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The Americans S02E09: "Martial Eagle"


The spies on The Americans do so much sneaking and snooping for tech plans that it’s easy to forget the spiritual ramifications of the Cold War. Ideology is what was really at stake, so it’s justifiable that fighting for what felt like a losing side might've caused someone to question the big ideas behind all the trouble. Directed by Alik Sakharov and written by playwright Tracy Scott Wilson, "Martial Eagle" promised a mission, but what it delivered was a collection of much more introspective journeys. Stan and Sandra shared a tough look at their relationship, Philip and Elizabeth dealt with the bloody aftermath of the contra plan—as well as Paige’s financial devotion to Christianity—and Gaad prepared to testify with his job and freedom on the line. It was an hour well-spent, highlighting how those tasked with saving the world keep going in the face of futility.      

Mostly though, "Martial Eagle" was about Philip tearing apart Paige’s teen bible and whipping it across the kitchen before screaming, "You respect Jesus, but not us?!" The septic plan to get onto the base where our boys trained Nicaraguan soldiers worked like a charm, except for a grunt who got his throat slit, and the bound truck driver who died from exposure. Elizabeth also racked up two bodies in this episode, but it was Philip who found himself most affected by the unnecessary deaths. Just last week he had spared the driver, acting as the "good cop" when Elizabeth wanted to off the guy. Another casualty in an increasingly murky war. 

Man, that glare during "Teenage Sunday" was priceless. Philip didn’t need some church leader preaching about how a selfless God could offer contentment, when he knew otherwise. Even so, as is the case with any effective sermon, the ideas stayed with him the following day. Did Philip curse these notions because it'd be too painful to hope for redemption after all the horrible things he's done? My favorite thing about Elizabeth and Philip’s disdain for Christianity is how foreign the idea of practicing any faith is to them—it's not just this particular religion. They feel very passionate about the uselessness of any sort of belief system, so Paige’s charitable donations weren't seen as a kindness, but a practical slap in the face to her caretakers. "Who told you to do it? The pastor? His wife? Stop protecting them!" Elizabeth asked, dipping into interrogation mode, more spy than mother.  


While Philip got all moody and broody, Elizabeth forced Paige to clean the house in the middle of the night to make the girl appreciate what it means to be a grown-up. "Being a grown-up means doing things you don’t want to do all the time," Elizabeth lectured (especially if you are a trained assassin), but this display was mostly about showing support for Philip. Notice how Elizabeth gave him nearly the same speech he had given her about Lucia? Normally buoyant, Philip shrugged off his wife’s help and accused her of having an easier time killing, which is what married KGB say to hurt each other. Surely he can’t believe this. I mean, of the two, Philip’s been dealing with the side effects of his expert, murdering ways much more than Elizabeth, but he also seems to be killing a lot more. If it’s so hard for him, why is he doing it so much?

Holy cow, Pastor Tim (Kelly Aucoin) has no idea how lucky he is to be alive. Philip was a straight-up tragic villain this episode, all playing Martha’s insulting tape and figuring stuff out in disguise by the sea. So when I saw those black gloves letting Philip into the empty church, I thought the religous hybrid of Matthew McConaughey and Harry Dunne from Dumb and Dumber was a goner. Tim was rightfully baffled at this father who was ordering him to keep the church away from his daughter, when usually dads are all, "My child, I forbid you to go to church." Speaking of which, why don’t they forbid Paige from going to church? I guess because it’s an ideology, with no clean way of pointing out the damaging effects. Also, though, Philip and Elizabeth are trying to be good parents. Lesser guardians would be like, "Hell go do whatever, just don’t get pregnant," but the Jennings care about their relationship with their kids enough to let Paige and Henry have a little bit of agency. Ironic, then, how this same freedom led to Paige’s donating to the less fortunate, in a sort of Communist fashion.


