THE AMERICANS Review: “Immersion”

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THE AMERICANS show us the heartbreaking world of asset recruitment in “Immersion.” Oleg is ambushed by Major Kuznetsov of Directorate K. They don’t have permission to search the whole apartment, they really just want to search his room. Oleg shows them in; his father is angry with the intrusion and his mother, who knows a little of Oleg’s secret, gets nervous. The K team really digs into Oleg’s tiny room. They go through the drawers, move the furniture, check under the rug, and pull the trim off the walls. Oleg tells his mother not to worry and the team leaves after finding nothing.

Major Kuznetsov never says what they’re looking for, but Oleg’s father wants to lodge a complaint immediately. Oleg asks him not to complain about this crew, they’re just doing their . Again, Oleg shows amazing EQ. The Americans is packed with compelling characters, but Oleg is my favorite. The walls are always closing on him, he is neither naïve nor self-righteous, but he’s always cool in a world that lacks peace. The next day he tells his boss about the search and confesses he made an unauthorized trip to the archives building to his mother’s incarceration. He tells boss Oleg the charge was sabotage. Boss Oleg assures Oleg it doesn’t mean his mother did anything sinister. When she was imprisoned, sabotage could have been charged for taking a pencil home from work. What? Who wants to live in that world? We’ll circle around to the answer a bit later.

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There are some fun bits with the honeypot missions this week. The first four seasons were much more violent. I could count on Elizabeth killing someone here or there, but season five is a whole different texture. They’ve replaced the murder with sex; everyone’s doing it. However, this week Elizabeth gives Ben a week off. He says he was looking forward to seeing her, and I’m sure he was, be he shares sheets and seed everyplace he goes, he’ll survive. Phillip Deirdre to tell her he isn’t flying in this week either. Deirdre couldn’t care less, in fact, she dumps him on the phone; says he’s really nice but she requires a more assertive man. That hurts. To make matters worse, Elizabeth bags on him for not being exciting enough for a lonely accountant.

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Speaking of seeking others, the Morozov mission moves forward when Evgheniya tells Elizabeth how much she enjoys her new . The students aren’t great, but they do fun activates.  She’s currently planning a Russian immersion dinner party at one of the student’s houses. Claudia takes the reins from Gabriel and is thrilled to hear a whole group of CIA will be under one roof. It’s a good opportunity for Team Jennings to build a database of future CIA operators. They follow her car hoping to see the exact house before hand, to prep proper surveillance, but she leads them to a motel where she has her own side action going on. This is another big score the Jennings’. Claudia identifies the man as a married CIA operative up for a senior position in Moscow, and he’s married. This is exactly the kind of leverage they hoped for.

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Stan and Aderholt supporting roles in the best sequence of the night. They meet with their Tass recruit, Sofia Kovalenko, an art museum to explain the arrangement. They offer to pay her $500 a month to tell them about the news and people she works with. You really feel for this woman, she’s just a single mother who wants her son to grow up someplace where he can be anything he wants. A place where he can’t be thrown in prison for taking a pencil home from work. Sofia wants to send him to college, so they offer to put $250 of her take into a trust until he’s college ready. Sofia says the other $250 she’ll set aside for a house. The part is played by a Russian born actress Darya Ekamasova, she brings incredible gravity to the performance. Sofia’s dreams open up, her son’s future takes shape. She doesn’t want to push her luck but she has one more favor to ask. Stan makes her feel safe enough to say it. Sofia needs dental work but she can’t afford an American dentist. Stan and Aderholt tell her they’ll take care of that too. Sofia is happy says she’ll work hard for them.

The Americans is heavy on heroes and opposition but we don’t always have strong representations of stakes-characters. When we do, they usually draw tragic ends. Here we have two Russians, Oleg in Moscow and Sofia in the USA. The reality of both superpowers are represented in these characters. Oleg holds the ideal nobility of corruption, terror-free socialism in a land that went wrong decades ago. Sofia builds a life in a land where a certain kind of dream is possible, plus a little extra if you can afford it. Stan’s vision of America matters, but Sofia’s vision of our country is far more compelling.

Season 5, Episode 8 (S05E08)
The Americans  airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX

Read all of our reviews of The Americans here.
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Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @Etom2012
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