The Americans Thread: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Dyatkovo is a Russian town where atrocities were committed during the Great Patriotic War by the Nazis against Soviet POWS. The story of a Russian collaborator is the centerpiece of episode 11, Dyatkovo. Philip and Elizabeth are sent by Claudia to learn if a woman living in Newton, Mass is that person. I’ll return to that at the end of the post. It’s also where We Gotta Get Out Of This Place comes into play and gets, uh, played.

Let’s take an early spoiler break. There’s much to spoil in this episode and I prefer not to cry over either spoiled or spilled milk.

We begin with a trip to Mother Russia. I’ve been meaning to comment on the way they make Russia look: it’s all muted tones, grays and browns except for Casa Burov. It’s meant to be Oleg’s oasis and I’m not talking about the band. Shut up, Liam.

H Is For Hypocrisy: Oleg and his partner, Ruslan, are busy secret policeman this week. The latter even comments on the absurdity of committing a sane man to an asylum. It’s a by-product of an insane and deeply corrupt system.

Hypocrisy is rampant in the Soviet Union. As Oleg and Ruslan pursue the food chain corruption investigation, Oleg offers to buy some stuff for his partner at Politburo Foods. It’s not called that but it should be. When Oleg confronts the target of their investigation, Lydia Fomina, with a ledger that details alleged corruption, her response is scorn. It’s how the system works for everyone except for the elite and nothing the KGB does will change that. She’s right and Oleg knows it.

Oleg is not cut out to be a secret policeman. He’s too decent and honest. He’d make a helluva detective in a different criminal justice system but he’s a fish out of water in the domestic KGB. It could lead to a resignation or working with the CIA. Stay tuned.

Henry & Stan: Reunited & It Feels So Good- We saw a lot of the youngest member of the Jennings family whereas Paige was off-stage. His parents sign off on his attending the swanky prep school. It’s an excellent way to keep him out of the family business.

Henry is writing a paper about the FBI, so Stan takes him to HQ. Henry enthuses over the co-intelpro office suite, especially the vault/secure room and the mail robot. Stan tries to describe the downside of life as a Feeb but Henry is unconvinced:

“I can’t explain it to you, Henry, because I can’t trust you. You are the greatest kid in the world, but I have to think of you like you could be a spy. That’s what the FBI’s like.”

Henry may learn more about the FBI if his mother meant what she said at the end of the episode.

The Newton Mass Massacre: I considered making a Fig Newton joke but I figgered some of you might be offended. Cookies are that powerful, y’all.

Newton, Mass is the home of Natalie Granholm who is the suspected collaborator/war criminal I mentioned earlier. Philip and Elizabeth enter her home by stealth and begin the interrogation. Philip insisted that they get it right this time: he doesn’t want more innocent blood on his hands. You can’t always get what you want.

Initially, Natalie denies everything, but that changes when her husband comes home. She admits to being coerced by the Nazis into committing war crimes. Her husband did not know. Natalie hopes that her honesty will save her husband’s life. She is wrong. Philip is unable to pull the trigger but Elizabeth finishes the assignment. Like criminals, spies don’t believe in leaving witnesses behind. But Elizabeth is not happy about it.

There’s more Soviet hypocrisy in this incident. The KGB wants vengeance for the murder of Soviet POWs but Stalin had them sent to the gulag after the war. Their crime was exposure to the outside world. Now they want revenge. Feh,

Some other members of The Americans punditocracy have more sympathy for Natalie than I do. If arrested and tried, she might not get the death penalty as coercion is arguably a mitigating factor. BUT she offered the “just following orders” defense, which the Nuremberg trials shot down as a comprehensive defense for war crimes. I see her as getting a 5-15 year sentence in an American or German court. The KGB believes that a bullet in the head is the best sentence.

The mail robot sighting is no accident. It evokes a season 3 episode, Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sleep. In that outing, Elizabeth killed a kindly old lady who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Dyatkovo, it’s John Granholm whose only crime was to be married to a collaborator.

This time around, Elizabeth is visibly shaken and for the first time openly expresses a desire to change their situation:

“I want to get out of here. We should just go. I mean it. Let’s go home.”

Philip has been ready to do this since season one. It’s always been up to Elizabeth. It’s unclear exactly how she wants to change things. Gabriel offered them a way out last season and they declined. Claudia and the Center are unlikely to be supportive. Defecting may be the only way out and they know a man who can help them: Stan the Man, Beeman, not Musial. Stay tuned.

Let’s circle back to the post title, which is inspired by a Mann-Weil song recorded by the Animals before they became Burdened with Eric’s name. They have the last pun word.

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