The Americans "Pastor Tim" Review: The War at Home

The Americans S04E02: "Pastor Tim"


"We're in trouble." – Elizabeth

Ah, the good old days when an airline passenger could strangle an airport security guard at the back of a shuttle bus in peace. Of course I'm talking about the stand-out, high-adrenaline murder sequence in tonight's episode of The Americans, complete with a kicking '80s jam. Who knew manual suffocation paired so well with wigs and "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell? Plus the rest of the hour was Cold War capering at its finest! After the discovery of Paige's gossip with her nosy church leader, the quick-paced "Pastor Tim" found the Jennings scrambling to take action in the face of personal and professional turmoil. What else is new, right?

Well, Elizabeth stepping back into the emotionally vulnerable spotlight, for one. Yes, the Jennings mom has struggled with being raped as a young woman, she kept a secret relationship, and even dealt with conflicting feelings concerning Paige's relationship to her dying grandma. Lately though, Phil's the guy we see having a hard time reconciling personal trauma with all this spy stuff. So when Elizabeth's hardened exterior does crack a little to reveal a sensitive side the moment means more. She's tough until she isn't.

When Phil confessed that he'd been attending EST meetings she didn't seem so much betrayed or skeptical as she was interested in whether the courses were helping. Like she might also be experiencing spy stress. The Rezidentura isn't exactly offering free yoga classes. Okay, maybe she was a little skeptical, but that's just her way. Still, Philip admitted the classes were therapeutic, shared his troubling memories of boys-being-boys-rock-murder, and ended the night in a marital embrace. They even made plans to attend the next meeting together. Trust restored!


The good times didn't last long however as Elizabeth and Phil came to loggerheads over how best to deal with Pastor Tim. Should they kill him? Should they try and make him an asset? All this was a lot to deal with on top of being tasked with passing off the poison war germs and running a happy home. Ever the softy, Philip thought killing Tim would make Paige suspicious in the long term. Elizabeth on the other hand felt it was their only choice and banked on Paige either failing to put two-and-two together, or eventually coming over to Russia's side. 

I mean it's pretty clear Pastor Tim has to go, but there's also no guarantee he necessarily believes Paige. Like, as was discussed in the comments section this past week, Tim might take his post so seriously that the secret is safe. There's even a chance Paige might be written off for just telling teen tales. Even so, the Jennings still couldn't seem to agree on what's best for their daughter. Phil was looking for "something good in all this," and Elizabeth was holding out hope that Paige followed in the family business.  

If Elizabeth was being honest, her stress dreams this episode suggested some misgivings. You don't got to be a mind reader to know that Elizabeth's subconsciously produced imagery of Paige discovering the dead body of her most trusted authority figure, and then that same corpse morphing into Elizabeth's former rapist means she's somewhat fearful of Paige's fate in the hands of Russia. To be fair, Elizabeth was just going through the same worry every parent had when the time came to unleash their kid on the world. Heck, if the Jennings were garbage-truck drivers there'd still be a motherly concern about whether or not Paige would get squashed in a trash compactor. It's almost like living a high-stakes double life is hard or something. 

Speaking of the comments section (love y'all down there, never change) there's been speculation about Henry's whereabouts. Real talk, the actor Keidrach Sellati seems to be going through hella puberty so maybe the show's giving him time away from the camera to let his voice go baritone. At least tonight's episode addressed what the little guy's been up to generally: cologne. Loves the stuff, can't get enough of it. Was it just me, or did his scene with Stan feel tonally off? Maybe I just don't want to accept our Jennings boy is becoming a Jennings man. Or perhaps the scene itself just made me squeamish. Like, here's a grown man fixing meals for the neighbor boy while talking women and gifting fine male scents. I know the lonely divorcee's heart was in the right place but Stan ought to tread lightly. Neighbors might start talking.


Back in Russia the woman who Stan did wrong attempted to do right. Not by her country, but by her heart. As all things Americans, Nina's meeting with her husband was part-emotional and part spycraft. We learned that Nina was at one point pregnant with a child the two shared and that child never came to be. The dependable Boris had since fathered children with another woman and the two had a boring life together. Perhaps Nina wanted to see the world and be an independent woman? We also saw an all too rare version of Nina, one that seemed truly content. Relaxed even. Her pleasant mood could've been because it was "pizza day" in the cafeteria, but more likely the pep in Nina's step came from finally using her spy skills for good.