Who knows what went on at the Rezidentura this week, as our only taste of that staff was a check-in with Arkady. Which is fine, Oleg and Nina have earned a day off. Gaad plopped himself down right in front of his Russian counterpart, and basically beg-threatened Arkady before he was set to testify. Well, maybe less of a beg, and more of a threat. Who knows how much of an impact the classified testimony of the late Richard Patterson (remember, Claudia slit his throat?) will have. A report goes out, the media gets a hold of it, sure, but I feel like at most, the U.S. would increase resources in counterintelligence. It would not guarantee the removal of Directorate S. Maybe Arkady knew this, maybe he planned on taking this intel back to Oleg, but either way, the Russians are still on top here.

The only thing that can bring them down is the good old-fashioned American work ethic of one Stan Beeman, which in "Martial Eagle" involved interviewing researchers involved with the Department of Defense. Yes, Stan's life has been in a bit of a tailspin lately, what with Sandra self-helping herself right into the arms of another lover, but marriage was never his strong suit. Stan’s dedication may have cost him a lot, but connecting Emmett and Leanne’s deaths to the DoD meeting in Alexandria on January 23 is his first big step back toward making things right. How fitting that his ability to discover the facts comes as his personal code of ethics deteriorates. Operating in gray areas has gotten him in trouble, but it’s also given him more intimate access to the methods of his enemies. All that’s left is to connect the dots. Let’s just hope that by the time he does, it isn’t already too late.


EXTRA INTELLIGENCE

– Pretty cool use of a fake war scenario to create some real deaths

– I thought Beeman’s speech to the science nerds about exploiting weakness would end with him smacking his forehead and exclaiming, "Nina’s in on it!"

– Someone please put "Today was a shitty day, with my shitty kids and my shitty husband" on a T-shirt. 

– Elizabeth angling in on a Northrop employee, but also sharing feels about her hubby.

– I don’t think people should trash-talk people behind their backs, but every time Philip plays that fake tape, it’s funny hearing Gaad say "Come on guys, Martha’s ugly..." like that’s the jumping-off point for a regular conversation. 

– Elizabeth’s reaction to finding out about Paige’s donation: "We’ll definitely talk about that."

– Dr. Ruth playing while Sandra packed her bags. She definitely has some plans.

– Martha’s breathy response: "Bastards..."

– "If they can keep you afraid, and ashamed, then they can keep you silent. And if they keep you silent, they can control you." No one knows that better than you, Stan. 

– Philip also had God issues way back in "The Clock," remember?

– John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Which country is the "thief"?


What'd you think of "Martial Eagle"


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/8/2016

Season 4 : Episode 13

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No one have trouble with them flying down to Nicaragua and break in to base and return in one night? Kids didn't miss them again? And for what? to take a few pictures? What was the point of doing all that previous stuff with Larric to get the codes to break in--If Larric was going to help let Larric take the pics and send them to you.
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The camp wasn't in Nicaragua, it was a training camp in Virginia for the Contras.
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Also minor nitpick. Uniform Larrick is shown wearing doesn't make sense. It's desert camouflage (AKA Chocolate chip cookie pattern). And while it entered service in early 1980s so it's not anachronistic it was ment for troops operating in desert regions, i.e. Middle East. Not jungle regions of Central America so he wouldn't be wearing it.

Odd msitake since show makes a big deal about clothing being appropriate
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God, what are spies awful people. This series really shows the consequences of a life of lying, cheating, blackmailing, killing on all levels. Who's not a mess (more or less by now?) Oleg? Arcady? Nina is holding up alright. But that's it. Meanwhile, even Gaad is on the edge...
Philip's late visit to the pastor and his sullen stare on the bench were so intense, he is my personal MVP of this season so far.
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How's Arkady's style? Drinking coffee in a nice restaurant, wearing a lovely grey three-piece suit. I think he "likes it here too much".
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Sometimes I wonder if they have a list of which wig goes with which cover identity. :)
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And where Elizabeth keeps all those coats.
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Everything about this episode was awesome. Love the constant tension and emotion. Also, really like the long con with Martha. Every interaction with her Philip is playing some angle while making it seem so natural and convincing. It's fantastic.
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The check-in with Larrick was short, but telling.. The look on his face when he heard about the murders promises some big trouble for the Jennings in the near future!
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While Larrick is a creep, I can't wait to see what he has planned for these two.
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Interesting issues involving religion. OK, so we had the confrontation between Phil and the pastor. But as this show is produced in the United States, and (the Protestant) church is such a cultural cornerstone of American society, we had a very kind and understanding American man of the cloth ("I feel your pain, man.") being confronted by an enraged Soviet assassin and professional liar.

