The Americans Review: What's Real?

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The Americans continues to impress with its tight storytelling, compelling characters, and ability to be unpredictable at the right times.

In "Duty and Honor," Philip was sent to work with his former love to discredit a Polish dissident, while Elizabeth was left at home to contend with a troubled asset. After being tortured by their own people and Philip finding out that Elizabeth betrayed him, it probably wasn't the best time for them to be apart. Was the KGB conniving enough to set this up on purpose? Perhaps.

Phillip's Old Flame

There were some incredible moments throughout the hour, but the best had to be Elizabeth's verbal smackdown of Claudia, "I'm sorry I didn't kill you. That's my apology." Doesn't sound like they will be meeting for coffee anytime soon. Given Claudia's position, it was surprising that Elizabeth wasn't punished in some manner. Though, I'm not sure what the KGB could do since they probably don't have many undercover housewives in America and especially in DC. 

This new dynamic between Claudia and the Jennings creates a well placed conflict for the couple and their loyalty to the Soviet Union. Will the Jennings break away at some point, perhaps become double agents? It seems likely and when they do probably years down the road, the first break came when Claudia tortured them. 

While I said initially it probably wasn't the best time for the couple to be separated, it ended up working out for them. Instead of avoiding each other at home or arguing, they had the space to realize what they meant to each other. If Philip was going to leave Elizabeth, it would have been for Irina. He clearly still had some love for her, but he couldn't trust her.

If she hadn't mentioned "their son," it could have ended differently. Irina was playing Philip. It wasn't clear if the son was real or not, but in the end it didn't matter. She used the son as a pawn of the KGB, who can now be used against his father whether he exists or not. Philip could run with Elizabeth and their two children, but his other "son" is unprotected in the Soviet Union.

The spy world has proved to be emotionally and physically taxing. When Philip hit Irina, I was shocked. I couldn't believe he had that kind of anger in him or towards her, especially when he continued to pound on her. It was a relief to find out that Philip wasn't that horrible person, but that he did it because it was part of the mission. What remained unclear is whether or not the sex was just part of the mission or if it was a passionate reunion between the two.

When Elizabeth called Philip and said how much she missed him, he looked more hurt than regretful. And, then again when he returned home. Elizabeth's betrayal to the KGB broke their relationship. He lied about sleeping with Irina, but if it was just work was it a lie? Probably. 

In seven episodes the relationship between Philip and Elizabeth has flipped entirely around from him loving her to her loving him. After years in an arranged marriage, they finally found each other only to have it torn apart. Sandra Beeman told Elizabeth that she envied that the Jennings could be in a happy marriage and work together, but maybe it's just not possible. Is it too much to hope that they could love each other and continue to be successful spies?

Both missions ended up victories for the KGB. The Polish dissident was discredited and was forced to discontinue his quest to form a new government independent from the Soviet Union. And, Elizabeth freed Stanford from his bookie and got crucial information on the missile defense system. Will the Jennings be back in the KGB's good graces now? These were probably a move in that direction at least.

Odds and Ends

  • Legwarmers! Nice 1980s reference. 
  • Stan and Nina hooked up! Their attraction has been building since they first began working together. He's unhappy in his marriage, but sleeping with a Soviet asset probably isn't the best career move. 
  • Is Nina really falling for Stan? Or, is she just playing him? She slept with Vasili to get what she wanted, so why wouldn't she consider doing the same with Stan? Seduce him for her freedom?
  • Elizabeth's case wasn't all that exciting until she met up with the bookie. Nice move grabbing and squeezing him into compliance.
  • Agent Gaad: Has she had you for breakfast, Stan? | permalink
  • Elizabeth: I want us to be able to say what's true. I want us -- it to be. I want it to be ... real. Do you think we could do that?
    Philip: I don't know.
    Elizabeth: I would try. Will you try?
    Philip: Yes. | permalink

Duty and Honor Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (35 Votes)

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

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The Americans Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

Elizabeth: I'm sorry I didn't kill you. That's my apology.
Claudia: Better luck next time.

Claudia: You think I owe you an apology?
Elizabeth: I think you owe me more than an apology.