In the finale of Season 3 you'll remember Nina told Anton she couldn't keep buying her life back with pieces of her soul. By attempting to sneak out a note to Anton's son, Nina could go to sleep at night loving herself. Again, got to give props to Michael Aranov for turning a little into a lot: the gratitude that washed over his face when Nina told him his son might get to know his dad was alive was priceless. Unfortunately the note never arrived, Nina got a talking to from Vasili, and it looked like Boris has got some legal trouble headed his way. Still, Nina tried and that's what mattered.

To no one's surprise, Gabriel's contact William (Dylan Baker) fit right in in this world. One of the quiet strengths of this show is the set of secondary characters that build out this secret spy community. These people help show other sides of our main characters, and with William Philip found himself in the role of student to a curmudgeon professor. When Philip complained about having to keep the poisonous specimen in his home William muttered, "What do you want me to say, there's a reason these things are kept in hermetically sealed biocontainment labs." Love it!


I'm not sure I can do justice to the delight that was Philip's airport guard murder aside from saying it was wonderful and all that is right with The Americans. More of this kind of thing, please. I will say that it's the best when Phil snaps. Being as good as he is at going nuts is both a curse and a blessing. It's always the sensitive ones you got to watch out for. When Philip killed Gene and left the message "I'm Sorry" on his computer screen, the gesture took on a dual meaning. Philip feels too much every time he has to kill. This time around there was also some killer emotions going on in the form of frustration. It's like when you're having a bad day at the office and the printer jams and next thing you know the coffee machine is being drop-kicked across the break room. Only in this metaphor, the printer was war germs and the coffee maker was an innocent human being.

Unfortunately not everything in a spy's life can go as well as an unplanned asphyxiation that results in having to bring home biohazards. While Elizabeth scoped out a plan to kill Tim at his private cabin where he writes his ministries, Paige surprised her mother by coming clean. Now the parents are even further up shit's creek, without paddles. Although even if Paige hadn't told her mom, I think the teen would still put two and two together. 

Which led us to the episode ending understatement of the century, when Elizabeth told Philip "we're in trouble." The Rezidentura is sending gifts home, there's poison weapons under their roof, Phil's on Stan's bad side, and Gabriel's urging Elizabeth to forget her own emotions. How else can a human experience world? I bet some EST courses will set her straight. That said, the Jennings are for sure in trouble, but that's exactly where these two seem to function best.


FURTHER INTERROGATION

– Were you sad to see Stan and Phil end their bromance?

– Were you sad to see Stan and Oleg end their bromance?

– How are we supposed to read Gabriel? 

– How will the Jennings deal with Pastor Tim? 

– How do you think the death of Oleg's brother will affect him?

– "I wonder whose life we saved." - Oleg

– Is there a way to Henry's great again?

– What did you think of "Pastor Tim"?

Comments (47)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Mar 28, 2016
As I was watching this episode, I texted a buddy who's also a big fan of the show, "If you haven't gotten around to watching episode two yet, I have two words for you..."Tainted Love"

I've made the argument a few times that The Americans is one of the 5 best shows on TV right now and that opinion only gets further cemented with each passing episode. Not only am I totally enthralled with what's going on on the home front, I'm all in on Nina's story along with what Oleg's end game is and watching Stan ever so slowly start putting the pieces together. And that doesn't even touch on Martha, which is a whole different level of heartbreak.

I don't know who's the better handler William or Claudia, but that both are so fantastic in their respective roles, I'm not sure it matters.

I have absolutely no idea how this series is going to end. The one thing I do know is that it won't end well for Phillip and Elizabeth. How much worse it will be for those peole around them, I have no idea...which is amazing!

"Was it just me, or did his scene with Stan feel tonally off?"

It wasn't just you. If for no other reason than it seemed to serve little purpose other than demonstrate that Stan and Henry are friends, I think we knew that.

"I'm not sure I can do justice to the delight that was Philip's airport guard murder aside from saying it was wonderful and all that is right with The Americans."

SOOOOOO GOOOOOOD!!!

"Were you sad to see Stan and Phil end their bromance?"

Yes, but you knew it had to happen. As fun as it was seeing these two as friends, seeing them as enemies will be even better.

