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The Americans - Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow - Review: “Choices” + POLL



The words “We’re in trouble” may have closed out last week’s Pastor Tim, but it may in fact have been more appropriate to have used it at the end of this week’s hour. All of last week’s problems seem to either remain or have become even worse: Phillip and Elizabeth managed to get the glanders virus out of their home, but it got no further than Gabriel’s refrigerator and ended up infecting him, and presumably, them. Pastor Tim told wife Alice that Paige’s parents are spies. The Center were against Phillip and Gabriel’s suggestion that they should leave, instead planning for Tim and Alice to have ‘an accident’ while the Jennings family are away at Epcot, but that’s been derailed by the limited release of the virus.

Really, it’s hard to imagine life getting much more problematic for Phillip and Elizabeth.

And yet, it’s this thought that makes The Americans so compelling. While it’s great seeing them operate, and I do root for them, it’s just as fascinating and desirable to watch them come up against things. Much of Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow surrounded the time-sensitive dilemma with Pastor Tim. Once again, the debate was had: Do they kill Tim and risk fallout from Paige, do nothing and risk Tim exposing them or leave and risk Paige and Henry hating their parents?

Like Gabriel said, there are no good choices. Claudia, who stopped for a passing visit this week, immediately saw the word “good” in a far more positive light than she should - "First there are no choices, now there are no good choices. I'd say we're making progress” - and rejected the idea that Phillip and Elizabeth should be taken home. Even Gabriel was on board with this, which should surely suggest how dire the situation was. But that outcome was off the table, for now, certainly. It’s impressive that The Americans can make this potential move so enthralling since, barring a crazy attempt to turn the show on its head, it won’t actually come to fruition any time before the end of the series, whenever that may be.

Once that idea was out of the equation, it came down to whether or not any action would be taken against Tim. An early scene between him, Phillip and Elizabeth showcased the very desperation the pair had to resolve this issue without resorting to violence. As I mentioned last week, Paige’s confession obliterated her parents’ plan, leaving them in an incredibly tough situation. All of the show’s hard work over the past season and a half to develop this relationship between Paige and Tim is paying dividends here as the screw tightens on the Jennings couple. As demonstrated in last season’s stunning Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? as well as in season two’s Arpanet and Martial Eagle, neither Phillip nor Elizabeth are reluctant to kill when their identities are discovered, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish. Sure, people would have noticed and, in the case of the latter two, perhaps been suspicious of their deaths, but here, this action would destroy the Jennings family, not to mention Paige as a person.

But doing nothing was just as bad, if not worse. The fallout were they to straight up kill Tim and Alice would be catastrophic, but potentially containable to a very limited extent. Leaving them alive would have put the mission in an insurmountable level of jeopardy, with any non-action being, in effect, the equivalent of standing by and watching as a bomb ticks down. So, backed into a corner, the spies are told to go away to Epcot, to enjoy a weekend alone with Paige and Henry, allowing their daughter to hear every conversation and know for sure that they were truly taking a weekend off, and while they were gone, the beloved pastor and his wife would have an accident. Problematic? Of course. Paige is smart, and would likely figure out the truth. But as Gabriel says, she’d never be sure.

The Americans loves making things difficult for its characters, particularly the two leads, and this was no different. As Gabriel’s condition worsens and with both themselves and William almost certainly exposed to glanders too, Phillip and Elizabeth are told they have to remain at Gabriel’s house for at least 36 hours, likely putting to rest any chance they had of extinguishing the threat posed by the pastor and his wife. The problems just keep building. There’s a certain amount of humour to get out of the fact that getting rid of the virus seemed like a burden had been lifted, and yet doing so has actually put the pair into a worse position than when they had it.

Elsewhere in the hour…

-- Elizabeth has a new mark, a Korean woman named Young Hee (played by Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles), with whom she has already formed quite a bond, even visiting her house for dinner. Quite where this is leading is yet to be specified, but Miles is set to be a recurring guest star, per EW, so you’d imagine the show will take its time with this. Rightly so, given how much they’re attempting to balance right now.

-- The FBI does not feel. That’s according to the Director (who I don’t believe we’ve previously met, though I’m sure more eagle-eyed commenters can set me right if I’m incorrect), who feels has assessed, has determined, considers or claimed etc. that it is inappropriate to suggest that the FBI feels. Looks like it’s not just Gaad feeling the pressure; that’s on display once again as he lambasts his agents for not accounting for their Xerox copies correctly. Meanwhile, Stan enlists Agent Aderholt to assist him in keeping an eye on Martha, after noticing that she hadn’t been home for two nights over the past three weeks. #PoorMartha could be in some even deeper waters very, very soon.

-- Also, MAIL ROBOT! My notes for the episode featured a considerable amount of exclamation marks to accompany its appearance, which I’ll spare you all from seeing.

-- Nina’s storyline continues to plod along with no real connection to anything going on stateside. After being told that she will require ‘exceptional circumstances’ in order to reduce her punishment for her latest crime, she has a dream of seeing Stan, who apologises, before she sees that Baklanov is also present in the room. Beyond the fact that she desires a better life than the one she currently finds herself in, I’m not sure what to make of this, or Nina as a whole this season.

Will The Americans ever let up? This was yet another superb outing, and it seems like the show is incapable of delivering a weak episode. Next week’s hour is a real hum-dinger too. This really is shaping up to be the best season of the show yet, and that says a lot.

What did you all think? Vote in our poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments!



About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email bradley@spoilertv.com
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