Things to Do

WashingTelevision, The Americans Recap, Episode Ten, “Only You”

Chris leaves a message that leads the FBI to Gregory; Philip and Elizabeth ponder their options.

We hear the Chinese food in Moscow is actually quite poor. Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings and Derek Luke as Gregory. Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn for FX.

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.”

Some thoughts:

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

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.