The Americans Thread: Nothing Is Everything

Nothing is going right for our characters in Mr. and Mrs. Teacup. We see everything from failed missions to projectile vomiting to looming financial failure. It’s not a pretty sight. The only good news is that arms control guy Glenn Haskard’s underdog Twins will win the 1987 World Series.

The Americans is a unique show in several ways. First, as Soviet spies, Philip and Elizabeth are the ultimate anti-heroes. They make Walter White and Tony Soprano look like small fry. Second, the Soviets lose the Cold War while winning the espionage battle, so the Jennings’ efforts are ultimately for naught. This built-in futility is one reason so many of us find the show so perversely fascinating.

Nothing Is Everything is the parenthetical part of the title of a Pete Townshend song: (Nothing Is Everything ) Let’s See Action. It’s an ode to Pete’s guru, Meher Baba, but it somehow captures the spirit of this episode for me. I’m weird that way. Let’s play it before the spoiler break:

The first scene after the credits seems to show Elizabeth on one of her night-time missions. I say seems because we can’t see shit. It is so dark that even when I turned the brightness up on the tube on my second watching, I still couldn’t see shit. I’m not sure whose idea this was but it was a bad one. I guess we should blame director Roxann Dawson who is best known to me as B’Elanna Torres the bad ass half-Klingon half-human chick on Star Trek Voyager:

Maybe the lighting in the scene was inspired by Klingon opera. Let’s drink some blood wine and move on.

Stan By Your Man: Mr. and Mrs. Teacup is the code name for Stan and Dennis’ frustrating Soviet sources. You might recall they were forced to defect because of Sofia’s big mouth. Now they want Stan to pay more attention to them. Stan is frustrated and has no desire to “babysit those lunatics.” Dennis bats his big brown eyes at Stan and gets his former partner to relent.

The news of the defection has spread hither and yon or at least to Elizabeth and Claudia. They decide that Stan should be followed so they can find Gennady and Sofia and liquidate them. This is a helluva risky move since Stan knows, or thinks he knows, Elizabeth. She should probably wear this frumpy disguise if she’s involved in the Stan-veillance:

The Case of the Bugged Twins Jacket: When Elizabeth hears that Glenn Haskard may skip a World Series game watch party because he wants to be with Erica the dying artist, she offers to “help” by accompanying her patient so Glenn can go. Isn’t that nice?

Elizabeth borrows Glenn’s Twins jacket and has a spy seamstress plant a listening device inside the lining. That gives me an entirely new meaning to the venerable baseball term inside the lines.

Elizabeth’s scheme comes to naught when Erica becomes violently ill at the party. I haven’t seen so much onscreen projectile vomiting since The Exorcist. Additionally, when she listens to the tape all she hears is the Soviet arms control guy comforting Glenn. In short, Elizabeth struck out on a Bert Blyleven curve ball:

The Philip Files: This is a Philip-centric episode. We see him meeting Oleg in a dark park  and Stan in a bar. The latter will be jealous if he ever finds out that his bestie is cheating on him. Of course, jealousy would be the least of Philip’s worries: hand cuffs might be in order and not the fun kind.

Philip’s travel agency is in trouble. He made a classic business mistake and over expanded. He’s not sure if the problem is fixable. It’s so bad that he informs Henry that there may be no tuition money for his senior year at the fancy prep school. Hell hath no fury like a preppie scorned.

Philip’s marriage has also gone South. He feels shut out of Paige’s life because of the deal he and Elizabeth made wherein he’s in charge of Henry and she’s in charge of the baby spy. He’s beginning to think they need to renegotiate.

The tension between the couple is palpable, especially since she does not understand what business failure would mean to their cover. It’s unlikely the KGB would bail the agency out unless Philip returns to full-time spying. Also, how could he work for anyone else? His status as a Russian illegal means he’s got to be self-employed.

Philip’s financial woes have me wondering if the showrunners have a shocker in store for us. Money problems are one reason many spies have turned. Come on down, Aldrich Ames. It is conceibavle that Philip might sell his services to the Americans. Imagine Stan as his handler. Of course, Elizabeth would gun him down first. She’s already killed 4 people this season. What’s one more?

Philip also puts on his hipster wig and visits young Kimmie whose father is the CIA’s Russian desk dude. She no longer thinks he’s super-awesome but still likes him. He plays along because they have her father’s brief case bugged. Philip’s squeamishness about spying was, in part, provoked by the prospect of sleeping with an underage Kimmie. She’s of age now, but she’s Paige’s peer. The previews indicated that “Jim Baxter” may end up in her bed. Btw, Paige has no such squeamishness about sleeping with some guy because he works on Capitol Hill. It looks like a proto-honey trap to me. Stay tuned.

Since Philip is in a bad place, he decides to take Stavros and the travel agency gang to do some boot scooting to this Eddie Rabbit tune:

My one objection to the line dancing scene was Stavros’ willing participation. Greeks do not line dance.

2 thoughts on “The Americans Thread: Nothing Is Everything

  1. On the Americans podcast, the show runners were proud of the lack of lighting. My reaction was the same as yours.

    1. Sigh. Not a fan of experimentation for its own sake. In the end, it’s malakatude.

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