The Americans Watch: Episode 5, Comint

I like how quickly this show seems to be building out its mythology and expanding themes. Also, I really dig the Santa Claus with the Stalin head in the opening credits. On the other hand, I’m a little worried about how often people get stuck in trunks and the frequency with which the women in this show resort to sex as a primary means of getting what they want. I’m also noticing a pattern that big plotlines tend to not carry over from episode to episode—I’d really like this to change, as well.

This week’s episode is about the FBI’s new encryption protocols, which disconnect the KGB director from a favorite agent placed in the US Missile Defense Program. He’s gone a little rogue from depression and the death of his wife, and the Russian Embassy can’t get him in touch with the KGB without blowing his cover. Claudia assigns Elizabeth and Philip to acquire the new encryption codes so as to reopen the lines of communication and have an idea of when the FBI is on to them. This involves Philip putting on a ridiculous wig and plumbing his contact at the counterintelligence office. Elizabeth tracks down her own ridiculous wig to work on the guy who invented the codes in the first place, and they’re more complicated than anticipated.

The couple stage a car accident which allows Elizabeth to climb into a car trunk, elaborately, and steal some codes…and then she gets stuck in the trunk when the encryption code guy drives off. That’s not really all that tense, though, because she just pops out and that’s the end of that suspense.

Stan, in the mean time, wants more info from Nina, his informant. This somehow leads to her giving the director oral sex and having some tea, and this is how Stan learns the KGB wants those codes.

Anyway, it all becomes a double cross—the FBI changes the codes, Elizabeth kills the depressed agent before he’s arrested, and the KGB now knows, for sure, that they’ve got a mole.

The theme of this episode is the agency of women via sex, I suppose. We keep coming back to it, episode after episode, with rape scenes and titillation, but this is the first time the plot’s revolved around it. In the very first scene between Elizabeth and the agent—she’s undercover and asking if he pays for sex. It’s right out there—this is the weapon of women. This is how they get the information they require.

The Nina and Stan parallel is also interesting—she’s much more aggressive with him after she’s become sexually empowered. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to infer there’s an attraction here or not. I really like Nina, though. I don’t want her to die at the hands of the KGB, but I’m thinking that’s how this season is going to go.

We should also probably talk about the whipping scene, but frankly, it made me kind of uncomfortable regarding the level of kink and how it kind of just got shrugged off. And the odd “you are not my daddy” fit Elizabeth throws on Philip when he got overprotective made me roll my eyes.

Oh, and Stan is learning Russian…instead of sleeping with his wife. Interesting…

I’m intrigued by this show. It’s good; I’m looking forward to it getting its sea legs a little bit more and drawing some of these threads together.