The Americans Review: “Stingers”

(Episode 3.10)

TV Reviews The Americans
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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Stingers&#8221;

Before I get to this week’s review I just wanted to have a quick chat with my editor.
Shannon is it okay if my review this week is just two words?

Holy Sh*%!

Oh, you would like for me to expand upon that thought a little more? Okay I’ll try, but I’m still pretty speechless.

Paige knows the truth. I repeat. This is not a drill. Paige knows the truth. What’s amazing to me is that the Paige reveal is something that’s been brewing since the show’s premiere. The first season ended with Paige going to the laundry room to check to see if her mom really had been doing laundry as she claimed. Last season Paige planned an unannounced visit to the “aunt” Elizabeth stayed with. In this episode she popped into the travel agency to see what her parents were doing. The entire third season has been about Elizabeth and Philip fighting over whether Paige should know the truth and be recruited to become a second generation KGB agent.

But still, the moment was utterly shocking. Perhaps it’s because after all the hand-wringing Philip has been doing this season about revealing the truth to Paige, in the end the decision wasn’t up to him at all. Paige forced the issue and her parents had nowhere to hide. “Do you love me,” she asked? “Then tell me the truth,” she demanded. “I’m not stupid. I know there’s something going on.” She listed off her theories which included that her parents were drug dealers or in the Witness Protection Program (both excellent guesses on Paige’s part).

And then Philip and Elizabeth somehow silently agreed they would come clean. Perhaps Philip was doing it out of love for Paige, and Elizabeth for the cause, but they both knew the time had come. They told her they were born in the Soviet Union and that “we work for our country getting information. Information they couldn’t get in other ways.” Slowly Paige puts it all together—her parents are spies. “If you do tell anyone we would go to jail for good,” Philip tells her. I fear a lot worse things would happen if Paige told Pastor Tim or anyone else the truth. Her parents warn her that she can’t even tell Henry. I remember how hard it was not to tell my younger sister when I learned the truth about Santa Claus. This is much worse.
Paige does the only reasonable thing and takes to her bed. Because, like I was feeling last week, it was all too much. She needed to lie down. For their part Philip and Elizabeth know there’s nothing they can do now that Paige knows. “We go to work. We hold our breath,” Philip says. Interestingly, neither alerts Gabriel that all has been revealed.

My absolute favorite scene came at the end, when Stan comes over for dinner and we see the look on Paige’s face as she puts it all together. Her spy parents live next door and are “friends” with an FBI agent—their friendship with Stan is a lie. Suddenly Paige is in cahoots on her parents’ deception. I cannot say enough good things about how amazing Holly Taylor was in this episode. She has a long career ahead of her.

The Paige reveal dwarfed everything else that happened. It almost seems inconsequential that Zinaida Preobrazhenskaya is actually a spy and not an innocent defector. That Stan might actually be the one to figure out that Martha placed the bug in Agent Gaad’s pen. That Nina is moving closer to getting the scientist to trust her. That Gabriel keeps using Philip’s son as a pawn. And that Kimmie was back, but it was the best case scenario for Philip.

The Americans was renewed for a fourth season this week. Thank goodness. There are only three more episodes left this season and we still have a lot of ground to cover.

I leave you with one final thought: PAIGE KNOWS THE TRUTH.

It’s going to take me a while to recover from this one.

Stray Observations:

• Some wonderful scenes between Stan and Henry this week. I loved Stan inappropriately sharing his feelings on his divorce.
• Also I feel that special mention must be made of Henry’s Eddie Murphy impression.
•Just going to say it again—I don’t trust Pastor Tim. He’s the one who gave Paige the courage to confront her parents, but were his motives altruistic?
• Nice use of Tootsie, a movie about a man who also deceives those around him.

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