jae: (theamericansgecko)
[personal profile] jae posting in [community profile] theamericans
2 May 2017 in the U.S. and Canada

This is a discussion post for episode 509 of The Americans, intended for viewers who are watching the show on the U.S./Canadian schedule. (Feel free to dive in to the discussion even if you're coming in late--and you should also feel free to start a new thread if it seems too daunting to read through what's already been posted first. If you're reading this at a point where you've already seen subsequent episodes, though, please take care to keep comments spoiler-free of anything that comes after season five, episode nine.)

Original promo trailer

QR's Short Review

Date: 2017-05-03 06:26 am (UTC)
quantumreality: (americans1)
From: [personal profile] quantumreality
Just a couple thoughts:

- Tuan looked for the first time like the kid he mostly still is. He might be 18, 19, 20, something like that, but even at that age when you're nominally an adult you don't entirely throw off your teenagerhood all at once. And part of that is when you realize you've fucked up and gotten two very pissed off actual Adults Having A Talk with you, the bravado and tough talk usually vanishes - exactly what happened here. Nice work all around for the actors in that scene.

- Martha is fed up and disillusioned. :(

- Oleg is going to slowly realize he's fighting a losing battle against the entrenching Russian mafia.

- Also some more general signs in the show's 'verse that the USSR everybody thought was a more or less shiny thing is actually... not. Philip wonders if the Soviets used biological warfare in Afghanistan, while Oleg's dad says everybody knows someone who got thrown in the gulag.
Edited Date: 2017-05-03 06:26 am (UTC)

While watching thoughts

Date: 2017-05-03 08:54 am (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
Interesting that the 'previously' goes back to William.

Another suitcase bug, and finally back to (the now legal to be sexual with?) Kimberly. I'd been wondering what happened to that storyline.

Gosh, some real travel agent work! Is this setting up Tuan doing something... unhelpful?

It's not just assets that the FBI use emotional blackmail on.

Why have a valuable agent like Philip spend ages listens to the briefcase tapes rather than some analyst?

Missing Tuan. Things are bad if Elizabeth is watching ads like that. Pointed inclusion of the 'family photo' in that shot.

Ah, that's the - clunky plot - reason, so Philip hears about a deadly fever and wonders if the Soviets are using the virus.

'The wind in the west is strong', 'The elephant is feeling chilly'. A very busy public place to meet! Like Martha, he's wondering if he'll see Philip again.

Nice little snort from Philip about the idea of praying. Not particularly tactful!

Another storyline revisited, with some classic Stan emotional clumsiness.

'He would want revenge'. He probably would.

Love Philip's hesitation at Henry wanting to, gasp, talk. Ah, the show wants to ship him off to boarding school. Erm, Henry, it's a big thing to just dump on your parents.

Speaking of Martha, another surprise.

'It's just a snack', as though that wasn't her new reality.

The second 'I'm just dropping in' visit of the episode.

'A few, men, nobody suitable'.

She's not looking convinced, and I wonder what that rejection feels like to Gabriel.

'Fancy orphanage' is a great description. Obviously Henry is going to have to leave to grow up at some point soon.

Why have Elizabeth go to the bus station to watch Tuan? The chance of him recognising her...

Ah, that's what they're interested in from Oleg.

.. and now Philip in Harrisburg.

Interesting they continue the argument when Oleg arrives back.

'Every family has a story like this'.

What a big cell.. and finally he talks, as we knew he would. 'God help me'.

Typical American family life scene for anyone watching the house...

And back to the difference between Philip and Elizabeth that's been there from S1E1 - he wonders if Tuan wants 'out of this shit', she says 'it's not who he is'.

Anyone else get the feeling that this season is primarily a build up to a big cliff-hanger at the end?

Philip listening to the tapes

Date: 2017-05-05 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] treonb
Why have a valuable agent like Philip spend ages listens to the briefcase tapes rather than some analyst?

I was thinking the same thing. Also, the tape supposedly tapes everything. It would be impossible for Philip to do everything else he does and listen to a couple weeks of office talk.

Re: Philip listening to the tapes

Date: 2017-05-05 04:29 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
I would hope that it at least is voice activated so there's only something to listen to when people are talking.