But it seems to me in a more ordinary situation, a concerned parent would have many good reasons, and solid arguments, to keep their child away from organized religion, especially one that takes hundreds of dollars from children. Come on, you don't have to be an atheist communist to see there was something very wrong with that situation, even if the pastor offered to return the money after the fact.

Ironically, I think an active life in the parish would be an excellent cover for Phil and Elizabeth. But their family unit is falling apart and considering things are going, I don't see how they'll be able to maintain the front of a regular happy family. I wonder how, in real life, families in those conditions used to last as families, since so much of their lives is based on lies on top of lies.

I wonder if Martha will have any sort of career, or even get to be out of prison for the rest of her life, when the truth about "Clark" comes out and the FBI raids her place and takes her in handcuffs. If she's not killed by Phil first, of course.

Poor Henry, nobody wanted to appreciate his skills as an amateur magician... Somebody could at least have humored the kid and picked a damned card.
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I think you got it backwards. The professional liar was the Pastor. Phil was the truth, but he shouldve caved that pastor's face in for toying with Paige's emotions, selling her all that fluffy feel good nonsense. What kind of a man would take a six hundred dollar donation form a teenage girl knowing he has multiple adult congregants with which to line his pockets? "Are you gonna beat me up?" Well I prayed about it, and God told me to kick your ass.
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My first reaction to your post, as a Christian, was to get mad. My second one is to feel like the pastor did in this show--you too can find a better life when you no longer fight God.
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Go tell it on the mountain, Reverend...
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I do think that if the Pastor and his wife were all that sinister they wouldn't have mentioned Paige's donations in front of her parents (that was an uh-oh moment where they assumed it was with their consent) and they even considered taking her to where the money is spent using the Jennings travel agency.

However that said, I was totally on board with Philip carrying out some wet work in the house of God given his darkness this episode. Witnessing his perspective during the sermon I could see how the church could be considered as great an enemy to the people and the Soviet ideology as much as the US government.
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Being the 80s, $600 then would be about $1,487 today (if I'm working this inflation calculator right). There was no indication that Paige lied to Tim either. He "assumed" it was all right.

I've been thinking about Martha, and wonder if "Clark" could close the loop without killing her. Maybe he'll show a little surprise humanity and fake-leave Martha, or fake his death. I am pro-Martha being on the show though, so I guess I'm hoping for the best.

That was a pretty great family/angry Philip moment - "Not now Henry!"

Another moment that I keep thinking back to is Philip alone on the bench just sitting in silence.
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Of all supporting characters Martha is one I feel most about. Sure she is naive and blinded but beleives she is doing right thing and Philip is so good at manipulating her.

And yes, Philip brooding on that bench was awesome scene.
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And yes, Philip brooding on that bench was awesome scene..