"Were you sad to see Stan and Oleg end their bromance?"


It ain't over yet...

"How will the Jennings deal with Pastor Tim?"

I have absolutely no clue and that's part of why I love this show.
More+
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 28, 2016
I think Stan is working on henry (spy speaking) taking advantage of also being a father figure to him. yes, henry becoming the inside man is a possibility, that although scary is possible.

I think oleg is going to start working for Stan.

Gabriel, that is a two end stick.... he threatens the jennings as a father figure, giving them every chance to perform good and reproach them if they do wrong.

Pastor Tim, I see him being killed by mama jennings.. she never liked him anyway and this gives her extra reason.

Generally, it was a good episode, with suspense from the beginning to the end and loved the murder with Tainted Love as a background music....
Reply
Flag
Mar 26, 2016
This episode was heartbreaking.

When Philip told Elizabeth about EST meetings and she showed interest in them I immediately thought - that's good cause Elizabeth needs help. She's a rape survivor and she could really use some therapy. Next scene - Elizabeth having one of the worst possible nightmares a mother can have - only confirmed what I felt :(

Paige came clean to Elizabeth. I'm very glad Pastor Tim won't change her into a double agent. I feel Paige and Elizabeth really bonded last season and that's why Paige came to her senses. I hope it's not too late.

Also Elizabeth's Mom died :(

Seriously people! Give Keri Russell an Emmy already!

Henry is so big! I imagine he, OUAT's Henry and GoT's Bran are all in the same collage. Also I'm waiting for Henry to call Stan "Dad" for the first time.

I think Oleg, distraught over his brother's death, will become CIA's agent and Stan will be his handler.

It looks like Pastor Tim might blow up soon!
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 26, 2016
Llostris! Good to see ya
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 26, 2016
Thanks Ryan! Reading your review is a part of my The Americans ritual each week.

"Were you sad to see Stan and Phil end their bromance?"

Since Philip and Stan are no longer friends I'm worried Stan will start to snoop on the Jennings again. Remember when he broke into their garage at the end of the pilot?

"How are we supposed to read Gabriel?"

I have mixed feelings about him. One way he seems to be playing "the father figure" for Elizabeth. However, he threatened the Jennings with going back to retirement. Also despite having a big refrigerator he didn't want to take the germs which considering the Jennings have kids in the house was really not cool. So I guess he's a frenemy?
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 26, 2016
Oh yeah Stan did play the snoop didn't he. Yeah, that's probably what'll happen only this time he also has the inside man of Henry to mention things about his absentee parents' routine.

Gabriel frustrates me sometimes just because I'm protective of the Jennings. I know they can't just flip a switch and see their situation for what it is, plus they're in too deep pretty much anyhow to have a clean and happy exit from the KGB. Still, I don't like his manipulation and playing them off each other, but as long as Phil and Liz take their roles seriously then he can still have an influence.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 26, 2016
Henry (even unconsciously) spying on his parents - I haven't thought about it. I always assumed that if one of the Jennings kids betray them it would be Paige. And it sort of happened. However, the idea that Henry could be an inside man is just too scary.

I harbor no illusions about the Jennings' clean and happy exit from the KGB. They will either both die or go to prison for life.

I hate Gabriel's manipulation. I'm starting to think he's as bad as Claudia was.
1
Flag
Mar 25, 2016
I guess its going to come down to choosing to kill Pastor Tim (and his wife?) and thus alienating Paige or making a run for it. And since we know the show is not going to put them on the run then Pastor Tim gotta go. How they handle Paige after the fact will be something to see. As much as I love Nina I'm getting pretty bored with her situation in Russia. They need to end her storyline or get her back to the US. I can definitely feel a Stan, Clark (Phillip) showdown over Martha on the way. Unless maybe Oleg takes out Stan. Stan is getting too close to the truth and is destined to be dealt with. great show!!
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 25, 2016
I can't help but have episode "bleed-over" as every time I hear Pastor Tim, I keep thinking of "Reverend Tim Tom" on "the Middle." :-)
Reply
Flag
Mar 25, 2016
I agrre that Stan/Henry scene felt off. I mean, one moment Stan is punching Philip for sleeping with his wife, then he is giving him the stink eye across the street followed by making snacks for Henry, giving him cologne and talking about his love for older women? I'd understand that he'd do that when he and Philip were best buds but now?

