Category Archives: Americans Recaps

The Americans Thread: Slow Kung Fu & The Big Sex Guy

The post title comes from two off-hand remarks that were my favorite lines in Immersion. Elizabeth is pumping Morozova for info and she describes one of her students as a Big Sex Guy. She means a lady’s man like, say, Gorp Guy. Slow Kung Fu came from a scene wherein Elizabeth is doing tai-chi and Philip calls it (you guessed it) Slow Kung Fu. Sounds like a band name to me, ya’ll. The entire post title sounds like an ’80’s teevee show along the lines of BJ and the Bandit.

The Americans punditocracy seem to be losing patience with season 5. They’re not entirely wrong that it’s moving slowly, but its pace has always been more of a simmer than a boil. The show is fundamentally a psychological character study with moments of high suspense. It’s like criticizing Mad Men for not having any gun play. I do, however, think that things will pick up next week.

It’s time for our spoiler break, but first some Kung Fu Fighting:

I guess that’s not the same Carl Douglas who was on the OJ Simpson defense team. It would be fun if it were. I can see the headline:  Novelty Artist Becomes Legal Eagle.

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The Americans Thread: Gabriel’s Parting Gift

The Committee on Human Rights was something of a letdown after the dizzying heights of last week’s episode, Crossbreed. I, for one, wanted to see more of Paige and Gabriel together. The end of the previous episode led us to believe that there would be more to it than a brief, pleasant, and somewhat cryptic scene. Of course, Gabriel specializes in cryptic pleasantries.

The smile on Frank Langella’s face when he answered Paige’s inquiry as to whether he was a spy made this disappointing scene worthwhile. I wish Gabriel and Paige had burst out in song at the end of it. This would have been my choice:

Hmm, Peggy Lee was very blonde. I wonder if she was KGB? We’ll get to the same questions about Walk Away Renee later in the post.

The Committee on Human Rights is smack dab in the middle of season 5 so we shouldn’t be surprised that it set the table for the rest of the season. Besides, even a fair-to-middling episode of The Americans is better than most dramas. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: patience is the watchword for longtime Americans viewers.

Time for our spoiler break. Try not to cry over spilt Soviet milk as you click below.

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The Americans Thread: He Was Nobody. We Were All Nobodies.

Thus spake Gabriel in a scene with Philip. Crossbreed is one of the best episodes in series history. It’s a perfect jumping off point for the rest of the season. The producers should immediately send a DVD of this episode to Emmy voters. It’s past time for Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, and Frank Langella to win Emmys on the awards show I do not watch. The Oscars are bad enough even if this year’s ceremony had a boffo ending as did Crossbreed. OMFG as the kids say.

I wonder if I’m the only viewer whose favorite character is Gabriel. Crossbreed is very Gabriel-centric, which is why I enjoyed it so much. There’s even a major plot twist involving him but we’ll save that for after the break. Frankly, I don’t watch to spoil so much Langella deliciousness. See you on the other side.

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The Americans Thread: Lotus Positioning

Lotus 1-2-3 was an intense and emotionally fraught episode of The Americans. Philip starts the episode in bad shape and ends up in a exceptionally dark place after a revelation that we’ll deal with later.

There was, however, one humorous bit. Philip ends up playing Topeka-boo with the logistics expert chick. She uses computer talk as a sort of geeky foreplay by recommending the Lotus 1-2-3 program to Philip. After they do the deed, she offers to show him her print-out. Hence the post title. Hubba, hubba.

Philip and Elizabeth declined Stan and Renee’s invitation to see Romancing The Stone, which was a monster hit in 1984. In a futile effort to avoid spoilers, we’ll close this section with an Eddy Grant song that was written for the movie but ended up on the cutting room floor.

