A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
At several junctures throughout one’s life, an individual comes face to face with a circumstance where their theoretical idea of where they ought to be clashes with the reality that is in front of them. That arguably happens on perhaps an hourly basis, as an individual looks at their goals for the day and thinks about how few of them they have actually managed to accomplish. That can happen at a random moment during the day, when you think about where you want to suddenly be right in that moment and if it fits within your sense and understanding of your circumstances to be at whatever that place may be. That can occur at a moment when you’re sitting across from someone in a comfortable armchair, looking at them with the feverish hope that they might validate exactly where you think your life should be, even as your subconscious is telling you that they’re about to tell you the exact opposite. The stronger, more tied your existence is to those theoretical ideas, the stronger that whiplash can be if the actual events in your life don’t mirror those ideals.
The world of The Americans is ubiquitous with characters who find themselves within those juxtapositions, be they religious, professional, or personal. This being a series where a plethora of those characters are tied feverishly to their ideas of faith and loyalty, those juxtapositions are significant. Stan’s beliefs in the strength and moral fortitude within the Federal Bureau of Investigation are crumbling apart as he is being forced to throw Oleg under the bus and likely fatally so. The Jennings’s moral fortitude in the frenetic structure of their existence is cracking, especially for Phillip. Paige’s faith in her relationship with Pastor Tim and by extension, Christianity, is crumbling in its own right. Oleg’s faith in some system of justice within the Soviet Union is falling apart as he delves deeper into a considerably fraught set of circumstances.
The most difficult set of circumstances within this quiet pair of episodes arguably belongs to Martha, who makes a surprise appearance when Gabriel suddenly knocks on her door. Gabriel tries in a fashion that he can to understand where Martha’s difficulties are coming from, how alienating she finds her circumstances to be, and how little sympathy she has for the cause that turned her life upside down before she was already in far too deep. Gabriel, who had shown a keen ability to understand the difficulties in the lives of the Jennings family, is completely out of his depth and no matter what verbiage he espouses, Martha is simply having none of it. She fell in love, was used, and now found herself stuck in a foreign land with no one for company and comfort. She lashes out and Gabriel finds himself unsettled, perhaps trying to understand why the life he exalted was so troubling and despairing for someone else.
Stan finds himself within the thoroughfare of trying to save Oleg from what he considers to be a certain death sentence from his superiors at the FBI. The ghost of Nina hangs heavily over Stan’s consciousness and that guilt manifests itself towards a feeling that he has to save Oleg, no matter in what jeopardy he finds himself to be in personally and professionally. If he wasn’t able to save Nina during her espionage assignments in the States, then how could there be any sort of guarantee that Oleg wouldn’t suffer the same fate? And because of his father’s position, would he then perhaps be putting Oleg’s entire family in danger? As a straight, cis-gendered white male in that office, Stan does not have to bear the brunt of the bureau’s policies and practices and that is a significant reason as to why the lack of morality within the functioning of the bureau is hitting him with such a mighty force.
Elizabeth and Phillip find themselves within a tricky circumstance of their own as they realize that perhaps the gas they had procured as a defensive measures may have been employed by the Soviet Union as an offensive mechanism against American-backed insurgents in Afghanistan. The two of them are aghast and while their concerns are hardly quieted by Claudia’s claims of innocence on the matter, another, more personal concern arrives at their proverbial doorstep. Paige, haunted and damaged forever by her parents, is nevertheless proving to be quite adept at espionage. Reading Pastor Tim’s journals on a seeming whim, she realizes that underneath his support for Paige, there lies a significant concern about the psychological damage Paige is undergoing, that he sees her parents as having espoused monstrous behavior. Paige is understandably upset at Pastor Tim’s comments and begins to substantially question how much of his protectiveness was genuine. Did he actually care about her as much as she thought he did? Or was there simply pity in his eyes and nothing more? Was she making a mistake in trusting him over her own parents? Paige brings the evidence of her words to her parents and Elizabeth and Phillip look over Pastor Tim’s words, wondering if they were indeed the monsters he thought of them as being.
+Stan trying to convince Linh Gaad that
+“Your life will get better when your Russian improves.”
+“When was the last time you shopped in a gastronom?”
+Tuan’s little brother is sick with leukemia and the reaction of the Jennings’s to his initial disappearance suggests a break in their collective calm with their work
+“He’s got God on his side. What could go wrong?”
+“I don’t want Stan to be like Martha.”
+“You’re in the dark, you don’t know the answer, you have an instinct to move forward.”
+Mischa and Nadezhda’s marriage ceremony was quiet and touching
+“He hasn’t been good for our family.”
Episode Title: IHOP
Written by: Peter Ackerman
Directed by: Dan Attias
Image Courtesy: The Young Folks
Episode Title: Darkroom
Written by: Stephen Schiff
Directed by: Sylvain White
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Syrian Refugee/Refugee Crises
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