The women of The Americans all wake up and take over the show in “Covert War. Leaving the men to play catch up and clean up to everything that goes on. Elizabeth goes on a personal manhunt against the man who killed her mentor. Grannie Claudia pushes Elizabeth in the “right” direction. Sandra finally she has had enough of Stan’s bullshit. And Nina continues to be the best and worst thing to ever happen to Stanley Beeman, who is just left wondering this episode “Is Matt wearing make up?” (Yes and that’s ok)
“Relationships are way too much.” Yes, this is a line put on by Elizabeth as she sips her tequila sunrise. It’s also a very true statement about Elizabeth herself. The KGB took her in and taught her to be a good soldier, follow orders, and kill people. All very black and white stuff. Relationships, in any form, are hardly black and white. Over the course of “Covert War” Elizabeth has an awakening to the fact that the world is filled with black, white, and gray,
the flashbacks in early episodes of americans were one of the most interesting parts. Informing characters or contradicting one of the Jennings read of the situation. The recent trio involving Agent Amador came off as a last minute retcon of the shows comedic heart. “Covert War” trio of flashbacks between Elizabeth and Zhukov-Moscow in 1964, Geneva in 1971, and Rome in 1976- are not as slapdash. Coming off as an entirely natural thing for Elizabeth to recall as she moruns her dead mentor and father figure.
Other than Matt Beeman the side characters of Americans have me at least a little interested in. For Colonel Zhukov it was partly due to an awesome sounding name and his role in creating Philip and Elizabeth Jennings. He doesn't go out like a bitch, showing off a rather good use of mirrors in his final moments. His passing only serves to infuriate Elizabeth’s hatred for the Americans, made worst by some button pushing by Grannie. “Moscow is wrong.” Not a sentence expected out of someone like Elizabeth’s mouth but Zhukov’s death has but her into a state of disarray. All the things that kept her grounded and committed to the cause are no longer there. She wouldn’t have liked “turning the other cheek” in any circumstance, least of all in not retaliating against those that killed Zhukov.
Elizabeth dosen’t turn the other cheek. She kills the person doing the turning. Besides this time it’s personal. Like the efficient, if crumbling, killing machine she is, she quickly figures out her target, CIA paper pusher Richard Patterson’s schedule. He is safe in every place he visits to and from Langley, except one. A bar he frequents, often leaving in the company of a different woman everytime. “ Relationships are way too much.”
Philip doesn't like any of this, besides the whole defying direct orders (again) part. But like the loyal partner (or dog) he is, Philip helps Elizabeth out with a getaway car after she nabs Richard. Philip is put into a reactionary role this entire episode. Martha drops her parents on an unsuspecting “Clark”. Things are getting all tyeps of real for Martha.
Things are finally real for Sandra, who after a girl’s night out with Elizabeth. Finally summons up the courage to call Stan out on his cheating and lying bullshit. “There aren’t enough bad guys in the world” to keep him away from her and their son all the time. It’s a scene that has been building for nearly two decades and Susan Misner goes through every big acting rule in the book. Noah Emmerich for his part just sits back and reacts to it all. She doesn't go so far as to kick him out of the house, he’d have to be home for that to happen, but it seems doubtful she’ll be around all that much. Leaving Stann to awkwardly get to know his son and the ins and outs of Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings.
Stan is an adulterous (most likely emotionally disturbed/scared) bastard. He still realizes that he once and still does have feelings for Sandra. In an earlier flashback Zhukov wax’s about love in The Americans, if you take care of someone or something long enough you begin to love it and form some sort of reciprocal relationship. Stann wants that with Sandra, it was how it used to be before he went into deep cover. So he tries to break the physical side of things off with Nina. Nina is his thing to protect, Nina might not know that’s his motivation but she knows he is wrapped around her finger nice and tight. She barely gets her bra on before his will breaks.
Elizabeth’s will breaks before she makes the biggest mistake of her life. Recalling Zhukov order to find more for herself then her job. Maybe learn to love that family she has been making. It’s a powerful moment, one that Kerri Russel acts the shit out of. Thankfully she dosen’t like Philip once again prove his devotion to her. CIA paper pusher Richard Peeterson gets to live. And explain to Stan and Gadd how exactly he was taken hostage in a bathroom by a couple.
This awaking pushes Elizabeth to Philip’s crappy motel doorstep. So eager to accept him back into the house. She brought makeup beer! Looking back it’s obvious this wasn’t going to be the “happy ending” that was really earned this episode. Happy endings are season finale stuff, which is only two episodes away =(. Philip has gotten an apartment. Feeding your kids a dinner of motel candy in full view of a guy urinating isn’t exactly a stable environment. Shocked Elizabeth just storms out, not doing the logical thing of just saying ‘Hey come back.”
Heartbroken all that’s left for her to do is meet Grannie. Clear headed for the first time all episode she realizes Grannie manipulated her this entire time. Setting her off on this vendetta to violate KGB orders and for what? To get her sent back to Moscow or killed? Does she want Philip to get a new partner? In the end Grannie just comes off as manipulative puppetmaster who likes pulling strings for the simple fact that she can. I’d thought there would be some Snape like motivation behind this but there isn’t.
“Not everyone is your enemy” is what Zhukov told her as they walked a blooming garden. Not everyone is your friend either.
The Bits At The End
I’m in a bit of a rush so I got no Bit At The End.
You can follow MrMazz on twitter @MaZZM or on tumblr at mazzz.net . In both places I talk about how awesome Andre Braugher is, the annoyance that is walking in the wind, and other random junk, mostly gifs