The Americans Thread: Slow Kung Fu & The Big Sex Guy

The post title comes from two off-hand remarks that were my favorite lines in Immersion. Elizabeth is pumping Morozova for info and she describes one of her students as a Big Sex Guy. She means a lady’s man like, say, Gorp Guy. Slow Kung Fu came from a scene wherein Elizabeth is doing tai-chi and Philip calls it (you guessed it) Slow Kung Fu. Sounds like a band name to me, ya’ll. The entire post title sounds like an ’80’s teevee show along the lines of BJ and the Bandit.

The Americans punditocracy seem to be losing patience with season 5. They’re not entirely wrong that it’s moving slowly, but its pace has always been more of a simmer than a boil. The show is fundamentally a psychological character study with moments of high suspense. It’s like criticizing Mad Men for not having any gun play. I do, however, think that things will pick up next week.

It’s time for our spoiler break, but first some Kung Fu Fighting:

I guess that’s not the same Carl Douglas who was on the OJ Simpson defense team. It would be fun if it were. I can see the headline:  Novelty Artist Becomes Legal Eagle.

Immersion was set in the winter of ’84. Let’s go to a place where it’s always cold.

The Russian Front: The producers continue to frustrate my desire to see a Moscow slumber party with Oleg, Martha, and Gabriel. They could mend Gabriel’s sweaters and make smores a la Gorp Guy. Oops, he’s in Kansas, not Mother Russia. So it goes.

Speaking of Wizard of Oz imagery, the flying monkeys of Directorate K search Oleg’s room. He burned his CIA contraband so they might not have found anything incriminating BUT, as Mama Burov pointed out, they’ve been known to plant evidence.

The burning question is why:  Oleg’s CIA contacts? Reading his mother’s file? The food corruption investigation? Snubbing Martha while they were in the same store? The last one is a joke but I’m still dreaming of that slumber party.

Whither Project Paige: Some of the best scenes centered on Paige’s situation. She’s looking and acting more like her mother every day. The scenes between Keri Russell and Holly Taylor crackled with sub-text. Will she or won’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure…

The odds of Paige becoming a spook have increased with the return of Claudia. She was always in favor of Project Paige whereas Gabriel kept stiff-arming the center. Philip continues to regard Claudia with suspicion, but Elizabeth is warming to her fellow commie battleaxe. I don’t think she’ll kick her ass again as she did in the first season.

Elizabeth opens up to Paige and tells her of being raped as a young woman. It’s an eerie combination of parenting and spy recruiting. It seems to be working. Paige even feels free to tease her mother; something we haven’t seen before. Hey, Elizabeth may have a shite bedside manner but she could be a surgeon. We’ve seen her slicing and dicing people, after all. In the end, she’s a killer, not a healer.

Teacher’s Pet: Morozova’s job as a Russian teacher has given our spies a new opportunity. She claimed to be teaching a class at a student’s house. Instead, she went to a no-tell motel for an assignation with a CIA guy who is being sent to Moscow. I wonder if they picked up any of these?

I’m not sure if Morozova’s squeeze is the Big Sex Guy but our spooks see this as an opportunity to compromise him IF they can get Morozova to dump her hubby and return home. Tuan has a rather sick plan to help accomplish this: incite bullies at his school to pick on poor pitiful Pascha in hopes he and his mother will skedaddle home. The Vietnamese kid is a master spy in the making.

Breaking Up Is Easy To Do: Claudia asks our heroes (anti-heroes?) to continue the Topeka-boo action with Gorp Guy and Weird Deirdre. They decide, however, to cancel their next trips to bleeding Kansas. Weird Deirdre has a nasty surprise for Philip/Gus: she dumps him on the phone for being insufficiently assertive. That, in turn, leads to an amusing scene wherein Elizabeth criticizes Philip for not sleeping with another woman. It’s hard being a Big Sex Guy Spy.

Philip saves the situation by calling Weird Deirdre back. She’s screening calls but picks up when he says he’s married. I knew she was a logistically oriented weirdo. It is, of course, true: Philip is a bigamist married to Elizabeth and to the reluctant Muscovite Martha.

The phone scenes gave me a period earworm, so I’ll give the Kinks the last word:

Holy crap, I forgot this Peter Gabriel phone song. It’s applicable even if nothing was burned in the episode or in the writing of this recap. Another day, another last word fib.