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The Americans - Dyatkovo - Review



Where Philip has long since been unhappy working as a KGB spy in the U.S., and has, on occasion, contemplated going home, Elizabeth has been steadfast in her commitment. Yes, she was uncomfortable with manipulating Young-Hee in the way that she did last season, and even asked the Centre to find another way - a remarkable wish on her part - but she has always wanted to be here doing this job.

So for the final scene of “Dyatkovo” to feature her saying she wants to leave? Holy hell.

The last ten or so minutes in which the Jenningses went to Natalie Granholm’s (aka Anna Mikhaylovna Prokopchuk, played by Irina Dubova) house to confront and kill her for her crimes during the War was the most intense The Americans has been this season. It was remarkably dark and brutal in a way that the show often is, and Oscar-nominated director Steph Green - who also helmed last season’s “Munchkins” - did a spectacular job of framing the horror of it all. Cutting between Natalie’s terror, Philip’s frequent regretful puppy-eyes, and Elizabeth’s anger, Green does her utmost to turn an already difficult scene to watch into one that is deeply sickening.

Certainly, killing Prokopchuk isn’t repulsive to Elizabeth in the same way that Philip was reduced to a broken wreck upon discovering he killed an innocent man earlier in the season. But couple this heinous act - having to kill John, Natalie’s husband, likely raised the toll it took - with the revelation from the end of “Darkroom”, where the Jenningses discovered that Pastor Tim has long since contemplated the idea of them being monsters for what they’ve done to Paige, and Elizabeth gains some perspective on things.

It isn’t as though her conscience prevents her from doing her job. We see that here as she senses hesitation by her husband and promptly ends the Granholms’ lives, Keri Russell’s face in the process becoming the manifestation of every single angry thought dreamt up by every living human. It might be unfair to call this ruthlessness second nature because, at this point, it may well have become more a part of her personality than living has. But what we seem to be viewing at the end of “Dyatkovo” is a shift in which Elizabeth puts a stop to the less favourable side of herself and instead chooses the higher road.

That shift may well be tragically funny if it weren’t so tragically dark to contemplate the ramifications. Elizabeth advocated bringing Paige into the loop on their true identities, and she has since suffered a price for knowing that truth. (Just think back to how miserable she was in the time jump of “The Magic of David Copperfield V”, or any of this season.) And while going back to the Soviet Union means Elizabeth and Philip might not have to go around killing as many people, it will have a far greater adverse effect on both children.

Indeed, Paige’s life may have become a quagmire of immense sadness but at least she knows about it. At least she has come to terms with her true heritage. At least she knows, crazy as it sounds, that moving 5000 miles east is a genuine possibility if things get desperate beyond repair.

The same cannot be said for Henry, who remains blissfully ignorant of his parents’ real life and is instead prospering. Between his strong progress at school, his scholarship application, and even his work with the school paper, he has no idea of the true nature of his family. And The Americans is clever in handling that, winking at the audience throughout the hour as if to make fun of itself: ‘Paige is supposed to be being groomed as the second-generation illegal, but Henry is the one who may be better suited for it.’ Of course, it’s a catch-22 situation; him being a good fit for the Centre’s plans would go out the window the second those plans were enacted.

His tour of the FBI - including a meet and greet with Mail Robot, making only his second appearance of the season and first in what seems like forever - and subsequent description of said tour leads the Jenningses to say this of the idea of government recruitment: “Well, he’s not getting Henry.” And after his conversation with Stan about secrecy, it would seem he’s come to realise that the glamour of working for the FBI is really just smoke and mirrors and that the true nature of the job is gruelling and occasionally reprehensible. Still, a smart kid like Henry probably could succeed well enough that, if he so wanted it, he could get a position inside the FBI - not that the series will likely ever jump that far ahead in time.

Of course, none of that really matters if the family up sticks and moves to Moscow, as both Jennings parents would seemingly want. The ending to “Dyatkovo” was truly stunning, even if the promise of 12 more episodes in the show’s run means that plans to leave this fake life behind will probably be shelved once more.

Some other thoughts:

Okay, Stan, so you can’t trust Henry. But I’m pretty sure you probably shouldn’t have told as much to Philip as you have.

Oleg and Ruslan (whose name I keep having to IMDb) questioned Fomina, who attempted to get the upper hand on them by essentially implying that her operation will overcome the KGB. I’m still not sure where all of this is going, but it remains nice to see Oleg a part of the show.

The Centre did weaponise the Lassa virus for use in Afghanistan, calling it Variant V after William’s real name, Vitaly.

Matthew Rhys has such a haunting blank expression in the scene that leads into the opening credits, as he watches TV with Tuan while remembering playing with his father. It’s a nice scene, especially following on from him telling Henry that he can go to the boarding school if he gets in. We haven’t seen huge amounts of father and son playing together, certainly in recent seasons, and it’s sad to consider Philip somewhat coming to terms with being apart from Henry for months at a time.

Henry’s “Uh…?” response to Mail Robot was priceless. Also, Aderholt’s quip that Henry’s working for the Post is strangely ironic given the show’s premise and the current political climate.

What did everyone think of “Dyatkovo”? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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