Hell yea it was. So was Paige's reaction..
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Poor poor Martha, I feel so bad for her.
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True. Phil was cruel to play the "Ugly" card. Martha is totally and completely vulnerable. She wants so bad to be loved. Lots of people are like that and they're constantly manipulated.
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I'm from Brazil and here there are many new Evangelic churches which have a bad reputation for squeezing every penny out of their not-so-well-off followers. So that part gave me a terrible impression of the pastor. So much so, perhaps I wish the episode had focused more on the ideology and Paige's spiritual awakening instead, because the money issue taints the relationship of Paige and the church and eclipses more interesting aspects.
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For sure, I also have a past with money and churches that left a bad taste in my mouth so I'm happy they're forcing those two ideas together right up front. This show's so smart about how it accesses moral and existential discussions, that whenever The Americans introduces a a new theme, I'm like "Huh, that does make sense in the context of both regular human existence and espionage..."
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How many lives would be spared if Philip carried a rag soaked in something like chloroform that knocked someone out and affected their recollection of the moments leading up to passing out? The computer guy in ARPANET & the soldier in Martial Eagle whose throat Philip slit are two. P&E are quick with guns & knives, but how about a syringe filled with a sedative?
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I think that would just defeat the point of showing how P&E would do anything for their country, including being ruthless cold blooded killers. Just my $.02 anyway.
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Dead tell no tales.
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Very true, but collateral damage can draw more attention than an eyewitness. From the promos, it's looks like the soldiers Philip killed will come back to bite P&E since Laric's knows they're responsible and thought only the Nicaraguan commanders were going to be killed.
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It would be good if he could just sock' em on the jaw to unconsciousness like some cheezy kids war comic but if he'd just blacked out the Arpanet guy instead of disappearing him they would find the "bug".
Even the soldier's death created confusion as there was discussion of someone taking the war game seriously, buying time and obscuring the true motive of the deaths, of course Laric could of cleared up that confusion immediately but not without divulging his own culpability.
Maybe if Philip was Solid Snake or a Commando's game character he could just drug people, take their uniform and store them in a locker till completion of the mission.
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This, pretty much. Once bodies start piling up one more doesn't make much of a difference and is easier to explain than unconscious guy who could then tell he was knocked out by some strange man.

Same with Arpanet technician. If he was jsut knocked out he could tell what happened and security would figure out something went down there. If he disappers.... suspicious and strange but less so than a dead body.

But they left alive that guy from factory they stole designs from...
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Wow, Matthew Rhys pretty much owned this episode, I usually single out Keri Russel when talking about the show, but damn Rhys was amazing. Hope these performences get noticed later this year. Anyways, anybody else notice that Stan is left-handed?
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Yes, one of things I've noticed about Stan.
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Great episode and most things have been discussed in the comments. I just wished they reveal sooner or at least give us some clues on who killed the undercover family (I cannot even remember their names now) who are friends with the Jennings. Any theory on that? Looks like now Beeman is getting into it.
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What if it was the Lebanese guys' retaliation? (I think those guys Phil killed were Lebanese).
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A lot of other TV shows make it so obvious but for this show I totally have no clues. I was leaning towards Claudia earlier but now I doubt for the fact that Martindale appear so little in season two.
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For me the biggest puzzle is why did they let son alive. If somebody knew they were Directorate S illegals then they knew they had two kids and if they wanted to kill them as well it would be simple matter of waiting until they could kill all four of them or kill son separately. If they wanted to kill just the parents then again it would be simple matter of picking right moment when kids wouldn't be around.

I just hope it doesn't turn out a cheap cop out when son is a psychopath and he killed his family.
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Still, it was obviously well planned thing so they could afford to wait until son got back to his room (if they wanted to kill everybody) or wait to get parents on their own (if they didn't want to kill the kids)
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I think they let the son live because he wasn't in the room at the time--just the daughters bad luck--I'm sure they only wanted the parents but had to take the daughter because she was a witness.
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Agreed but I think the writers should be smart enough to give a satisfactory answer.
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Afghans. This is 1982 so afghan war is just kicking off. And I thought so at first as well but I doubt they have infrastructure in place to pull off something like that.
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You're right, he did say Afghans. Not sure where I got "Lebanese" from.
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I agree with what others said, one of best eps. I found the scene where they find truck driver depressing and then Philip just brooding on the beach..... Well written, well acted. I like the inner struggle with Philip. The Jewish scientist, all the deaths that were avoidable.....

But whole Paige and church thing was overreacting. But I guess Philip lashed out because he had to and Paige was there with her religion and things. What Elizabeth did was less lashing out (though it was partly) and more backing Philip. Though I think this will come back to haunt them. There were better ways to handle that.

I knew Philip woun't kill the pastor, that would be stupid. But whole scene did play out as I expected, soft and thinly veiled threats.

