Hunger was the main theme of the third episode of The Americans. We heard Tuan the Vietnamese commie kid’s story about eating “garbage off the streets” back home and saw a flashback to Philip’s time as a hungry Russian lad. I was half-way worried that this bloke would knock on my door:
It could be worse. Simon Le Bon Bon might be there with Duran Duran:
That’s the last wolf song for now. I promise, promise.
I almost needed a snack after watching the episode, but resisted because I was afraid that Aussie Midges had invaded my fridge. Oh yeah, The Midges is the buggy title of this pestiferous episode. As far as I know, they have nothing to do with Patricia Hitchcock’s character in Strangers On A Train…
I’m still trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll send you to the break with the song they played as Philip and Elizabeth packed a corpse into a rental car. (It’s not the first time they’ve done that, so how can it be a spoiler?) I’d hate to be the guy who rented that ride after them. It Hertz just thinking about it.
Those flames in the video were a bit too close to Bryan Ferry’s trousers for comfort. I had a brief Satan Is Real flashback, y’all. That Satanic flashback was healed by Andy Mackay’s soaring saxophone. Andy heals everything.
Now that I’ve gone on about Roxy Music, let’s drill into the details of the best family spy drama on telly. It may be the only one but I doubt you le Carre about that. We begin with a recurring segment:
Parenting KGB-style: Philip and Elizabeth decide it’s time to tell their Christian do-gooder kiddo about the wheat mission. Surely Paige wouldn’t approve of starving people Back in the USSR. The Ukraine girls would never forgive her…
Paige is appalled by the poisoned wheat story but also about the idea that her parents assume false identities and lie to their targets. It’s one reason they haven’t told her about Martha even though Philip has revived his Clark wig for his fake airline pilot dude persona.
Later in the episode, Paige tells Mommie Dearest about a chat she had with Matthew Beeman. She deployed THE TECHNIQUE and lied with ease. It was a white Russian lie but Paige remains uncomfortable with such subtleties. They should assign some spy novels to her: John le Carre, of course. Smiley’s People would be a good place to start since Russia House isn’t out yet. Her parents really should stop Russian things. I should apologize for that pun but I’m Stalin for time…
Speaking of gangly blonde Beeman men, Stan has a relatively small role in the episode so the next segment will be mercifully short unless it isn’t.
Aeroflot Flop: Aderholt and Stan draw a Beeman on a Russian dude who works for the state airline, Aeroflot. That’s not as odd as it sounds since it was a KGB spy nest. That could explain the bad food on Aeroflot. Our intrepid counter-spooks approach the Russian guy at a diner. I’m not sure if it’s a Greek diner but it’s certainly possible although the cook wasn’t yelling at the servers…
The counter-spooks spooked their target so he lammed out of there leaving a plate of untouched food on the counter. Aderholt helped himself. Stan was appalled but should not have been given that their next approach was in a pissoir. They struck out again. They oughta know that men don’t like talking in the bathroom. The Russian guy’s lip remain zipped.
Let’s take a quick trip to snowy old Moscow and meet:
Oleg Borov: Food Detective- Oleg is trying to do his job while dodging the CIA who keep dogging him. He visited a food shop that is suspected of corruption. But the shelves were as empty as Breznhev’s soul. The manager did have some edible looking tangerines, which made Oleg suspicious until she broke out in a chorus of My Darling Clementine. I made that last bit up but it might sound pretty darn swell in Russian.
Brief Encounter: As Oleg left the store, we caught a brief glimpse of Martha checking out the shelves. She was dressed like a babushka and looked pale and depressed. My reaction was relief that the KGB didn’t whack her instead of taking her to Moscow. I wonder if she has to live with other spies since only elites like the Borovs have their own cribs. There might even be a Spies Club where she rubs shoulders with Kim Philby. I somehow doubt that but I’m forever in search of mashups.
Speaking of mashups, I’m not sure if we’ll see Martha again. It may depend on whether she gets fired by Robert Aldrich in Feud: Bette and Joan. Zinging Baby Jane could be hazardous to one’s health.
The Curious Case Of The Yugoslavian Mule: Philip’s spook son, Mischa, is trying to flee the Iron Curtain. Yugoslavia is a good place to be when it’s time to flee. Uh oh, this 1984 thing is giving me Jesse Jackson flashbacks.
Mischa meets a guy who *may* help him leave Titoville. I’m a bit skeptical since all the Yugoslavian Mule seemed interested in was Mischa’s money.
My hunch is that Mischa’s spook daddy quest will continue for the rest of the penultimate season of The Americans. They’re going all Game of Thrones on us. I’m uncertain if that makes Mischa Arya or Jaime the king-slayer. Stay tuned.
Let’s join Cowboy Philip and Cowgirl Elzabeth on a trip to Oklahoma. I think the Other Oscar’s lyrics need a wee rewrite to work with this buggy episode:
Ooook-lahoma, where the bugs come sweepin’ down the plainAnd the poisoned wheat can sure smell sweetWhen the wind comes right behind the rain.
Flashlights in hand, our dynamic KGB duo finds bug-filled aquariums (terrariums?) in the dark lab. They’re interrupted by a Bug Geek named Randy Chilton who claims to be a mere lab tech. He lied like a KGB parent. He was actually the deputy lab director. He claimed to know nothing and ended up as a dead Bug Geek after Philip snapped his neck like a pretzel.
The closing line of The Midges is a classic. Philip asked Elizabeth, “Should we tell Paige about this?”
Everybody’s either a smart ass or a liar. In fact, I told a wee fib earlier. I promised no more wolf songs. I’m breaking that promise with the kinda sorta title track of the classic 1984 Los Lobos album. In short, I’m giving the wolves the last word.