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The Americans – 2.08 – New Car – Review : “It’s not why I am here”

   The Americans continued their second season last Wednesday with “New Car”. The episode was really amazing, I enjoyed it a lot. It had action, characters developments and twists. It was almost the whole package for The Americans, sex was the only part missing.
   The episode mainly focused on Philip and Elizabeth’s reaction after their missions hit a wrong turn. Also, they had to discuss the fact Philip bought a new car. The symbolism of the car was a great idea from the writers.
   The other part of the episode was focused on Stan and his quest to find Anton and what he was working on. Oleg and Nina had also a part in the episode, I wish we would have seen more of them as a couple but that’s not for yet…

   So, as the title of the episode hinted, Philip bought a new car. He has mentioned it several times since the the season started and he finally did it. He bought a very modern and nice American car. It was surprising but I loved so much the intro when he arrived with Henry with the loud music, playing air guitar and Keri Russell’s face was priceless.
   Of course, Elizabeth was shocked Philip bought a new car, without asking her and despite their car still being good to drive. The car represented what America could offer and what USSR couldn't. It was the symbol of how different those two countries are. For Elizabeth, it kinda felt like Philip betrayed motherland by buying that car. They didn’t need it now, okay it was fancier than their old car but it wasn’t necessary. The scene between Philip and Elizabeth in the kitchen was so well written and as usual Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell were perfect. (If they don't get an Emmy nomitation next year, I don't understand how the Emmy works).
   I loved Elizabeth comments on how things in America are easier and nicer but it doesn’t mean they're better. Elizabeth wants to keep being focused on the mission, the real reason why they are in America. They’re not here to have a family, to have a quiet life. They’re here to help destroying capitalism. It’s the same conflict Philip and Elizabeth feel since the beginning of the show. What comes first for them ? Is it their lives, their family, their children, their feelings or the mission, the Motherland, the purpose of them being and living in America ? It’s so interesting, and every time it’s brought it’s so cleverly done, that’s one of the main reason I love The Americans. It depicts in such a realistic way how living in enemy’s territory must affect spies, especially when their daily lives turn out to be easier now.

   This conflict was also shown in the episode through Lucia’ story. It was clear from last week she indented to kill Larrick, no matter what Elizabeth told her. It was ruthless, but understandable. The man was responsible for her family’s death. There was no way she would let him survive the mission. And she actually decided not to waste any time and attacked him, at his home.
   It was a bad idea from the start. She tranquilized him, but before fainting he had time to attack her and tranquilized her too. Stupid Lucia, you should have killed him as soon as you entered the kitchen. So, when Elizabeth arrived, trying to calm down and resolve the situation in a pacific way, it had the opposite effect on Lucia. she got even angrier and tried to kill Larrick again so he killed her, and Elizabeth watched it. It was so awful for Elizabeth, she was starting to build a relationship with Lucia, she could have been such a great agent. Elizabeth failed to teach her, to make her understand what comes first. When you’re a spy, only the mission, the orders need to come first. If you let anything else, especially your personal feelings get in the way, you’d probably end up dead. Elizabeth should have said that to Lucia, maybe she would be alive now. I was sad to watch her die. I was starting to like her character, she had huge potential.
   The conflict between their lives now and their mission has more affected Philip than Elizabeth. Since the beginning of the show, Philip seemed the most attracted to the American lifestyle and Elizabeth was way much colder about it. So it was no surprise Philip loved the new car and bought it. The car was the symbolism of capitalism, of how their lives were easier here than there. Philip loved the car at first but then he got to meet with Kate and his world was turned upside down. Kate delivered him very sad news, and we got to see a more emotional side of her. She is young and seems so fragile, the opposite of Claudia. She actually burst into tears when she told Philip his mission led to the death of 160 comrades in a submarine. The plans he stole were fake. Of course, that fact upset him. He put his life at risk, his children’s lives too for a mission, which turned out to be a deadly trap. The Americans played him, so after that, Philip looked at his car in a different way. I really find this evolution and this relationship to his new car very intelligent. The writers had a great idea and used it the right way.

   On top of everything else, Philip and Elizabeth also had to deal with a new problem at home. For once, it wasn’t Paige (she was totally absent of the episode btw, probably hanging out in church), but it was Henry. Last week, we discovered he had a thing for entering his neighbor’s house and play video games. He did it again in “New Car" but this time, he got caught. The neighbors were nice and didn’t report him to the police, only to his parents. Philip and Elizabeth were really shocked and surprised Henry did that.
   The final scene when they came to talk to Henry was great. I had no idea Keidrich Sellati was such an amazing actor. He is so young, but his performance delivering Henry’ speech was outstanding. He totally deserved a nomination for that scene. Henry isn’t a bad person, he’s just a kid, he done something quite stupid but it’s normal for kids.

