It was almost inevitable that this would happen—that the Jenningses would eventually be caught up with by Claire Danes, who’d transport them to Abu Nazir’s warehouse in Chantilly and waterboard them in between soccer games and sexual liaisons with loose-lipped technology executives.
What’s that you say? This didn’t happen? I’m confusing The Americans with Homeland? Either two pages got stuck together in my recap notebook, or all this talk or moles and torture and abductions of fake CIA agents has left me dazed and confused, like Paige’s wannabe abductor after Henry walloped him on the head with an imported beer. Last night’s episode, titled “Trust Me” after Stan’s many professions to Nina that everything is going to work out just fine and in no way is she going to be shipped back to Moscow in various empty tea caddies, was solid, but the minute our erstwhile spies Philip and Elizabeth got taken into custody, it was inevitable that we’d discover it was their own side torturing them.
Why’s that, you ask? Because it would quite simply ruin the show if the Jenningses were forced to go work for the Americans this early on in the first season. For proof I refer you to season two of Homeland, in which the truth about Brody was revealed far too soon, forcing the writers to turn to ever more ridiculous ways to amp up the suspense for the remaining ten episodes (hello, Gettysburg stormtroopers). So it was a given that Claudia was lurking somewhere in the shadows while Philip was having his head dunked in a tank of icy water and Elizabeth was locked in a room surrounded by photos of her children, like a Carrie Mathison mood board if she were into stalking kids, not terrorists.
The most interesting thing about P and E being held in captivity was how everyone who interacts with the pair in this show seems to assume Philip is the stronger of the two—even the KGB, who you’d think would know better at this point. For example: He is subjected to hours of being beaten with a taped-up phone book while all she gets are fuzzy photos of Paige and Henry, as if her maternal instincts weaken her as an operative. It’s entirely possible that they do, of course, but given the rage in Philip’s eyes when the fake FBI agent with the cigars brought up the “debate” over his non-Russian-speaking children, I’d be inclined to peg him as the more susceptible of the two to emotional torture. By contrast, Elizabeth kneed her attacker repeatedly in the groin while he was trying to detain her in her home and beat Claudia almost to death while screaming, “I’m going to kill you, you stupid bitch.” She’s a lot of things, but weak isn’t one of them.
Paige and Henry were almost a microcosm of their parents in this episode, when they were abandoned at the mall and forced to find their own way home to “Falls Church Commons.” Initially it was Henry who was the fraidy cat, refusing to speak to the friendly-seeming guy driving them home, and Paige who took charge (the casual way with which she accepted that no one was coming seems to speak volumes about the Jennings as parents). But then it was Henry who caught sight of the gleam of a knife in the man’s jacket, and Henry who hit him over the head, yelling at Paige to run (the knife was a nice echo of the one Elizabeth grasped in her hand when she heard a buzzing upstairs earlier in the episode).
In other news, poor Vasili was shipped back to Russia after Stan planted diamonds in his loose-leaf tea, but not before we got to see the sight of his grizzled chest hair and feel rather sad about how sweetly he’d been taken in by “Ninotchka.” Stan, meanwhile, had another long speech in which he hinted at how damaging it was for him being undercover with the white supremacists. “I’ve been where you are,” he told Nina. “I’ve lived it. I know what it’s like to feel fear in every fiber of your being and not be able to show it.”
Nina’s safe now, at least for the time being, thanks to Vasili being framed as the KGB mole, but it’s surely only a matter of time until things turn sour for her. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has had her world turned upside down by the fact that the one institution she trusted, and the one she had no doubts about giving her life for, failed to return the compliment. As she put it, “You’re not the only one who got hurt today, okay? I was ripped from my house by the only people I believe in.” And now that Philip knows she’s spoken of her doubts about him to KGB higher-ups in the past, and he’s given away her jewelry to another woman (ouch), their marriage seems to be back on shaky ground.
Things seem to be looking up for Stan’s wife, if only because he finally shared something about his feelings with her, and because their bamboo bed is awesome.
I love Henry, and somehow the actor who plays him, Keidrich Sellati, has escaped the curse of the younger brother role. See Brody, Chris, and Draper, Bobby.
If Claudia was a bitch before, something tells me having her face rearranged by Elizabeth is not really going to help matters.
What did you think of last night’s episode of The Americans? Let us know in the comments.