Thursday, May 22, 2014

Holy Show Trial, Batman!

OK, after a few weeks hiatus, your Cold War anti communist "McCarthy was right dammit!", Soviet-kitsch-o-phile blogger is back to "The Americans."

Actually, I've seen all the episodes, but episodes 11 and 12 were kinda boring.  Except for the fact that Nina (remember her?  She's the KGB agent the FBI guy who lives next door to the KGB spies masquerading as The Donna Reed Show,  fell in love with, and whose activities and pillow talk Nina is faithfully sharing with the Residentura at the Russian embassy) is in a bit of a pickle.

 I was a little confused about how it happened, but apparently Moscow found out or was about to find out about Nina's activities before she went to the Residentura and confessed.  Which amount to, basically, giving KGB secrets to an FBI agent.  Arkady and Oleg (another guy at the embassy, who was nasty and tart to Nina when he first arrived then inexplicably was in bed with her, and genuinely seems to like her) would tell you they've "done what they can" to prevent her from having to go home and take a bullet in the brain.  And to demonstrate this, they beat her up, apparently with her consent, to try to convince the FBI guy who lives next door to....well, to convince the FBI guy that Nina is in trouble, she's in real bad trouble, and only he can save her.  By stealing Echo, the Pentagon's main software, apparently, and giving it to them.

I would think that you can do a lot more for a beautiful woman by NOT beating her up, but you know.  Commies.

In the meantime, Paige, the Shelly Fabares of the Donna Reed Show next to the FBI guy, has convinced her mother to let her go on a trip with those pesky brain-washing Christians, specifically to protest at a nuclear plant.

Larrick, the evil two timing Navy Seal or Green Beret or whatever, is trying to figure out who the H E double toothpicks killed his buddies at the contra training event where the KGB spy couple killed his buddies.  On the way, he manages to kill Kate, the couple's new handler.

Nobody important knows that yet; although the KGB spy couple...who from now on I shall refer to as Nadezhda and Misha....DID get to Kate's  apartment shortly after the murder, but she was no longer there,hanging by her arms from a light fixture with her head crushed.

Where they HAD seen the 30-something KGB handler was in a restaurant with the 15-something son of the agents (also a pretend American family)who'd been murdered in the first episode--a crime yet unsolved.  In the meantime, Nadezhda has been posing as a social worker (hey lady, you only have to play one.  I have to BE one.  But I degress).  Actually she does this pretty well, but I'm not sure it's from motherly empathy or  her KGB theatre lessons.  She plays the social worker, actually, who has been checking in on Jared (the 15 something kid) and this appears to be a genuine directive from Moscow, "Sorry kid, we f.___ed up and your parents are dead", because this week we see others in the network involved with him.

Stan, the FBI guy living next to Nadezhda and Misha, has even more problems then being asked to betray his country so that Nina doesn't go home to a trial or kangaroo court or bullet to the back of a head.  Believe it or not.  Work is humdrummy but OK; but oh, the tension at home after learning his wife has had it with their marriage.  Even John Boy Walton, his supervisor, sympathizes with a "Holy sh__, Stan!" as he's straightening a new portrait of President Reagan in his office. No I've never heard John Boy talk like that either.  Send a kid to the city to go to college and you never know how he's gonna end up.

Oh, and Martha.  Good old Martha.  She believes she is married to Clark, not Phillip (Misha's American name) or even Misha, and she's been bringing home stuff from work....she works as Stan the FBI guy's secretary--for his job as a spy "in another part of the FBI.".Misha does a heroic job of spending just enough time with her that she doesn't expect he's having an affair, or involved in drug or gun runs, or is in  an arranged marriage to his KGB partner, who he only just met before they left their place of birth in the Motherland.  Martha is the most patient and gullible person in the series, which isn't hard to do, since everyone else has at least some level of secret knowledge about the others.

She really gives Clark the benefit of the doubt.  And somehow, before they got married/bigamized, they forgot to talk about children.  So when Martha casually brings it up that, well, shouldn't we start trying now?  Clark/Phillip/Misha is, for once, dumbstruck. He keeps saying he doesn't want kids, but he never gives a very satisfactory answer why beyond, "My job is so demanding."  Martha, because she's Martha, gives it up as she sees he doesn't want to talk about it, a little perturbed, but not as crushed as many women would be.

Andrei the Jewish scientist who left Russia but was kidnapped by Misha and Nadezhda and repatriated in order to make a stealth jet fighter in the gulag, is glum and irritable, but he's relaxed enough to enjoy some of the female companionship he's been offered by the higher-ups.

So that pretty much catches us up to Episode 13.

Much becomes clear in this episode, and I'm not sure if this is the last of the season, but this would be a logical ending point.

