Wednesday, February 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Paige's Birthday Wish Could Change Her Parents Plans for Her Future in 'Dimebag'

FX's The Americans - Episode 3.04 "Dimebag"

Philip faces a moral dilemma while developing an asset. Philip and Elizabeth's friction escalates. Stan develops a theory with serious repercussions for national security. Paige makes a surprising birthday wish.

"Dimebag" feels relatively calm and tame compared to the rest of the episodes from season three so far. No one is being broken apart and stuffed into luggage. No one is being murdered during sex. No one is receiving DIY dentistry. And yet, the emotional ramifications are still hitting all of these characters with such intensity. Every character is placed in situations that are totally uncomfortable. Things aren't as tense in Philip and Elizabeth's missions. They are simply starting to forge new relationships to develop assets for their cause. But that comes at it's own personal cost.

Philip and Elizabeth want to infiltrate the CIA Afghan Group but the only way to do that is by using the daughter of the man in charge of it all. That is extremely risky but also incredibly relevant to the turmoil happening in Philip and Elizabeth's personal lives. They simply don't know how a teenager will react to what they what her to do for them. It's so different than the way that they usually work their assets. Sex is a part of the profession. Philip has to use his charms in order to lure Kimmy into his grasp. And yet, it's more uncomfortable than how he typically conducts himself on the job. She's underage and he's luring her in with a sexual connection. It's awkward but it's also what he has to do in order to get what he and the mission needs.

More importantly, Paige could become Kimmy very shortly. Philip and Elizabeth have been going back-and-forth on whether or not to tell her the truth about who they really are. Their approach to parenting is so measured and calculated. Philip gifts Paige the new Yaz album which then causes a big fight with Elizabeth. He didn't get it for her as a birthday gift. The parents had already agreed to give her the necklace. He likely did it so he could better familiarize himself with this type of music. But it also serves a purpose in further pushing Philip and Elizabeth apart. They both have ulterior motives when it comes to spending time with their daughter. Neither one seems to do so just because they have a truthful and genuine relationship with her. Elizabeth goes to church with Paige to keep an eye on her while also allowing her mind to be open to the extreme ideals of the world. Philip buys the album to help himself for his cover identity but also as something he just assumes Paige would like and appreciate.

And yet, Paige is vastly different than the woman Philip and Elizabeth want her to be. They know that church is important to her and it's an environment they have to keep a careful eye on. Elizabeth wants to use that as a way to introduce Paige to the ideas that they and their mission hold so dear. However, Paige has really immersed herself into this religion - way beyond the point that Philip and Elizabeth were aware of. This is what she wants her life to be right now. She wants to devote herself to this way of life. She wants to be baptized. She has a passion for religion that is so strong that Philip and Elizabeth now fear that she would never view their lifestyle with the same admiration.

That is a scary prospect for Philip and Elizabeth. They want to protect their daughter. And yet, Paige is becoming a part of something that they are morally opposed to. It's interesting seeing just how civil Philip is with Pastor Tim - especially after their last encounter. Being baptized would put an end to any hopes of recruiting her to the cause. Philip wants Paige to be happy and to live her own life. He hates all this religious stuff but he recognizes how much it has changed Paige over the last year. It has given her something to be passionate about. Elizabeth still believes that Paige has a right to know what her heritage really is. She may no longer be recruitable but she at least should know about her parents' double lives. That would open up a new layer to their dynamic that could either bring them together in a genuine way or push Paige away for good. It's that uncertainty that has plagued Philip and Elizabeth with agony ever since the Centre first posed the idea. It's slowly pulling their union apart. It's easy to use Kimmy for the sake of the mission but it would be life-altering to bring Paige into the fold.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Dimebag" was written by Peter Ackerman and directed by Thomas Schlamme.
  • Stan is starting to grow suspicious of Zinaida. She is getting some pretty high-level access in the government. Even if she's telling the truth about defecting, it still has him on edge. He's checking everywhere to make sure she's not making contact with someone. That paranoia can't be healthy though, right? Unless he's right of course.
  • Stan is also trying to be more honest. He's taking EST a little bit more seriously now. Sure, he doesn't want to do the exercise with the instructor, but in the end he does tell Sandra the truth about his affair with Nina.
  • Stan is still hopeful on making things work with Sandra. But there's also a woman at EST - Tori played by Callie Thorne - who's starting to flirt with him.
  • Nina is tasked to get her cellmate talking about the crime that landed her in this prison in exchange for a lighter sentence. She puts on quite a performance by sharing details about herself in the hopes that she'll open up eventually. It seems to be working as she embraces Nina to comfort her in the end, but progress seems to be coming slowly.
  • Of course, the way Paige was able to ambush her parents with the big news could indicate that she would actually be a good covert operative.
  • Nothing big is happening with Henry. He's just memorizing the state capitals like a normal kid.
  • Yaz music! The music choices on this show are just always so smart and well-utilized.