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The Americans

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8 minutes ago, Mike said:

1. I just read an article wondering if Henry might have been a spy all along. Seems too far-fetched but it's interesting to think about.

2. Go to page 3 and start reading the posts from 5/6/16 for the conversation.

I don't really see where I argued that it was a "happy" ending. Just that she had more dignity than if she had killed herself--which I'd say is still the case, given that she got to tell Gabriel off now. Otherwise, we didn't really disagree all that much about it other than me liking the way it was done a lot more than you. I'll say that saying she had some dignity was probably the wrong way to put it, seeing as how she was completely broken when we last saw her. 

2 minutes ago, Mike said:

Was Oleg ever a smug jackass? I don't really remember much but he always seemed to downplay that he was the son of a Russian big shot.

When we first met him he was hitting on Nina and not exactly bragging about being a big shot (which makes sense since he inherited his position) but still coming across pretty cocky. 

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21 minutes ago, Mike said:

I haven't seen a dinner table scene that awkward since Breaking Bad. 

I might have been the only person who felt this way but I audibly chuckled when the camera cut away and that was the entire scene. 

I think that marriage scene means things are about to start going to hell. No way a scene that nice and happy is going unpunished on this show. Also, Pastor Tim is totally going to Belize. That ending was so uncomfortable and dark, Paige didn't give a shit about job ideas for Pastor Tim, she wanted them to see how badly they've fucked her up. 

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Fantastic last couple of episodes. Last week, when she leaned over and said "we are them" in Russian it gave me chills. Tonight's episode was good and I'm anxious about next week. 

Any predictions for next week? I don't know why, but I still think Philip might be leaning toward defecting and "getting out" but staying in America. His hesitation with Henry, disagreements with the Soviet mission, and re-introducing his son and building him up a bit as a legend back home all make me think he's going to defect. I don't think Elizabeth and Paige will stay with him though. 

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I think Phillip and Elizabeth are borderline delusional as it pertains to How Paige and especially Henry will react to being dragged away from their entire lives to live in shitty Russia. And I think seeing another kid who was dragged out of his country risking suicide to convince his parents to take him back might give Phillip second thoughts. 

With the way the penultimate cliffhanger was set up, I think it isn't out of the question that Phillip's emotionally reckless march to save Pasha gets them in trouble. I was really hoping we'd get an extra five minutes there when the episode ended, it's almost cruel how this show teases kicking into high gear but then showing restraint. 

Also, man, that bit with Tuan casually explaining his plan was nauseatingly disturbing. Especially since they subtly teased the idea of both Paige and Oleg contemplating suicide minutes earlier. 

THE LEFTOVERS SPOILERS 

Between this week's Leftovers episode and that, it could've been a 

rough week for characters killing themselves.

 

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3 hours ago, Ruiner said:

I think Phillip and Elizabeth are borderline delusional as it pertains to How Paige and especially Henry will react to being dragged away from their entire lives to live in shitty Russia. And I think seeing another kid who was dragged out of his country risking suicide to convince his parents to take him back might give Phillip second thoughts. 

With the way the penultimate cliffhanger was set up, I think it isn't out of the question that Phillip's emotionally reckless march to save Pasha gets them in trouble. I was really hoping we'd get an extra five minutes there when the episode ended, it's almost cruel how this show teases kicking into high gear but then showing restraint. 

Also, man, that bit with Tuan casually explaining his plan was nauseatingly disturbing. Especially since they subtly teased the idea of both Paige and Oleg contemplating suicide minutes earlier. 

THE LEFTOVERS SPOILERS 

 

  Hide contents

Between this week's Leftovers episode and that, it could've been a 

rough week for characters killing themselves.

 

For a minute there at the end I was worried about Paige too. I thought she was going to end her session, take down the laundry bag, and insert herself. Especially considering her throwing away the cross and the juxtaposition of her family trying to save somebody else from the same thing.

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4 hours ago, Vigo said:

Goddamnit

I let an audible "motherfucker" out when the credits hit. 

Fantastic episode, one of the best of the series even. I don't think anything since The Shield has managed the degree of tension this show pulls off--I was damn near trembling most of the episode, terrified of what would happen at any given moment. 

