The Americans Thread: The Great Patriotic War

We’re at the midway point of the final season and shit keeps getting realer and realer. Paige gets a history lesson but seems to need anger management training much more. I’m not sure if that was around in 1987 but she needs it like Janis Soprano needed it. Not that it worked with Tony’s older sister.

The history lesson comes from Claudia who tells Paige about what we call World War II and the Russians call the Great Patriotic War. It also gives this episode of The Americans its name.  Her lesson is largely true: the battle of Stalingrad *was* the turning point in the war and the Soviets played the leading role in victory. Of course, one reason for the massive casualties was Stalin’s callous indifference to human life. Claudia, who is an unrepentant Stalinist, neglected to mention that. No shocker there.

One reason I’m so fascinated with Russian history is that I had a great teacher at LSU, Tom Owen. He’s a very funny man and fabulous lecturer. I’m pleased to say that he’s now associated with the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. It must be good to no longer be subject to the whims and caprices of the Gret Stet lege.

There were no rock songs deployed in the episode but this one came to mind in relation to Elizabeth. Let’s give it a spin before the spoiler break:

There was so much going on this episode that I’m obliged to take something of a scattershot approach. One central fact emerged: Philip’s break with Elizabeth’s methods and ideological  viewpoint seems irrevocable.

Project Paige Fail: Things are not going well for Paige. The best thing that happens to her in the episode is Claudia’s lesson in hangover avoidance: a shot of olive oil, then vodka. Burp.

Paige makes another major mistake, by my count that’s three this season. She gets into a bar room brawl with a creepy friend of the Congressional intern. She kicks his ass but it’s in a bar where she’s known. She tops it off by sucker punching the intern thereby spoiling his “hey baby, wanna see my classified documents” come one. Spy Mama is not amused.

For the first time, Elizabeth expresses her doubts as to whether Paige has what it takes. Philip has had enough. He confronts Paige at her apartment and dares her to come at him with all she’s got. “Without pads?” she asks. “There are no pads in the real world,” he replies.

Philip has had it with Elizabeth’s insinuations that he gave up spying because he’s soft. Paige has picked up on this as well. She learns that they’re both wrong. Ouch.

Donuts, Pizza, & Bloodshed: Elizabeth’s minions track Gennadi the courier down, partially because Stan isn’t vigilant enough about being tailed. It could be down to his role as a marriage counselor to Sofia and Gennadi. We know via Stan that Mr and Mrs Teacup have been busts as sources. Elizabeth and Claudia are still out for blood.

Elizabeth goes to whack Gennadi. When she realizes he’s not alone, she tries to leave but he spots her. She has no choice but to murder the drunken hockey puck. Sofia sees the body, so she’s number 7 on Elizabeth’s season 6 hit parade. Elizabeth spares the kid but his life just completely went to shit.

Stan blames himself for the bloodbath. He inadvertently led the KGB to Gennadi’s door step. They followed the pizza. I hope it was bloody good.

A despondent Stan visits Philip to tell him what happened. Philip is horrified and decides to renege on a promise to Elizabeth. We’ll get to that in our final segment.

When Oleg Met Tatiana: Oleg’s other KGB ex-flame comes back to haunt him. An angry and bitter Tatiana has always blamed Oleg for blowing one of her operations. She told her bosses of her suspicions, which is why Oleg was in deep shit last season.

Tatiana confronts Oleg in the George Mason University quad. She does not buy his story about being in the US & A to study. They get into a heated argument. It’s a good thing that not many people in Fairfax, Virginia speak Russian. He would have been a dead ex-spook if they were in Brighton Beach.

Tatiana is out for blood. She blames Oleg for stalling her career and hates his beard. I made that last bit up. She reports her encounter to the rezident and urges him to pursue the matter. There’s a blood-chilling exchange between the two wherein we learn that they’re hard liners who value loyalty to the KGB and GRU over loyalty to President Gorbachev. The rezident jokes about dispatching Minister Burov because he’s a liberal commie. Nice.

I think Oleg is doomed. I wonder if he’ll get caught up in the FBI sweep that they keep foreshadowing in the previews. Worse than that, he might get whacked by a certain Russian illegal. I’d have to entitle that segment When Elizabeth Killed Oleg.

The Kimmy Konsumation: Elizabeth uses the power of spy nookie to convince Philip to participate in a cockamamie scheme involving Kimmy Breland and her spook daddy. Elizabeth thinks if they kidnap Kimmy while she’s in Greece and sweep her off to Bulgaria, her father will cave like Senator Aqua Buddha. I have my doubts. So does Philip.

Philip reluctantly agrees to go along with this outlandish plan, which sounds as doomed as the Soviet Union to me. But Kimmy is no longer enthralled with older man Philip/Jim. He has to use the power of spy nookie to convince her to hook up with him in Greece. At least she’s no longer jail bait, plus she has experience running a strip joint in Ozark. Oops, that’s Julia Garner who plays Kimmy. Never mind.

When Stan tells Philip about the bloodbath involving Gennadi and Sofia, he changes his mind about the Breland kidnapping scheme. He hits a pay phone and breaks up with her. He warns her not to go to a communist country with anyone. If she tells her spook daddy about that, all bets are off.

Philip is also breaking up with Elizabeth’s political agenda by opting out of the plan. This should be interesting.

In closing, I have a list. The Top Five Major Characters Most Likely To Die:

  1. Oleg
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Claudia
  4. Paige
  5. Stan

I think Philip will survive so he can suffer if his wife and daughter die. Besides, there needs to be a scene with him and Stan after the unmasking. Repeat after me: this should be interesting.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson  with a song that Elizabeth could sing to Philip. But I think it’s already too late.

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