Re: Philip listening to the tapes

From: [personal profile] treonb - Date: 2017-05-07 09:23 am (UTC) - Expand

My review

Date: 2017-05-03 12:52 pm (UTC)
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
From: [personal profile] selenak

We haven't seen Kimmie through all of the fourth season, though there was dialogue to state that operation was still ongoing. This episode's teaser illustrates it. "Jim" celebrates Kimmie's birthday with her, a few days after the event, and it looks like she's accepted romance/sex is not in the cards; they appear comfortable in a friendship with parental overtones on his part. That she asks Jim about his son is ironic on various levels, not least because in this episode Philip and Elizabeth will be confronted with two sons doing the unexpected, their biological son Henry and their "work" son Tuan. But also because it's a reminder that Philip actually talked to Kim about Mischa Jr. (sort of) because that reveal happened when he was in mid-crisis with her. Which, given that we've yet to see Philip talk to anyone else (including Elizabeth, or, for that matter, EST) about his unexpected firstborn and how that makes him feel, makes Kim officially the only person he's confided in re: this matter.

What makes a good parent? "I don't think anyone ever gets it right", says Kimmie to Jim, who says he'll try then not to suck at it completely, and she considers that maybe that's the best anyone can manage. When the show starts, Philip is pretty much set up as an ideal father (especially in contrast to Stan), but that was several seasons ago, and his children were far younger then. Now, he's even more stunned by Henry wanting to go to an elite boarding school in New Hampshire than Elizabeth (who seems to slightly more flexible re: that), and at a rare loss of words. This is trickier even than when Paige got religion, because Henry having qualified himself academically for an elite school is in every parental guide book praiseworthy, and yet you can tell from his parents' faces they feel rejected by this, while also being aware there is no possible way they can tell that to Henry. "I've worked really hard", says Henry, to two people who as teenagers worked really hard, too, very much set on leaving their home behind, at an elite school training them to be spies.

Meanwhile, Tuan, who towards Elizabeth and Philip has been the ideal junior spy, rattling off hardcore phrases and pouring scorn on all their marks, also has been increasingly obvious about being lonely in his repeated remarks on how they need to be at the house more often. Elizabeth, who's picked up on this, decides to spend some extra time with Tuan, only to discover he's got a secret and some unexplained absent time, which leads to P & E & random KGB minions tailing him, which leads to their confrontation with Tuan and his confession. Which is the reverse, in a way, to Jared's in season 2. Jared was seemingly harmless while in reality carrying the burden of having murdered his family due to his recruitment as a spy. Tuan is seemingly 100 % devoted junior ideologue but secretly hides that he does feel for his first foster family (whom he had described in scornful terms to Philip a few episodes earlier), especially his younger foster brother. The reveal of corruption/murder in the seemingly innocent (Jared) versus the reveal of emotion/humanity in the seemingly cold and ruthless (Tuan). It's one of those moments where our antiheroes and the audience are confronted with their own professional inhumanity: were they really about to murder a teenager, if he hadn't convinced them? One whose parents they pretended to be, however fake (and understood to be fake by all parties concerned) that was?

Henry and Tuan - with the identical "I've worked really hard" - protest in different ways bring home to Philip and Elizabeth their failures as parents. Kim is a success in that the operation she's a part of does just what it's supposed to - her father the CIA honcho unwittingly spilling all those secrets on tape, and that the relationship between her and "Jim" is a good one on the surface - she didn't need a lover, she needed a confidant and friend, he became that for her, and, see above re: son, in a way she became one for Philip-underneath-Jim, too. But: it's a relationship founded on a betrayal. Just because there's no sex and romance involved doesn't mean Philip and the KGB aren't exploiting Kimmie as surely as they ever did Martha. I don't think it's coincidence that in this very episode, we finally catch up on Martha in more than a silent cameo, and it happens through Gabriel paying her a visit. Gabriel is at his most friendly and paternal, but Martha rejects it (and the supposed reassurance of Clark's devotion), not in a spontanous horror as last season when she's overwhelmed by all happening, but as the result of having thought everything through. "I understand everything now", Martha says to Gabriel, and everything presumably means: How thoroughly she had been played and used from the beginning. That Philip came to feel regard and responsibility for her doesn't negate what that relationship was at its core. And it's quintessentially true for any spy-mark oder handler/agent relationship. You find out what a vulnerable person wants and needs, you give them that, and in return, they are used by you, willingly or unwittingly, to what if it ever is revealed is bound to destroy their entire existence.

