The Americans Review: “Stealth”

(Episode 2.11)

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

The Americans has always been a show full of surprises. But the ending of “Stealth” left me stunned.

All this time I’ve been thinking of poor Jared – the teenager whose parents and sister were violently killed—Jared, who didn’t know that his parents were KGB agents. But what if his parents had already indoctrinated Jared into their world before their deaths? Let’s consider the evidence: Kate is meeting with Jared and, as Elizabeth points out, she’s not trying to disguise her appearance. Kate leaves a clandestine note hidden in a toilet paper roll (clever!) with the urgent message, “Get Jared out.” And, perhaps most telling, we know that Emmett and Leanne were willing to use their children on their missions-—something that Elizabeth and Philip never did. If Jared turns out to be a spy-in-training, it will probably be one of my favorite plot twists ever.

There was so much going on in this stellar episode. Larrick finds Kate, and when he realizes she won’t reveal how to find Philip and Elizabeth, he breaks her neck. Philip trails John Skeevers, a dying man (Željko Ivanek in another great guest star turn), to learn critical information about the Stealth technology. Skeevers is so ill, bitter, and downtrodden that he easily gives Philip what he needs.

And Nina’s life gets much more complicated. Interestingly, Philip learns that the FBI knows about Emmett and Leanne not because Nina has turned this information over to the KGB, but from the bug in Agent Gaad’s office. All along, I’ve thought Nina has been hedging her bets and playing both Oleg and Stan until she figures out which one she needs the most.

In another surprising twist, it turns out Oleg really does care for Nina. What I love about Costa Ronin’s cagey performance is that I never really know what Oleg is up to. After Arkady tells him that if Nina does not get Stan to turn over critical Stealth technology, she will be sent back to Moscow and tried for treason. Oleg promptly tells Nina this. “If you don’t think Stan will betray his country for you, you need to run,” he says. I almost wonder if this is why Arkady told him the truth about Nina – he can’t warn Nina, but Oleg can.

Nina is frantic when she meets Stan in their apartment, telling him the KGB knows what she’s been doing. “I will find a way out for you and for me,” he tells her. “Nothing will come between us.” Stan is at a particularly vulnerable place since Sandy has returned home announcing, “Please don’t ask me anything you don’t want to know.” His marriage is truly over. I couldn’t tell if Nina was using her desperation as a ploy to get Stan to turn over classified information, or if she really is ready for him to exfiltrate her. I love that Nina always keeps me guessing.

Meanwhile Elizabeth and Philip are getting nervous. They can’t get in touch with George (the answering service guy has a name!) and Kate is also missing her check-ins. They go to Kate’s apartment and don’t find her but they do find the toilet seat up (a sloppy mistake or a purposeful message left by Larrick?)

Next week will they honor Kate’s dying command to get Jared out? I can’t wait to find out.

Other thoughts on “Stealth:”

•The scene when Kate returns home and knows someone is in her apartment was truly terrifying. Great horror movie-like camera work.
•Nice juxtaposition of Henry interviewing Stan for being a hero as Stan’s loyalty to Nina becomes even stronger.
•It really can’t be said enough what a fantastic character actor Željko Ivanek is. To him there are no small parts—he always makes the most of any time he has on screen.
•“How many illegals are there in the D.C. area?” Excellent question, Agent Gaad.
•Once again, Paige and Elizabeth have an exchange that is most likely familiar to any parent—even ones who aren’t covert operatives. “Can you give me one good reason why?” Paige asks her mother. “Because I’m your mother,” Elizabeth replies.
•The longer the show goes without a major death (I don’t think Kate counts), the more nervous I become.

What did you think of “Stealth?” Do you think Jared is a KGB agent-in-training? Is Nina playing Stan or does she really want out? 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.