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The Americans “Divestment” 

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX
Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

I’ve seen more pretty disturbing things on this show, but “necklacing” has to be pretty high up on the list of things I wish I didn’t know about. I didn’t even know it had a proper name until I googled “why would someone put a tire around a person before lighting them on fire?” And what came back was “necklacing.”

Even though I’m disturbed, I really do appreciate the historical accuracy of this show. It turns out “necklacing” was something that originated in South Africa as a way to punish sympathizers — but, it was used on blacks who were fighting to help maintain apartheid. Venter dies pretty quickly, but in real life it could take up to 20 minutes for the victim to perish. So not only would it be a slow death — nothing as quick and relatively painless as a bullet to the head — but can you imagine the suffering? Can you imagine being burned alive for 20 minutes? What a truly horrendous way to go. Venter deserved to be punished because he was planning to kill a lot of people with that bomb, but was this the right way to kill him? I can’t answer that, but it’s an interesting question to ponder.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX
Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

Let’s talk a little more about Reuben. I like that he let himself be talked about of killing Todd. Hopefully showing that kid some mercy won’t come back to bite them all the in the ass. But the other thing that is so interesting to me about Reuben is his philosophy on life – or, I guess, his philosophy on marriage. He’s been away from home for a long time. He knows apartheid supporters will probably be the death of him and his whole family. He loves his wife, but he understands if she might have started seeing someone since he’s been gone.

Reuben: “Being married and being at war do not always go together.”

I’m constantly surprised and impressed that Philip and Elizabeth are able to maintain the level of intimacy in their marriage that they’ve achieved. They have different levels of loyalty to the cause, they’e got different boundaries in terms of what they will and won’t do for the cause and they can’t agree on whether or not to tell their children who they really are. There just seems to be so much against them, yet they’re making it work. I mean, whether or not they like each other their cover is that they’re married and running the travel agency together. So, I guess it’s nice if you at least like the person you’re supposed to be married to. And, for now, they’re fighting this war together.

Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX
Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

And what about Martha? I don’t remember what Clark’s cover story was with her when he first got her to put that pen in Gaad’s office. Hold on. Let me do some helpful googling. Okay, I’m back. He called himself an “interagency investigator.” I have no idea what that means. But it’s interesting that when Martha asks Clark who he is, he doesn’t answer. Well, I guess his answer is that he didn’t mean to fall in love with her, but he did. Martha seems to believe him and I think Philip does care for her. But this isn’t going to end well. It’s safe to say Martha’s days are numbered. At some point she’ll be too much of a liability for them to keep around.

Also, can I just say that Martha is pretty cool under duress. I thought she answered all of Taffet’s questions very well and didn’t come off as suspicious. Of course, I’m not trained by the FBI to spot tells and ticks, but after that performance I kind of want to see Martha become an agent. She’s smart and she has skills. She just fell for the wrong guy.

I also thought Taffet had an interesting interaction from Aderholt. He’s “new” to the office and would naturally come under suspicion. For a second I thought that was all it was until Taffet got creative with his phrasing. I always like to think race relations have come a long way in this country, but there’s always going to be prejudice of some sort. If people want to find something wrong with your performance, I guess they’ll look for any excuse. But the great thing about Aderholt — and I have to say I think I might have actually started liking him in this episode — is that he’s grateful for all the opportunities he’s had to get where he is. Yes, he grew up in Oakland. Yes, his father was a janitor. But he put himself through school and worked his way up in the agency. Even if people are resentful for him being “new,” Aderholt shrugs it off.

Aderholt: “Being new isn’t a bad thing. New beginnings, new blood. I don’t think much about the rest of it.”

And, finally, Nina has a new mission. After getting Evi’s confession, her sentence has been reduced to 10 years. Like her, I didn’t see much to celebrate. But they’re having some trouble with Anton Baklanov, the scientist Elizabeth and Philip shipped home to mother Russia. They can’t tell if he’s intentionally delaying his work on the stealth program or if this is just how it’s supposed to go — slowly. So she’s released from the prison as part of this mission and if she manages to get Anton to trust and confide in her, she’ll be free. I’m not sure how “free” she can be, but I understand how attractive the prospect of permanently being out of that prison is. Also, I’m kind of hoping Vasili and Nina have a few more scenes together. What we saw tonight was deliciously uncomfortable and awkward.

The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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