Nor is it a coincidence, that Philip when he meets one of Gabriel's agents, an orthodox priest, ends up telling said priest he can't be the one to meet with him on a regular basis. In the last episode, Philip wanted to keep the handler/agent relationship purely on an information exchange basis when he was the handled one; this week, he refuses to let it be anything else when he's the (intermittent) handler. No more mixing of real emotions with the spying trade, which is a lying trade, except that I think he's kidding himself if he thinks that's a solution.

Philip in this episode also finds out, via Kimmie's father, that the virus they secured via cutting a piece of William's body probably ended up being used as a weapon in Afghanistan. Elizabeth at first protests the idea, but only feebly, and interestingly, she doesn't follow it up with a "our people would never" defense, and appears as disconcerted about the possibility as Philip is. This following the reveal that there is no poisonous grain might trigger both of them deciding to keep secrets from their bosses. Starting with Tuan's, though how that is possible when they must have told the people who were helping to tail Tuan at the very least there was some concern I don't know. Philip speculating that Tuan might have wanted to get caught so he'd be sent back and be out of the spying game is more a case of Philip projecting than anything else, though; if anything, Tuan with his revealed concern for his foster brother doesn't want to go back to Vietnam right now.

Re: My review

Date: 2017-05-03 04:25 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
There is so much to agree with in that, but I'd expect them to realise that it's far, far too quick for the virus to have been used as a weapon - given how infectious it is, you would have to have some way of containing it within your target population / protecting your population.

Otherwise there are a lot more Russians to die than Afghan resistance and it only takes a 'beginning to feel sick' Afghan to be involved in some hand-to-hand fighting for your army to start losing blood through every orifice. Much easier to just spray / shell areas with nerve agents.

Re: My review

Date: 2017-05-03 05:05 pm (UTC)
selenak: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selenak
No kidding, though I'm not sure whether the scriptwriters think of that.;) Then again, after so many episodes which emphasized just how uncontrollable that virus is, you'd think so.

Re: My review

From: [personal profile] sistermagpie - Date: 2017-05-03 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: My review

Date: 2017-05-03 07:23 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
We haven't seen Kimmie through all of the fourth season, though there was dialogue to state that operation was still ongoing. This episode's teaser illustrates it.

We did see her once, when she told "Jim" her dad was CIA.

"I've worked really hard", says Henry, to two people who as teenagers worked really hard, too, very much set on leaving their home behind, at an elite school training them to be spies.

All the more reason to wonder exactly what Philip left behind. We know Elizabeth asked her mother about it and was ordered to go.

But: it's a relationship founded on a betrayal.

And of course, this is exactly what's at the center of the whole show with Philip and Elizabeth. They (especially Philip) beat themselves up over betraying their people and not being good enough parents, but the story here is actually about they themselves being tossed into this meat grinder as children and exploited since then.

Frankly, the two of them have been excellent parents compared to that. They struggle with trying to do the right thing by their kids and fall short because everyone does. But they seem potentially more forgiving towards their own parents.

Date: 2017-05-03 08:08 pm (UTC)
soupytwist: Joan Watson working hard on a laptop (tap tap)
From: [personal profile] soupytwist
Well, this is a really interesting episode. There's a lot about betrayal and disillusionment here.

We get Martha (MARTHA!!!) showing that she now understands what was done to her, a Martha who might be lonely but also isn't falling for the 'Clark sends his love' story. Martha who is STRONGER for her disillusionment. (Can you imagine Martha in the US being like, "Must be nice." in a similar situation?)

We have disillusionment in the relationships between parents and children. Philip and Elizabeth are kind of shocked at Henry suddenly coming out with this stuff because they see it as a kind of betrayal. Elizabeth ends up seeing a necessary growing up in it, too, but finding out someone you love isn't who you thought they were IS hard. Oleg and his parents are having that too, from both ways.

