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The Americans - Salang Pass - Review: "I Ran (So Far Away)"

Previously on The Americans: Stan is suspicious of the defector from the Soviet Union, Elizabeth is continuing to work to ensure that Lisa (her AA sponsor) will be a valuable asset, Phillip struggles developing their youngest asset yet, and much to her parents chagrin, Paige wants to be baptized.

     Following Paige's bombshell admission at the end of last week's episode, Phillip and Elizabeth are in an even stickier situation than normal. Paige's wish to be baptized should not come as much of a shock to them, but for some reason it obviously did. Phillip and Elizabeth have been largely absent parents for most of their children's lives. While they want to be as involved as possible, their jobs as KGB spies tend to create obvious obstacles for them. Elizabeth sees Paige's baptism as another obstacle in her goal to A) Become closer to her daughter and B) Develop her into a second generation KGB spy. Phillip's relationship with Paige is not nearly as strained this season as it was in the last. Phillip's "Martial Eagle" outburst was the type of argument that can do permanent damage to familial relationships so it's very good to see the two getting along a bit better. At the same time, we have to wonder how she will react to learning their secret. Considering all the things that go along with that secret, it's definitely going to be a very tense moment when it does come along.

     One of the most terribly fantastic story lines, The Americans has ever employed is Phillip's seduction of Kimberly, who is around the same age as Paige. As fantastic as his acting was when he freaked out at Paige in "Martial Eagle", I have to say that this episode included some of Matthew Rhys's finest acting to date. The overwhelming awkwardness of the popcorn fight and kiss was perfectly depicted and created an aura of uneasiness that was impossible to ignore. Kimberly's scenes are incorporating a lot of popular music from the '80s which is always awesome. I Ran (So Far Away) was particularly well used in this episode not only because I like the song, but also as a bit of foreshadowing (Phillip running like a teenager from Kimberly's house). The only thing that made that song more awesome was when it was paired with Matthew Rhys's reluctant creeper character. I'm excited to see how this story will play out considering how much its outcome will affect Phillip's ability to function as a spy, a husband, and a father.

     In addition to his regular role as a father, Phillip, or Clark rather, is going to have to extremely used to the idea of dealing with children on a regular basis. Seeing Martha and Clark go "baby shopping" was absolutely hilarious. You almost have to wonder if the Clark story line has reached the point of diminishing returns, that is, it's not worth all the trouble anymore. Regardless of if it is or isn't worth it all, it certainly is entertaining.

     Elizabeth spent a lot of this episode making sure that a potential asset that she has been developing for quite some time is in the perfect spot to accept a job. Watching Elizabeth create a job a opening for Lisa (AKA murdering a man who worked for Northrop with his own car) was pretty brutal, but then again this show isn't exactly known for being gentle. With the news that Lisa was got the job, it should be interesting to see how aggressive Phillip and Elizabeth decide to be with using her as an asset.

     Stan, meanwhile, could stand to take a few lessons from Phillip. As Matthew (Stan and Sandra's son) has faded into irrelevance, he has become incredibly distanced from Stan. Over the course of the series, they've never been especially close, but Stan's admission of this distance makes it clear that it is becoming an issue for him. This can be a good thing if he decides to act on it and attempt to repair his relationship with his son. Additionally, it was good to finally hear him say that it doesn't look like he is going to get back together with Sandra. In the midst of all of his family troubles, Stan has a lot going on in his life which makes for great entertainment. I've really enjoyed seeing Stan's role in the show change a bit this season. I was skeptical at first, but this episode really proved to me that Stan does still serve a purpose. He has an interesting dynamic with Oleg that I hope to see explored further this season. I am hopeful that the writers can stretch out the Nina rescue mission long enough to see these two characters work together a bit more.

     The best dynamic in the whole show though is, of course, between Phillip and Elizabeth. This week's argument about Paige centered around the purchase of her baptism dress. In a complete flip-flop of a few weeks back where Phillip questioned why Elizabeth was going to church with Paige so much, Elizabeth questioned what Phillip was doing spending so much time with Paige. It's really quite a sad story when one spouse is forced to question why the other spouse is spending time with their children. However saddening, it makes for great drama! In the typical after-argument, Elizabeth goes straight for the jugular by calling Kimberly "his girl" and making the obvious comparison between Kimberly and Paige. Phillip and Elizabeth are still unable to come to a consensus on Paige and at this point, I wonder if they ever will. Their conversation at the end of the episode was particularly enlightening for a multitude of reasons. They were both obviously tormented by the memories of their training, but with the Centre continuing to pressure them to recruit Paige, their worries were obviously more in the present than in the past.

9.6/10 - This was a brilliant episode of The Americans. It was well balanced and there wasn't a single story line that I have anything to complain about. I'll still reserve the higher ratings for the great intensity that episodes like "Martial Eagle" have, but overall, it was a great episode.

About the Author - Brandon Rowe
Brandon is a Computer Science major at Fresno State University and has been a SpoilerTV writer since his sophomore year in high school. He enjoys watching an extreme amount of television and movies and is currently reviewing The Americans, Falling Skies, and True Detective. Brandon also managed the "In the Hot Seat" competition here on SpoilerTV in 2012 and is planning on doing it again in early 2015. Feel free to use the Facebook, Twitter, or G+ links below to contact him.
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