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WashingTelevision, The Americans Recap, Episode Ten, “Only You”
Chris leaves a message that leads the FBI to Gregory; Philip and Elizabeth ponder their options.
Everyone loves a good closing montage, and the choice of Roberta Flack’s “To Love Somebody” at the end of last night’s episode, “Only You,” was as deliberately perfect as the use of Fleetwood Mac was in the pilot. The lyrics “You don’t know what it’s like to love somebody” pretty much sum up all of the characters and their emotional stasis: Stan, Mrs. Stan, Philip, Elizabeth. Only Gregory seems to really understand love, odd as it is. Debating why Russian girls are tough, he tells Elizabeth, “That’s why I fell for you … because you’re committed, uncompromising, stubborn. Don’t take him back. He’s gonna soften you up. Find someone that’ll love you for being so strong.” In his eyes, Elizabeth is perfect just the way she is, even though just the way she is frequently makes her cold, dominant, and aggressive—all the things women aren’t supposed to be, and all the things he loves about her.
They may not know how to love, but there were a few moments of unexpected intimacy in last night’s episode. There was Stan showing up drunk at Philip’s hotel, for one thing, which was actually fairly sweet, even though their whole bromance is based on racquetball and lies. Stan was looking for someone who’d offer the same kind of brotherly love Chris used to, but when that fell through, he sought solace in his wife, confessing to her that he’d killed people and that the world is much darker and uglier than she thinks it is. Mrs. Stan wants to just run away, up and leave, but how is that ever a realistic option?
It certainly wasn’t for Gregory, who was implicated when Chris left his trackable ring hidden in the trunk of Philip’s car. The trail led to a car dealership and a racist who said two “black guys, drug dealers,” had left it behind. Stan happened to recognize Curtis from the Philadelphia episode, hauled him in, threatened him with being charged for treason, and got Gregory as a result. Gregory’s history of activism for civil rights led Stan to link him to the KGB, which had supposedly been infiltrating the movement to find support on US soil. With Gregory busted, Philip and Elizabeth could either send him off to Moscow (who didn’t laugh when Elizabeth told Gregory how “cosmopolitan” it was?) or take the other option, which presumably isn’t a cabana by a pool somewhere in Cuba.
And here’s the ultimate irony: None of the agents working tirelessly to promote Moscow’s communist regime in the US actually wants to live there. Elizabeth might have been furious at the way Paige spoke to her, but she knows neither of her children would thrive away from the freedoms of the United States. Philip’s been actively contemplating an out all season. And Gregory is terrified of the unknown, so much so that he chooses death instead, and falls in a bloody shootout with cops that actually felt a little clichéd. It would have been nice had his character had a more ambiguous ending.
Maybe Gregory’s death will bring Philip and Elizabeth back together, or maybe it’ll drive them even further apart, like Amador’s death has driven a wedge between Stan and Nina. His lie to her that, “we’re not monsters, Nina,” when she was asking who killed Vlad was breathtaking in its audacity. Stan might have been experiencing some pangs of guilt over killing an unwilling soldier who really just wanted to be a doctor, a healer, no less, but Gaad was unrepentant: “We’re in a war now. It may be a secret war, but it’s a war. Blood gets spilled so don’t think twice about what you did.”
I liked how even in the depths of despair, Elizabeth and Philip still have time to bicker over the petty stuff. She doesn’t like his coming over unannounced and interrupting her new routines; he hates sleeping in a motel and offers to let her switch in an immature but funny way. Her reply is to tell him to clean the kitchen while he’s treating his house like he still lives there. Also immature, but very typical of dumb marital sniping.
To have placed his ring in the trunk of the car rather than keep it on his person, Amador must have known he was dying. And that makes me sad.
Granny keeps getting sent to protect agents because she’s a guard dog, not because she’s a ruthless, awful person. Maybe it’s the same thing.
No sad Henry in this episode. Hopefully next week. I love the scenes of him staring into the bottom of a tumbler full of juice, country-music-style.
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