The Americans Review: “New Car”

(Episode 2.8)

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

Much of this season has been about Philip’s growing disillusionment with the cause. He’s never been as full throttle committed as Elizabeth, and now his resolve is waning. Last week, he killed a man while stealing technology he didn’t even understand.

This week, he learned that the propeller plans he and Elizabeth stole a few weeks ago were fake plans the American government purposely planted. These plans sunk a Russian navy submarine and killed hundreds. “What’s it all for?” Philip wonders.

Prior to this, Philip had taken Henry to buy a brand new white Camaro (because, really, what’s cooler than a white Camaro?) And we got a glimpse of Philip fully embracing American capitalism. He and Henry rocking out in the car as they drove home was one of the most light-hearted scenes the series has ever done. “Don’t you ever enjoy any of this?” Philip asks Elizabeth. “This house. The clothes. All those beautiful shoes.” “It’s nicer here, yes. It’s easier. It’s not better,” Elizabeth tells him.

Now Philip is disillusioned with both the cause and the country he lives in. Toward the end of the episode, he convinces Elizabeth not to kill a sanitation worker they kidnapped to gain access to the Contra training camps. Philip has always been the more compassionate one but, even for him, this decision seems reckless.

Martha is also undergoing a bit of a transformation this season. She’s still rather clueless but no longer as spineless. She tells Philip she no longer wants to spy on her colleagues. “I really like everyone at work. They’re good people. Now that we’re together. I don’t think I should be involved,” she tells him.

Philip’s solution to this is to doctor one of the tapes to make it sound like Stan and Agent Gaad are discussing how ugly Martha is. Martha changes her mind about her ultimatum, and Philip doesn’t need to use the tape. But somehow I still think Martha will eventually hear the tape. And I’m wondering how long she can remain this clueless?

Stan takes the first step towards becoming a double agent and turns over Oleg’s files to him. “We’ve fallen into something together,” Oleg tells Stan. “We’re not anything together,” Stan replies. Stan is in full denial about the gravity of what he’s done. He turns all his attention to eradicating Oleg—seeking permission to access the Department of Justice investigation and clearly trying to figure out a way he can justify killing Oleg.

Nina, for her part, continues to play both men. My take on Nina is she’s working all angles knowing that things could fall either way for her at any time. Arkady warns her that Oleg’s family could be dangerous to her, and I still believe that he’s the biggest threat Nina faces.

Out for revenge, Lucia attacks Larrick in his home and shoots him with a tranquilizer. The only problem, of course, is that Larrick is bigger and stronger than she is. He ties her up, and Elizabeth is called in. She brokers a deal—Lucia’s life in exchange for Larrick being done with the KGB after he provides the password to get onto the Contra training camp and files reports from Nicaragua. But Lucia still attacks Larrick. “It’s either her or me. She’s not going to stop. You choose,” he tells Elizabeth. Of course, Elizabeth chooses the cause over the life of her colleague. True to form, Elizabeth is frustrated by Lucia’s lack of understanding about what’s really important.

The episode ends with Henry, who has been discovered breaking into his neighbor’s house, pleading with his parents. “Once I did it, it seemed so easy to keep doing it,” he says to his parents. Overwhelmed by his guilty conscious, he repeats over and over, “I’m a good person. I swear. I’m good.” The juxtaposition of how Henry feels about his minor transgression versus how Philip and Elizabeth handle what they do on a daily basis is a little heavy-handed, but it still worked.

The Americans, which FX picked up for a third season today, continues to spin an elaborate and intricate tale.

Other thoughts on “New Car”:
—Two weeks with no Paige. Has she joined a cult?
—Martha tells Stan about confidential files being left out in the open. (“I’ve reported it twice.”) And Stan admires Philip’s new car. If only both knew the role they were truly playing in betraying their country and how much they are missing that’s right in front of them.
—Sandy tells Stan about her EST graduation. Stan takes it mean that he has to get dinner for himself. Stan, she wants you to come to the graduation. Seriously how oblivious can you be?
—How many more fake plans have Elizabeth and Philip stolen?
—Chris Amador was killed off in the ninth episode of the season last year. With next week’s episode being the ninth episode of this season, I’m very nervous.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Americans? Has Paige joined a cult? Do you think a major character is going to die next week? If so, who? 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.