What I like is that in past few eps we see their home life in tailspin. Paige and church, Henry and his break in. That's a nice counterpoint to their maritial problems in season 1. And on top of Philip's issues.
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This episode makes me love this show even more! I love that there is no good or bad side but that both contribute to this war equally in their own ways
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Everyone's conflicted.
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And in a just world. Matthew Rhys would be getting an Emmy for this episode, because damn.

Not a lot happened this episode in regards to the overall plot. But damn, a lot happened. This was a crack in Phillip, Phillip is having problems, Mossad Agents are calling him monsters, he has to deal with an informant that doesn't really trust him because Phillip didn't find him first, his daughter is joining a cult (in his mind) and his wife is having an easier time killing people. This was a no good, very bad day for Phillip. You would think he would take a look at his new Trans Am and just be like, ah, at least I have you.

Phillip lashed out a lot during this episode. He lashed out at Elizabeth, question her ease at doing things. When really he has done a great deal more. He lashed out at Martha, because he really didn't at that point need to have her listen to the tape. He just wanted to make her feel just as bad as he was feeling. There was no strategy behind it. Which may cost him. They are on a very precarious knife edge here.

Follow me for a minute. Two results can occur from him playing the tape in regards to the current happenings around them. A. Gaad keeps his job because Arkady does something and his problems suddenly go away he is still Martha's boss and she doesn't say anything and goes about informing to Phillip in hopes to get him canned at some point. B. He gets fired, because he is no longer Martha's boss at some going away party, Martha confronts him about the his statement, he doesn't know what the hell is going on and tells her. They figure out Clark isn't Clark and relay that to Beeman which brings them one step closer to being found out. I think it was a mistake on Phillip's part to reveal that to Martha at this point, I think he was emotional and was just lashing out at anyone and everyone he could and he may pay for it.

The mission was kind of a cluster@#k. Also, who was the guy that Phillip killed? he just looked like some random guy walking around the grounds. Was he CIA? Also how are they going to forget that people can die of hypothermia, for crying out loud there was snow on the ground. That seemed probably the sloppiest thing that they did.

The church. ah, that was perfect. Two well trained spies that can look at people and lie to their faces without even the hint of them doing so. But you toss in the fact that your daughter gave two missionaries $600 and they break, just a little bit. The result of that was also perfect. Mostly because you would think as passionate as Elizabeth was about it that she would have been the one to snap.But no, it was Phillip, which made that scene that much more poignant. Well done. I have to say that I would be equally as pissed if I had a daughter that did that. However, they hypocrisy about faith is fascinating. They honestly don't see that their faith in the motherland is equal if not greater than those who have faith in religion. What they do, how they do it and for the reasons they do it is really no different even more so, they are up to evangelical beliefs about the goodness of their cause and their country, they have to be in order to do the things that they do.

Personally I kind of wanted Phillip to kill the pastor. If only because he seems like he needed some catharsis and it might have been good for him.

And finally, something connecting the death of the family to the overall story. That was great. I have to wonder where Beeman is going to go with that, if he can go anywhere. His interviewing people that potentially could be compromised while he is in fact compromised is fantastic. Well done show.

Great episode, I would call it a filler episode. But even their episodes like this reveal a lot with just a little bit of information and a ton of great acting.
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Loved your post. I also loved the look on Paige's face when the pastor mentioned the $600 to the Jennings. Perfect.
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Interesting logic - Phillip is having trouble with killing people, and his cartharsis is supposed to kill some more people :) I get where you come from but I still think that is very dark thinking...

