Wednesday, February 25, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Philip Gets Into Kimberly's House and Gabriel Issues Him a Warning in 'Salang Pass'

FX's The Americans - Episode 3.05 "Salang Pass"

Philip juggles the many women in his life while Elizabeth takes drastic measures to complete a mission. Stan asserts a plan to save Nina with an unlikely ally.

Philip and Elizabeth are typically excellent at assessing the environment around them when they are in the field. They are quite good at it too. Gabriel commends Philip for being one of their best operatives. It's because they are so good that they are being asked to do these increasingly dangerous and uncomfortable missions. They are dealing with these big moral quandaries because the Centre trusts that they can handle it. It's a lot for the Centre to ask of them. Philip is juggling his lives with Elizabeth, Paige, Kimberly and Martha right now. All of those relationships are in flux. Each present their own complications. And yet, only one of them is real - or at least as real as he could possible have. He and Elizabeth may still be disagreeing over Paige. And yet, Elizabeth is there for Philip to listen to him at hour's end.

That concluding sequence where we see the kind of training he received as a young recruit is brutal. And yet, it doesn't quite compare to or prepare him for what the field has actually become. He's getting increasingly close to Kimberly. He's awkward about being seen in public with her but he also works his way into her house while her CIA father is out. He has worked assets by using sex before. He has the long con with Martha going on right now! And yet, Kimberly is different because she is 15 years old. Philip has no clue how to understand and deal with that. She's their only way into the CIA Afghan Group. Yousaf has done his part but can't offer them a stronger way to get this connection. Kimberly is the only one in and that makes Philip very uncomfortable. She is such a young asset to use. He does get access but he's also worried about how far he's going to have to go with her. It's easy for him to use sex to leverage Martha. It's difficult to use the same tactic with Kimberly. Unlike any of his other targets, he feels sorry for her. Sorry that he's using her and playing with her teenage emotions. The argument could be said that he's doing more harm to Martha living this sham marriage with her. But he sees Martha as an adult with the ability to make her own decisions. Kimberly is still a developing human being. All of this could be absolutely destructive to her. He has no clue how this will play out.

So, it's easier for him to remember all the good times with his children when they were younger. His little family unit has only gotten more complicated and complex once his children started growing up and becoming capable of their own individual thoughts. They are growing up in a society he is morally against. He loves his children but he's also craving for things to go back to the simpler times. And yet, those younger days weren't as good as he wants to remember them. He remembers the joys of Paige and Henry walking for the very first time. They were so innocent back then. That's a nice memory to cling onto as Paige is looking for a dress for her upcoming baptism. She is maturing at a much faster rate than Philip is ready to accept. So, he remembers the past but even that is flawed. Elizabeth has to be the one to point out the fact the Paige fell down for an entire summer.

Even within Philip's relationship with Stan (which is getting more focus this season), he wants to believe that Stan had a good relationship with Matthew when he was a kid. Stan is slowly openly up more and more to Philip. He trusts him enough to go to EST with him and to talk about his marriage and family. He's coming to terms that maybe he won't be able to reunite with Sandra. He's still fighting for that but he's now open to the possibility of someone new. But Sandra still remains an important part of his life because she is the mother of his child. A child who he doesn't really recognize or understand anymore. It's been awhile since we've last seen Matthew. But the love Stan has for his son has always been present. He's one of the few people in this world who he loves and will fight for. And yet, there's still that big divide between the two that started when Stan went undercover for 3 years and has only gotten bigger during this separation. Sure, Stan bonded with Matthew when he was younger. But that doesn't mean much now. He simply doesn't have a genuine bond with his son which is a dynamic that is nicely paralleled with Philip and Paige.

Elizabeth believes that Philip only took their daughter dress shopping so that he could get closer to her as a part of his bigger plan for her. He just wants to hold onto her while she still has some innocence left. This moment in time of Philip and Elizabeth not knowing what to do with Paige's future isn't going to last that long. A decision will need to be made soon. Philip wants Paige to be happy and he wants to provide that feeling for her even though he doesn't agree with her wanting to be baptized. He doesn't have an angle. Elizabeth doesn't believe that. Despite their growing differences though, she is still there for him in the end. He's allowed his moment of honesty in saying that it's not always real with her. That's a powerful thing to say to the woman he loves. And yet, she understands it. In their line of work, certainties are very rare. He's committed the most to her and that is still a very comforting thing to feel.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Salang Pass" was written by Stephen Schiff and directed by Kevin Dowling.
  • Elizabeth is also making significant progress on her asset without any major hiccups. She sets herself up as a close friend who provides a place for her to live while her life is in flux right now. And later, she kills a man in order for her asset to receive a transfer that would benefit Elizabeth later on.
  • Stan is so certain that Zinaida is a double agent that he plants the seed of doubt in Oleg's head for him to investigate from the other side in the hopes that it would lead to a prisoner exchange to get Nina back in America. There's a lot of uncertainty with this plot. Stan could be completely wrong about Zinaida and all of this work would be for nothing.
  • When Stan comes over to the Jennings' house for dinner, Henry asks him how Mrs. Beeman is doing. I have no clue what this season is doing with Henry's infatuation with Sandra. It's only a little unsettling though.
  • Gabriel is worried for Philip's safety and his juggling of so many woman right now. His concerns aren't completely justified. Philip seems to be able to handle all of these women adequately when he's with them. But how much more of this can Philip honestly take?
  • Gabriel: "Conscience can be dangerous."