In its tenth episode, The Americans powers through to one of their best episodes in the brilliant freshman series. It is a broadly layered episode and remarkably good watch after the two significant deaths in last week’s episode. The fact they are not leaving plotlines wide open and then forgetting about them is what I like so much about the show. That and the spot-on production design that makes you feel like you are really in 1981. I want to break out my old Atari and Coleco-Vision after watching the program.
FBI Agent Chris Amador’s death is a big blow to Stan Beeman as he tries to cope with what happened to his partner and good friend. He is spiraling and everything that he loves seems to be falling out of his grasp. However he is dead set on finding and leaning on anyone associated with Amador’s death. His death affects us the viewers as well because Chris was a terrific character that added some much needed comic relief on this highly tense show. Phil and Elizabeth are separated with the former staying at a very depressing motel. Ironically he is the man that killed Amador but Stan swings by to split a six pack all the while thinking that his neighbor Phil is just an average Joe American. Clearly though Stan is in a free-fall and even an ice cold six-pack with a buddy cannot remedy his grief. Under the influence Stan divulges that Phil is really his only friend now that Amador is gone. Talk about irony.
Liz is having a very hard time holding down the proverbial fort at the Jennings’ home. Paige has started acting out and got the whole “if I talked to my mother that way…” speech from Liz that we all (well me at least) got when we were growing up. Phillip shows up to pick up the kids and Liz tells him that she does not want any surprise visits without being told ahead of time. Stan is able to meet up with his Russian contact/lover Nina and spurns her advances wanting answers about who killed Amador. Angry, Nina tells him that Vlad was simply killed in a random D.C. mugging which we all know is bull since it was Stan that killed the KGB agent in last week’s episode. Stan begins to push Nina into finding out exactly who it was that killed his partner. In the spy game you just cannot trust anybody. It is what is not disclosed between all of these parties that drives the narrative. That’s why I turned down my offer to work for the Feds. Plus they wanted me to have 3.8 GPA and that was just out of the question.
FBI Agent Gaad is putting the full force of the Bureau behind finding out the culprit in Amador’s slaying. Despite Phil & Liz sweeping the safe house where they kept the agent before dying and having Gregory clean the car and trunk where he was kept; Amador left one breadcrumb behind—a ring he wore that he hid inside the trunk of the car. Gaad and company were able to find the ring at a pawn shop after the car was dropped off for parts at a salvage yard. Rather than call the authorities, the owner of the junkyard pawned the ring. Stan breaks the junkyard owner and after a solid punch to the gut and a strong arm hold, he breaks and says that it was a couple of Black guys that dropped off the car. After looking through some mug shots at FBI headquarters, the salvage yard owner is able to point out one of the guys that left the car. Beeman recognizes the guy he fingers and remembers him from some episodes back during the botched job in Philadelphia. Looks like Gregory and company did not do a good enough job cleaning the vehicle.
Now things are really sticky because Gregory is for all intents a treasonous traitor and is now implicated in the slaying of a very well-liked FBI Agent. Granny has a meet with Liz and Phillip and she lets the couple know that Gregory will have to be extracted to Moscow. She explains that it will take a few years but he will eventually adjust to life in Mother Russia. Liz breaks the news to Gregory and he does not believe that he will “make it” in Moscow and requests to try and get a transfer to LA but the kibosh is put on that idea. Granny pays a visit to Gregory and lets him know just why that a cross-country move will not work for the movement; he needs to go to Russia ASAP. The elder agent makes sure that Phillip knows that should he decide to run; he knows what to do. During a final fling between Liz and Gregory, they discuss Russia over Chinese and the traitor tells him to leave Phillip and find someone that will be strong like her. Presumably they make love for the last time but they leave it open ended.
While Liz is packing suitcases for Gregory speaking of how beautiful Moscow is and that it won’t be so bad; Gregory says that he wants to go out his own way. After all, his picture is out there for all the letter agencies and the D.C. Police to see and in a beautifully shot sequence, Gregory walks down the street smoking before bumping into a local D.C. beat cop. The cop recognizes him and almost in slow-motion, Gregory holds his position behind a car as he gets caught in a deadly firefight. He is fatally shot and he did just what he said was going to do; go out his own way.
It was just a wonderful episode from start to finish and the layers are so damn thick that I wish the season ran 52 weeks a year. Yes, the show is that good. Who knew that Felicity would move on to bigger and better? Props need to go to Noah Emmerich who is sublime as Stan Beeman. He is just a regular guy in extraordinary circumstances. If there was ever a show that you should be adding to your DVR, it is The Americans.