Wednesday, March 12, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Elizabeth Carries Out a Favor, Stan Gets a Medal & Paige Visits Aunt Helen in 'The Walk-In'

FX's The Americans - Episode 2.03 The Walk In

Philip and Elizabeth complete their next mission and Philip's fears about Elizabeth's readiness for action deepen; Stan tracks the KGB walk-in which leads to much praise at work and a deepening of his attachment to, and dependence on, Nina; Paige snoops into her mother's family background; and Oleg begins to scrutinize Nina's secret operation.

The second season of The Americans has been about family. "The Walk In" is about a sense of safety that must be felt within that kind of unit. For the Jennings family, parents Philip and Elizabeth have to know that they can trust their kids - and for the kids to trust them as well. They want the kids to behave and not question their parenting decisions when learning the truth can put them in danger. That's the life that Emmett and Leanne got to live. But that's not what's happening with the Jennings. Paige is curious about her parents. She grew untrustful of them when they revealed their separation last season only to get back together in the end. Like she tells her new bus pal, she doesn't think they're ever telling her the whole truth. She yearns for answers and is quickly becoming her own person with her own ideas, values and opinions.

Conversely, the safest Stan feels in life right now is when he's at work or with Nina. He and his wife just aren't on the same page. We don't even see his son anymore. He spends all night staking out the KGB walk-in which fortunately leads to him getting a ton of praise. He stops this man before he could do some big damage to several important world leaders. And he wants to talk about that with Nina because she understands him. That's their safe house where he's safe at talking about such feelings. Those feelings are deepening for him too - as he says 'I love you.' That connection is growing so strong even though Nina is finally starting to show results to her superior at the Rezidentura.

And Philip and Elizabeth are still dealing with the ramifications from Emmett and Leanne's murders. Heading out on a mission to gather intel on a government program as it's getting moved to a different facility - which they learned about from Emmett's agent last week. Elizabeth gets caught snooping where she doesn't belong but she still holds all the power. Using this clean-up worker, she finds exactly what she needs without having to make him disappear. And she accomplishes all of it by putting his kids' safety at risk.

But Elizabeth also wants to carry out a favor she promised to do for Leanne way back when they were first getting started - deliver a letter to their son explaining who they really are. She agreed back in the 60's because such knowledge seemed like the right and honorable thing to do. Retrieving said note and seeing him for the first time since their murders also doesn't change her mind. But in talking to him something changes. She sees how his idea of his parents have molded him into the person he truly is. He wants to go back to school because that's what they would of wanted from him. She realizes it's better for him to continue seeing them in that way and not uprooting every single thought about them. He would question everything that they did his entire life and send him spiraling even more than he is now. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Walk In" was written by Stuart Zicherman and directed by Constantine Makris.
  • If Paige did join the debate team, she would want to argue about the ethnical ramifications of test-tube babies. That's a sensitive topic for the 80s.
  • That episode-ending song is just the perfect match of music, mood, lyrics and images.
  • I love the episodes where the more I write about it the better I think it was. I started out loving "The Walk In" giving it an initial A- grade. Then as I wrote a ton about it I moved it up to the A.