THE AMERICANS target a woman responsible for mass murder in “Dyatkovo.” Viewers have mentioned how season five keeps coasting along in low gear. “Dyatkovo” also takes time to let its characters wade through their duty and dilemmas. Life sucks for most of the main characters. Oleg is surrounded by peril and depression. Philip and Elizabeth are surrounded by decisions where all the options are terrible. This is the kind of life that would anchor most people to bed, or a bottle, or some other escape from reality. There are one or two little exceptions at this point.
Henry is on top of the world. Puberty, and its sinister cousin High School, hit most boys like a wrecking ball. It’s the opposite for Henry. He’s on top of the world right now. He gets school. He’s about to be accepted to an elite institution and his parents are considering letting him go. Then, Stan gives him a tour of the FBI building for a report he’s writing for school. Henry meets Aderholt and Agent Wolfe. He gets to see the secured room and dance around the mail robot. Henry loves the tour and writes a heroic representation of Stan’s gig.
Things are also going well for sweet Sofia. She delivers her latest report about a reporter Yuri recently transferred. Her hockey player boyfriend is swinging from Mr. Nice to Mr. Right and her son is having the time of his life. Thank God they’re treating Sofia well, she’s the only soul left unstained at this point.
The bulk of the episode revolves around everyone else working through emotional quicksand. Claudia confess the KGB did weaponize the virus smuggled home on a piece of William. She doesn’t say it was used to kill mujahedeen, but Philip assumes they deployed it. Then, she gives them a new mission, locate and identify a possible Nazi collaborator wanted for war crimes. The KGB believes a woman responsible for killing thousands of Russian soldiers is living under a different name in Massachusetts.
Philip and Elizabeth travel to Massachusetts and stake out the suspect. She’s a pleasant looking part time nurse, married to a local ophthalmologist. They takes pictures, but Philip isn’t sure it’s the same woman from the one forty-plus year old photo they have on record. However, The Centre believes it’s the woman they’re looking for and give the Jennings’ an order to execute her.
Philip and Elizabeth head back to Massachusetts to execute this enemy of their state, but Philip tells Elizabeth he isn’t willing to kill Natalie just because The Centre orders it. Elizabeth agrees to give it enough time to satisfy his requirement for proof. They sneak into her house when Natalie’s alone, guns drawn, and scare the crap out of her. Natalie assumes it’s a robbery and offers them anything they want. Elizabeth explains they think she is the war criminal from Dyatkovo and took part in murdering thousands of Russian soldiers.
Natalie claims she doesn’t know the woman they’re talking about. This whole scene is packed with Emmy worthy performance. Natalie has to play terrified, but liar. Elizabeth has to play everything from anger at Natalie, to quiet frustration with Philip, to dissatisfaction with her place in the world. Philip is tormented when he realizes she is lying about being the woman they are looking for, but she is obviously a different woman now. Natalie sticks to her story until they say they’ll wait for husband John to return home. Then, she immediately confesses to being the girl from Dyatkovo.
Natalie remembers taking part in the murders but the Nazi’s got her drunk and forced her to do it between rapes. She was sixteen. Natalie can’t confirm any of the details Elizabeth slings at her, she was too young to know anything. Elizabeth gets mad at Philip when he suggests that even if it is her, maybe she doesn’t deserve to die. They grab John when he returns home and sit him next to Natalie. John also assumes they are there to rob them, but Natalie explains who she is and the past she hid from him. He pleads for her life and she pleads for his, but Philip just keeps his gun pointed at her head. Elizabeth shoots John first in the head, then Natalie.
John wasn’t their target, but he stood for innocence, the first thing to die in Elizabeth’s life. Also, I think John is a foreshadowing of some day in the not too distant future when Elizabeth is a going to have to shoot Philip. They drive back in silence until Elizabeth speaks up and suggests they just make a run for home. She won’t say it but she wants to get out before she has to make that choice. Elizabeth hasn’t killed anyone in a long time, this was the best way to do it.
Oleg and Ruslan search Lydia’s office after days of pointless surveillance. A co-worker says he sees her receive gifts on a regular basis. They find fancy clothes and a ledger with names of cooperative food managers. They interrogate Fomina about the operation assuming she’s just a low-level player. Fomina shows no fear when threatened with fifteen years of prison and warns them they’re in over their head and know little of their own investigation. Ruslan thinks it’s a ploy, but Oleg doesn’t dismiss the claim so quick. He constantly weighs the ethics and reality of his party’s actions.
Season 5, Episode 11 (S05E11)
The Americans airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor