The Americans "Safe House" Review: Beeman Knows Best

The Americans S01E09: "Safe House"

Resident skirt-chaser Agent Amador found himself on the wrong end of his own switchblade this week, while Phillip moved out of the Jennings homestead as part of a trial separation. However, it was Stan Beeman who was cast deepest into a sea of emotional turmoil, as "Safe House" focused on further dismantling the straight-laced agent's already isolated life. Shady workplace ethics, the loss of a partner, and the abandonment of his romantic confidant all swirled together in a final violent gesture that opened in a new, even lonelier chapter of the FBI agent's story. By losing a minor character in Amador, this ninth episode added a major layer to the already complex KGB parallel, blurring the fuzzy lines that determine who The Americans is really about.

Finding Amador was part of Stan Beeman’s job, but sporadic flashbacks into some laughs the two once shared suggested a more personal motivation. For a man who spent three years undercover as a fake person, can’t talk about work to his family, and is carrying on a romance that might just be a spy game, a partner like Amador is/was the closest thing Beeman has to a friend. Tragically, the most basic aspects of Amador's life pulled double-duty as clues to his whereabouts: For the first time, Stan saw his home, called out for him as "Chris," and voyeuristically learned of his missing partner’s family through a voicemail. Though at this point in the episode Amador wasn’t yet dead, his absence illustrated the context a living person gives to otherwise inanimate objects. Just like a parked car free of fingerprints, in losing Amador, Stan risked losing the meaning that his partner provided him. He risked losing the chance to be the most honest part of himself (the part that goofs off about enchiladas and "pussy").

That being said, it was still super-nuts surprising when the normally even-keeled fed poetically served Vlad a last meal of All-American Cheeseburger with a Side of Head Wound. On the one hand, he may have just been proving a point to the KGB, demonstrating the seriousness of U.S. threats; on the other, the gesture had to be at least somewhat personal, given the fond context of his nostalgic flashbacks. Unfortunately, the same dramatic irony that ruins the lives of characters like Vlad and Amador also makes for great TV. On a show where intel is basically spy-bucks, and the audience gets paid first, it's all I can do every Wednesday to shout at my JVC LCD phrases like, "He seriously doesn’t know anything!" and "They think the KGB stole Amador, but it was all a misunderstanding!" Then I sit down, stop my dog from barking, and take the advice of Elizabeth Jennings, who claimed, "It's all for best." To which I quote Paige, when she replied "For who?"

"For who?" indeed. Is it for the best when Beeman cheats on his wife to help America? Is it for the best when Phillip and Elizabeth lie to their children on a daily basis about being spies? Is it for the best when nations assume a singular best for multitudes of individual dependent citizens? Is it for the best when I tell friends and loved ones to ignore their own personal apprehensions about The Americans and its pitch-ready premise, and instead watch because this show expertly makes the soldiers on the frontline the same normal people they fight for in order to discuss the effects of war on the family unit? From the FBI planning a covert hit in the comfort of a home BBQ to little Henry forced to expound on the details of the American Revolution ("America won.") to Amador being cared for like a sick child by two real-married-fake-in-love-real-separated people in disguise, a case can be made that if the ones being fought for were the same as those who fought, war and comfort would become one and the same. Possibly, not for the best.        

Down to its title, "Safe House" highlighted the need for danger and uncertainty in defining happier opposites. A safe house is nothing without a threat, just like a war is nothing without a way of life to protect. 


ADDITIONAL INTEL

– Now the only "loose threads" in each organization are Nina and Martha. Wonder if Beeman will stick his neck out for the former, now that Gaad's talking about closing the book.

– Had to laugh a jaded laugh when Martha asked "Clark" "Is this real?" Hmm, where do we start?

– In honor of Amador I’ve changed my outgoing voicemail to "If I’m not working, then I’m out having a ball."

– "I'm not your friend, friend."

– "My work is my life and my life is my art." Actors beware, if you get a bunch of cool quotes, your character might be dying that episode.

– Arkady hurt his hand on a potato and Vlad hurt his brain on a burger.

– If home life was hard for Beeman before, having killed someone is definitely going to make him way more distant.

– Earlier today, Noah Emmerich held a conference call with reporters to discuss Beeman's big episode. Here's what he said!

What'd you think of "Safe House"?

Comments (29)
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Loved the episode but I agree with the fan who questioned the FBI killing off a top level diplomat. I guess I'm really fuzzy on the Russian Embassy in general... is everyone there KGB? It seems like they are because they and Granny's team of Phillip/Elizabeth keep stepping on each others toes, which makes the show more interesting than it already is, but I'm still confused about the diplomat/KGB status of the Russian embassy. Loved that a minor character was made three dimensional the episode he's killed and the continuing marital struggles between Phillip and Elizabeth are nuanced and interesting as hell.
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I give up speculating on this show. There are so many possible story lines, they're like tendrils, and they never go the way I expect.

It's so funny how Phil obviously hates having sex with Martha. She's such an idiot to choose Clark over Amador. She was the girlfriend that the "lone wolf" never admitted to.
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Wow. Fantastic storytelling once again in this wonderful freshman season. They've managed to avoid "easy" at every turn and the performances have been very very good. Hands down to Noah Emmerich in creating such a wonderful character as Stan Beeman. The random way the stories of the Jennings and jealous boyfriend Amador (glimpses in many episodes) intersected - Thumbs Up. (RIP Roger and Gene) Can't wait to see where this season winds up.

This show is like the Doctorate class to "Homeland"'s 101 in espionage dramas.
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I loved this episode. They're doing a great job of showing how bad it is for kids when their parents separate. I remembered being pissed at my mom too.
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As much as I like the series, this episode was TERRIBLE! There's absolutely no way that the FBI, or any professional intelligence service, would have kidnapped and murdered an accredited diplomat! They may do things to people living under legend but NOT to officials. Diplomatic status is far too useful, including and especially to one's own side. There's a reason why one needs immune emissaries. If you start to shoot them, the whole system breaks down, and you lose your foothold in the host country. What next, the KGB shoots an American in Moscow? And then? Vendetta forever? Nobody will get any useful work done. It's self-defeating. Professionals know that. This show doesn't. I gather that there was no order to kidnap a Soviet diplomat from higher up? With good reason. With any luck, that FBI boss will get kicked out, at the very least.
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I have to agree there. The rezident is considered an official member of the embassy staff and would have had diplomatic immunity. Even if he was caught in the act, the worse that could have happened to him was to be put on a plane to Moscow and declared a persona non grata. Killing him would cause all sorts of real problems. What would stop the KGB from then picking up the station chief for Moscow for questioning and so on?

Also, I had a problem with the use of "agent." As low as Vlad was, he was still a KGB officer, not an agent.
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JVC still makes tvs?
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So before killing Amador, whom I kind of liked before, they make sure we know he was:

a) a selfish, womanizing ass who puts "having the whole enchilada" on the top of his to-do list,

b) uber-dedicated to his job as a "follow orders without question", ends-justify-the-means spy/killer,

c) used to be an altar boy but is now a fast-living, nihilistic ex-soldier who spouts self-help pabulum about time flying and seizing the day, but can't be honest with himself about the woman he really loves (Martha).

And I'm supposed to care about his death why, exactly?

Otherwise, I thought Beeman's arc here was excellent but wasn't really fond of the Jennings angle.
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I think the the kids project I forget his name) on the revolutionary war was very symbolic of what the tv show is about. From my limited knowledge of american history, my understanding of the revolutionary war was that it was more of a civil war in which loyalists and rebels, living life in america, fought each other resulting in the division of families and friends under the guise of the historical mistaken belief that the war was about two countries.
Sounds very familiar to what the Americans is about.
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This was a fantastic episode. If only in the way that they killed off Amador. I think we all figured out early on that he was going to be the first character that we know that dies. I figured it was going to go out in a blaze of glory, or he accidentally stumbles upon Elizabeth and she in a rage beats him to death. But either way it could have happened, I figured it was going to be action oriented. To have him slowly bleed to death on a cot in a run down warehouse was in a way perfect for the show. It was a slow build up, a little reveal and then he died. And I liked it. Loved the conversation between Elizabeth and him and it was just well done.

I find the separation interesting. In that they both know, or at least understand now that this was just an arrangement so they will be able to deal with it. But I don't think they truly anticipated the reactions from Paige and Henry and that adds a whole new layer to their dilemma. And again it is done well.

Beeman is somewhat of a puzzle as to how he is going to react to this. Granted we saw him shoot a man while eating a burger (seriously, that is not cool ) but what next. Is he going to start heading off the deep end. Is he going to look to fill the void that Amador leaves. Will Phillip use that in order to get closer to Beeman and what will come of that.

Henry's "paper" was great. I think coupled well with Amador's statement that America wins. It has at least for me been the elephant in the room for the entire show. As good as this is, as great the story is and the ride they are taking us on. We know the end result. But that doesn't diminish the quality that the show runners are putting out.