Oh and I totally agree on Martha. Playing her the tape was just mean, and probably will bite him in the ass in some way. But I think the ariters also had to come up with an arc for Martha. She can't just be a source all the time, that would become boring.
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I don't think he is having problems with killing people in general. I think he is having problem with the whether it was necessary or not and presumably the innocents that are getting in the way, the truck driver, the student in the computer lab, the bus boy from the first episode etc. Conceivably, because he views the pastor is interfering with his daughter and thus his family and represents what is to him a great evil in the world. I think in his mind that the killing of the pastor would not only be warranted, but he would be justified in doing so. And it would be an "easy" kill not only in effort but in his logic behind it. Pastor = bad = kill. Thus kind of setting him back on the right path or what he perceives is the right path. I agree that it is screwed up, but he needs a reset and I think that would have been it.
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Wow, what an intense episode. I don't even know what else to say about it.
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Strongest episode of the second season for me. It really brought in all the elements that made the first season so stellar. The big theme that I find most powerful in the show was in full force here, and that's Americanization--the idea that Phillip and Elizabeth can't stop their kids from being American. In a way, they can't prevent themselves from being American either. Moments like when Elizabeth tells Paige how lucky she is--a very trite, American sentiment. The thing is that it's part facade, but she partly means it, too.

It had high stakes, difficult situations, internal and ideological conflict, great acting and writing.
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By far the slowest episode of The American's history till date, but by no mean weak or dull! A lot happened, a lot was going on. Each and every single character was an emotional wreck and missed seeing a few of my favorites in there too. I am sure that newly coupled spies were happier than others in the bed.
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That was the most depressing hour of television I've ever seen. The music was especially gloomy. Everyone looks so miserable. But man this show is great. I really hope this show and these actors at least get nominated this year.
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This is why I love this show! Phillip's reaction to killing was priceless, especially juxtaposed with the church. I really thought he was going to beat up the pastor but never thought he was going kill him. While he sees "the opiate of the masses" affecting his daughter it seems he's also wondering if it can bring him the peace he needs. I also noticed Ollie North helped write this episode. Can't wait for next week.
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You forgot the line of the night:
"This is war. You think they would've done anything less to us? Reagan -"
"I don't need the speech. I know it's war"

I laughed so hard at Philipp finally calling Elizabeth on her Reagan bullshit.
Also, that fight in the kitchen has got to be an Emmy for Matthew Rhys! Such a strong episode for him.

Looking forward to Stan finally putting some pieces together, that guy needs a break.
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I look forward to the Jennings getting the pieces from the FBI. The FBI figuring out the Soviets' biggest mystery for them, what fun!
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Anyone else notice that this episode was co-written by Oliver North?

Seems like Stan could figure out Emmett & Leeann were Directorate S, but how? It'd be interesting if he figures out who killed them before or around the same time P&E do, and Stan has eyes on the killer(s) when P&E try to take them out. I think I saw Gaad put that microphone pen in his box of personal effects. How long until P&E determine that Martha's of no use to them? That whole situation is a Stan-meets-Clark or Martha-meets-Philip train wreck waiting to happen that will probably ends with Martha's staged suicide.

I understand P&E anger about Paige's involvement in the Church, especially about the donations. What kind of church or pastor accepts $600 from a teenager without checking with the parents to make sure it's not their money that they no nothing about, that it's not coming out of her college fund, or that the money could be better spent on buying her a car? In my experience religious organizations don't really care if someone gives all of their money to them, leaving them destitute, and church's just assume that people will do things for them for free & without a second thought because "it's for the church'.
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Yeah, I noticed Oliver North's name. For a moment I even wondered if it would be another person with the same name, one of these coincidences. But being a show about international espionage, that seems right in North's field of expertise.
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So a 15/16 year old manages to donate $600 over, what, a few weeks? Yes, that certainly sounds like a completely legit organisation to me. However, that wasn't really mentioned in the review, so maybe it's not that unusual in the US for children to show up to places like this with wads of cash?

