending all her time at and giving all her money to. Philip is a man whose entire cover is being an unassuming American citizen—not making waves, not drawing attention to himself, being likable yet forgettable. Yet there he was in the Pastor’s office not so subtly threatening him. And, honestly, I didn’t know if Philip was going to kill him or burn the church down or possibly both. That Philip cannot contain his festering anger and pain is going to be a real problem.

What finally seems to have sent Philip over the edge was killing three people when he and Elizabeth infiltrated that Contra training camp. Elizabeth shoots two men without hesitation. But Philip tries to quiet the man who finds him before being forced to slit his throat. When they return to free the sanitation worker they left bound and gagged, he’s already dead. Even when Philip tries not to kill someone, he doesn’t succeed.

When Elizabeth tries to comfort him, he tells her, “I don’t need the speech. I know it’s war. It’s just easier for you.” His despair is spilling into all areas of his operative life. He lets Martha hear the doctored tape of Gaad and Stan discussing how unattractive she is, but he is unable to have sex with her. Maybe it’s all part of his ploy to get her to do more spy work? But maybe not. Didn’t Gaad move out of his office already? Will Martha question the timing of everything and become suspicious?

When Elizabeth and Philip confront Paige about the fact that she’s given $600 to the church, she accuses her parents of not helping anyone. “You respect Jesus but not us?” Philip seethes. What I love about these scenes is they ring true of any parent/teen conflict—even without the whole KGB spy undercurrent. Paige accuses her dad of lying. Has Paige figured out more than we know?

All the major story lines this season begin to converge as Stan investigates a Department of Defense meeting that took place in Virginia and begins questioning all the participants, including Fred Timbrook, the man who was handled by Emmett and Leanne and who told Philip where to find the faulty propeller plans. When Stan learns that the triple homicide took place the same weekend as the meeting, he begins to get suspicious and combs through all the police evidence of that investigation.

To my memory, this is the first episode this season where we didn’t see the Russian embassy at all—no Nina, no Oleg and just one scene with Arkady. Without Nina around, Stan does seem to be able to think more clearly. When Stan tells one Department of Defense employee that the KGB are masters at “exploiting weaknesses,” you almost wonder if he having a bit of self-realization. Nina is obviously his weakness.

Sandra, who has been ensconced in self-help paraphernalia all season, tells Stan she’s going away for the weekend with a man she’s emotionally connected with during EST. “You’re telling me you’re going to have an affair,” Stan asks incredulously. “Go ahead, and tell me you’re not having an affair,” she replies. Stan wonders if Sandra is leaving him, but she says no, she’s not going to make it that easy for him. But she’s also not going to wait around for Stan to leave her. His obsession with Nina could end his marriage and his career.

Agent Gaad has a face-to-face meeting with Arkady in a coffee shop where he tells Arkady that if he loses his job, he will make Arkady’s life very, very difficult. I seriously love Agent Gaad. Richard Thomas continues to give such a fantastic performance.

Other thoughts on “Martial Eagle”:
—Oliver North shares a “story by” credit for tonight’s episode. If you don’t know who North is, it will make me feel too old to explain it to you.
—In general, I’m suspicious of Pastor Tim. He claims he never would have taken Paige’s money if he didn’t think it was okay with her parents, but what adult wouldn’t wonder about a teenager giving away $600?
—Sandra was listening to Dr. Ruth—another nod to the ’80s. This show is like the dark bizarro version of ABC’s The Goldbergs. That show has Pac Man and The Goonies, The Americans has the Cold War and Dr. Ruth.
—So we made it through episode nine without a major death, but I’m nervous about the rest of the season. I have to think not everyone will live to season three. Should we start placing bets on who is going to die?
—We only saw Larrick briefly, but we know he’s not pleased by what happened at the Contra training camp. This does not bode well.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Americans? Who do you think is going to die this season? Do Martha and Paige know more than they’re telling us? 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.