Overall another great episode.
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RANDOM THOUGHTS
1) Bad parenting - they have now ruined fried chicken for the kids
2)"i'm fully lubricated" - most disturbing line in the series so far
3)Phillip spent the night with the secretary and his disguise was fine in the morning?
4)Beemans hunting monoloue was very cool
5)Amador we hardly knew/liked you - RIP i guess
6)"The whole enchilada" - not that funny, stakeouts must be dull
7)The mouthful of food being spat out when shot - nice touch

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I was very surprised to see the makeup intact. I kept waiting for Martha to find the wig on the side of the bed when she came with breakfast.
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I agree about "I'm fully lubricated" - I was like WTF was that?!
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It means he was high/drunk. College in the '80s. Not a popular expression but "fully lubricated" always meant fall down drunk.
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maybe its something they said in the 80's
"hey man, how are you?"
"i'm totally lubricated!"
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I was a kid in 80's and as far as I remember back then lubrication wasn't an openly discussed subject.
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maybe it FBI slang?
"Are you ready to kill that commie spy?"
"i'm totally lubricated!"
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That bit of dialog between Elizabeth and Amador...

"We've met before."

"I don't think so. I would have remembered."

"At a bar. We both had too much to drink. We screwed our brains out. You couldn't get enough of me."

"And you?"

"I came and went."

LOL!

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"Safe House" was one of the best episodes of The Americans. I still think nothing can beat the pilot though.

1. Amador - I'm going to miss him. He was a funny, unscrupulous man. I wonder who will replace him as Beeman's partner.

2. Beeman - he should work for the other side. He has already mastered NKVD / KGB icon way of killing people, which is shooting them in the back of the head. True, he didn't tie Vlad's hands with a barbed wire, but I'm sure he'll learn that soon.

3. Elizabeth and Phillip - so Phililp moved out. I hope they will make up before the end of season 1. I want them to be both lovers and partners in spy game.

4. Poor Vlad. He only wanted to run and eat junk food.

I can't wait for the next episode. Thanks for review, Ryan!
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Love the episode with so many amazing moments from start to finish, Beeman will be more detached with the death of his best friend which will drive him further to bring down the KGB.

Martha has got to be the most clueless staff of the FBI in history passing out classified info to a stranger.
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I did find myself also not actually yelling at the TV but squirming, especially with Vlad. I also found myself laughing at Henry's paper. Okay, seriously that has always been my problem. I can expound on all of the rest of it, but you ask me to write a memo about the revolutionary war...well, you know. Someday he will be one of the forerunners of the snarky world we live in today (maybe he will be a writer on Veronica Mars). I also found myself going, I wonder if it is easier with cell phones?

Stan is going to get himself in so much trouble..I hope he realized how badly he treated Nina (again with cell phones, you wonder even if he had tried to figure out through her whether Vlad would or could know if he would have killed him anyway). Oddly, Vlad was the only one who looked at Nina suspiciously, so at least she is safe for a bit longer. I do wonder how much she knows about Philip and Elizabeth and ever turns to Philip for help if she hears about everything.

Now, I know Amador was an asshole, but Philip certainly didn't handle that situation correctly. He could have said something less confrontational about his and Martha's relationship and I don't know if Amador would have gotten that far.
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I first thought the same about Phillip's and Amador's initial confrontation but I'm thinking that Phillip came off that way because he didn't want to look like he was actually trying to get info out of Martha but rather just there to screw her. Either way it was pretty much game over the second Amador mentioned Phillip leaving Martha's place.
If Amador had just left, he would've later questioned Martha about it at which point Martha may have told him that he works for the department, at which point Amador would've looked him up and found out that there was no "Clark" working in whatever department he claimed to work.
I couldn't see it going in any other way that would've left both Amador and Phillip alive.
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I suppose, but I kept thinking if he had just played innocent as Martha's new boyfriend and apologizes if he was intruding on something he didn't know anything about between Amador and Martha. Yes, it might have led to Amador asking Martha about her new boyfriend and the name itself might have led to being a fake, but I doubt Martha would have outed where he said he worked because she does understand some of the quiet that is needed especially since Clark has said he works for the part that monitors Amador's department. Heck, call his bluff and even though Martha is gone for the day, say, let's go talk to Martha (that would probably require Philip having our knowledge of Amador who wouldn't call that bluff).
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I think Philip was very upset (due to the obvious personal reasons) and lost control.
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Yeah I guess that makes sense. Honestly I was pretty shocked he didn't act more apologetic but I guess the showrunner needed it to go that way for the extra tension and drama.
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Superb episode! But I had to see Nina treated so badly urrgh. Anyway, when you described the show, what did you mean by pitch ready premise?
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I love Nina as much as anyone, but she's duplicitous and had it coming. As long as she isn't physically hurt, I'm happy to see if it smokes her out.

(As a double standard, I'm fine with Phil being duplicitous as long as I'm in on it.)
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