DVR Hindsight #15 (6/13/16): The Americans – Season Four finale


The Americans – “Persona Non Grata” – Season 4, Ep. 13 (FX) SPOILERS

History must exist, at least on some level, if only to lay bare the shocking inadequacies of textbooks. As a child of the 1980s, when it was still theoretically swirling around me, my conception of the so-called Cold War between global superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union was nevertheless a severely limited one, as a sort of unbearably tense extended cease fire that had drawn on more or less since the end of World War II. The combatants were surely enemies to the core – with fingers on the nuclear trigger and alternately heroic and dictatorial intentions, depending on whose books you were reading – but, aside from high profile incidents like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, they were each too wary of the other’s power and resolve to risk provoking any escalation of hostilities. Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #15 (6/13/16): The Americans – Season Four finale”

DVR Hindsight #11 (4/23/15): The Americans – Season Three finale

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The Americans – “March 8, 1983” – Season 3, Ep. 13 (FX) SPOILERS

“You can’t see ten feet in front of you. I’ve done nothing but try to take care of you, and because you’re not getting what you want, you think I’m the enemy. And when Elizabeth doesn’t see things exactly the way you see it, you think there’s something wrong with her. You know who there’s something wrong with. Grow up.”

As KGB spy handler Gabriel, played with a precise mixture of grandfatherly warmth and icy detachment by Frank Langella, dresses down his charge, Philip Jennings, thusly, the two have arrived at a long-deferred, finally unavoidable turning point in their relationship. Philip, of course, has been a Soviet spy embedded in Washington, DC for his entire adult life, having navigated a fraught, prickly, at least initially window dressing marriage to fellow homegrown soldier Elizabeth. The Americans is set during the early ‘80s height of the Cold War, a time during which many Soviet and American pawns and proxies (Cuba, South Africa, Afghanistan) were erupting in civil unrest bordering on revolutionary violence and actively affecting the larger chess game in disproportionate ways. Stateside, Philip and Elizabeth are entrenched and invaluable operatives, skilled and deadly intermediaries involved seemingly in every covert Soviet action on the Eastern seaboard, not to mention the parents of two teenagers. Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #11 (4/23/15): The Americans – Season Three finale”

DVR Hindsight #6 (5/22/14): The Americans – season two, and finale

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The Americans – “Echo” Season 2, Ep. 13 (FX)

Season two of The Americans exacted a heavy human toll. The damage was both concentrated and collateral, both highly precise and desperately messy, both pointedly patriotic and heartbreakingly pointless. Season two saw our proxies in the American FBI and Soviet Rezidentura escalate operations while simultaneously digging in their heels and steeling themselves against potentially deadly blowback. It began by embroiling its protagonists (and viewers) in a diabolical, highly personal murder mystery and ended with that mystery’s shocking solution. In the claustrophobic hours in between, the Jennings family scrambled for any vestige of security or stability while continuing to execute its increasingly difficult duties. Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #6 (5/22/14): The Americans – season two, and finale”