The Americans Recap - COMINT

The Americans Recap - COMINT

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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  • I enjoyed your recap. I agree with you that the agent's awkward compliment about Martha's shoes and calves was not sexual harassment, although two other recaps/discussions (which I will not identify) seem to view it that way.

    On the other hand, I did not get the sense that Beeman was asking Nina to trade sexual favors to get info. I assumed he wanted her to listen in at keyholes or or something similar. I do not mean this as a joke: perhaps Nina should ask for a raise at the embassy so her boss does not suspect that she used sex to gain intel.

  • With respect you are confusing a fellow agent with a contact, a source. The Widower was not a comrade, but a contact that they recruited. He was not a KGB agent so killing him is not some sort of message negative or otherwise to other KGB officers. Now getting back that KGB captain that had defected in the first episode THAT was a message to other KGB officers that Moscow will go out of their way to find you bring you back to the Motherland and put a bullet into your head at the Lubyanka.

    Similarly Nina is a contact. She is essentially Stan’s version of Martha, a secretary at the FBI while Nina is a secretary at the Soviet embassy. She is no more of a “superspy” than Martha is. Remember, Nina was blackmailed into informing on her superiors on pain of her smuggling actions being reported to the Soviet Government with the result of her at least spending time in the Gulag if not executed. She is doing what she has to do to survive not out of some duty or whatever made the American informant Elizabeth killed turn.
    So while she posed as a security agent in her interview with him she didn’t develop any feelings of friendship for him so it was easy for her to kill him in part because he was NOT a colleague or friend.

    Now if the order ever comes down for her to kill Gregory-who is also NOT a KGB officer but a informant and collaborator-that would be a different emotional story for Elizabeth since she actually loved him. It would make good drama if Philip ever got that order to kill Gregory knowing what it would do to his relationship with Elizabeth even if deep inside it would give him pleasure.

    As for having sex with the targets to get information it is not just the women. Don’t forget Philip having sex with that woman with “breast cam” in “The Clock” while posing as a Swedish Intelligence Officer to get her to photograph Caspar Weinberger’s office but of course it is not looked on as a chore when it is a man as the spy getting info from a woman for understandable reasons. And Philip is setting things up to have sex with Martha.

    Oh and wouldn’t it be sexist to ask why Elizabeth was sent to kill the target instead of Philip? I don’t think the target even recognized Elizabeth as the woman he talked to.

    I do agree that it wasn’t sexual harassment Amador committed against Martha, just an awkward almost adolescent remark in its delivery meant to really compliment and not leer but came out lame.

    And I don’t think Stan hinted to Nina that she must have sex with her boss at the Embassy to get information but she took it that way. He was upset that she did that both because he is starting to love her and as a gentleman-that is I feel he would have that reaction even if he wasn’t infatuated with her, maybe not as intense though.

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