The Americans Thread: Gabriel’s Parting Gift

The Committee on Human Rights was something of a letdown after the dizzying heights of last week’s episode, Crossbreed. I, for one, wanted to see more of Paige and Gabriel together. The end of the previous episode led us to believe that there would be more to it than a brief, pleasant, and somewhat cryptic scene. Of course, Gabriel specializes in cryptic pleasantries.

The smile on Frank Langella’s face when he answered Paige’s inquiry as to whether he was a spy made this disappointing scene worthwhile. I wish Gabriel and Paige had burst out in song at the end of it. This would have been my choice:

Hmm, Peggy Lee was very blonde. I wonder if she was KGB? We’ll get to the same questions about Walk Away Renee later in the post.

The Committee on Human Rights is smack dab in the middle of season 5 so we shouldn’t be surprised that it set the table for the rest of the season. Besides, even a fair-to-middling episode of The Americans is better than most dramas. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: patience is the watchword for longtime Americans viewers.

Time for our spoiler break. Try not to cry over spilt Soviet milk as you click below.

More Trouble In Paigeland: Life is confusing and difficult for Paige in 1984. She meets her de facto grandfather who knows everything about her; she didn’t even know he existed before their fleeting meeting. She learns that her favorite stuffed tiger came from him. Elizabeth quoted one of Gabriel’s quasi-Confucian aphorisms about Paige’s first day in school: “You need a pencil, notebook, and a brain. You can buy the first two. She has plenty of the third.”

Paige’s plentiful brain is causing is nothing but anguish at this point. In this episode, he seeks comfort from Pastor Tim, breaks up with Matthew Beeman, and hears her parents lie about the wheat project. It’s better for the family business if she believes America is out to poison the Soviet food supply.

Stan By Your Man: It’s an eventful episode for our favorite feeb. Stan and Aderholt have recruited a Russian agent at last. She works for the Soviet news agency TASS, which makes her a fan-TASS-tic catch. We learn what a rotten salesman Stan is: he accentuates the negative whereas Aderholt wants to go the Johnny Mercer route.

It turns out that Stan’s new boss values him more than we thought. He protects him from the wrath of their Reaganite boss at DOJ. Said boss wanted to shitcan Stan over the Oleg situation. Stan’s new recruit saves his counter-intelligence job for now.

Stan gives Walk Away Renee a cryptic account of his meeting with the dude who played Dr. Taub on House. She asks some leading questions but it’s unclear as to whether Philip is right about her being KGB. He asked Gabriel at the end of episode and got a typically cryptic answer as opposed to the definitive reply by the Other Gabriel in this tune:

One more noteworthy thing about the Stan-Renee scene is that they’re watching Breaking Away. It’s one of my favorite films of that era. Renee may or may not be KGB but she has good taste in movies.

Wheatfield Soul is the title of an old Guess Who album. It popped into my head as the intrepid Jennings’ followed Gorp Guy to North Mississippi. They laid their hands on one of the sacred wheat plants, which they hope will rescue the Soviet food supply. Elizabeth delivers it with some ceremony to Gabriel later in the episode.

That was the wheatfield bit. The soul bit came when Elizabeth saw Gorp Guy canoodle with his Memphis squeeze. She was jealous but didn’t want to admit it. Philip told her it was okay to have feelings. Her reply was a curt, “Not for me.”  Left unsaid was the fact that Philip’s feelings for Martha and Elizabeth’s for Gregory complicated their mission considerably.

Since I mentioned Wheatfield Soul, here’s the hit song from that LP:

The Bad Old Days Of The Red Tsar: Ghosts of the Stalin era haunt this episode. Oleg unearths his mother’s file, which is bound to increase his disillusion with the Soviet system. I wonder if his name is one of those on the dissident list that Elizabeth steals and passes on to the Center. Perhaps his father is on it: even privileged insiders hated the system in the pre-Gorbachev era.

Gabriel and Philip have a heart-to-heart talk about the bad old days of the post-war Soviet Union. Gabriel admits to having done terrible things because he feared the consequences of not following orders. It was the time in which Great Patriotic War POWs were imprisoned because they were somehow contaminated by contact with the outside world. It was madness driven by the dictator’s paranoia.

Gabriel’s Parting Gift: On his last night in DC, Gabriel first says farewell to Elizabeth. They discuss the care and feeding of the super-wheat plant and say their good-byes. This tweet sums up the mood at Gabriel’s kitchen table:

The final scene between Philip and his Spy Daddy was the best part of this episode. It’s probably the last time they’ll ever see one another and despite all their ups and downs, there’s an unbreakable bond between the two men.

After Philip asks if Renee is “one of us,” Gabriel finally offers his honest opinion of the spy kid project: “You were right about Paige. She should be kept out of all this.”

That was Gabriel’s parting gift. I’m skeptical that things will work out that way, especially if Claudia resumes her role as their handler. Stay tuned.

I just realized that I haven’t posted enough period music in this post. That’s why I’m giving Prince and the Revolution the last word:

That was short. Let’s give them a fuller last word: