The Americans Thread: Philip The Axeman

There are only three more episodes remaining in the final season of The Americans. Harvest may well have been the best episode of the season thus far. There was action, revelations, and Philip and Stan both staring off in to space at the conclusion of their scenes. In Philip’s case, it’s a spy stare; in Stan’s case it’s a cop stare. Enough staring.

I try to learn something new everyday. In Harvest I learned about food combining, which was apparently big with rich ladies in 1987. It sounds like something that the rich ladies on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aka Rich Ladies Doing Things should know about. They could combine food combining with shopping, lunching, and fighting.

The episode title gave me an earworm. I might as well post it before the spoiler break. I could combine it with something but I’d rather not.

I nearly posted an anachronistic tune but thought better of it. My resolve has weakened. Here’s Neil Young in 1992 five years *after* the Chicago sleeper agent bit the dust after being gut-shot and biting down on the dead-ender suicide pill. That was quite a mouthful.

Harvest brilliantly sets the stage for the series finale. It focuses on our core characters: Spy Family Jennings and Stan the man whose career is about to be flushed. It turns out that Stan has always found the late night comings and goings of his travel agent neighbors to be peculiar. As you may recall, Stan *was* suspicious of Philip and Elizabeth back in season one. He even went as far to covertly search the trunk of their car for a dead body. It was gone and our anti-heroes lived to spy another day.

Stan The Burglar: Stan does not buy Philip’s lame excuse about needing to join Elizabeth on her travel agency emergency trip to Houston. Philip made matters worse by telling Stan that looming business failure is the main reason he’s such a Darrell Downer. Telling Stan that his marriage was on the rocks would have bought him some more time. But time, time, time is not on his side.

Stan picks the lock on the Jennings’ back door and takes a look around. He does not find any concrete evidence but he nearly stumbles on the secret area wherein they stow their spy shit.

A look at a happy family picture reminds Stan of a conversation he had with Dylan Baker’s character, William Crandall, back in season 4. As Crandall lay dying, he discussed his KGB contacts: “Couple of kids. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.”

The scales are falling away from Stan’s eyes. He’d dropped his initial suspicions of his neighbors because Philip helped him through his painful divorce. There have been times where their friendship was the best thing in either of their lives. It’s as doomed as the Soviet Union.

As the episode closes, we see Stan digging up the files on the case from season one that led to his suspicions of the boy and girl next door. It involved the murder of a KGB illegal in Philadelphia and the disappearance of his wife. The wife was killed by Claudia and her minions. I guess she had no interest in Russian culture.

Chicago Clusterfuck Caper: Elizabeth and Philip rekindle their relationship in a way unique to them: a caper in Chicago. Philip agrees to do it out of love and she knows it.

The Chicago caper turns into a clusterfuck as two FBI agents, Harvest the Chi-Town sleeper agent, and spook sidekick Marilyn are killed in a gun battle. Both sides lost but the KGB came out slightly ahead in this bloody fiasco because they prevented Harvest from falling into the FBI’s hands.

The reason I called this post Philip the Axeman is because of the couple’s body disposal activity in a parking garage. Repeat after me: Nothing good ever happens in a parking garage. Our anti-heroes need to make Marilyn’s body unidentifiable so Philip chops off her hands and head, then stuffs them in a satchel, wise guy style. He winced with every blow of the axe but a spy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

When they return home, Elizabeth gives Paige another chance to escape the spy life. Paige replies with some romantic nonsense that only a college kid could spout: she’s not afraid of death, she’s afraid of being alone. Sounds like a period appropriate Police song to me:

Paige has always needed something to believe in. First, it was Pastor Tim’s Social Justice Jesus. Then it was Elizabeth’s hardline Communism. Paige is a follower who wants to “make a difference” much like her mother. She’ll never be a leader or even a happy person like her sweetly clueless kid brother Henry. It’s what happens when you get lessons on Russian culture from Claudia.

There are a few loose ends I’d like to see tied up before the series comes to a close:

  • I want to bid a fond adieu to the feline Gabriel and his sweaters.
  • I’d like to see what happened to Martha. Did she adopt the kid the KGB threw in her path?
  • I wonder when Claudia will turn Paige on to some classic Russian literature. It’s a box she’s failed to Chekhov thus far.

Questions, questions, questions. The answers are forthcoming in the next three weeks.

The last word goes to Patty Smith. They used her mournful tune Broken Flag as the soundtrack for the disposal of Marilyn’s extremities.

Repeat after me: Nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.

2 thoughts on “The Americans Thread: Philip The Axeman

  1. “She’ll never be a leader or even a happy person like her sweetly clueless kid brother Henry. It’s what happens when you get lessons on Russian culture from Claudia.”

    This made me guffaw. I, too, am dreading/eagerly awaiting new episodes. It’s so well written, taut, fraught, and before the aughts.

    I have a friend who was friends with one Russian spy who had a family, and got kicked out of the US – this was in the early 2000s. The kids didn’t know…. My friend and some others are had some dialogue with the Russian’s US attorney. And are now back, sort of, to being friends with the Russian who’s out as a Russian. Originally he posed as some other nationality. My friend can’t watch The Americans because he says it’s still too real for him.

  2. It is my hope that Patti Smith will write the musical version of The Americans.

    As for nothing ever good happening in a garage, I believe Mr. Woodward/Redford would disagree with that sentiment.

    And if Claudia failed to “Chekov that box” maybe it’s because she’s waiting for the animated version to be made. It’ll be called Tolstory.

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