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The Americans Review: "The Oath" (Episode 1.12)

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<i>The Americans</i> Review: "The Oath" (Episode 1.12)

As much as The Americans is about marriage and espionage, it is also the story of two women being used as pawns in the Cold War. Martha and Nina are each being duped by men who claim to care deeply about them. Both of them made big moves in “The Oath.”

Each week, I think there’s no way Martha could become more pathetic, and each week I’m proved wrong. Martha agrees to marry “Clark” who then asks her to place a bug in Agent Gaad’s office. So Martha is going to marry a man who has never met her friends, who she can’t be seen with in public and who can’t even live with her after they get married. There are so many red flags there, but once Clark agrees to have her parents at the ceremony, Martha’s all in. She’s so desperate to be loved that she rushes into a marriage with a man she still doesn’t really know. This whole storyline would have been so much more interesting if Martha wasn’t so utterly gullible. It’s hard to believe any woman would be this stupid. I don’t even pity Martha at this point. I’m just annoyed by her.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Nina, who is always looking out for Nina and constantly seeing who can offer her the best options. She gets yet another promotion (Nina is having one unlikely rise to power) where she must take an oath to her homeland. You can see a flicker of guilt as she recites the words, but it’s really once she figures out that Stan murdered Vlad that she goes to her boss and offers to become a double agent.

Meanwhile Caspar Weinberger’s housekeeper Viola can’t live with her guilt any longer. She goes to the FBI and tells them about the bug in the Secretary of Defense’s home office. “Now that we know they’re listening, we’ll know what to say,” Agent Gaad tells Weinberger’s wife. Just in time for next week’s season finale, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union have the enemy’s Intel working for them.

While all this is going on, the series is still trying to make us care about the Jennings’ fake marriage. But frankly I can’t anymore. There’s been too much back and forth with those two already this season. Their looks to each during “Clark’s” marriage and Elizabeth proclamation that the ceremony was “touching” fell flat. I didn’t really buy her speculating that their marriage would have been different if they had exchanged vows and made an oath to each other.

Sanford Prince tells Elizabeth that he has recruited a high ranking air force Colonel who is willing to sell government secrets. Elizabeth and Philip both fear it’s a trap, but Claudia insists that they follow through with the meeting. Once Prince gets arrested for failure to pay child support, Elizabeth is even more convinced that the meeting is a bad idea.
The FBI now has two sketches of the woman they believe to be a KGB illegal living in the United States and working with a male partner—one from the CIA officer Richard Patterson and one from Viola. Stan is convinced that despite how different the sketches appear, they are the same woman. How long before he begins to suspect his neighbors? Maybe he already does. All of the characters have been moved into perfect position for a powerful season finale next week.

Other thoughts on “The Oath”:
• Elizabeth sported some of her most unflattering disguises last night. Who knew it was possible to make Keri Russell unattractive?
• As much as I want to see Elizabeth succeed in the battle against Claudia, I find their exchanges so highly entertaining that I hope Claudia lives to see next season.
• The show spent some time on Paige’s feelings for Matthew. Will that come into play in the season finale?
• There was something so utterly creepy about the way Stan said, “I would never do anything to hurt you. You know that” to Nina.
• Nina’s new position gives her access to the “illegals” living in the United States. How long until she meets the Jennings?

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