The Americans Episode 2-ITV1 Channel 3 in the UK
So i finally watched TV on a computer screen! Yey. That’s ’cause you can’t watch the Americans On Demand on TV or Catch Up or anything.
( Nb. Since i wrote this i found out that the Americans is repeated during the week on ITV1 /Channel 3 Monday & Thursday nights or & of course you can see it an hour later on Plus 1 on the day)
It was great, as it always is, watching something with out the Ads. Especially since lately programmes seem to have tipped perilously low in the ratio between Ad time & show. I mean Gees. Nb. it’s still more fun on a big screen though. Sometimes you really do feel like you’ve watched more and longer Ads than the TV show. Definitely. & That’s no joke.
So yeah, The Americans just gets better & better. As i predicted. There was an unheard of interruption by an actual fellow worker in the Travel Agents. He burst into the room where Elizabeth & Philip are urgently discussing yet more spy business. The fellow worker is actually asking for visas!
The succession nay, procession of wigs, hats, bouffant hairdos, beanie hats & mad make-up is so very long and distinguished in their appearances on and transformations of Elizabeth & Philip.
Elizabeth seems impossibly, to be getting thinner in her worry. Her eyes bloom black with melted make-up. Elizabeth is melting. her heart is softening towards Philip. Elizabeth thinks she is falling in love. Perhaps she is.
I tend to agree with dashing beatnik art loving Robert, who practically twirls his moustache, he is so dapper:
“You either feel it or you don’t, these things tend to just happen, that don’t change” pleads Robert. Ah.
Yet Robert is tremblingly vulnerable in his expression of his love for Elizabeth. Then Elizabeth slaps him. But why doesn’t Philip tell Robert that he loves Elizabeth? He does. Robert does. Ah.
Where things really do seem to get all kinds of overheated. As in reactions from both sides.
Weirdly, i don’t remember Reagan getting shot. Maybe i didn’t watch the news then. it’s hard to understand the seeming paranoia then by today’s standards.
But both sides really did believe that they were in a kind of war. & as we see in episode 3 they believe that they could easily go to war. it was all about nuclear weapons then. i remember that much. Funny how we still have them, well most counties do but nobody ever talks about then? Like it’s bad or anything?
Except for countries that it has been decided they are not allowed nuclear weapons like everybody else. ‘Cause that country is a bad country. So the other countries all say.
Some of the political points, geography ones even in The Americans are a little laboured for me. & I’m pretty sure Poland wasn’t part of the Soviet union in the 90’s. Elizabeth seems to disagree with this. which is where it lost me..
Elizabeth & Philip are officially in love now & booking secret hotel rendezvous to each other & coming down the Hotel stairs like happy young newly weds until all stops for the news of the shooting.
The fact is that Elizabeth & indeed matronly evil Claudia act like America has just suffered a bloodless coup due to the announcement of the Vice President as being him:
Oops. Culture clash or what?
Elizabeth & Philip make a very attractive couple. Except when they both don their dodgy wigs that look like they double for a Dutch porn star actors & actress & borrow a Government car for a double role-play. It’s almost kinky.
This time they are Government officials questioning the Nurse as to the:
“truth of Reagan’s condition”. Brilliant. They make it sound too paranoid & ironic for the 90’s in mh opinion. I did wonder if the Nurse sussed them. Still they had a government car..
Meanwhile over at the other side of the fence the C.I.A man incandescently acted by the supposed real American is, like Elizabeth, visibly melting, softening into a smile, making jokes to this companion in the car. His companion being young& eternally pretty KGB operative, now double agent.
Yes, (while) we watch uncomfortable matrimonial scenes between CIA man and his wife where she complains of the classic conundrum of wives in such dramas. She barely has a life together with her husband and is (as always) far from friends & family. Poor CIA man does no more than mutter manfully:
“I thought this is what you wanted”!
He also shrugs monosyllabically and mutters about “Militants”!
Uh oh. Official sympathy alert. Was he captured and held we wonder? We are being signposted suffering behind his monolithic smile and the reason for his lack of feeling overall in his struggling and cold and empty marriage. Ah.
Meanwhile over the other side of the fence it’s Mr & Mrs Spy who work together 24/7! See:you only need to be an undercover agent! However the life of Mr & Mrs Spy verges on James & Jane Bond territory at times-the early Bond films in their now dated corniness.
At the same time as this laughable anachronism a severe streak of (living?) horror plagues the lives of Elizabeth & Philip. At times the grotesquerie of their real spy life, or more correctly combat readiness, physical exertion and the seriousness of their 24/7 full on war plays like some horror movie making a mockery of cornflakes for breakfast & packing the kids off to school.
As Philip sits in the quiet kitchen to which they returned in the small hours like should have been party people happy & complete instead of exhausted, frightened warriors, Philip has a knife wound n his stomach, roughly patched over with an eponymous American ice-pack pressed on top.
Philip holds the ice pack closer silently wincing in pain as he sips his coffee in the peaceful kitchen. We wonder if Elizabeth knows that he was stabbed with his own knife in a fight with generic Eastern Europeans. Such is the dichotomy of their married life in America-laid out for us to see. Horrific and non stop is their continual battle against the enemy.
An enemy and a country that we are meant to see is a softening influence. Just like in the scene where they visit their American neighbours, reaching out to them.
(at the end of the day when Reagan is shot)
Yes, it did feel like Elizabeth & Philip genuinely OK maybe were reaching out tho their neighbours. (Being) in a state of shock and fear you feel when your world has been rocked and you re-affirm to yourself your luckiness in being alive.
& I was, amazingly, moved by that scene in the CIA family house:
“Come in, have some wine…”
CIA man smiles his crocodile smile…
We really believe both men & Elizabeth are realistically reviewing the hairsbreadth width to catastrophe each side had helped avoid. On a worldwide scale. It was really heavy..
Yes, sigh, we geddit, they both made calculations for their families, they cared. yawn. Lets remember that CIA man saw the dead body of the operative’s wife that Elizabeth & Philip had stupidly, trustingly waved goodbye to. Well, hello people, but blacked out vans with no seats in the back are not the usual mode of transport pre-jolly trip to Cuba with it’s:
“white sands and Spanish speaking people there, people who talk just like you”
as Claudia said to the young Mum.
So CIA man probably believes Elizabeth & Philip to have killed the young mother. When only as we know, they know nothing about it. Trusting in their innocence or possibly innocent in their trusting.
All this, of course, is to establish to us that, in spite of having to carry out intermittent on the spot silent & deadly murders (that we don’t always see how they dispose of the body as with the Cop) Elizabeth & Phillip are nice people really. In addition, since they were nice to the Mum & son (in previous episode) & Elizabeth had a cool & funky boyfriend, this is all major liberal credentials established.
We are on their side. Yet increasingly, we are on CIA’s man’s side too. Well i liked him from the start with his silent chuckle. (OK i said he was scary) His very casualness is what makes him a deadly adversary.
CIA man is as good as them, Elizabeth & Phillip, we reckon. Having seen CIA man, Philip & Elizabeth now all do their full on spy thing, both double & solo. Elizabeth is strong enough to lift up a huge wooden box of heavy duty guns out the ground.
Philip & Elizabeth are both fit, super trained, combat veterans of their training by the KGB. They think and act like soldiers. Except for Phillip who started to think like a Diplomat /or war weary soldier or a conscientious objector.
Yet CIA man has his moves too.
Let the games begin…