Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen The Americans Season 1, Ep. 9 – “Safe House”.
Two weeks ago I compared The Americans to Three’s Company because the central plot was based around a misunderstanding. I realize now that this was short sighted. It not so much that The Americans is borrowing plot devices from a beloved goofball comedy as it is the Cold War just sort of was a goofball comedy, though with more nuclear weapons and better wigs.
See, on Three’s Company a simple misunderstanding or inferred meaning might result in Jack having to hide on the kitchen for an extended period of time, or Chrissy having to pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend at an event. On The Americans, a simple misunderstanding results in two people getting killed for no reason at all. And this, my dears, is the difference between drama and comedy.
But, while the end results differ, the mitigating circumstances are equally frustrating. You just want to shake these silly agents and tell them to stop being so quick to jump to conclusions. Just go down the Regal Beagle and talk this out. The Cold War would have been over in about three beers if that had ever been an option.
The most frustrating thing about “Safe House” though is that everything could have been avoided if The Jennings were ¼ as good at their jobs as they claim to be. After announcing their separation and going through with Philip moving out, they agreed to go to the Beeman’s party together because there would be a plethora of FBI agents mingling about. But, when an entire group of FBI agents gathered around the living room to discuss what KGB agent they planned on assassinating, there was no Jenning lurking around to overhear.
Similarly, when Amador confronted Philip it wasn’t as an agent confronting a target, but as a jealous ex confronting his former lover’s new boyfriend. (Side Note: This episode very clearly portrayed Amador as a ladies man completely uninterested in settling down and quite adept at getting any woman of his choosing, so why was he so enamored with Martha that he took to stalking her and attacking her new boy toy? It just doesn’t gel with what little character development we’ve got from him). And on what charge was he going to bring Philip “downtown”? The whole thing was ludicrous, but Philip didn’t know that and the moment he started fighting back, it was obvious that Amador was going to have to die.
But who knew Beeman would take it so hard? Yes, they were partners and, perhaps my perception of the show’s timeline is off, but I didn’t think they’d known each other long enough to have framed pictures together or many, many memories of giggle attacks during stakeouts. Their sudden connection seemed a little forced, a necessity though if you want Beeman to go off the deep end, threaten Nina, and shoot a guy without (to my knowledge) authorization.
This was an exciting episode, but it feels like things are escalating because the storyline needs them to, not because it necessarily makes sense within the story.
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