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The Americans “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” 

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX

Since Gaad lost it on the mail robot last week, it’s been sent out for repairs. And that’s the in the Centre needs to get a listening device back into the FBI. But the problem is that someone will need to change the tape and Philip doesn’t think Martha will go for that. While Elizabeth suggests Martha can no longer be useful to them, both Philip and Gabriel disagree. Philip tells Elizabeth he trusts Martha and it’s easy to see that that statement is going to cause problems.

I will never get tired of the marital dynamics between Philip and Elizabeth. I don’t think I’d enjoy this show as much if it was just a spy show (and calling it “just a spy show” is definitely doing this series a huge disservice). But I know what keeps me coming back every week is Philip and Elizabeth. I like seeing them work through their issues while trying to be the kind of spies the Centre expects them to be. I like watching them muddle their way through their relationship and their complex emotions about each other and their duty. It makes them so much more human and it makes me root for them, even though they’re ‘the enemy.’

So when Elizabeth tells Philip she understands how he’s developed feelings for Martha and Philip responds with “Thanks for your permission,” I know things are escalating. And I love it. There’s actually quite a bit I like about this scene. I like the tension between Philip and Elizabeth. It’s really interesting that Philip keeps jumping down Elizabeth’s throat, even though she’s not confronting him in any way. I like that he knows she’s upset after she’s had to kill Betty and that changes their dynamic again. Even when they’re fighting or upset, they still know how to reach each other.

Let’s talk about Betty for a bit. It probably took me longer than it should have to realize Elizabeth wasn’t going to let her go. I kind of liked that they were talking, but I was concerned that Elizabeth was giving Betty honest answers. I keep thinking to myself, “What is she doing?” But at the same time, I thought it was such a human thing – for them to talk and get to know each other just a little bit better. And Betty took it like a champ when she realized this was it for her. And as she took those pills and her end came nearer and nearer, I liked that Betty spoke her mind. What did she have to lose at that point? I knew Elizabeth would do her job, that there was no way Betty was getting out of there. Elizabeth continuous proves just how loyal to the cause. She’ll do whatever she needs to in order to get the job done. But I’d glad when we see these jobs take a toll on her. It’s important that we’re reminded just how human she is.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX

Hans also turns out to be incredibly loyal to the cause – and to Elizabeth. She’s afraid that Todd saw Hans at the warehouse and Elizabeth can’t risk continuing to work with him. So Hans kills Todd – and it’s messy and doesn’t go according to plan at all. In that moment we understand just how committed Hans is about his part in this. And he admits to Elizabeth that he did it for her as well. Remember a little while back when Elizabeth was debriefing Gabriel on Hans and told him she stopped one of his passes? And remember how Gabriel reacted? After this, I think it’s just a matter of time before this relationship becomes physical. It’ll be interesting to see how ‘organic’ it will be. Will she turn to him because she’s having trouble with Philip or will she sleep with him because it’s part of her job? I just hope Hans doesn’t fall in love, although it’s probably already too late for that.

Speaking of love, Oleg and Stan come up with a plan to try to ‘out’ Zinaida. They’re still counting on her being a spy and using that as leverage to get Nina back. So Oleg conceals himself in her hotel room and makes threats to get her to recant her story. If she doesn’t do it within in the next two weeks, there will be no talking the next time he visits. It’s clear later when Oleg is debriefing Stan that they thought she’s break or admit to being a spy or something immediately. But she’s pretty cool under pressure, considering. So it’ll take a little while longer to see if that plan works. In the meantime, I do want to see more of what’s going on with Nina and her current assignment. Hopefully we’ll get some details on that next week. She’s got the wherewithal to get herself out of this situation — or, that’s what she’s been told. I hope she makes it happen for herself.

Things have been simmering between Gabriel and Philip for a little while and they come to a head in this episode. Both Elizabeth and Philip had great affection for Gabriel before he retired but with every meeting they’ve had since he was reinstated,  it has become more and more clear that perhaps Gabriel should’ve stayed retired — at least when it comes to Philip. Elizabeth still seems to respect and value him, but when Gabriel tries to reassure Philip, Philip tells Gabriel he’s the problem and that he’s all talk. And I agree. I think Gabriel is incredibly manipulative, but it is his job to get Philip and Elizabeth to do what the Centre wants. I guess Philip thought they had a closer relationship than that. So if Gabriel won’t help Philip protect his family, he’ll do it on his own.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/FX

Guest Star Goodness

Wonder where you’ve seen Lois Smith before? You may remember her most recently from True Blood, but she’s had an incredibly long career. I think the first time I remember her from is when she guested on House. I just loved the character she played in that episode and I’ve been delighted to see her guesting on shows since. In “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” she plays Betty, who has the misfortune of encountering Elizabeth while Philip is installing the recording device in the mail robot. I wasn’t quite sure why Elizabeth didn’t decide to shoot her as soon as she discovered her, but I loved learning a little bit more about Betty — like how she married the same man twice, how her best friend become her nemesis, how she had a heart problem and how she was afraid of pain.

Elizabeth really connected with her and Betty is probably the only person other than Philip and Gabriel who know the ‘real’ her — or, at least, a piece of the real Elizabeth. And I as mentioned earlier, I like that Betty called Elizabeth out on what she was doing, even called her evil. I don’t think many people get to tell Elizabeth what they really think of her. I know it won’t make Elizabeth reconsider any of her actions or her job, but I like that she felt that loss, that she actually felt bad about having to kill someone.


Did you know ‘wedlock’ means ‘perpetual battle?’ Genius. Even though I don’t love Gabriel, he is such an interesting character and Frank Langella does such a great job of portraying him.

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

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