Rest of the ep was a lot like premiere, slow on the surface but plenty of happenings below it. Again, The Americans are best when they combine spycraft with domestic life and how one impacts the other.

I may get a lot of hate for saying this, but I don't care much about Nina plot. It was good when it was linked to main plot but now it seems like its there because writers are reluctant to close it.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
The episode is named Pastor Tim, yet he wasn't in the episode. Weird.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Elizabeth took Paige's betrayal far better than I thought she would. I was sure that there would be some water boarding or something. The "you lie to me" comment was good. Damn Keri Russel is insanely talented. I know she has been around acting for a while. But has she had anything this dark before or have been this good at. I kind of wish she was in more movies.

The rest was pretty standard, of course they have to kill Tim. I mean that is a given. I have to wonder how that is going to play with the dynamic of not just the family, but their handlers. Should be good though.

Stan still hanging with Henry even though he thinks Phillip is having sex his wife was kind of surprising and yet not. Damn that guy just wants someone to love him and be on his side. I do like the relationship between him and Henry though.

The case right now is all right. But I am still kind of waiting for the next big scene. Something like pulling Elizabeth's tooth or the scene in the office. This show is just phenomenal.
2
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
This is one of the best shows. And it's not just that it is super good, other shows are also good. It is consistently good! Shame it doesn't get the attention it deserves
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
Yeah it holds up as a complete story. Same with Breaking Bad - didn't get huge ratings but after a while word of mouth spread.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Is Pastor Tim in the trunk?
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
I don't think so, unless I missed a reveal. I think they just go in the car to talk privately.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
The quiet intensity of this show always makes me worry that Philip or Elizabeth are going to get caught, even though they are the main characters and are probably safe for awhile!

My favorite moments in the series have always been when they show Elizabeth and Philip's human side. While they're working they have to be stoic, no panicking, no wrong moves, almost robotic, but it's good to see all these things they are asked to do take a toll on them.
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
Seriously. I like how faithful the show is to its own rules. For instance in the pilot Elizabeth struggled with her rape as a young woman and once Philip found out dude went ballistic. These two excel because they can access a true human concern for one another as mates and not just coworkers.
3
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Occasionally, I have to remind myself that this show is actually operating without a net (as in they have plans for up through season 8 but haven't been renewed) unlike a show like Bates Motel where its a clear Greek tragedy because you know what happens next and you are just waiting for the ax to drop. Basically my thought about this comes around to, I just don't know what happens and then I keep meaning to find out, like, what happened to SS officers like the Jennings? Like in 1989.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
They could be on this very site...
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Love this show so much.
2
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Grr! they name an episode after him and yet the oleaginous parasite Pastor Tim still breathes. Dammit - if there is any other TV character who needs to be made deader more than smarmy Tim the god botherer does, I just can't think of him/her.

They have to get Paige to do it - if they can do that Paige will accept her reality at long last and with a big plus - it virtually guarantees she will turn out as grounded and well adjusted as her dad.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
The thing about Pastor Tim to me has always been that I don't consider him much of a Christian pastor. He's more of an activist than a pastor.
Reply
Flag
Mar 25, 2016
This comment has been removed.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
I don't know a whole lot about the different types of Christianity, but he always struck me as a type of Christian that could exist.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
True. Activism and Christianity are not antithetical to each other. However, he rarely talks about God, just about being anti- anything America is doing at the time. Just an opinion from a church-going gal.

Anyway, I'm having a bad case of second-child syndrome for poor Henry. Is it any wonder he has to run next door to get his parenting from Stan? When his parents even remember him, they just laugh at him. Poor kid. I can just hear him "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia".
2
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
I was the second child of two. That's worse because there are only two for comparison. So, my sister was the smart one, which made me the dumb one. She was the good one, the pretty one, the talented one, and on and on. But at lease my parents weren't always out in the garage whispering about her while completely ignoring me.
1
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
Fair enough!

My older sister always did her own thing, so I became the ersatz second child of four. Ooph.
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
That scene between Elizabeth and Paige in the kitchen was pure gold.
5
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
Agreed, I don't get the Paige hate. I think she's one of the rare children/teens on TV that can hold her own.
5
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Actress wise? Sure. But the character is kind of annoying and yet I think that is the point. I mean she is the latchkey kid of all latchkey kids her parents didn't include her or train her so she has had to seek out lessons herself. She is a self made person and yet still reeks of a desperate need to belong because of her parents exclusion and that is why she saddled up next to Timmy. I think the hate of the character is what the writers were going for or at least were aware that it would incidental aspect of the way she was written.