   “New Car” didn’t only focus on the Jennings’ family, the infernal triangle Stan/Nina/Oleg was a major part of it. Of course, Philip’s news about the deaths in the submarine affected the Rezidentura as well. Oleg and Arkady talked a lot together, it was nice to see the tension between them had downside, but I’m pretty sure it will be reheated again soon. They have two different ways of thinking. They can work on an agreement for now, but I’m not sure this can last long.
   Nevertheless, Arkady told Nina to be careful with Oleg’s family. Arkady noticed she was closer to Oleg and he warned her about how Oleg’s family would see their relationship. I don’t know if he did that out of jealousy or because he really cares for her. Maybe a bit of both. But I’m not worried about Nina, she is a strong woman and she proved she is capable of getting out of complicated situations. She can handle Oleg’s family…. Unless they find out about her betrayal.

   As I stated before, I’ve never been a huge fan of Stan. But, I like him better this season than the last one. He is more human this year, I can understand him more and relate to him. Last season, he was too cold, too FBI agent for me. We started to see his weakness and his humanity when he met Nina. Now, he is in love and it feels like his marriage is over. The scene with his wife was so cold, it has become usual since the start of the season. Stan is becoming more human for me this season, I'm starting to like him more. I loved it when he exploded in his garage.
   But Stan was more preoccupied with his work this week than with Nina. Of course, he gave the security reports to Oleg to assure Nina’ safety. He had no choice. It was the second time in a short period Stan was crossed by the Russians. First, Anton the scientist disappeared and then he had to give the reports. So, Stan went back to Anton's disappearance and tried everything he could to gain more information on Anton and what he was working on.
   Unfortunately (or luckily for the Russians), Stan had to fight through bureaucracy to get his answers, and he actually got none. Every department keeps his secret stuffs to itself, Stan had no way to access Anton’s project….For now, Stan is a highly intelligent FBI agent and he is like a dog, when he is onto something, he won’t let go... And he shouldn't because Anton is very important...

   So important, he is still alive ! I was surprised to see him. I never expected to see any of him again. I imagined him prisoner in USSR, starved and sick. But he wasn't. He actually was with another presumed dead man : Vasili. I thought he was sent to USSR to be executed, it's nice to see he survived. I was very surprised by this first outside of the US scene, staring two characters I've never expected or even imagined to see again. It was a great move from the writers, and I hope we will be seeing more of scenes like that.

   I’m really excited about this triangle between Stan, Nina and Oleg. The stakes are so high, both historical and personal. I can’t wait to see how this triangle is going to end. And there is also this Martial Eagle operation, I hope Stan and the Rezidentura will be involved also, so all the storylines will converge to one point and Stan might get closer to discover Philip and Elizabeth’s real identities.

   “New Car” was a real great installment, the story is really moving forward. It was everything I expected and still I was surprised. I knew Lucia had to die, but I didn’t expect it to happen that fast. Philip and Elizabeth's internal torn between their mission and their desires is was so perfectly written and acted, I’m still impressed by the episode. Everything is now in place for the Martial Eagle operation to take place and I can’t wait to see what will happen there.

Spy Notes : 
• Stan and his car… LOL
 • Larrick is gone to Nicaragua… Do you think he will be back ?
• The interrogation scene with Philip and Elizabeth. It was amazing. I was surprised Philip let the guy live, despite everything that happened… Do you think he will regret it ?
• Elizabeth's reaction to watching Reagan on television is always so good.
• Martha ! "Other people have important jobs and wives".... Oh, I'm glad Philip didn't give her the tape, it would break her heart. I really love Martha, she's so perky and fun. I always feel bad for her but knowing how the Americans's writers love strong women characters, I have no doubts for her.
• Oleg and Nina going to dance. Cute…. Too bad they didn’t have more scenes together… Maybe next week !

 And you, what did you think of “New Car” ? Hit the comments !

About the Author - Romain Ossust
I'm 27 from France, living near Paris. I love a lot of TV shows, (this is a non exhaustive list) : Orphan Black, True Blood, Dexter, Weeds, Person of Interest, Criminal Minds, 24, Ab Fab, Carnivale, Lost, The Americans, American Horror Story, Once Upon A Time, Desperate Housewives, Glee, Ugly Betty, Scandal, Looking, Sleepy Hollow, The Walking Dead, Raising Hope, Orange is the New Black, Grey’s Anatomy, HIMYM, Girls, ...
For SpoilerTV, I'm reviewing The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Looking, Sleepy Hollow, The Americans, True Blood & Orphan Black

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