Just a five episodes into the series and, through the power of cable TV, The Americans is ramping up for their season climax. This week marriages continued to be strained, covers became closer to being blown, and Elizabeth had to kill someone in cold blood. All in a days work.
Due to some confusing jargon I didn’t understand, a certain grieving agent was jeopardizing everyone with his all encompassing grief. Claudia tasked Elizabeth and Philip with stealing the FBI’s new encryption codes so that the runner could get in contact with his agent and talk him off the ledge. Uncovering this code involved some more fun wigs, some impressive trunk sneaking skills, and sex. Lots and lots of sex. If The Americans has taught me anything its that the fastest way to find out information is to take your pants off.
Well, at least for the ladies. So far, most of Elizabeth’s intelligence gathering has been done in her bra while Philip has been able to get away with light flirting and his ever-present charm. Between that and Nina’s assumption that Beeman’s encouragement was a direct order to get on her knees, I’m beginning to think that the KGB training looked a lot more like hooker school. (Although I was not trained to be a KGB super spy and I still got the same message as Nina).
Claudia made a slight allusion to the extra work female spies have to put forward, but also mocked the American feminist movement. Earlier in the episode Martha (an unaware informant) called out an ex for a sexist comment (which wasn’t all that sexist. It was just a lame compliment) and she took her pacifying as a major achievement. Elizabeth, Claudia, and Nina, on the other hand are vital players in their governments highest level of counter intelligence.
Is either really a great representation of women advancing in the workplace? Not particularly, but its hard to argue that Elizabeth, Claudia, and Nina aren’t more in control of their lives than Martha (who isn’t even aware that she is betraying her country). As Elizabeth told Philip, “If I wanted to deal with it don’t you think it would have been dealt with”. She has the means to protect herself, but her priorities are with her country.
But the things her country is asking of her continue to get harder to live with. When the KGB discovered that the FBI was tailing their meet up, they had no choice but to dispose of a spy who now represented more danger than use. They dispatched Elizabeth, a woman who met him, talked with him, and saw in him the anguish of losing his wife. Why couldn’t they have sent Philip to do the deed?
Perhaps Moscow doesn’t know the message they’re sending to their agents is, no matter how integral you are to us, you are always disposable. Or perhaps that’s exactly the point. Either way, with Elizabeth being forced to kill her comrades and perform her job on her back, she is everyday getting closer to agreeing to defect. If only so she can wake up some morning without worry.
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