The Americans Thread: He Was Nobody. We Were All Nobodies.

Thus spake Gabriel in a scene with Philip. Crossbreed is one of the best episodes in series history. It’s a perfect jumping off point for the rest of the season. The producers should immediately send a DVD of this episode to Emmy voters. It’s past time for Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, and Frank Langella to win Emmys on the awards show I do not watch. The Oscars are bad enough even if this year’s ceremony had a boffo ending as did Crossbreed. OMFG as the kids say.

I wonder if I’m the only viewer whose favorite character is Gabriel. Crossbreed is very Gabriel-centric, which is why I enjoyed it so much. There’s even a major plot twist involving him but we’ll save that for after the break. Frankly, I don’t watch to spoil so much Langella deliciousness. See you on the other side.

I’ve been wanting to work this 1984 Cars tune into an Americans recap since the beginning of the season. There’s no time like the present:

I hope Paige sang this song at the Mary Kay lady when she came to the door. Elizabeth gave her the bum’s rush because the whole Mary Kay thing reminded her of Young Hee. She was the only friend Elizabeth made during the series but it was all to get close to her husband for spytegic reasons. Elizabeth stakes out Young Hee’s house and sees that a new family lives there. I bet that her guilt-ridden husband confessed his sins to her even though nothing happened. He thinks something happened, which is the beauty of the honeypot scam to your average spymaster.

Gorp Guy Lives: I got something wrong last week. I thought we’d seen the last of Ebrenda playing Topeka-boo with Gorp Guy. Wrong. Gabriel wants that strain of wheat for the Soviet steppes even if Elizabeth has to step up and do Tai Chi with Gorp Guy to obtain it. Actually, she seems to be warming to the task now that she knows that, in Gabriel’s phrase: “Stobert just wants to end world hunger. Like Miss America.”

I see signs of Elizabeth becoming attached to Gorp Guy much like her relationship with Gregory back in seasons one and three. There’s a huge difference: Gregory was a committed communist who knew who and what Elizabeth really is. As far as Gorp Guy knows, Ebrenda is a “shallow” fashionista. This bears watching.

Meanwhile In Mother Russia: Mischa takes a plane ticket from the KGB and returns home without meeting his spy daddy. I momentarily panicked that he was headed to the gulag but we learned from Gabriel that the KGB got his job back. I am reasonably certain that we’ll see Mischa again. This is not enough pay-off for a story line  they’ve devoted so much time to. Patience is the watchword for longtime viewers of The Americans.

Oleg and his glum partner nail their target in the food corruption investigation. He’s the middleman and, while he’s willing to describe the process, he’s unwilling to rat out those who pay him off. That can only mean that someone in the Politburo is involved in the food scam. It may be multiple somebodies including Borov the Elder who lives in a flat that’s straight out of Red Architectural Digest.

We’ll get back to Oleg at the end of the post. It’s time to move on to my favorite character.

Going Out With A Bang: Not literally but Gabriel informs his spy chirren that he’s leaving Washington and returning home. He’s burned out by the awesome responsibility of being a spymaster in enemy territory. Regrets he has a few: sending Mischa home without meeting Philip and lying to Philip about it.

His handling of the Jennings has been nothing short of masterful. He’s been tough when necessary but it’s always softened by his silky smooth voice and kind eyes. We see Gabriel visiting the Lincoln Memorial at night when it’s at its most spectacular. He’s on record as admiring Lincoln who, like Tsar Alexander II, freed the slaves. I suspect, however, that Gabriel is unlikely to cop to liking the serf-freeing Tsar. That could lead to a trip to the gulag, speaking of which:

Gulag Memories: Philip has always wondered why he and his brother were hated back home in Tobolsk. Wondering if it has anything to do with his father, he asks Gabriel. It turns out that his father was not a logger but a guard at a penal camp. He presses Gabriel for details but the world-weary spymaster says that’s all he knows. It was then that Gabriel said: “He was nobody. We were all nobodies.” He was, however, KGB like his son.

The Americans often deals in extreme subtlety but the parallel between what Mischa was told about Philip being a travel agent and Philip’s mother’s story about his father being a logger is as subtle as a flying mallet, which was a 1975 Dave Edmunds album for those keeping score. It is still effective. Lying was built into the Soviet system and it was imperative for spooks.

I’m about to go on a bit more about parallels. That calls for a musical interlude from 1977:

Lay Your Hands On Me: The end of Crossbreed runs on parallel tracks to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s Lay Your Hands On Me. It’s a song about trust and healing; qualities in short supply in the world of The Americans.

In Moscow, Oleg goes to the roof of the family’s swanky building. His mission is to destroy all traces of his contacts with the CIA. It’s the second time the show has used a Peter Gabriel song as the soundtrack ta KGBer burning evidence; in this instance, it’s a cassette tape. Remember those?

In Washington, we see Philip and Elizabeth taking Paige to a familiar neighborhood. It’s the safe house wherein her spy grandaddy Gabriel lives. We see Gabriel smiling his Cheshire cat smile. That’s the end of the episode and it packed a mighty emotional wallop.

We’re not sure exactly *why* the Jennings take Paige to meet Gabriel. It could be to honor his departure. Or it could be the first stage in Paige’s recruitment as an agent. Stay tuned.

The last word goes to the Other Gabriel. Peter Gabriel, that is: