Wednesday, March 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Martha Confronts Clark About the Bug and He Simply Pleads His Love for Her in 'Divestment'

FX's The Americans - Episode 3.08 "Divestment"

Martha and Clark's marriage meets its most challenge test yet. As pressures on Philip intensify, Elizabeth turns to Gabriel with a difficult request. Nina receives a new assignment that reconnects her with her past.

Chaos has been a strong part of Philip and Elizabeth's lives this season. And yet, with everything that is personally going on with them, they were both able to be on the same wavelength when it came to handling this mission against apartheid with the South African agent, Reuben Ncgobo. They were both trained in similar ways and carry out their missions in the same manner. This mission isn't personal to them though. They are simply providing assistance to someone else's cause because it will ultimately help the Soviet Union more than the United States. It makes almost no difference to Philip and Elizabeth what the outcome of kidnapping these two men is - at least initially. It's just their job to snatch them up and interrogate them for the information they can provide.

And yet, one of their captives is just a college student who got swept up into all the excitement that his handler's agenda promised. The older man was never going to give Reuben the information he needed. Killing him was the only way they can threaten the young guy into talking and revealing the truth. Philip and Elizabeth are of the mind to do things quick and simple. Shoot him with one bullet with a silencer on the gun. That creates no noise and makes it much easier to clean up afterwards. And yet, this isn't their decision to make. It's Reuben's. He is the one forced to fight this war abroad while his wife is back home doing who knows what. He needs this death to be painful because that's the kind of punishment he believes this man deserves. Burning alive with a tire wrapped around one's body is a brutal way to go. Philip and Elizabeth just have to calmly watch as it happens. But it is still very gruesome. They've done their share of horrible things. But the manner in which this man is killed is very personal and has a deep meaning attached to it. This is what happens to the people who try to suppress the citizens of South Africa.

The college student was simply naive to this cause. He did agree with it and yet he wasn't willing to use violence in order to further their agenda. He was given a bomb to blow up his college at a very important time for the anti-apartheid movement. He couldn't go through with it and is willing to tell Elizabeth were the bomb is at. They retrieve it without any problem. And now, they have to decide what to do with him. It's very rare for the Jennings to actually let someone go if they aren't going to be beneficial to them later. And yet, they believe that he doesn't need to die in the same way as the other man - or in the way they wanted to kill him. He can't identify them. The best thing for them to do is to all move on from this experience. It was a job and now it's over with.

As Reuben later shares with Philip, marriage is difficult especially in times of war. Philip and Elizabeth are a team in the field on this mission. At home, they still are even though they don't spend a lot of time with each other there in this episode. Philip has to go spend the night with Martha while Elizabeth gets to have another conversation with Paige. But now, Elizabeth better understands and sympathizes with the pressure that Philip is dealing with at the moment. It's incredibly hard to be with Kimberly - even though that part of his life hasn't been on display for the last two episodes. He knows the incredible amount of value that relationship has but that doesn't diminish the awkward dynamic of working a teenage girl. Because he opened up to Elizabeth last week, she is much more willing to look out for him and his newly discovered son. She wants to make sure that Misha is doing well fighting in Afghanistan in order to help Philip receive some clarity and peace of mind. She doesn't know if Gabriel has that kind of pull to get Misha to safety. But she's going to ask nevertheless and that shows how the depth of the show's core relationship has evolved this season.

Elizabeth is doing this for Philip. And it's something that he could really use following his night with Martha in which she shares that the pen bug was discovered and her trust in him has disappeared. It's a very complex situation. Martha now knows that Clark hasn't been completely trustful to her. She has absolutely no idea what he has really been doing for all of these months. To her, Clark is suppose to be Walter Taffet. If that were true, she wouldn't be getting interviewed by him about the pen that was discovered in Agent Gaad's office. And yet, she is and that means she needs to confront Clark the next time she sees him. Interestingly, her gun never comes into play in that big confrontational moment. She needs to know who Clark really is but she is never really fearful of her life. Clark won't tell her truth. He just keeps pleading his immense love for her. Philip doesn't want to kill Martha because she can still provide valuable information about the FBI even with the bug no longer operational. That will always remain a last resort option for him. Right now, he needs to keep this connection alive. Martha desperately wants to be loved. Clark is a completely new person and mystery to her right now. And yet, he's still telling her the one thing that she wants to hear the most. His love has this weight to it that she loves so much. She has to be the one to decide if that's enough for her. Standing before her is a man professing his love for her. He may be up to no good and she has to weigh the love with the potential bad. And she chooses the love. It may not be something that lasts as questions may plague her in the aftermath. But right now, it feels right to her to have Clark's love. And yet, she still doesn't completely trust him. She is lying awake at night with him in bed next to her. She thinks she knows one part of him. She wants that to be enough. But will it? That is the biggest question poised by the end of this episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Divestment" was written by Joshua Brand and directed by Dan Attias.
  • Nina now has the opportunity to get her sentence reduced completely if she simply spies on the kidnapped scientist from last season, Anton, for the KGB. It's a mission she takes immediately because it can mean her freedom. And yet, she has a very personal and traumatic past with the man overlooking the new facility where she's staying. And also, she immediately struggles making that connection with Anton.
  • Paige has started to look up old articles that covered Gregory's death. I bet that wasn't something Elizabeth was expecting when she told Paige about him. And now, she gets to be vague again about life being complicated while Paige still holds onto her belief of purely good and purely bad acts.
  • Stan has officially left for his former partner's memorial service - although it's just for a day.