But Christ on a sandwich, guys, give me something. Restraint is a great thing, and one of this show's absolute best tools, but it can almost feel like a weakness in moments like this. I appreciate the broad scope of the story you're telling, and the foresight to the endgame, but this is a television program using the format of seasons. Use that! You've built up all this tension, all this pressure, and now you have the big finale to your penultimate season. You don't have to blow it ALL open, but at least release some of it! 

I imagine this show will play much better when viewed all at once without breaks. It's as top shelf as anything that's aired in the past several years, but I do feel like that unwillingness to pull the trigger now and again, to this point, is the one thing keeping it from a show like aforementioned The Shield. I still have to remove my jaw from the floor after rewatching that show's season five finale. 

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I should probably add with my largely critical post that it speaks to the show's strength that I'm more or less criticizing it for not being the best show of all time. When it comes down to it, I prefer what we got to an exciting cliffhanger that would compromise the characters or the story's integrity in some way. This show, like Rectify and half of Better Call Saul, is much more of a slow burn character study than other, often more exciting shows like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, and it's something I really appreciate and I think they're richer series for it. But when you can have that richness and depth but still deliver haw-dropping thrills when the time is right, it's unreal, and I'm always looking for that show that's going to deliver that. It's why I hold The Shield on a pedestal all by itself--it wasn't a show without a few scattered flaws throughout its run, but it was a brilliant character drama that still packed more of a punch than anything else I've ever seen. 

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This was a really good finale for a really forgettable season. A lot of people are using the word "slow-burn" to describe this season. Does that even apply here? What was it building towards...Pasha's suicide attempt? This wasn't a slow-burn season, this was a spinning its wheels season. If everyone didn't already know that season 6 was this shows last, then this season would've been viewed by more people as them milking it. Some of this stuff could end up being huge for the final season but so far I fail to see how Pasha's family, the girl Stan has undercover, Phillip's son and Oleg's food investigation factor into the grand scheme of things. They could've easily skipped the majority of this stuff and just made season 5 the last season. I think the important character development we did get from the core cast would've had enough time to have been included as past of a final season with the story concluding and it not feeling rushed.

As for the final episode...

- Stan's girlfriend is definitely a spy. I was convinced she was a spy once I found out her pipes burst story and then once she was convincing Stan to stay on the job it became crystal clear.

- I wanted Twon to die at the end of episode 12 when he revealed he orchestrated the suicide attempt. I REALLY wanted him to die when he was criticizing the work of Philip and Elizabeth.

- I hope this is the last we see of Martha because they came up with a very simple, yet logical way for her to get some semblance of a happy ending and good for her. No need to see her again. She finally had something good happen to her and I hope they leave it at that.

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I my hope is that the second she asked that question flipped a switch in Stan and made him suspicious. 

That would actually be a neat way to get him onto the Jenningses. Philip repeatedly wanted to know if this woman was a spy, and disapproves of it if so, they keep hiding it, and she ends up blowing both her cover and theirs when Stan finds her stash of intel that includes info on his best buds. 

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@Mike I totally agree my feelings would be different if I didn't know it was the penultimate season. 

Regarding Martha and her about to be adopting a kid.... We know Philip is all about family. What if that's to set up an "option" for him knowing that Martha, her adopted child, and his other biological son are all potentially waiting for him back home? 

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I don't think he'd be selfish enough to leave Paige and Henry to be consumed by this madness even if he had another family he could start fresh with (and this is assuming Martha would ever forgive him). 

I don't know how I feel judging the season by removing it from the context of its penultimate nature. Isn't that context important? The final season was completely written before they even finished shooting this season, and they were laid out together. I get having issues with the pacing, but it seems strange to assume none of the plot are going anywhere, so much as frustrated that so few of them were resolved in the finale (which The Americans has a history of doing in its finales, often closing long term stories at a random point in the season). 

And I also don't get this constant need for everything to have significance in the "grand scheme" (whatever that even means) of things. What makes a story pointless or of no consequence? This has always been a show with a pretty wide focus on various characters whose stories very rarely ever interact with one another. What Nina, or Oleg, or Arkady, or Stan, is up to is almost always important to that character's story, and this is a show about characters above all else. I think there's a point where you have to either get on board with that or just accept that this isn't your show, and stop acting like it's some weakness on the part of the writing. 

