The Americans Thread: Tell Tchaikovsky The News

A sense of doom and foreboding hangs over the second episode of Season-6, Tchaikovsky. Elizabeth seems to think her time on the planet is winding down. She even asks Claudia to look after Paige’s spy life after she’s gone. Remember when she hated Claudia? I do and it had nothing to do Margot Martindale turn as evil hillbilly matriarch Mags Bennett on Justified.

Division continues to be one of the main themes of Season-6. We meet an American hawk who is worried that Reagan is about to give away the nuclear store to Gorbachev. He mutters to Elizabeth about rumors that Reagan is showing signs of senility hence his arm control mania. Reagan *was* showing signs of dementia BUT underneath the bluster, Reagan had long wanted to ban nuclear weapons. He was influenced by his wife, Nancy, and by the sci-fi movies of the 1950’s. This was one time where Reagan’s movie mania put him on the side of the angels. Maybe he was afraid of turning into The Fly after seeing David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake:

Now that I’ve grossed you out, it’s spoiler break time. But first, here’s the lone rock song used during the episode. The producers have a thing for Talking Heads. Besides, what’s slipperier than a spy? Only Jeff Goldblum as The Fly. My, my, my.

Even by Elizabeth’s standards, she lies incessantly throughout the episode:

  • She tells arms control dude Glenn Haskard that she’ll help him end his sick wife’s life. This is a particularly cruel lie as we know that Claudia expects her to keep Erica Haskard alive and drawing until *after* the arms control summit.
  • She tells Paige that sex is only used as a weapon in the spy game by those “who cross the line.” That makes her an epic line crosser since the “honey trap” was used all the by time by the KGB and by Elizabeth in particular.
  • She tells Philip that everything is okay when she continues to look like a Zombie Spook whenever she’s at home. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke. Ugh.
  • She lies to herself about Paige’s future as a spy. She thinks she’ll have a cushy job as a mole at the CIA or State Department instead of blackmailing horny officials after “crossing the line.” Hmm, maybe that’s what Tommy James meant by Draggin’ the Line.
  • She *does* tell Erica Haskard the truth about her inability to draw but not of her contempt for artists.

We see more of our favorite Feeb, Stan The Man Beeman, in this episode. He’s out of counter intelligence but the one case he’s still working on is about to blow up because of a domestic dispute. Stan declines to play marriage counselor. Of more interest is his chat with Adderholt about our favorite former ex-KGB man, Oleg Burov. They’re skeptical of Oleg’s cover story about taking a class in urban transport planning at George Mason University. I have a hunch that Stan and Oleg are due to meet again and they won’t be talking trolleys and trains either.

Project Paige continues apace. Claudia continues to introduce her to Russian culture by telling a sad story about Tchaikovsky and playing one of his compositions. Paige is unmoved. Like her mother, she’s not much of a culture vulture.

The most important story line involves the return of General Lyle Rennhull. We met him in Season-1. He was the Colonel who dangled the possibility of access to SDI (Star Wars) secrets to the KGB. In fact, the season finale was named for him, The ColonelI’m envious. I’ve never had a teevee episode named for me, but who the hell would watch something called The Blogger?

Meeting Rennhull reinforces Elizabeth’s sense of doom: it was a failed meeting with him that resulted in her being shot by a FBI agent who happened to be her next door neighbor. That’s right, Stan the Man.

Elizabeth approached Rennhull on behalf of the hardliners behind Dead Hand. They want a MacGuffin from him, some kind of sensor. He resists and ultimately refuses to help. American policy has moved in Rennhull’s direction since 1981 when he was worried that the Reagan administration would blow up the world. They’re now pursuing peace with the Soviet Union much to the dismay of hawks on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The third and final meeting between General Rennhull and Elizabeth ends in disaster. He points a gun at her, they struggle, he drops the gun, Elizabeth picks it up and shoots him in the face point-blank.

When Paige shows up, her mother’s face is coated with the General’s brains. Yuck. It’s the second time Paige has seen her mother kill someone. This time Elizabeth hopes to pass it off as suicide. I somehow think the FBI will take an interest in the case. It’s time for a full tilt reunion of the team of Beeman and Adderholt.

Philip was largely on the sidelines in this episode. He’s still tending to the travel agency but I have a feeling he’ll put his spy shoes back on to help his wife and daughter; one of whom is burned out and the other is not cut out to be a spy. Hopefully, he can extricate Paige but I have a feeling that Elizabeth is doomed.

Since I make a Chuck Berry reference in the post title, the last word goes to him:

Like Elizabeth, I just lied. The last, last word goes to ELO:

One thought on “The Americans Thread: Tell Tchaikovsky The News

  1. I’m still catching up on this season (so I have to watch what I click on in your tweetstream lest I spoil myself (and that would be messy). Anyhoooo….I’ll go back and watch it again but I was pretty sure Rennhull actually did kill himself. Elizabeth was getting the best of him and there wasn’t any other way out for the guy.

    Also, in the “Chekhov’s Gun” department, I’m convinced the drawing Erica made of the sleeping Elizabeth will be used against her by season’s end.

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