Wednesday, March 30, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Americans' - Philip and Elizabeth's Plan is Disrupted by Gabriel in 'Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow'

FX's The Americans - Episode 4.03 "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow"

Paige copes with new burdens that come from her family's secret. Philip and Elizabeth struggle to contain their cover without destroying their daughter.

Philip and Elizabeth are in trouble. Paige told Pastor Tim the truth about them. And now, they are struggling with how to handle this threat to their family unit and profession without destroying Paige in the process. It's a horrifying position that they find themselves in with no easy way out. And things are only getting worse for them as well. This situation isn't just going away. They have to address it head-on. But every single option that's presented in front of them is bad. They can talk and plan about what to do with Gabriel and the Centre. But ultimately, all of this planning is for nothing. Their lives are still being put in danger by their jobs and that only further complicates the situation with Paige. It's a perilous story right now that the show is digging deeper and deeper into. It's quite compelling too.

Philip and Elizabeth know that they need to handle Pastor Tim. They sit down with him to get a sense of what he is feeling about this issue. He believes in keeping the secrets that his parishioners tell him in confidence. He wants to create an open and safe environment where anyone can seek him out for counsel. But he still has an obligation to protect the greater good. It's a very open and frank conversation about who Philip and Elizabeth truly are. They are exposed in a way that they aren't used to. They are talking about their true selves to someone who can do them a great deal of harm. They honestly have no idea what Pastor Tim will do. They are doing their best to manipulate the situation. They don't want to push him into taking action against them. He can destroy this family unit so easily. But despite all of Philip and Elizabeth's manipulation, it still seems likely that they'll have to take lethal action in order to handle this threat.

And honestly, that solution terrifies Philip and Elizabeth. However, it terrifies them for different reasons. Philip wants to handle this situation in a way that won't destroy Paige - in either the short or long term. She has come to learn a lot about the kind of work that her parents do. If the pastor and his wife are killed, she has enough knowledge to always be suspicious and distrustful of her parents. Because she was honest with them about telling Pastor Tim, it made the situation much more complicated. The Centre is able to present a plan that could possible work. And yet, Philip is still thinking about Paige. Everyone else wants to handle this situation with an eye on the present. Pastor Tim could expose Philip and Elizabeth as spies and that would destroy them. That's the perspective everyone else wants to look at this situation. But Philip also needs to voice his own concerns about Paige. She is going to get hurt no matter what happens. Philip can manipulate her enough to push Pastor Tim slightly away. But it's still not enough to handle this situation. But taking action now also means the Centre would have to give up all hope of ever trying to recruit Paige to the cause. That's a concern that only Philip seems to be worried about.

The cause is everything to Elizabeth. She is so committed to the work that she and Philip do. She doesn't want anything to compromise the integrity of her mission. While all of this is going on, she's able to start a new mission with a new target. It gives her an opportunity to have fun. But she's not able to embrace that quality for very long because of the situation at home. Despite all the walking, she enjoys being able to bond with this new target, Young Hee, in the hopes of making contact with the rest of her Korean family. The purpose of this mission still isn't clear. Plus, she is quickly distracted by the growing concerns with her own family. Gabriel presents a new plan that has the family going to the Epcot Center while the Centre arranges an accident for Pastor Tim and his wife. It's a plan that she agrees to because it would allow her and Philip to continue the work. That's her major concern. But she also doesn't want to uproot the happy family life that they have right now. She too has some good concerns about running back to the Soviet Union with the kids. Again, this situation doesn't have any easy answers.

The show can't forget about Paige in all of this mess either. She thought telling Pastor Tim the truth about her parents would help unburden her from the pressures of this massive secret. Instead, it has only torn her up more. She's so devastated that she has betrayed her parents. She still wants to believe that they are good people even though she knows the truth. She has learned some things about the work they do. But she still wants to believe they would never do anything criminal like killing people. Of course, that's far from the truth. Philip just killed a guy last week for ultimately nothing. That's the kind of work they are really in. But Paige still needs to believe in her parents. She does regret pushing for the truth. But she can't just undo that now. She has to live with this secret for the rest of her life. She wants to do whatever it takes to make it up to her parents. And now, that's damaging her relationship with Pastor Tim. She trusted him. She found purpose in life through religion. It's something that Philip and Elizabeth hated but have allowed her to focus on - with very watchful eyes. That's the reason all of them find themselves in this position at the moment with no clarity on how to move forward. Paige has the most to lose in this situation and she doesn't even know just how serious the consequences of her actions will be.

Plus, things go from bad to worse during the final part of the episode. All of this careful planning quickly goes away because of the sensitive nature of Philip and Elizabeth's work. They have been very careful in the handling of the bioweapon. And yet, it has still compromised their health and their ability to do their jobs and protect their family. All the concerns about what to do with Pastor Tim quickly get thrown out the window once they are exposed to glanders from the vile. Gabriel has it the worst. He is in and out of consciousness. This threat is very pressing and could be very deadly for all of the agents. For all the talk about the threat against the family, this one is far more serious and showcases just how dangerous and precarious the work has become as of late. The only action Philip and Elizabeth can take is recruit William to help them fend off this disease. But it still creates a situation where they have to spend at least 24 hours together in quarantine. That means they won't be able to make the family trip to Epcot. It also leaves Paige and Henry all alone to do absolutely anything - which could only make the situation for the family even worse.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow" was written by Stephen Schiff and directed by Kevin Dowling.
  • Martha is still getting adjusted to seeing Clark as Philip. Again, this could be a very big mistake should Martha ever get caught. She knows exactly what Philip looks like which could help the FBI put all the pieces together about the Russian agents they've been tracking for years.
  • However, Stan being suspicious of Martha feels somewhat like a story that needs to happen instead of it emerging organically. He doubts the story being presented about Eugene and is uncertain about Martha. He's keeping her under surveilance which could lead him straight to Philip.
  • Stan tells Aderholt about his suspicion of Martha. Aderholt doesn't take it very seriously. He counters all of Stan's arguments with rational explanations. Also, this conversation happens closely to the mail robot. But was it close enough for the Rezidentura to become worried about Martha being blown as an asset?
  • Elizabeth keeps pushing for Philip to mend his friendship with Stan. She believes they'll need a friend in the FBI should they be arrested. And yet, Philip still hasn't done that. He keeps delaying it because of more pressing concerns.
  • Philip does have an interesting conversation with Sandra about Stan though. He lets her know what happened and is able to pivot the conversation to how Sandra may be treating Stan a little too unfairly as of late.
  • Once again, Nina finds herself behind bars waiting punishment. She was able to escape it once because of her manipulative skill set. But now, she no longer sees herself as that person. So, it's much more daunting to be back in this position awaiting an uncertain fate.