Paige goes to the rally at the nuke plant.  She carries a "peace" poster, her pastor and a bunch of other people chain themselves to the fence.  The fence chainers get arrested, which is a little unsettling for Paige.  She once again makes a stab at getting her mother to agree with her (hope springs eternal) about her new beliefs:  "See, Jesus isn't just about sin and heaven and hell.  [Well, actually, that's his most important role, forgiving sins and paying for them with his own shed blood so that we might see him in heaven, and not go to hell, but I digress]  He's about love!  And peace!"  And butterflies, Paige, don't forget the butterflies!

Nadezhda and Misha learn that Larrick is hot on the trail of Jared, the son of the couple who was murdered (a deed for which Larrick appears to be the likely perpetrator).  Jared last week was hustled off to a cabin in the woods Nadezhda has used before to lay low, which appears to be inhabited by a single woman who is a KGB agent.  This is all preparation to scoot Jared back "home" to Moscow, a fate that he didn't seem too concerned about when Nadezhda told him.

Now hearing Larrick's hard on the trail, Nadezhda and Misha make some weird excuse to their kids about a hotel vacation cancelled by one of the clients at their "cover" job as travel agents, get them up in the middle of the night, and take them out to the woods close enough to the safe house to get their easily and...actually, I'm not sure what they were planning to do, but it involved trying to make sure Larrick didn't kill Jared. Paige is noticing more and more odd things about her parents' actions:  "Why would they get us up in the middle of the night and take us to the middle of nowhere?"

But unfortunately, who is waiting for Nadezhda (at the safe house) and Misha (at a bakery buying breakfast for the kids)?  You guessed it, Larrick!  He's got a gun trained on each of them when they meet, but doesn't use it right away...why?  Well I was thinking he was going to ask them, as the stars of the show, why they each had an abundance of names but he only had one; he didn't even have a first name!  No, like most villains do, he takes the time to tell them he  intends to turn them in to the police as punishment for killing the Contra trainers.

Now Jared is with Nadezhda, who he now knows is KGB, when Larrick comes out of the woods with his gun, and he tells both of them to march to the car, where it turns out Misha is tucked in nicely, handcuffed.  Nadezhda is ordered to cuff herself, which she does quite adroitely, and then to get in the trunk.  It is at that moment we realize that Jared has a gun!  And uses it to shoot Larrick, giving Nadezhda the opportunity to do more damage with her cuffed hands (Jared shoots; he passes to Nadezhda....she SCORES!), and before we know it Larrick is lying dead over the open trunk, and Misha.

But wait a minute, Jared is on the ground leaking blood all over the place.  Larrick apparently got one hit in before biting the big one.

Now here is one thing I do not understand about these people.  They never seek professional medical help!  They let their friends/underlings/co-agents suffer for a very long time while they're all about gathering info.  Why don't they call for an ambulance?

I know that's risky, but isn't it just as risky to go to PTA meetings?  To pretend to be travel agents?  To convince someone she's married to you?

Anyway, Jared is bleeding to death out his throat, but before he dies he manages to clear up two mysteries:  He had romantic interests in Kate, who he said was helping him to understand who he was; and "that's why I killed my family."  So JARED was the culprit all along in the unsolved murder from episode 1!  He pulled the trail off himself by coming to the hotel room in a swim trunk and towels, screaming as he saw his dead parents and sister.

Later, Claudia, who was Kate before Kate, fills in the rest of the mystery.  The KGB decided it wanted to groom Jared as a spy, and approached his parents about it, they refused.  So, they took him aside, explained the origin of his parents and began giving him deeds to do...apparently one of them was getting rid of his pesky, downer parents, who "just didn't understand."

Claudia makes this report more disturbing by telling Misha and Nadezhda, "The center wants Paige to be next."  "ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!" Misha says. "They don't want to go around someone's back this time.  They want you involved in the process."  The idea, apparently, is to have a little village of spies that never gets old, and maybe reproduces itself.

Back home,Misha is livid, but Nadezhda appears to be warming up to the idea.  Misha thinks she's lost it.

In the meantime....Stan actually has got his hands on the software the Russians want, gets it through security, and really looks like he's going to do what they want to save Nina.  But when Arkady goes to the drop site, what he finds there isn't a floppy disk.  It's a note, saying simply, "Tell Nina I'm sorry."  And Stan drives up the embassy to watch as she's loaded into a limousine, no doubt bound for the Aeroflot terminal.

No word on the Jewish scientist, but there is continuity.  Last time he told his guards/coworkers he needed a special kind of dust (fairy dust?)  that carries the properties of stealth paint.  (I need some of that stealth paint.  I would paint away my gut in a minute.)  This time that message is passed along to Misha and Nadezhda, who bravely send one of their contacts in the place where one can find that dust (he works there, but is not supposed to be in the area where the dust is thought to be all over the floor).  He gets the dust, but gets shot doing it, and becomes the first of two (Jared) that M and N watch die.  In a supportive gesture, however, they do listen to the police channel and verify that the police found him, but he's dead then.

I'm guessing the next episode will start in Moscow at Nina's trial.

No comments :