Wednesday, March 11, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Philip Struggles to Connect with His Family While Martha Faces Danger in 'Walter Taffet'

FX's The Americans - Episode 3.07 "Walter Taffet"

Philip and Elizabeth feel the weight of a new family secret while following up on the KGB's interests in South Africa. Stan faces struggles both at work and at home. Martha confronts a shocking development.

Philip and Elizabeth want to have honesty in their relationship. They have been divided lately over whether or not to tell Paige who they truly are. Meanwhile, Philip has had more pressing and immediate concerns in the field - dealing with both Kimmy and Martha. Elizabeth told him she still plans on moving forward with Paige. And she did do that at the end of the last episode where she took her to a bad part of town to unveil their pasts as activists and that they had a friend who was shot down by the police. It's an experience that changes Paige. She knew that this was happening in the world but she has largely been sheltered from it - either in her parents' house or in church. Physically seeing that some people have to live like that has energized her in a way that makes her see her parents in a new light. She's grateful that her mom told her about this portion of their pasts because there is still work to be done for the causes they used to fight for.

Philip walks right into it the moment he gets home. He wasn't expecting Paige to know about Gregory and for her to suddenly be asking all of these questions. He wanted to walk through the door to his normal family - or at least as "normal" as they can be. He fears that he is taking on too much work that his voice is being left out of this process. Will he come home one day and Paige knows the full truth about her parents? That scares him. Elizabeth tries to justify that she told him that this was a part of her plan. It still reads as somewhat of a betrayal to him. He needs to be a part of this process and she was taking that away from him a little bit.

Every single thing in their relationship right now feels as if they are on opposite sides. He doesn't want that to be their dynamic. He wants to be a part of the team with her. They are distant from each other in the immediate aftermath. Elizabeth is the one telling him the plan when it comes to the upcoming South African meeting. She's the one who has put this into motion - thanks to a helpful catch by her trainee Hans. He is simply going along because it's what is needed of him. The kids seem to be distant from him as well when he comes home with pizza and Paige is busy with homework and Henry is out at friends' house. The only place Philip has someone he can talk to is over at Stan's. That friendship has deepened this season. Philip's issues are much different than Stan's but they have become stronger friends because they've been able to help the other. He has that relationship but on some level it's always going to be a performance with Stan. Elizabeth is his partner in crime and they don't seem to be on the same wave length. Sure, he is able to pull himself together and pretend to be happy with Elizabeth when they pose as a happy couple for Elizabeth's target, Lisa. But when they pull into the driveway afterwards, there is an awkwardness between them. He has to immediately go back out and be with Martha and there just doesn't seem to be any kind of intimate connection between him and Elizabeth in that moment.

But what Philip doesn't know is that the FBI has discovered the bug he had Martha plant in Agent Gaad's office back in Season 1. When he first asked Martha to do this, she saw it as a betrayal to the people she worked with because she sees them as friends. She agreed to do it because her love for Clark outweighed all of that. Ever since, she has been carrying the recording device in her purse and leaving the tapes for Clark to listen to later. She kept doing this because she trusted and loved Clark. She wanted to start a family with him despite his objections and chaotic schedule. Their relationship has always been secretive. No one knows that she is married and it's not a traditional marriage either. She has agreed to this lifestyle because she loves Clark. But now, the discovery of the bug has made her realize just how dangerous this whole arrangement really was. She saw them pull the listening device out of the pen. She then spiraled into a panic in the bathroom needing to destroy the equipment in her purse before it too was discovered. She could be in a lot of trouble and it's all because of Clark. He can't come to her rescue. She needs to be the one to ensure she is not arrested. Fortunately, she is successful in her efforts. She goes undetected in the office.

This brush with danger makes her reevaluate her love towards Clark. This act could have gotten her into a lot of trouble. Is his love worth all that risk? For the first time, she realizes that she has never seen his apartment. For too long, she has been willing to listen to whatever he said because she enjoyed the words coming out of his mouth. Sure, he freaked out about her getting a gun and wanting to foster a child. But those are small arguments in comparison to treason or crimes against the country. She needs to know who the man she loves really is. She's unsure about herself. Philip is able to pick up on that right away. He knows something has happened to her. She doesn't disclose the truth because she needs to know who he really is. The truth won't stay buried for that much longer. He will need to see her purse and the recording device eventually. But right now, she is scared and rightfully so.

This whole experience unnerves Philip as well. He is able to come home and lie in bed with the woman he really wants to be with. He then realizes that he asked her to trust and be honest with him even though he was holding the secret of having another son out there. He shares that with her in their most intimate scene of the hour. They are just lying in bed together wrapped in each other's arms. They both want to be with each other and rely on each other. Philip sharing this news helped open up the intimacy again. The next morning they appear as a regular family again. With the parents acting like a team and caring about the children even though their problems seem trivial - Henry doesn't want to read his poem in front of the class. Afterwards, they are an effective team in kidnapping the South African official. It's a setup that goes off without a hitch. Sure, Hans is a little over-excited and honks his car's horn even though he was only suppose to do that if he saw a police car. But Philip and Elizabeth were still successful in either taking out or capturing their targets.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Walter Taffet" was written by Lara Shapiro and directed by Noah Emmerich.
  • Sandra declines Stan's offer to go to Chicago for his former partner's memorial service. And then, she brings up the fact that they should probably start the process of divorce.
  • However, Stan does get a good moment of bonding with his son when Matthew starts asking questions about Stan's former partner which then brings back memories of Stan's stint undercover and the types of horrible people he had to pretend to be friends with.
  • Stan is also realizing that Agent Aderholt asks a lot of questions. This week he's inquisitive about what kind of an asset Nina was to Stan. That makes Stan appear a little suspicious. It's the only reason he enters Gaad's office when the bug is later discovered.
  • Philip wore two new wigs and they sure were something, right? And then, Elizabeth sports a new one and it is amazing!