(Also, Henry turning out to want SERIOUS in his life is kind of amazing and makes him even more obviously Philip's kid, I think.)

We get that with Tuan, too; Philip and Elizabeth are scared by what he might be doing (and I think he WILL get them in trouble somehow even if he's telling the complete truth). And Tuan gets to find out that his nice handler people are actually quite scary if you're on their wrong side. I suspect that relationship will never be the same again.

We get political disillusionment. We've had some of that before, but it seems to be getting increasingly explicit. (I guess much like the breakup of the USSR.) Philip and Elizabeth both think it's at least POSSIBLE that the Soviets used bioweapons: thinking about it as a potential thing is quite enough, even if it actually isn't true. And Philip's talking about "being pulled out of this shit and starting over" as a possible outcome... for Tuan, yeah, but it doesn't take much to jump to himself/the family, too.

I'd also put Stan and Gaad's widow whose name I can't remember here. Stan didn't go there to be nice to her, really, but he does seem to be genuinely shocked that NOBODY from the office has been in touch at all since the funeral. And she's totally right Gaad would want revenge, but I found it a nicely done inversion of the expected trope, there.

Date: 2017-05-04 01:37 pm (UTC)
saraqael: (Default)
From: [personal profile] saraqael
So much to think about in this episode: Henry (I want to go to an elite boarding school where all the movers and shakers of US capitalism are groomed for power!); Martha (I have finally figured everything out and it's all terrible!); Stan (looking for validation in all the wrong places); Tuan (suddenly walking into a horror movie where his parents might just blow his brains out if he says the wrong thing); Oleg (suddenly finding himself in a different sort of horror story); Kimmy (Happy birthday! Still jail bait! So icky to see you again!); and the ghosts of William and poor Hans (hovering in the shadows whispering, 'Is it Lassa? Did we die for this?)

Seriously, this is my favorite episode of this season so far and might just become one of my all time favorites for the series as a whole.

So, Henry. Poor kid. He's coming into his own. He's smart. He's found a clique of other smart kids who see a bright future ahead in business and politics if they work hard, go to the right schools, and meet the right people. And yet... the way the scene was staged to mimic the scene in which Paige ambushed her parents to demand the truth is a clue that Henry also felt adversarial to his parents. Paige wanted to find out who Elizabeth and Philip really are (as a way of finding out who she really is). Henry wanted his parents to find out who he really is. He's already applied to this school. He's already sought out recommendations from other adults who the Jennings have never even met. It is a great opportunity for him to have a bright, prosperous, and possibly influential future in America.

And he's so screwed. Not because Philip and Elizabeth won't let him go to this school. Whether he ends up going off to this school or not is irrelevant. All of the feelings of shock and uncertainty that the Jennings felt were perfectly normal under the circumstances. Setting aside the whole illegal KGB gig to think about, Henry really did blindside them here so it's natural for Philip and Elizabeth to run through a gamut of feelings, from Philip's lament that the school looks like a fancy orphanage (he loves his kids and doesn't want to see Henry go off alone with no family) to Elizabeth's contemptuous crack about the school being a fancy country club (because of course she is contemptuous of every luxurious thing in the West).

But the thing is, you can't set aside the fact that the Jennings are KGB. Once the shock wears off, Elizabeth will see that this is exactly the sort of place the KGB would like a 2nd generation sleeper agent to be. And even if the Jennings object to recruiting Henry, the Center would overrule them. Henry has the potential to become part of the power elite. He would be perfectly placed to become the ideal second generation sleeper agent and turn over huge amounts of useful inside information to the KGB. This is not the future that Henry envisions for himself. And worse: if the Jennings are ever captured and outed as KGB spies, Henry's future in the US is ruined. He would be forever tainted and mistrusted by association with them. It would be made worse by the fact that his sister has already been recruited and has started taking her own baby steps onto the path of becoming a 2nd generation agent. Nope. Henry is screwed.

