Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon The Americans - The Rat - Review: “It’s the terror of knowing” + POLL

    Enable Dark Mode!

  • What's HOT
  • Premiere Calendar
  • Ratings News
  • Movies
  • YouTube Channel
  • Submit Scoop
  • Contact Us
  • Search
  • Privacy Policy

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers


The Americans - The Rat - Review: “It’s the terror of knowing” + POLL

Note: Major spoilers follow for tonight's episode of The Americans. If you haven't seen it, leave now and come back when you have. If you have watched, be sure to check out the first of my two part interview with Alison Wright, in which we discuss this episode.

Much like last year’s reveal to Paige that her parents were KGB spies, The Americans opted to reveal Phillip’s true employer to Martha at no pre-determined point in the season. No dragging out the reveal for the finale or anything of the like. The sixth episode of the fourth season, and Martha knows. And that, like Nina’s abrupt death two weeks ago, is great.

It’s felt like a very long time coming for Martha to learn the truth, particularly given that I was surprised that she made it out of the first season alive, but the show has tiptoed around the subject ever since Walter Taffet - and not Clark Westerfeld - strode into Gaad’s department last year. I’m not sure that this is how I envisaged her finding out - in fact, the lengths to which I’ve even thought about it has been minimal - but it’s hard to think that there was any other way that she could have discovered the truth. One of the major strengths of The Americans is its ability to make emotional and gruelling scenes as difficult to watch as possible, and so making the impact of this reveal last as long as possible will make for some even greater television.

Alison Wright has long done some superb work on this show, but her performance in The Rat, particularly in that reveal scene, was truly excellent. It’s a very considered portrayal, erring much on the side of a gradual breakdown as she tries to hold herself together. As she begins to hyperventilate and struggle to accept the truth she’s just been given, it’s both unpleasant and a joy to watch. Everything about it puts you right there in the moment with her, and it’s impossible not to feel immensely sorry for her: Phillip manipulated her for the better part of three seasons and the rug has been pulled out from beneath her; her life has been turned completely on its head.

Even more tragic was Martha’s misplaced belief that she and Clark could go back to things as they were, a dream that was made virtually impossible by the time she was whisked away to the safehouse, and unattainable as the words “For the KGB” came out of his mouth. As she said in the premiere, Martha didn’t want or ask for any of this. Things were great with Clark prior to her learning of his lies about his job, but it was always building to this. No one gets a happy ending on this show, illustrated best by Nina’s brutal demise, and Martha is no exception.

Whether she lives or dies at this point is somewhat irrelevant from a plot perspective. Her life has been stripped away from her in unimaginable ways, to the point where she’ll have to go and live in a foreign country, surrounded by people she doesn’t know and with a language she doesn’t speak, away from her husband, for the rest of her days. That fate alone is as perhaps as bad as death. But from the perspective of Phillip, the difference between her living and her dying will be huge. He may never see her again once she goes, but that’s far better for him than accepting her getting arrested and imprisoned by the American government - and potentially exposing the KGB’s operation - or dying. I’ll talk a lot more about that in next week’s review, but here, the stakes were far too high and things far too risky for Phillip to take any chances. As William told him early on in the hour, the Center may run things, but they don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. While not always objective, the best opinion on the matter will always be Phillip’s, and here, he made the right call.

As Phillip and Gabriel pondered and argued over what to do about Martha, Stan and Aderholt continued their secret investigation into Gaad’s now former secretary. Learning that she had an abortion in 1964, “back when it was dangerous” “and illegal,” and piecing together the evidence that they had - her fleeting moments with Amador (remember him?) back in the first season just before he was murdered, her secret relationship with a supposedly married man among other things - they reached enough of a conclusion to clue in Gaad on their suspicions. That scene was great, particularly as Richard Thomas’ portrayal bordered on the kind of outward display of anger that saw him break the mail robot last year, and yet was restrained enough to falsely suggest a level of calmness at learning his agents’ theory. The quiet, almost emotionless “That’s… crazy” went in exactly the opposite direction I expected, and that only enhanced the scene.

The clock seemed to stop - or certainly, slow down - its ticking on Martha at points throughout The Rat, but her escape from the safehouse in the final moments as she threatened to scream KGB accelerated her downfall at a rate faster than anything the FBI could do would. As I think about where the end of this episode leaves the show, it’s difficult to think past an image of the Star Wars trash compacter. But that is an accurate representation of things at this point. I wrote in my notes about how stressful watching this episode - and the show as a whole - is, and I have a feeling that it will only get more so as season four continues to play out.

  • A rather nice double meaning involved with this week’s title, referring to both Martha’s role within the FBI and the literal dead animal that William handed to Phillip.
  • Some nice material for William again this week, as he bonds somewhat with Phillip over their bosses’ frequent incompetence and even reveals that his wife Eliza was sent back and he did nothing to contest it.
  • There have been hints about it for a while now, but it was nice to see Phillip really take Gabriel on and decide the best course of action. For someone with all of Gabriel’s experience, and after attempting to persuade Claudia that the Jenningses need to be extracted, his reluctance to pull Martha out is somewhat strange.
  • I did, however, chuckle at Gabriel being awoken by Phillip and Martha having sex.
  • Oleg’s life is on the downward spiral. He’s lost his brother, Nina, and now his mother is so depressed that she won’t even come to the phone. Perhaps he shouldn’t have left Russia. Still, it will make Stan turning him - because that’s where they’re going with this, right? - much more painless.
  • "Are lawyers businessmen?"
What did you all think of The Rat?

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
Recent Reviews (All Reviews)