The Americans Review: “The Deal”

(Episode 2.05)

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

Philip and Elizabeth took a long night’s journey into day as The Americans immediately picked up where it had left off last week.

It turns out that Anton the scientist was rescued by Mossad agents, and now Philip is stuck babysitting the one that didn’t get away while the Russian and the Israeli governments negotiate a trade—the scientist for the Mossad agent. A stoic Philip is emotionally taunted by the Mossad agent. “I hide what I do. I don’t hide who I am,” he tells Philip. In one particularly humiliating moment, Philip must wipe the man’s bottom.

Later after the trade is made and the scientist is being exfiltrated back to Russia, Philip is once again faced with the reality of what he is doing. Anton begs Philip to wait three months to send him back to Russia so that he may be present for his son’s Bar Mitzvah in three months. “You’re a monster. You’re not a man,” he tells Philip. “No feeling. No humanity. You may as well be dead.” Philip has always been the one who is less wholly committed to the cause, but to exist he must deny the true horror of what he does. Now he’s faced with two men who leave him no place to hide and two men he cannot kill to silence.

But it’s Elizabeth who faces the real indignity. She dons the disguise of Clark’s sister, “Jennifer,” to go and try to calm down an increasingly incensed Martha. Over several bottles of wine, Martha tells Elizabeth what an incredible lover Clark is. “In the sack, he just makes me his,” she giddily tells “Jennifer.” Of all the things we’ve seen Elizabeth endure, this to me is the saddest. She, too, had to come face to face with the realities of their lives and the deception which they practice on a daily basis. Keri Russell was fabulous in this scene. The subtle flashes of pain that crossed her face were heartbreaking. It’s one thing to tell your husband’s fake wife how much he loves her. It’s quite another to have listen to what a voracious lover he is.

Elizabeth also manages to get what she needs from poor, unsuspecting Brad before telling him she can’t see him anymore. It’s interesting that this time Elizabeth was able to get what she needs without completely prostituting herself. And Brad may be her most gullible target, yet. He didn’t even question that she broke up with him immediately after he obtained the personnel files she needed. (As a side note, the time line of this episode was fuzzy. Philip and Elizabeth attempted to kidnap the scientist at night, but when Elizabeth went to see Brad it looked more like dusk. I think we are supposed to think all this action happened in one night, but it didn’t quite track.)

Oleg continues to be up to no good. As Stan and his team try to locate Anton, Oleg purposely has Stan follow him to a shipyard where he tells Stan that he knows what Nina is up to and he is the only one who knows. “What can you give me in exchange for Nina’s safety?” he asks a stunned Stan. Is Stan so in love with Nina and so blinded by his devotion to her that he will put his entire operation at risk to protect her?

Oh, and on top of all this, someone is listening in on Martha’s calls and the same person calls Elizabeth under the guise of being the Columbia House Records Club. Is it the CIA? The FBI? Someone else entirely? Does everyone already know Philip and Elizabeth’s secret? Does Stan?
I have more questions than answers right now about The Americans, and that’s exactly how it should be.

Other thoughts on “The Deal”:
—Not sure what to think of Philip and Elizabeth’s new handler, but like Philip, I am currently unimpressed.
—Where exactly is the show going with Sandy’s continuing efforts to find herself? I like Susan Misner quite a bit and would like to see her have more to do then take a walk down ’80s self-help memory lane.
—SO GLAD John Boy was back.

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