The Americans: “Open House”

TV Reviews The Americans
The Americans: “Open House”

Until last week I would have thought the sight of Philip removing teeth from Elizabeth’s mouth with a pair of pliers was the most upsetting thing the show had ever done. But that was before they stuffed a body into a suitcase. Let’s just say The Americans has set the bar very, very high for the gross-out factor this season.

Still, that scene was very distressing and it also showcased what wonderful actors Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are. In a scene without dialogue, Russell said so much with her eyes—pain, sorrow, love, devotion, determination. It was incredibly moving and simultaneously disturbing. I mean, think of the pain killers you get when you get a cavity filled, and Elizabeth only had a swig of alcohol. Shudder.

For the second time this season, Elizabeth was almost caught. Trying to infiltrate the CIA agents assigned to Afghanistan, Philip and Elizabeth attend an open house. They plant bugs in the agent’s office and in his equipment. Only problem is the CIA makes them, and suddenly they’re surrounded by CIA and FBI tails. Lucky for them the CIA wants to follow them to see where they lead them. Elizabeth, who happens to be the one driving, escapes—barely. Philip has to wait at home, having no idea what his wife’s fate might be.
Even though Gabriel tells them it’s far too dangerous, Philip wants to keep trying to get info on their CIA mark. He thinks something is up with the way the agent talks to his babysitter. And perhaps Philip is trying to prove his loyalty, since Paige is still in question. Or maybe Philip’s hoping he’ll get caught. My big prediction for this season remains that Philip will turn on his country and become a double agent.

The Paige thing is becoming a bit repetitive, with no sides changing their mind and Philip continuing to yell, “She’s 14 years old.” Philip knows that, having been raised in this country, Paige is in no way prepared to be a spy. “She’s not equipped to deal with this,” he screams at Gabriel.

For her part, Paige is suddenly very sanguine about her parents’ constant absence. “I really wish you guys would stop worrying about me,” she tells her dad. This, from the girl who took a bus trip last year to confirm that her mom’s aunt really existed. Something is definitely up with Paige. I’m just not quite sure what.

I don’t know about you, but every time Martha starts pressuring Clark to start a family, I want to scream at her, “Martha stop it! You’re going to get yourself killed.” Meanwhile the new FBI agent who doesn’t know Martha is married is flirting with her quite blatantly.

Elizabeth’s new trainee, Hans, likes stonewashed jeans and Elizabeth. She turns him down so this won’t be another Gregory situation. But the show is spending a lot of time on this new character so I have to think he’ll play a bigger role later in the season.

Oleg’s father orders him home but Arkady tells him he won’t sign the papers unless Oleg wants him to. Oleg decides to stay—who knows what that means for his future, or for Nina’s.
As the hour ends, Stan is suddenly suspicious of the Soviet defector (whose name he still can’t pronounce or remember). She’s giving an interview with Duluth (who we already know is a spy) and her answers are just a little too perfect, a little too rehearsed.

Oh and the inappropriately flirtatious babysitter Philip was so interested in turns out to be the daughter of the head of the CIA’s Afghan group. Perhaps she’ll be their way into the group.

Other thoughts on “Open House:”

• You can tell it was Halloween when the episode was filmed because of all the pumpkins on the doorsteps.

• One of the problems with hiring kid actors is that they grow up. Paige is still 14—the same age that she was last season and Holly Taylor still looks pretty much the same. But Henry—what a growth spurt! We are supposed to assume that not much time has passed, which is a little hard to do since Henry has become a giant seemingly overnight. Plus he’s harboring bikini pictures of Mrs. Beeman—how did he get his hands on those?

• A little nod to how excessive Elizabeth thinks American culture is—she doesn’t want to get Paige a bracelet and a bike for her birthday and grimaces at all the toys that are present in the open house.

• For the record, stonewashed jeans are a definite “no.”

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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