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The Americans Review: Trust is a Tricky Thing

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It's not easy being a spy. Though, life isn't easy, is it?

Trust is a tricky thing. It can be earned through hard work and time spent together. Or, it can be bought with intimacy or a necklace. Either way, trust can be undermined with a few wrong words, a look, or a wrongful interrogation with torture.

Elizabeth and Phillip Worry

After being married for years, Elizabeth and Philip finally fell in love with each other. In the season premiere, Elizabeth pulled a knife on Philip when he suggested intimacy. In contrast, this time when she was leaving for the day, she passionately kissed Philip goodbye in that same kitchen.

Philip's devotion in her time of need allowed Elizabeth to see him in a new way and fall in love. From there, her trust in him deepened both personally and professionally. That dedication followed through when they were being tortured.

The existence of a mole forced the KGB to turn against their own in order to find the traitor in their midst. The cost may be even greater than the reward though. Elizabeth was dedicated to the Soviet Union and as loyal as they come. The idea that her own country could attack her in her home, question and torture her, while putting her children at risk is enough to break anyone's allegiance.

Could the Soviets be creating more moles through the distrust of their people? Elizabeth not only lost faith in her country, but their actions may have cost her Philip. He trusted her and she betrayed that by reporting on him to their superiors.

The two of them are on their own as spy partners, but also in life. If they can't trust one another, what do they have? Eventually, Elizabeth will get through to Philip and explain her past actions. She may have reported on him once, but after their relationship changed so did her reports.

She never told her superiors about Philip's doubts or thoughts of defecting. Her silence proved that he should trust her and especially after the KGB's interrogation. One thing's for sure, it won't be an easy sell.

Trust is a tricky thing on both sides. Stan kept telling Nina to trust him, but why should she? He blackmailed her into spying for him with no reward. Even if Stan didn't intend it, Nina is prostituting herself for him. She may not have entirely trusted him before, but his kind nature and promise of freedom is enough. 

She was able to get the Rezident to trust her through intimacy. It's been shown multiple times that people will do and say just about anything if you seduce them in the right way. Both Elizabeth and Philip are experts at that. It may take sex or it may just take a kiss and a necklace.

Even the Jennings' kids learned a lesson about trust. In the 1980s, hitch-hiking wasn't nearly the taboo that it is today. After their adventure, I doubt either of them will ever do it again. 

Henry overcame any fear he had and rightfully smashed the guy's head with a beer bottle. It was a stupid move to get in the car, but Paige and Henry grew closer due to it. It was touching to see Paige offer to help Henry by washing his pants. 

"Trust Me" painted a complicated web of trust along with cracks of mistrust. The aftermath of Philip and Elizabeth's interrogation will be far-reaching. Gregory is now watching over the family for signs of trouble. And, there will certainly be ramifications for Elizabeth's brilliant and brutal smackdown on Claudia. If ever there was a time for Philip and Elizabeth to lean on and trust each other, this is it.

The Americans has done an exceptional job over the first six episodes with shaking up the format. It's definitely not a case-of-the-week show. Each episode is centered around something entirely different than the others: it's fixing a mistake, forcing an American to cooperate, telling the story of a historical event, or presenting the core emotional basis of being human.

When I sit down to watch an episode, I never know what to expect other than I'm going to be encapsulated in the 1980s Cold War watching an engaging story with characters I care about on both sides.

Odds and Ends

  • 1980s Fashion Alert: I loved Paige and Henry's jackets. Very appropriate for the times.
  • Dangerous Liasions - KGB Edition: Philip is playing a dangerous game with Martha. I'm not sure why he doesn't just sleep with her instead of toying with her. He's seduced other informants before. I doubt it's because of Elizabeth, perhaps he's afraid of blowing his government cover.
  • Dangerous Liasions - FBI Edition: Stan is getting too attached to Nina. How long before he gets emotionally involved enough with her that it becomes problematic? 
  • Stan and Nina brilliantly executed the set up on the Rezident. It also worked well on screen, it wasn't until towards the end that it all came together and made sense. A well-played mystery.
  • Elizabeth can kick ass. At her house, if it had only been the one attacker, she would have avoided capture. She can hold her own. 
  • Husband Lesson: You don't take a necklace from your wife to give to your unwitting informant that's falling for you.
  • The lengths that Elizabeth and Philip will go to for a good cover story is part of the reason they are successful spies. Though, for a moment, I thought Philip was going to try and kill Elizabeth in the crash when he put on his seat belt.
  • Stan actually confided about his day with his wife. Could his marriage be saved?
  • Elizabeth's declaration to Philip that she was ripped from her home by the people she trusted most was painful to hear. How will he overcome that?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (44 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Fortyseven

Good. I knew that the Jennings' captors weren't FBI/CIA.

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The first viewing left me somewhat disappointed, but after rewatching and discussing various plot points with other fans, I keep discovering more and more things that were done so very well. And the actors never fail to deliver. If all the leads don't snag Emmy statues this year...

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This was the first episode I got tired of wall to wall spy shenanigans for an entire hour .... I hope this is not the beginning of a KICK TO THE CURB for me ......week to week ....

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This show just keep getting better. I heard it has been renewed for season 2 which is just awesome! I did not catch the twist. I thought it was some other agency other than FBI that caught but it should have been quite obvious it was their own KGB. Beeman and Nina story is just as good as the Jennings and the cast is really good!

Wolfshades

The review captured the dichotomy so well: the viewer can't help feeling sympathetic to both sides. I held my breath when Henry was holding that beer bottle and we got to see that the creep also had a knife. You sort of knew he was going to brain the guy but what we didn't know was how successful he would be. Takes a lot to actually knock someone out or make them helpless - and he was just a little kid. I wonder too about the Soviet repercussions of Elizabeth putting a beating on Claudia. What a great show!

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I gotta say that this show gets better and better. It so beautifully depicts emotions that transcend time periods. All the characters so beautifully display connections, love, hate, and trust as in this episode to transparently. Kudos to The Americans for really bringing forth a show that captures evolving sentiment without making it look cheesy or overdone. So excited to continue watching this show and seeing how Elizabeth's and Phillip's relationship evolves.

The Americans Season 1 Episode 6 Quotes

Interrogator: There will be no spy trades under this president.
Philip: I'm not a spy.

We will find this traitor and put a bullet in his head.

Rezident
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