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The Americans Thread: The World According To Gorp

Appearances notwithstanding, Elizabeth and her new target Ben didn’t poop all over the floor. Elizabeth/Brenda spilled some capitalist carob at a health food store to lure scientist Ben into a communist meet cute. That was among the things that happened in What’s The Matter With Kansas? That’s the title of a book by Thomas Frank but, frankly, the episode wasn’t based on it…

I had a lot of fun with the title this week. I considered borrowing the title of this old song:

But Elizabeth/Brenda’s colloquy about Gorp with Ben reminded me of a certain great John Irving novel. As the least outdoorsy guy on the planet, I was only vaguely aware of Gorp, which is a form of trail mix according to Garp. Henceforth, I will refer to Ben as (what else?) Gorp Guy and Elizabeth’s Topeka identity as Ebrenda. I wonder if the two of them will play Topeka-boo in the next episode. Things seem to be headed that way. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more.

This episode boiled down this season’s storylines to their essence. The focus was on the main characters: Philip, Elizabeth, Paige, Oleg, and Stan. All of them had food and blackmail on their minds. I’d rather not serve spoilers so we’ll pick things up after the break. But first a musical interlude:

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The Americans Thread: Bugging Out

Hunger was the main theme of the third episode of The Americans. We heard Tuan the Vietnamese commie kid’s story about eating “garbage off the streets” back home and saw a flashback to Philip’s time as a hungry Russian lad. I was half-way worried that this bloke would knock on my door:

It could be worse. Simon Le Bon Bon might be there with Duran Duran:

That’s the last wolf song for now. I promise, promise.

I almost needed a snack after watching the episode, but resisted because I was afraid that Aussie Midges had invaded my fridge. Oh yeah, The Midges is the buggy title of this pestiferous episode.  As far as I know, they have nothing to do with Patricia Hitchcock’s character in Strangers On A Train

I’m still trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll send you to the break with the song they played as Philip and Elizabeth packed a corpse into a rental car. (It’s not the first time they’ve done that, so how can it be a spoiler?) I’d hate to be the guy who rented that ride after them. It Hertz just thinking about it.

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The Americans Thread: Trouble In Paigeland

Americans Pests

You know things are bad when the man whose best friend is a KGB illegal notices there’s something wrong with a teenage girl. Of course, Stan Beeman is alternately clueless and perceptive about life in general. He’s right: there *is* trouble in Paigeland. I have an alternative theory as to why: I blame that dreadful brown geometric wallpaper in her bedroom. It looks as if Piet Mondrian  projectile vomited on the wall. No wonder Paige is sleeping in the closet at the beginning of this aptly titled episode. Pests abound this week but we’ll get to that after my feeble attempt to make this thread spoiler proof.

Before the break, let’s get in a 1984 mood by paying a brief visit to Heartbeat City:

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The Americans Thread: Summer Of ’84

Americans S5 E1

I’ve thought about recapping FX’s brilliant spy series The Americans for several years. I have finally taken the plunge with Season 5, which finds Philip and Elizabeth digging a hole. Literally.

I posted the picture above even though it comes from Season 4 because I *adore* Frank Langella as KGB spy daddy Gabriel. Langella brings a feline presence to the proceedings with his silky, smooth voice, nondescript sweaters, and wise eyes. If they decide to kill Gabriel off, I plan to go on a hunger strike. No wheat for me, y’all.

In preparation for last night, I watched the first four seasons on Amazon Prime so I’m primed with information, especially if they serve prime rib. I’m just ribbing you: there’s no food in the shops in Moscow when KGB hunk Oleg returns home in the premiere. His new mission is to root out corruption, which his boss  informs him is the wish of then Soviet Leader Constantine Chernenko. I had a good laugh at that: Chernenko was as crooked as a snake and his sole qualification to be Soviet leader was that he was Breznhev’s drinking buddy. Vodka is some evil shit. Zazdarovje.

For those of you who DVR’d the season premiere, I’m going undercover for the rest of the post. The only thing spoiled in this post is Dylan Baker’s body. I just lied like a spy. I’m merely inserting a break but first some contemporaneous music:

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