On a different tack, I still don't really understand why Stan gave Oleg those surveillance reports. Nina is an official agent, known about by Gaad, they even did the whole lie-detector thing in order to make sure she's real. So, why wouldn't he report that their (probably best) agent is being threatened with discovery? Maybe I've missed something.
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And 600 1983 dollars, which must be, like, a thousand or more now. maybe much more? I have no idea.
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Oleg wasn't threatening to report Nina to the FBI, he was threading to report her to the KGB, who would execute her as a traitor. Remember, Stan doesn't know Nina's a triple agent.
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Yes I understand that, but surely if that was the case, he would report that threat to the FBI. And then they could decide whether to give Oleg what he wanted officially. Or immediately evacuate Nina. Rather than him deciding on his own and passing on FBI data?
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I think it might be against the rules for Stan to be screwing Nina. He hasn't mentioned it in any of his attempts to extricate her, which have all been denied. He's probably guessing they'll refuse to hand the plans over, or assign her to another agent. Also, didn't Oleg threaten Stan/Nina with something if he blabbed? Stan doesn't seem to be taking any chances with Nina's life and liberty.
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Very true, 3Jane!
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They'd already made it clear that she wasn't important enough to warrant an extraction, though.
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The writer for this series is excellent. I so enjoy the series. The thought and creativity is awesome. The actors are the best ...
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I think the reviewer is misunderstanding Philip and Elizabeth's problem with Paige going to church, they are hardcore communists, soviets, they wouldn't have been chosen as deep cover agents if they weren't, and the soviets really didn't like organised religion.

They tolerated some, mostly during and after WWII when they needed the orthodox church onside, but as a whole they were very anti-religion.

Philip and Elizabeth were raised hearing about the evils of religion, how it was a tool for keeping people down, the whole "opiate of the masses" thing.

So to them seeing Paige embrace it is like she is spitting on their entire lives, but since they had to blend in they couldn't raise their kids "right", nor could they "warn" them about the "dangers" of it, it must be incredibly frustrating.

You saw bits of it last season when they were dealing with the kid's homework, which naturally was very Americanocentric, but it's something I'd love to see more of.



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Warning the pastor off, isn't exactly 'blending in'.
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Well, I think in the case of religion and the USSR, we have to differentiate between the countries. In Russia they might have surpressed religion a lot more than in Poland and East Germany. I don't know about the other bloc-countires, but in those two religion still played a major role throughout the Soviet-era.
It also, in the end, facilitated the soviet downfall. When Paul II became Pope, religion and the church (figuratively and literally) became a home for the Solidarnos people. In East Germany the churches were one of the centers of the monday-demonstrations and a safe haven for many opposition people.

In both cases the party and state did allow the churches to exist. They might have been under surveillance but they were not banned. I think that would have caused to much of an upset in the population. Even the soviets did not want to try that.
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Yeah, I get what you're saying, and understand why Philip and Elizabeth have a problem with Paige going to church. Though I guess I'm thinking beyond their soviet, blanket-hatred of religion, and what's specifically keeping the Jennings from denying Paige access to the church all together. Blending in doesn't necessarily mean going to church - heck not all Americans were or are Christians, so it's not like their cover depends on letting their children explore spirituality. I wonder why, as parents who despise religion, they don't just disallow her from attending, or explain their thoughts on the negative effects of religion. I believe the reason is somewhere between not wanting to give Paige fuel for rebellion and still allowing her enough individuality to find her own way.
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Even in the 1980s it was one thing not to attend church, it was another entirely to be actively hostile to it.

It would draw attention to them, and that's not something they want at all. They are suppose to be 'average' middle Americans.

Atheists, while not rare, were the subject of gossip, and that's not something they want at all.
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My parents were vehemently anti-religion while I was growing up in the late 60's and it certainly didn't draw any attention or gossip.It wasn't like we had a sign on the lawn,they explained their feelings to me on the subject and told me that in their house those beliefs were not tolerated.
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Fair enough, sure they wouldn't want to draw unwanted attention, but I wonder who exactly would do the gossiping? Pastor Tim? Kelli? Stan and Sandra don't seem to be religious, and everyone else the Jennings know are either travel agent employees, spies or assets. They don't exactly have a community.
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Well, the most gossip would originate from the kids themselves, in school for example.
Have you ever known kids to keep something like annoying parents secret? I know I wouldn't have. And if other kids know, soon enough other parents know. As soviet spies I would not want to be known for forbidding my daughter to go to church in the US. That is like sticking a red flag right in your driveway.
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