Early in tonight’s episode Philip asks Elizabeth, “Don’t you enjoy any of this?” which is met with a hazy acknowledgement that things are easier for her in America, but it ultimately does not matter, as the mission is what is most important. This is also the episode where Elizabeth is forced to watch Lucia be strangled to death for the sake of her mission, as well as debate with Philip about whether or not to murder another innocent, as loose ends could be a potential problem. Rooting for the Russians to come out on top is not the idea of this show for obvious reasons, but rooting for these characters is the kind of challenge that I am happy to embrace, as seeing Philip enjoying his new car can be much more preferable to having to kill a guy to keep his cover. Of course, sometimes plans are not what they seem and a submarine full of comrades end up dying.
“New Car” starts off at its happiest, with Philip and Henry visiting an auto dealer, only to come home with a new Chevy Camaro Z28, blasting “Rock this Town” on the radio. There is a break in this sequence, as we get a cut to Anton back in Russia. You remember him, he was shipped back to the mother country, without getting a chance to say goodbye to his family in “The Deal” (one of the best episodes of this series). Anton is dealing with something we will get to later, but his appearance works as a solid reminder that keeping up appearances may be fun for Philip, but he also has to do some horrible things sometimes, which is why this episode also finds him second guessing how cold he really needs to be.
The uneasiness in Philip’s work is seen with Martha this week. After patching things up (offscreen), the two argue about her continuing to be her secret spy, as she does not feel right, given that she is married to a man who is making her do things at her job that she does not feel comfortable with. This leads to Philip editing a recording to make it sound like Martha’s co-workers are saying real nasty things about her, but he shows restraint when it comes time to play the tape for her, because it really is just so cruel. So Martha is off the hook this week for another “Poor Martha” tag, but the “Poor” will align itself with some others we see in this episode.
Lucia has made it very clear that Larrick is not someone she is comfortable working with and that of course led to her downfall this week. After surprising Larrick in his house and tranquilizing him, Lucia finds herself tranquilized as well, leading to Larrick getting the upper hand, once he awakens. Elizabeth is called over to Larrick’s house and the options become simple: Lucia is going to die and Larrick will either help or not help, depending on how Elizabeth handles the situation. What follows is both very harsh and solid filmmaking on display. Watching Larrick not only strangle the life out of Lucia, but seeing Lucia’s eyes watch Elizabeth reveal that she has no intention of stopping him is the kind of thing that makes The Americans so worthwhile. It is not a flashy show, but it does know how to convey subtlety and the complexity of facial acting very well.
It is that subtlety that makes Noah Emmerich’s work as Stan so strong week after week. While putting him in Oleg’s court has certainly made Stan a more active character in recent weeks, we are still watching a man who has less and less control of his life, which is becoming more and more isolated, despite all who are around him. Mrs. Beeman has a moment to express further discontent towards her husband, as Stan’s befuddlement over dinner plans continues to upset her appealing visage. Nina is presumably playing Stan and Oleg, which will likely be effected by the news that Stan received and his own dealings with Oleg. Even Stan’s garage has become a challenge, as Stan deals with physically tight quarters and lashes out at it. Emmerich is doing great work at playing this character, but Poor Stan and Lucia, indeed.
If that was not enough, plenty of Russians died this week ( also offscreen). Several episodes ago, Elizabeth and Philip stole propeller plans. It turns out these plans were a part of a false intel scheme set up by the American government, in a hope to find Soviets using them and realizing the hard way that the info was useless. This led to an unfortunate scenario of a submarine being rushed into production and resulting in the loss of 160 soldiers. Having this kind of reveal is a fine way to both produce clear motivation for our “Americans” taking on Contras in a couple weeks (there’s a video game spoof poster waiting to happen) and get us back perfectly to this episode’s namesake.
Before Philip learns of the submarine fiasco, he arrives to meet Kate in his new Camaro, with plenty of pride to go along with it. Philip is the more emotional, between him and Elizabeth, but while he sadly had to kill a man in last week’s episode, he is more than happy to be proud of his new toy this week. Of course, Philip then learns the news from Kate and his walk back to his super cool Camaro is a near shameful one, as this America-made car is a part of the same country that had its leader (a prominently featured Reagan this week) speaking on television about Soviet defense. The new car in this episode occupies a comfortable grey area, which is where this show’s morals lie when it comes to the characters and exemplifies one of the many things I like about it.
Moving on, we get another poor guy stuck in an impossible situation, as Philip and Elizabeth kidnap Poor Lewis, who drives trucks onto the base that they are supposed to infiltrate. A series of questions are asked, Lewis very reluctantly provides answers, and we assume he will then be killed. Philip holds Elizabeth back from doing the deed though. It is the second time this episode where Philip stops himself from going into territory far too cold for him to handle. He is certainly not going soft, as this is a part of a many number of years he has been at this, but sometimes he must feel like holding back has to be necessary, if he ever wants to try enjoying any of what comes with this mission, week after week. Still, Larrick is a man he definitely wants to kill at some point, so there is that to look forward to.
Other Things Behind The Red Curtain:
- “Get that body out of my house.” – Seriously, Larrick is a great presence, any time he is around and I hope Lee Tergeson gets more to do in the upcoming episodes.
- Paige Watch: Still at church club or whatever, but we do get some resolve on the Henry story. He is caught gaming and has the kind of emotional moment that many kids his age have gone through. We know you’re good Henry!
- This Week In Oleg: He loves Pinball, but in America he doesn’t have to wait in long line.
- I just know that Mrs. Beeman is going to get super angry at Stan at some point, but what will that lead to? Susan Misner had to be promoted to a series regular for a reason…
- Hey, The Americans was picked up for Season 3! Yay!
- Lastly, Fargo premiered on FX this week and I loved it. We happen to have a review of it right HERE.