I wonder if this will be the last we see of Martha? She's finally figured out just how monstrously she was used, and how bleak and lonely the rest of her life will be. She's become a shadow of her former self. She's at least going through the motions of living so she hasn't completely given up, but she has nothing beyond subsistence. I'm glad she turned her back on Gabriel and kicked him out. He had nothing more for her than more glib, soothing lies but she's done being lied to. Poor thing. If she hadn't still been clinging to the idea that Clark/Mischa loved her even as he was bundling her onto a plane, Martha might have realized that life in a US prison would be better than the living death she faced in Russia.

Gabriel going to see Martha for whatever self-serving, falsely pious reasons he had was repeated by Stan going to see Gaad's widow to get her blessing not to go after Oleg. I understand why Stan did this. I really do. He doesn't want to ruin the life of someone he sees as his honorable counterpart. Fine. He was hoping that the grieving widow would given him her blessing. But no. Damn it, the Russians murdered her husband. She wants vengeance. And Gaad himself hated the Russians. He'd want revenge, too. Sorry, Stan. Whatever decision he makes going forward is going to have to be his alone. He can continue to refuse to use his friend (the honorably correct thing) or he can agree to put the screws to Oleg (the politically correct thing). Or, you know, he could just quit but this is Stan, and Stan is not a quitter. On the other side of the planet, Oleg is also being coerced by his bosses to go after Stan. Oleg is under all manners of pressure far more sinister than the pressure being put on Stan. It does seem like these two are being set up for confrontation in the final season. What will they do?

Poor Tuan suddenly seemed like just a terrified kid and not so much of a bloodthirsty, let's-kill-everyone! agent. I think that Elizabeth and Philip were fully prepared to kill him when they confronted him. That wasn't just bluster and show on their part. We've seen them kill people for far less than this. If Tuan can be believed, he was just trying to hide the fact that he has soft feelings for his American foster family. He's terrified of his own people if they find out. Maybe it's true. He's like a mini version of Philip and Elizabeth in that regard. Their actual love for their children complicate their lives as agents. But still, the Jennings came close to snuffing out this fake son of theirs. Now they have to deal with his emotions for his fake/real American family. I wonder what Tuan is going to do next, now that his secret soft side has been revealed. Will it make him think that he has to become extra zealous? He is still a ticking bomb, IMO.

I can't let the episode go without commenting on how creepy the scene with Kimmy was - intentionally creepy, IMO. Her initial run on the show was intentionally creepy because of the age disparity between her and Philip. I know I was relieved when Kimmy dropped out of sight because everything about Philip using this teen is grotesque. But she didn't drop out of sight for Philip. He's clearly been visiting her regularly all this time. And now here she is, back again with a happy 17 birthday cake that makes it clear that she's still under age and it just reinforces that no matter how much we want to like the Jennings, they are doing awful things.

This season, it seems like the show is turning us against the Jennings and the Russians in subtle and not so subtle ways. In the first couple years of the show, it was all cool spy action, and shiny rhetoric to justify that the Jennings are good guys who just happen to be on the wrong political side. Shocking things happened, but you expect that in a cool spy show, right? But then in the mid-part of the show, when Paige got dragged in and Philip's fake marriage with Martha started to take it's toll on him, the show seemed to flip its focus down on what this life was doing to the Jennings as people. But still, it's all for the ultimate good, right? They're fighting against injustice and their personal sacrifices are still worth it in the end. But the cracks were showing in this shiny facade. And now this season seems to have flipped everything over. The glorious people's revolution of the past was revealed to be a terrorist police state. Soviet Russia now is still a police state. The Soviets might just be using biological weapons to kill people. As much as we want to like Philip, here is Kimmy to show us that he is still doing creepy things. Paige is being turned inside out. It does not feel like the show is headed towards a happy ending.


Date: 2017-05-04 05:34 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
This season, it seems like the show is turning us against the Jennings and the Russians in subtle and not so subtle ways.

That's interesting because I get the opposite impression. I don't dislike Elizabeth and Philip more because the USSR is revealed as this--I already knew that's what it was. It seems like it's more about Philip and Elizabeth coming to this realization--or more of a realization.

But as they do that it's all the more clear than their intentions actually were good. They were Paige and Henry. If we have sympathy for Paige having to deal with this and for Henry for wanting to go to an elite boarding school (Henry's kind of announcing aspirations to douchebaggery) why not sympathize with the grown up versions? If Paige and Henry do make the choice to join the Cause/the elite they're not going to stay innocent victims or children forever. They'd be the adults who are corrupting the next generation.

