I honestly think that The Americans is the best show on television right now! The writing, acting, and cinematography are all at such a high level. Now, when GoT comes back, there might be a battle for the top spot …
This week’s writing was superb when it came to Elizabeth and Philip. The scene in the kitchen, where Elizabeth encounters Philip without his disguise was brilliant. Keri Russell portrays the scene beautifully. She is caught off guard, her steely armor weakened. When she says the line about (paraphrasing) “did you want her? To see you?” — that vulnerability was real. Her husband, that she may or may not be in love with, chose to show his real self to Martha. As icy as Elizabeth can be, with her first priority being to the KGB before Philip, this truly effected her. You can see Elizabeth collect herself. She even offers to take over a shift of watching Martha, but, again, Philip picks Martha – he wants to stay with her. The awareness on Elizabeth’s part that Philip truly cares for Martha, and in a way he does not care for Elizabeth shocks her. Philip wants that with Elizabeth, but she does not allow it — Martha does. It’s a different story though, even for this cold-hearted KGB operative to be confronted, face to face with that reality. Really, really great writing.
The scene showing Gabriel downstairs while Philip and Martha are upstairs having sex was visually stunning. Without words it conveyed so much. The ability of this show to tell a story both verbally and nonverbally is why we as viewers love this show. Gabriel is supposed to be the handler and things are getting out of control. He is not in control of his body (it is weak from the virus) and he is not in control of his operative. It creates a tension between the main characters — how will Gabriel regain control of the situation? He looks weak, but he certainly is not. He can be deadly — Philip and Martha are in serious danger. Wonderfully built tension.
Then there is our beloved Martha. It’s delightful how much we have grown to care about this lonely woman. There is no good outcome for her. All we can hope for is the least amount of damage. Philip is frantically grasping for a way to somehow save Martha. He tries to force Gabriel’s hand by bringing her to the safe house. It’s always fascinating watching a character struggle with an outcome that they deep down know is going to happen. To observe Philip’s desperate clutch to the delusion that everything will be okay is excellent. It’s so not going to be okay. Philip’s delusion du jour is that he feels like if he can just get her to Moscow, it will be okay, but it won’t. Martha will be spiritually, mentally, and irrevocably crushed.
This is because the viewer has to ask themselves, as Philip does – what is worse for Martha? The basis of her character, why she was able to be recruited, is her desperate desire for love. Moscow is not going to provide that. She is trying to hold on to her “American Dream” with Clark despite the overwhelming evidence that the dream is gone. In fact, she is beginning to realize not even that was true — almost. She won’t quite let herself absorb the true reality that not even Clark was really there in the first place. It’s why she wants to have sex with Philip, to confirm their love for each other. To confirm to herself that he would somehow be coming with her.
In a lot regards, it would almost be better for Martha to be shot — a clean, fast death before she realizes the depth of the betrayal of those around her. It will break Martha to realize that Philip/Clark is not coming with her. She gave up her job, her identity, her country for this man who will betray her. Her whole life is a lie. To live the rest of her life, in Moscow, alone yet again, even more so because she also has no friends, no country — these are things worse than death for Martha.
Until next time!
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