The Americans exists in an overly insular environment where friends and enemies may be determined by the country of their birth, but from a people perspective the lines become much more blurred.
In "The Colonel," the FBI Agent Stan shot Elizabeth while he pursing the evil Soviet illegals that threatened his country's freedoms. It was one side against the other in a real life or death situation. Even though Philip knew that it was Stan that shot his wife, when he wanted to sit by her side as she recovered, he called Stan to look after his kids. Philip trusted the rival who shot his wife to make sure his kids were okay. Crazy, right?.
Throughout The Americans season 1, a continual theme has been to question the actions of both sides. Neither country's actions have been entirely right or wrong. The same is true of the individual spies that were fighting the Cold War.
Stan initially forced Nina into turning on her country because she was an easy target and he had no qualms about it. She was the enemy and deserved whatever happened to her. As they got closer, she became a person with feelings, a family, and he started to care and ... lust about her. They shifted from enemies to two individual people with interests, feelings, and love for each other. That may have continued, except when the Cold War became personal for Nina. With Vlad's death, the stakes heightened and Nina began to feel guilt over what she was doing.
Despite any feelings she had for Stan, his complicity in Vlad's death was too much for them to overcome. She felt responsible and came clean to Arkady about spying for the Americans. Given her relationship with Stan, it only made sense that the Soviets would use her to collect intel from the FBI agent.
Seemingly harmless comments are enough to start or end a fight. Stan is headed down a dangerous path now that he has provided intel to both the Jennings and now Nina. How long before leaks are traced back to him? Though, that would also put Nina and the Jennings at risk.
In addition to watching the individual interactions from both sides, the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip has been touching to see grow. After so many years together, they finally fell in love with each other only to be pulled apart. When it came down to it, they would both do what was necessary to keep their kids safe, even if that meant running away.
Philip was not going to let his wife and love walk into a trap. Even though she refused his offer to take the meet with the Colonel, he went anyway. It was heartening to see that he wrote that he loved her in the note. He was there again for her when he realized it was her mission that was compromised. When she said, "Come home," in Russian, their future together was sealed. All it took was being shot for her to finally be honest with Philip about her desire to be with him too.
As Philip and Elizabeth's relationship strengthened through the ordeal, Stan's life was crumbing. His wife pushed him away and refused to go on vacation with him. At the same time, he felt that he let down Nina by getting her hopes up for a new life to have the taken away when the bust went bad. Of course, the twist being that Nina is responsible for that.
The montage at the end while the song "Games without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel played summed up the end of the season well. Stanford broke, Nina turned on Stan, the Jennings were back together, Martha was in love with her absent husband, and Paige looked in the laundry room to check on her mother. As a teenager, she's sure to become more suspicious of her parents' odd activities. I look forward to her becoming more inquisitive about them in season 2.
The meeting with the Colonel provided important intelligence for the Soviets. Will they believe that Star Wars is a fraud? It could be a game changer for the Cold War.
The Americans season 1 played like a well-paced 13-episode film. It had everything you want in an outstanding drama: tension, thrills, emotion, love, trust, betrayal, action, and more. It will be a long wait for next season.
Odds and Ends
- The interactions between Elizabeth and Claudia were some of the best on the show. Their disdain for each other is well-played.
- Claudia: I know you better than you know yourself. And, you don't know me at all. | permalink
- What will Stanford's information mean for the Americans? The meet with the Colonel has gone down, but he knows what Elizabeth looks like. A new threat for season 2?
- Will Claudia killing the American assassin re-ignite the killings between the two sides? She sure knows how to torture a guy while killing him.
- Claudia proved her loyalty to the Jennings and her country in the end. Will she end up sticking around? Or, will she still be sent back to the homeland? She better keep her 27 pages of answers for if she has to fill out the form again.
- Arkady: If you are wrong, we'd be giving up the biggest intelligence success since the atom bomb.
Claudia: That's what they always say right before our people die for nothing. The next thing they always say, "It was so obvious." | permalink
- Elizabeth listening to the tape from her mother brought tears to my eyes. I was surprised she was allowed to have any contact with her family, but it was nice for her to have that connection still with her mother.
- The car chase was awesome! 1980s cars, wheels screeching, no video surveillance or helicopters. Classic and wonderful!