selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
[personal profile] selenak
This was a bit of an odd episode for me, full of fragments from stories that did almost, but not quite fit together.

The scene with Oleg and his parents felt both too much on the nose and repetitive re: what it says about their family, even if you take the day state-damaged families don’t or do communicate as a theme of the hour. Elizabeth and Philip reporting to Claudia who denies knowing anything about what was done with the virus from William’s dead flesh, otoh, felt like it needed some follow-up on their part, even if it was a “do you believe her?” sentence later.

Paige in a way has come full circle re: Pastor Tim, now wishing him away as much as she once saw her participation in his church as the answer, and finally taking her parents’ offer to make that happen. (In a non-sinister way.) And yet it’s more complicated than that. Her reading his diary with its concern about her situation while outwardly he projects optimism and only gives her cheery platitudes in place of the harsh worries he writes down is its own punishment, but it’s one she wants to share. I thought Paige’s excuse for photographing the pages and giving them to her parents – that they might find out the ideal job offer Tim will accept this way – was pretty flimsy, even if a part of her believes it; basically, she wanted Philip and Elizabeth to read these harrowing words about themselves, just as she had done. It’s not something she would say to them – not least because I think Paige by now does think of her parents as heroes – but she wants them to hear it. (And in yet another dimension, I think there was also a part of Paige who thought the spy aspect and the way her parents developed the film by changing the cellar into a studio with some small alterations was exciting to participate in.) It’s all of this mixed up together.

And then there’s Philip’s and Elizabeth’s other child, their work kid, Tuan. Who after being busted but not reported is very meek, and of course what P & E do there is a good example of what Pastor Tim calls “monstrous”. Elizabeth is encouraging and understanding to Tuan… and what she’s encouraging him to do isn’t something any teenager should do. That she does it without any personal malice and utterly as a part of her profession makes it only more frightening. (Poor Pasha.) My current guess is that both Pasha and Tuan might end up dead by the end of this season, with Pasha snapping after he finds out what Tuan did.

There’s a lot of self delusion going around in the episode, whether it’s Elizabeth regarding the whole Paige and Pastor Tim matter solely under the prism of “at last Paige sees through him!” or Philip saying, re: Stan and is-she-a-spy-or-isn’t-she-girlfriend, “I don’t want him to become Martha”. Philip, dear, regardless of whether or not Stan’s current girlfriend is reporting to an agency (btw, I think she is, but not to the Russians – I think she might be the answer to “why does Stan still have his job?”, in that they think he might be a double and she’s charged to find out), Stan already is Martha in the sense you mean it because you made him Martha in that sense. Not that Stan didn’t behave like an utter ass at times in s4, but still.

And in the middle of all of this, we get a self contained little gem going back all the way to that moment when Elizabeth during Clark and Martha’s wedding asked Philip whether he thinks their relationship might have worked out differently if they had had a wedding. (They had a faked certificate because Philip and Elizabeth Jennings needed one.) I love that their wedding happens so randomly, without any “a very special episode” build up, with Philip drafting the orthodox priest Gabriel used to run; that they have it in Russian (btw on a Doylist level, it’s of course good that bride and groom don’t have to say much in the wedding ceremony, so you don’t have to contrast the actor playing the priest with our leading couple in terms of how they pronounce the language), with their original names. (I was going to write “real”, but that would be the wrong term, considering that they’ve made Elizabeth and Philip as real as Nadeshda and Mikhail aka “Mischa”. I love that said wedding isn’t to solve any conflict (and it doesn’t) or a desperate “this one thing before we part” type of thing; they do it because they want to, and that’s it.
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