Paige and Henry aren't really anything new and fresh here, they're just more kids who want to be part of the same old system. Paige is attracted to promises of saving the world and moral authority, Henry is attracted to promises of prestige and success.

It's the middle generation I find easily the most sympathetic here, because they're the ones who seem to be trying to understand the choices of those that came before them. Gabriel and Mr. Burov have only regrets that they're trying to get absolution for from their children's generation. Oleg, Philip and Elizabeth are stuck in the same trap, but trying to find ways to make it work and not make the same mistakes as their parents made as they try to understand them--Oleg looking up his mother's file, understanding that she probably sold herself to guards to survive and forgiving her, confronting his father who's not asking for forgiveness, confronting Gabriel about why he did what he did in the past, asking Gregory what Philip's father really did for a living.

Re: Generations

Date: 2017-05-04 06:23 pm (UTC)
soupytwist: Joan Watson working hard on a laptop (tap tap)
From: [personal profile] soupytwist
That's interesting because I get the opposite impression. I don't dislike Elizabeth and Philip more because the USSR is revealed as this--I already knew that's what it was. It seems like it's more about Philip and Elizabeth coming to this realization--or more of a realization.

This is almost word for word what I was going to say to that train of thought! It feels to me WAY more like examining what Soviets might be feeling at this point, as the cracks in the USSR start to show. And I feel like it's showing that very sympathetically: Philip and Elizabeth are our protagonists, we feel for them even if we disagree, and nobody else seems to be shown as stupid or anything for being dragged into this system that's bigger than they are.

Re: Generations

Date: 2017-05-04 08:55 pm (UTC)
saraqael: (Default)
From: [personal profile] saraqael
I don't think we're meant to dislike Elizabeth and Philip. Not at all. In fact, even as events on the show are turning against them, as people they each are becoming more approachable and likeable. What I mean by the show turning us (the audience) against them is that this season, really all we have seen them do has had negative outcomes. Over the years, the events on the show have been portrayed from their POV. They have good intentions. They think they're the good guys. We in the audience like them and buy into the fact that they have good intentions. But are they the good guys? No.

So far this season, this is what the writers have show us. The Jennings dug up William (and killed Hans in the process) to get a biological sample that now appears to have been weaponized and used aggressively. They maliciously killed an innocent lab worker. (And yes, I consider that particular murder to have been malicious, unlike any of the previous job-related murders. They were both in a bloodthirsty mood since they thought the US was planning to starve their people.) Paige is a wreck. Martha is experiencing a living death in Russia. They reminded us that Elizabeth destroyed the only actual friend she'd ever had. They even brought back Kimmy, a character designed to remind us that Philip is willing to (at minimum) emotionally manipulate a teen the same age as his own daughter(and potentially even stoop to seducing that same teen if there was no other way to get to her). And it's now possible that they could ruin Henry's future because the potential to recruit him would be too tempting to pass up.

The writers are not just showing us the cracks in the Soviet system, they're intentionally showing us all of the damage that Philip and Elizabeth have done to their family, their friends, and to innocent bystanders. The writers invested a lot of effort at the start of the show to get their Western audience on the side of these Russian agents. It seems to me that they are now showing us reminder after reminder that the Jennings are not the good guys in this story. Does it matter that they had good intentions when the net result is this much harm?

Re: Generations

From: [personal profile] quantumreality - Date: 2017-05-04 11:45 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Generations

Date: 2017-05-04 11:42 pm (UTC)
quantumreality: (americans1)
From: [personal profile] quantumreality
It's kind of ironic; Henry's path could open up some serious doors to all kinds of access among the political and economic elite of the USA, which, if he were a mole, would be devastating in the right circumstances.