But she also hasn't really had to deal with anything, her parents haven't even really disciplined her, I mean if I would have said some of what she has said to her parents or disobeyed them or any of that. I would have had my arse whupped. I am continually surprised that Elizabeth hasn't put her on the ground yet. Which also leads me to wonder what would happen if she did. Would Paige be able to take it or would she run to the Feds.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
I see what you mean - Paige can get a little uppity sometimes in the same way know-it-all teens can be. I think the show wants two things in order to achieve maximum conflict: for the Jennings to be a caring family and for Philip and Elizabeth to be cutthroat spies. Mom and dad can't come off too horrible or abusive otherwise they lose part of their suburban cover, but they can't be too soft either because their nature is not soft.

Sure Paige is another threat to the spy lifestyle and annoying, but I just take her as necessary and appreciate her role on that level. If she were to disappear yeah things might be a little easier for the Jennings, but this show is all about plate-spinning and juggling priorities and I guess I like how nerdy she is. Paige just feels like that thing that happens in families where the parents and teens can't relate on any level. She's a dork goodie two shoes and her parents are badasses.
2
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Good points. She is her mother's daughter. Had she trained her from an early age she would likely be just like her. But she was left her to herself and now she is who she is and it is a contrast. But, at the same time, I can't help but see the parallels between Paige's rebellion and Elizabeth dealing with Margo Martindale's character. The rebellion, the conflict in both of them being in positions set forth from the other and the conflict that arises because of that. Both know that they are right from their own perspective.

The climax of that was Elizabeth beating Margo's character down, I wonder what the climax of this is going to be.
1
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
THE AMERICANS! 4th best tv series after HOMELAND, SVU, & SHADES OF BLUE!
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Mar 24, 2016
I hear J-Lo might pop up this season as a Puerto Rican dissident
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
That would be FANtastic RyanSandoval. btw, kindly please ask sraley2 to stop stalking & harassing me? Thank you.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Sorry, but I can't agree with you. Homeland went to shit after 2-3seasons, while Americans was phenomenal all seasons. SVU and Shades of blue I haven't even heard of them.
1
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
This comment has been removed.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
More attempted harassment & false accusations (not even related to the Comment) from the stalker troll username sraley2 (btw "no matter what I read"? as a point of fact I don't comment in every story as many I don't even read on shows I don't watch).
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
By your own admission you know little other than how to write in a ghetto and/or low class poopy vulgar manner? Your loss to never have heard of major network highly acclaimed shows. Google can be your friend.
Reply
Flag
Mar 26, 2016
I wrote like that, so you would understand. I googled and from viewership I saw that SVU is slowly dying and Shades of Blue is with 6.6 rating. Seems like I'm not missing much.
Reply
Flag
Mar 26, 2016
I'm an independent thinker, & don't judge shows based on their ratings. Perhaps you didn't read enough: both have been renewed YAY! Neither is dying.
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
You certainly have eclectic taste my friend.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
This guy is not your friend. Lulz.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
I'm friends/friendly with all polite civil people sharing my interest in TV whether we have the same or different views. sraley2, what's the point of your repeated stalking & harassment?
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
btw, the aforementioned 4 in my original comment: eclectic/diverse? All 4 are dramas (2 spy & 2 cop). All 4 have 1 (or 2) hot actresses! All 4 are highly rated.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Thanks, I guess. Perhaps some shows might be eclectic but overall I'd think a somewhat limited diversity (scifi/drama & some reality) as the 70 shows on my list only contain only 2 comedies (ODD COUPLE and ANGIE TRIBECA, & both are relatively low on the list). There's also only 1 dramady (DEVIOUS MAIDS 28th currently). Most comedies would bore me and/or disgust me LOL (with respect though to those who enjoy them). I do think I DREAM OF JEANNIE was very entertaining! THREE"S COMPANY had great jiggle & fun!
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
Is Odd Couple still on the air? I thought it was another Matthew Perry washout.
Reply
Flag
Mar 24, 2016
ODD COUPLE new season begins APR 7.
Flag