Now, if Mischa Jr never resurfaces, he'll be the exception to this, because he actually didn't do much of anything and wasn't fleshed out really at all, so his story needs to impact the Jennings crew somehow to be worthwhile. But I'll wait to pass judgement on that. 

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Now that it's had a couple days to stew... 

- The three year time jump was a bold move I was really unsure about going in but I convinced it's the best decision they could've made. There's a renewed sense of energy and finality to everything that wasn't there before, but the characters all feel true to themselves given where we last saw them. 

- Elizabeth vs Philip was always one way things could play out but I didn't think it would be like this. The way they're playing up the impending end of the Soviet Union and new progressive figures in Russian politics into the smaller scale stuff featuring our characters. It was great to see Arkady again and Oleg meeting Philip felt like a huge moment, two worlds and characters we've been with for five years meeting for the first time. 

- Paige as a spy makes me extremely uncomfortable. I have a very bad feeling for her trajectory this season. The time jump also let them more or less fast forward over the bulk of her indoctrination, which was totally necessary. 

- I don't know why I didn't see it coming, but Philip quitting and being American while Elizabeth pulls double duty is such a logical way to erode their partnership and reinforce the impossible wedge that's always been between them. Watching Philip driving a nice car and giving goofy business speeches and fucking line dancing while Elizabeth is working around the clock and not sleeping made even me understand why she has no interest in talking to him. 

- And one last thing... I found myself, on a couple occasions, feeling really gross and creepy for thinking "man, Paige is kinda hot now" to myself, but a Google search revealed that Holly Taylor is actually already 20 years old, only a few years younger than me. It's still weird, but at least not pervy. I wonder if this is how adults felt when they saw Kirsten Dunst in Jumanji and then Spider-Man. 

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I've been a little backed up on shows lately and wanted to finish a few things before I started this. I blew through the first three episodes in a little over a day and even considered watching episode 4 last night but refrained from doing so because it would've been almost 4 am when I finished so I'll get to that today. This is on pace to being the best season of the series. I've loving it so far. There are a lot of shows where I let the episodes fill up on my DVR and watch them all when they end but with shows I really like like this I watch within a day or two of them airing. I kinda wish I waited until the season was almost over to start this. It has been awesome being able to watch three new episodes of The Americans in a day. And seeing as how FX is the worst I've ever seen it, I wouldn't have to worry about seeing The Americans commercials spoiling me because I'm not watching anything else on FX.

And it's funny you said that about Paige as this is the first time in the entire season where I've found her attractive. Leaving her hair down has done her wonders. I looked her up before and knew she was older than she appeared. This happens from time to time and even though I never found her attractive, I also looked up Hershel's dead daughter from The Walking Dead one time and found out she's 32, almost two years older than me, and she looks like she's 15.

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Now with all that out of the way, onto the good stuff...

- I like Elizabeth and Phillip being at odds over the way Russia is changing and it fits their characters but I don't buy that Phillip would spy on his wife. Him not telling her about Oleg because she was too tired to hear it seems like a TV show thing to do and not something that the realistic characters on here would do. I also don't think Phillip would retire to leave his wife to do all this work by herself while he is off having fun living like an American. And it does seem odd that he's so accepting of Paige being a part of all of this...although she's been doing it for a few years now so maybe he grew to begrudgingly accept it over time.

- I happy Oleg is back and is doing something important. The stuff he was doing last year was a waste of time. You could argue that the corruption he saw in Russia last year gave him a convincing reason this year for going on this mission to America but I think his motivations would've been fine without the mostly pointless season last year.  It's great to see the whole cast doing stuff that is important as the show works towards the end.

- I'm glad this Sophia stuff is wrapping up. Honestly I haven't really understood what was going on with them this whole time and it all just felt like busywork for Stan during the milking it season last year. I was under the impression it was Sophia they needed and she has a big mouth so she told her boyfriend and now in the time jump it's the boyfriend they need for some reason. Odd.

- It was a great move casting a familiar actress as Stan's girlfriend. There is always never-ending suspicion that she is also a spy.

- The cyanide pill introduction is great. I love having that linger around all season.

