How can the premiere be so inspiring and its followup so ... mundane?
If I had that answer, I wouldn't be asking.
But The Americans Season 6 Episode 2 didn't follow the path I had hoped. Oleg's request went in one ear and out the other even though Elizabeth's nasty attitude and his daughter's entrance into the spy game should give him pause.
Is losing a 15-year client at the travel agency more to worry about than the lack of meaningful conversation at his empty-nest home?
No, no it is not. Yet that's what drives Philip despite all of the soul-searching he did with est. Frankly, he should be more in tune with his wife than he is with his travel agency.
Come to think of it, he's not even fully tuned into his agency. The business is growing, but instead of closely monitoring the agents as they take on what have been his personal clients, he's allowing them to fly solo and the boutique travel experience his clients once received is no longer there.
Where the hell is the Philip we just spent two seasons and the equivalent of several years witnessing an explosive internal growth?
It didn't rub off onto Elizabeth, that much is certain.
Not only isn't she moved in the slightest by Erica's plight of pain and disease, she took time to mock her life's work and artistic talent while suggesting she'll suffer even more thanks to her interference.
Elizabeth may be exhausted from keeping the family business alive all by herself, but she has also turned off any emotional connections she created to the outside world, as well.
That has to be more tiring than anything else she's doing. The pretense of being a human being while feeling dead inside would kill anyone.
Elizabeth is protecting Paige, which is the only positive thing that can be said for her at the moment. But her way of doing it is also harming her daughter because she's not giving her the best training as a spy.
If Paige were anyone else, she would probably be required to use sex as a technique already. Young operatives Philip and Elizabeth worked with in the past were almost always asked to sleep with someone to find intel. It was ugly, but it was pragmatic.
Paige asked her mother straight out if that would be the case in her future, seemingly without any qualms or opinion one way or another, and Elizabeth initially flat out denied it.
After a few more steps, she backpedaled and admitted relationships with assets can get complex, and some agents decide to grow closer, but the book Paige was reading took that complexity out of context.
All we have to do is think back to the montage of Elizabeth's recent spy ventures from The Americans Season 6 Episode 1 to know she's being anything but truthful to her daughter and agent-in-training.
Is that fair to Paige? Is she getting the training she needs if she's getting the kid gloves version? Elizabeth is already preparing to lose her life before Paige is done training, giving Claudia permission to finish things up with the college girl given how close they've grown.
I would have never thought Claudia would look like a kind soul when standing next to Elizabeth, but Elizabeth is so dreary and steadfast about her love of country now that it might be better for Philip, Paige, and Henry if Elizabeth didn't make it.
She's not processing what she hears from her assets. Or if she is, then she very well may be one of the fringe group who doesn't want to see her beloved Russia going soft, as she thought Ronald Regan might be.
Have we ever known where Elizabeth stands? Does she want a mighty and forceful government or a country that cares for its people and provides a safe and law-abiding society for people to live?
I'm still holding out hope that Erica, the mighty and powerful Miriam Shor, will be the one to break down Elizabeth's defenses. Starting her drawing the darkness was a turn, and I wish there was more to that scene. Those women sparkle together.
If we saw Philip go through est, will we see anything move the mountain that is Elizabeth before this is all over?
After the opening during the premiere and the music, especially, I expect there is a chance the Jennings' marriage will survive, so I'm holding out hope that the tiny cracks in Elizabeth that are near-impossible to comprehend are good signs.
If you haven't caught up yet, you need to watch The Americans online and let me know where you think Elizabeth stands on her love for Philip and Mother Russia.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.