But P&E are naturally suspicious about it partly because that kind of Ivy League prep school environment is everything they were taught to rebel against.
Edited Date: 2017-05-04 11:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Generations

From: [personal profile] sistermagpie - Date: 2017-05-05 12:18 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Generations

Date: 2017-05-05 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] treonb
We can see and understand P&E's conflicts, but I think the show is turning us against the Russians. And they've showed quite a few times that for all of Elizabeth's zeal, she has nothing to back it up. The questions remain unanswered: is everybody really equal? Why don't we have food? (Oleg thinks breaking that man would solve the food problem, but the corruption wasn't the reason for the food shortage, it was a result of it)

For a brief second even Philip's ideology flared up when they thought the US was going to starve their people, but it turned out that the US is really a saint that wants to save the world's food supply.

In this ep, they again got all righteous about what Tuan is doing and then it turns out he's actually breaking the rules because he loves his foster family.

They discover their hard work fighting the American plan to get biological weapons turned out to be a Soviet plan to get biological weapons too.

'Grandfather' Gabriel turns out to have a closet full of crimes against humanity, and we're left to wonder what 'Granny' has in her closet.

Even Philip's sad childhood now turns out to be the result of his father being a screw in the Russian oppression system, and him (sort of) benefiting from it. Our poor oppressed kid suddenly switched positions. He was persecuting the oppressed.

At least in previous seasons we knew or thought they were fighting the good fight. They're on the 'wrong' side, but they have good reasons. Now we're constantly being shown that the USSR is indeed the evil empire.

Philip's conflicts also changed throughout the show. At first it seemed he was attracted to the carefree American life. Maybe his job was important, but his family was even more important. Now it turns out he can't stand his job and doesn't see the point.

And as all of this hits them over and over again, I wonder if at some point it might break Elizabeth too.

Henry's schooling

Date: 2017-05-05 09:45 am (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
The irony is that it's exactly the place he should go to if he is ever to become a Soviet asset.

The big Soviet spies in the UK went to private schools and Cambridge, not (the fictional but poor) Neasden U.

Re: Henry's schooling

Date: 2017-05-05 12:47 pm (UTC)
saraqael: (Default)
From: [personal profile] saraqael
That's why I think that the Center would be entirely on board with Henry going to this school. Of course, that means that Elizabeth and Philip would need to get on board with recruiting him sooner or later.


Date: 2017-05-07 07:53 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
Looking - because US age laws don't make sense - she's not under age to have sex if she's in Washington DC or Maryland, but is in Virginia.

Re: Kimmy

From: [personal profile] saraqael - Date: 2017-05-08 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand

Soviet bioweapons use in Afghanistan

Date: 2017-05-05 02:09 am (UTC)
saraqael: (Default)
From: [personal profile] saraqael
Dr. Kenneth Alibek (former name Kanatjan Alibekov), worked in the Soviet Biopreparat (biological weapons program) from 1975-1992. He became chief scientist and first deputy director in 1988. In the article I've linked to, he said that when he was promoted to the role of chief scientist, he was informed that the Soviets did deploy biological weapons against the mujahaddin in 1982. However, they used weaponized Glanders, not Lassa. (The Soviets did make weaponized Lassa, but they wouldn't have deployed it anywhere near their own troops.)

There is an interview with him here, if anyone is interested in reading more about it. It's a fascinating article but also hugely depressing, IMO. https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/npr/alibek63.pdf

To track this all back to this week's episode, it's plausible for the CIA and for our KGB agent characters to believe that the mysterious illness referred to at the start of the episode was caused by a Soviet biological weapon. In my opinion, it seems too soon for the Russians to have weaponized the sample cut from William's body, but that might just have been creative license on the part of the writers.

Re: Soviet bioweapons use in Afghanistan

Date: 2017-05-07 07:53 pm (UTC)
lovingboth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lovingboth
I am amazed he was allowed to emigrate!

Re: Soviet bioweapons use in Afghanistan

From: [personal profile] treonb - Date: 2017-05-07 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Treon's thoughts

Date: 2017-05-05 06:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] treonb
The promo promised interesting Tuan stuff, but the show delivered so much more.

So, first, Tuan: The kid now turns out to have feelings, and all his bravado about his foster family caring about him just to feel good about themselves now turned into "They're not bad people". He doesn't go so far to say that he cares ('the kid likes me'), but he obviously does. Though I don't understand why he needed to go on a bus for hours to make a phone call. Washington DC is very close to state lines.