- I understand they need to show Paige how to do things but it seems odd that this rookie would be on such an important mission. I know they probably have everyone on this mission but it seems weird they'd risk her messing up the whole operation.

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Episode 4 answered a lot of my concerns...we see Phillip concerned about Paige doing spy stuff, Kimmy's whereabouts are explained and they even incorporated the Sophia stuff in with what Elizabeth is doing which is nice. 

Paige is overreaching and that will cause her to get them all caught. That is how Stan will catch them. Philip and Elizabeth are too good to get caught. I love Breaking Bad but it always bothered me how Hank found out about Walt. It felt like such a reach (as evident by them having to flashback to it to explain it) but Paige being the one to get them caught would be perfect and make a lot of sense.

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That scene where Elizabeth was trying to steal the sensor was nuts. It played like a Hitman mission gone terribly wrong. 

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I kept making mental notes of things in that episode I wanted to praise when it was over but they kept piling up so fast that I don't even know where to begin. What a fucking hour. 

Edit: for starters... 

- I loved the scene with Tatiana and Oleg. Great acting, a ton of tension, and I had never thought that Tatiana would've been the one who put the Soviet IAD guys on him. I sure do hope he comes out of this alright. 

- Paige kicking that dude's ass in the bar was incredible. I nearly fist-pumped. That so easily could've been cheesy but it was executed perfectly. 

- When Paige was popping off at Philip about how he wasn't cut out for "what me and mom do", oh shit. My first thought was he going to snap and rattle off some of the things that they ACTUALLY do. What he actually did was probably a smarter move. Elizabeth's kid gloves training is going to get Paige or the entire family killed. 

- I also was terrified that Elizabeth was going to get spotted by the kid and have to kill him. That would've been a huge line to cross and I'm really relieved they didn't do it. That scene was still crazy intense up until that point. 

- Philip and Kimmy... gross. Blergh. They really played the long game with that one. 

-  Paige: "You can't tell me who I can and can't sleep with" Philip: "Wait, WHAT?" 

- Philip-heavy episodes are the best. There is no coming back from what he did at the end. That's treason. I have no idea if he can hide it from Elizabeth, let alone the Centre, and how she'd react to it. Fireworks are coming. 

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- Usually I don't like when episodes go past 60 minutes. I was thanking my lucky stars that this episode went so long. Amazing. I literally said "holy shit" when Philip warned Kimmy not to go to a communist country. Incredible ending.

- I wanted Elizabeth to have to kill the kid. She never really struggles with the things she has to do. Sure she is exhausted but I want to see her mentally suffer. I imagine Paige getting killed or her having to kill Paige to protect the cover will be what finally causes her to feel pain for once.

- I'm kinda confused why Philip did the sparring with Paige. Was he trying to convince her she's not as good as she thinks she is?

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17 minutes ago, Mike said:

- Usually I don't like when episodes go past 60 minutes. I was thanking my lucky stars that this episode went so long. Amazing. I literally said "holy shit" when Philip warned Kimmy not to go to a communist country. Incredible ending.

- I wanted Elizabeth to have to kill the kid. She never really struggles with the things she has to do. Sure she is exhausted but I want to see her mentally suffer. I imagine Paige getting killed or her having to kill Paige to protect the cover will be what finally causes her to feel pain for once.

- I'm kinda confused why Philip did the sparring with Paige. Was he trying to convince her she's not as good as she thinks she is?

That was a really rich scene and there are a lot layers to read from it (I saw Vulture, in addition to the weekly recap, had a whole article dedicated to it). 

- Philip wanted to show Paige just how unprepared she is for how big her head is getting

- He wanted to convey to her without saying it that they're killers--he knew exactly how to kill her with his bare hands and he displayed it like it was something he'd done many times

- he was pissed off when she dropped that "you don't like what me and mom do" line, like he's some pussy who's too soft dangerous spy stuff. Instead of going "Bitch I crammed a naked woman's body in suitcase", he physically dominated her without breaking a sweat to un-emasculate himself. 

- he was probably taking out some level of his resentment of Elizabeth over this whole situation on her because Elizabeth is a brick wall at this point. 

 

I didn't get the impression at all that he thought that through. He came over to have a calm parenting talk with Paige about what's going on and the way she dismissed him caused him to snap. 

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