So I held off this review until today, because the finale airs tonight and I thought it could serve as a nice reminder of what happened last week.
The penultimate episode of The Americans' first season titled ''The Oath'' was more or less a set up for the finale, introducing the set up for a meeting with the Colonel and moving show's characters into place in for what looks to be a big showdown. Of course that is based on the promo for tonight's episode and, more often than not, these have been quite misleading. On to the episode itself!
Probably the biggest talking point coming out of this episode was the final scene. The whole episode led up to this point, from being awarded another promotion to Directorate S (and reciting the titular oath). To that telling scene with Stan in the safe house Both scenes presented interesting dilemma's for Nina, now that she has access to Directorate S files she can help the FBI even better than before and on the other hand the scene with Stan where she sees how he has been lying to her. Her actions became clear from the moment she read Stan as she never told him about her promotion. So in the end she came clean with Arkady, who seemed utterly shocked and gave him two options. Either punishing her immediately or use her to further manipulate the FBI. It's hard to say what Arkady will do, but if the past is any evidence I expect her to be sent back to Moscow before the finale is over.
It did get the KGB another listening bug in Gaad's office, which should deliver them some good intel in the long run. I wonder how quickly they will find out that Viola Johnson gave up their bug in Weinberger's office, which could spell more trouble for Viola and her son Greyson. Until that time the FBI has an opening to manipulate the KGB, perhaps to set up the couple they are now actively seeking? Because Viola gave the FBI even more evidence there was a couple working for the KGB. The sketches were kind of rough, I really couldn't make it out to be Philip or Elizabeth, but Stan really seems sure of himself. It was nice to see the other agents at the FBI express the same doubt I had as a viewer. But Stan declared that his experience in the field is what made him so sure of it. Unfortunately we, as viewers, know he is right in the long run. How long until he looks out the kitchen window and connects the dots? Of course that requires him to be home from time to time!
Going back to the wedding one more time, there was another heartbreaking moment there. Philip looked like he was really hating what he was doing, but put up a smile and went through with it anyway. And then there was Elizabeth playing Clark's sister, how monumentally screwed up was that? We have seen quite some horrible things of the spy world already on this show, but this one takes the cake in my opinion. Here we have two people who are clearly in love with each other, playing brother and sister at the brother's wedding. What resonated even more was the scene after the wedding, were Elizabeth asks Philip if they truly got wedded and said their vows would things between them be different? If only both of them weren't so stubborn in acting on their feelings, we might already have had some resolution on their relationship.
If this already sounds like there was a lot going on in this episode, there were also two subplots. Namely Sanford, the set up for meeting the Colonel mentioned earlier in this review, got arrested on failing to pay child support. It seemed a bit random, but after seeing how they brought back Zhukov and Viola Johnson (two plot threads I sure thought we'd never see again), it might play into future events. There also was a cute bit with Paige and her crush on Matthew, which didn't really added much for me except for a telling scene between Paige and Elizabeth.
Finally the gamer in me smiled immensely at Claudia playing Pac-Man!
Overall it continued the trend of great episodes for The Americans' first season. Penultimate episodes tend to usually be a bit anticlimactic, but not with this show!