Philip discovers Gabriel was handling a Russian Orthodox priest and spying on their own people. The priest's protestations that he's just doing it for a good cause, just emphasize how pointless it is. That's what the USSR cares about? A priest sneaking out to have a good time? Last week, I think, Stan told their Russian source that everybody has something like what the Soviets had - a man whose job is to ensure everybody is loyal to the regime, but that really showed how clueless Stan is. There's really no comparison between whatever Stan thinks he has in his office, and what Soviet workers had to deal with.

Henry: He didn't even convince me, much less his family. He doesn't know his parents are KGB spies, but he knows his parents. In what universe did he think "it's really prestigious", the suit and tie, the "kids are waiters" would convince them? And in case we didn't get it, he ends up by asking to "capitalize" (on whatever).

Martha! I'm so glad we got to see her again, even though it was depressing. At least now she's not being conned anymore. She knows exactly how she'd been played.

It's kind of futile to tell her over and over again she needs to improve her Russian. First of all, she has no motivation to do so. Second, she's not going to do that by sitting at home. She needs human interaction. Going back to the previous ep, she needs immersion. Gabriel has it backwards: if they want her language to improve, they need to find her a job and get her to meet lots of people.

Stan and Oleg: Both are being pressured by their people to pressure innocent people to turn over info. Oleg now caved, and used that man's kid in Afghanistan to get the names he's after. Stan is still trying to fight it. I think they're trying to get Stan to be conflicted about what he does as Philip, but it's not as convincing. The CIA was just trying to get a source, but his boss' reasoning sounds logical: the KGB killed a retired senior FBI agent, they need to send a strong message that it's unacceptable or there will be more. Stan just sees it as groundless revenge. He's sliding down a path of moral relativism (we're just as bad) and not believing in the cause anymore. I wonder if the show is grooming him to turn against the US.

In any case, the show has so far given up on Stan actually doing what he's supposed to be doing - chasing Russian spies, specifically the two living next door.

Philip's last words are obviously about himself. I hope Tuan isn't going to get hurt just because Philip wants to go back home.

Re: Treon's thoughts

Date: 2017-05-05 04:36 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
I think, Stan told their Russian source that everybody has something like what the Soviets had - a man whose job is to ensure everybody is loyal to the regime, but that really showed how clueless Stan is. There's really no comparison between whatever Stan thinks he has in his office, and what Soviet workers had to deal with.

I think Stan's point was more about personality than the job. She said this was a guy who acted like he was important but he wasn't. Stan was probably correct in saying that every office had that guy.

He's sliding down a path of moral relativism (we're just as bad) and not believing in the cause anymore. I wonder if the show is grooming him to turn against the US.

Well, of course, Stan already went down that path. He came very close to giving up serious information to protect Nina. I think the conflict for him isn't about him losing his faith in the US vs. the USSR but just that he himself wants to behave heroically. It's his own honor on the line here with Nina (he promised her extradition) and Oleg (Oleg dealt with him in good faith and Stan wants to do the same).

So I'd guess it's more the spy game that he doesn't like rather than the US. Plus it's not even just the US. Gaad's widow wants revenge for personal reasons. She sees Stan siding with the enemy as a personal betrayal rather than just a national one.

Philip's last words are obviously about himself. I hope Tuan isn't going to get hurt just because Philip wants to go back home.

Philip needs to get his head on straight in that case too. Tuan wouldn't just get sent "back home" after all, he'd probably be punished. As would Philip if he did something that got him sent home.


From: [personal profile] treonb - Date: 2017-05-07 09:43 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Stan

From: [personal profile] sistermagpie - Date: 2017-05-07 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Stan

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Re: Stan

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Re: Stan

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Date: 2017-05-07 09:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] treonb
I've been thinking about Martha's situation. A few people here described it as 'living death', and it seems that right now she's been robbed of choice. That's the Elizabeth way of thinking.

The Philip way of thinking is that everybody has a choice. For example, she still has a theoretical choice to turn herself over to the US authorities. Make a deal in return for ratting out everything she knows. It isn't much, but maybe there's something there that's of interest. The US might be interested to know exactly what the KGB was interested in.

Would she be able to get to the embassy, or would she be stopped before she gets there? Who else could she turn to for help?

Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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Re: Martha

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