I didn’t actually see last weeks episode, “Safe House”, until Saturday when I’d found FX had put it on demand early. After FX’s people told the various cable and satellite companies that Americans would be ending at one time but in reality it was about 3 minutes later. Mine cut off with Stann picking up some fast food. With the final 3 minutes now viewed, wow! “Safe House” was really good. “Only You” might be just a smidge better.
After giving an impromptu eulogy for Agent Amador, Supervisor Gadd pulls Stann into the vault. Rightly Stann expects to be dressed down about the death of Vlad and not following protocol. He isn’t. Gaad tells him to not give his actions a second thought. This is war, a secret war, but a war nonetheless. War requires good soldiers and Stann Beeman is a fine soldier.
So much of The Americans has been about the marriage of Philip and Elizabeth juxtaposed their working relationship as KGB spies. With them now separated “Only You” takes focus on Stann as he hunts for the killers of partner Chris Amador. This change in perspective feels organic and shows that The Americans could have easily been based around the FBI hunting KGB. Noah Emmerich pretty good actor.
The only possible lead on Amador’s killer is the lack of a ring. It wasn’t on his body, or in his house. When Philip tells Elizabeth that they are looking for the ring their expressions harken back to the moment in the previously on where Philip just goes “Things kind of gotten out of hand.” The first time all season their covers are in serious danger. These types of plots have a natural momentum that tend to speed up as the tension rises. “Only You” gets really tense but dosen’t become some fast cut cops and robbers story. It slows everything down to the point it feels like they are happening in real time.
Amador’s ring turns up at a pawnshop, leading Stann and two FBI browncoats to a scrap yard. In death Chris Amador feels like he has been retconned a bit. Amador was the closest thing the show had to comic relief, a key reason why I’d thought he was safe. Prior to “Safe House” and it’s memories, Amador had been made out to be kind of a jerk and womanizer, who didn’t really fit in the predominantly white FBI office. A slight retcon was needed in order for All American Stan Beeman to go to a dark place. Stann is in full hunting mode, even if that means possibly breaking a couple laws.
Stann believes Amador left the ring as a sign for him. Making him get a little nasty with the scummy looking scrapyard owner. Turns out the scrapyard owner has a good memory and points out the same person Stann and Amador ran into back in “Gregory,”. Bringing the FBI within shouting distance of the Jennings.
In between all this Stann shows up drunk at Philips motel room. Dropping deep undercover knowledge about how all motel beds are too soft and all the same. No matter what town you’re in, you are still in the same shitty motel bed. One of Stann’s many good moments this episode is his bit about secretes being a necessary evil for marriage.
Now, I’m 21 most definitely not married currently single and have had two “long term” relationships in my life. So WTF do I know about marriage. In the context of the show however, it’s an interesting angle to view all the little couples. Philip and Elizabeth are trying to have a real marriage, built on a fake one, with no secretes which is counter to Stann’s advice. Look where that has gotten them. Stann and Nina have also been honest with one another up until Stann lies about any knowledge of Vlad’s death. Turns out Vlad, not a terrible person he just wanted to go to medical school. Stann finally reveals to his wife why he closes himself off to her “The world is a little darker and a little uglier than I think you know.”, and honorable if a little selfish move on his part. Then there is the coupling of Elizabeth and Gregory, perhaps the most honest and strongest(?) coupling of this show. There is no illusions about the dynamic of this ship. Gregory is Elizabeth’s tool and as such tools do not get to ask many questions or should expect answers. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth was actually more honest with him then Philip.
To further the in show dog metaphors, Claudia (or Granny) is a guard dog. She’s a short little old Russian woman sent to protect the Jennings and the motherlands from anything. The smallest of threats. When she shows up at Gregory’s apartment, mixed with the FBI searching his apartment I kept expecting for them to come across his body with a bullet in the head and two in the chest. Even when they cut to Philip standing guard outside just waiting for the gunshots to be heard. How are we going to trust the that the KGB would really relocate him to Moscow. Sure they sent the baby back but not the mother and they need Gregory dead to shut the case down.
In war you need good soldiers. Gregory was an excellent soldier. The right mixture of machine like execution while maintaining his own sense of agency. He wouldn’t of worked out very well in Moscow anyway. That only leaves one other option for him and it’s one I actually think Elizabeth would of done and then hated herself for it. His final option is predicated on Claudia’s lack of trust in Gregory and commitment to the cause. No matter how devoted Gregory was, he wasn’t Russian and worse he was human. He manages to go out his own way, in a hail of police gunfire.
When I started writing this I hadn’t realized that “Only You” was episoe 10 of 13. Man there is only 3 more episodes of The Americansleft. This is clearly the best new show of the season.
The Bits At The End
- The crazy intertextual FX cannon continues! With Adam Arkin directing you can now connect Sons of Anarchy and Justified to The Americans. Some crazy person on the internet connected a LOT of TV to St. Elsewhere. Funnily using Homicide: Life on the Streets and St. Elswhere as the main streets.
- After last weeks rather explicit sex scene I'm glad we got less of Martha and Clark together.
- I REALLY loved "Gregory" and the character. He was so interesting and mysterious. Well played Derek Luke.
- Hopefully in Season 2 we get some sort of flashback to when Stann was in deepcover.
You can follow MrMaZZ on Twitter @MaZZM where he tweets about trying to figure out Tumblr, How great early U2 is, Marvel's anime experiments, and wanting Stjepan Sejic to update Sunstone already.