THE AMERICANS Review: “Lotus 1-2-3”

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THE AMERICANS make a shocking discovery from their Kansas targets in “Lotus 1-2-3.” Matthew Rhys (Phil) has directed a couple of fantastic episodes of The Americans but tonight it was Noah Emmerich at the helm. These actors know how to capture great performances from their peers. I’d love to see this show keep going, they have enough great characters for at least two spin-offs already. For now, I’ll have to settle for moments like Oleg’s scenes in “Lotus 1-2-3.”  The writers write the hell out of the Russian stories but we rarely get to see enough.

“Lotus 1-2-3” was a great story for Costa Ronin fans. There was a scene where we see him and the interrogator expert, Ruslan, try to pry information out of one of the foreman at the baza about his special arrangements for food distribution. Than man didn’t give them any names and only got angry when they mentioned his son in Afghanistan. The best scene is when Oleg comes home from work and discovers his father has invited three young women over to make dinner for Oleg and the family; a triple set up. Oleg knows he’s being ambushed but shows nothing but courtesy and his gentleman nature to the women while letting his father know he wants him out of his personal life. This was a great little character bit and I can always see more of Oleg or Arkady if they bring him back. Finally, Oleg decides to meet with the CIA guys. He goes to the place they marked on the map, but no one shows up. Maybe Stan’s threat to make the CIA back off worked.

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Emmerich was given a few shockers to deliver. First and most incredible, Henry’s Math teacher called Elizabeth and Phil in to ask them if he could advance Henry to Algebra Two. Apparently, the little goof is quite the student. Elizabeth and Philip are both shocked, it’s not what they were prepared to hear. Again, Emmerich captures a great performance from his two co-stars; a lot and a little at the same time. Paige is also shocked. She studies hard for her grades, no one really knows what Henry does when he vanishes in the evening. In a weird turn of self-awareness, Henry gets that he’s supposed to be the number two son. He’s never even met Tuan, the super-kid that would shove Henry down into third position. Secrets.

Stan has a few moments, but Emmerich didn’t go overboard directing his own scenes. We see Stan and Aderholdt question Agent Wolfe about the effectiveness of their mission. Wolfe says they’re on track but Stan feels like they’re wasting time. He has a few more dates with Renee; they go to Romancing the Stone (1984) and have plans for a fly-fishing expedition. Stan, Philip, and Elizabeth all have love scenes this week and Emmerich delivers a decent how-to for a three roll show. We see Stan and Renee in bed, most likely just before action. She tries to get him to loosen up, maybe talk about work in as vague a stroke as he can.

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We see Philip and Deirdre Kemp make the absolute least-inspired, passion free love possible between two consenting adults. When they finish, Deirdre asks if he still wants to see some of her Lotus 1-2-3 sheets. Spreadsheets was how Philip moved the conversation from “The Sizzler” to their hotel bed fizzler. Then there’s Elizabeth and Ben, talk about Romancing the Stone. Turns out, there’s something else Elizabeth does better than Philip. Yes, there were times when Ben was deep between her legs and she seemed a little checked out. She would scan his apartment for clues. But there were also times when she looked like she was really there. As a testament to their marriage, when she returns from her trip and suggests Ben may be the real deal, Philip doesn’t suggest she maybe falling for him. He trusts her judgement and sinks into one of his annual funks.

Ben talks a little about his work in between hot treats with Elizabeth. He’s a lifelong crusader for the poor. His current work is to create super grain; famine proof, pest resilient crops for all those people in the world who don’t have enough to eat. When Philip hears this, he realizes the lab tech he killed was actually a good guy. Philip confesses the work has been difficult for him for quite some time. Elizabeth says she knows this and offers to do some solo missions, but Philip doesn’t want her to work alone.

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The last weird story beat with Mischa. He calls a number his mother gave him to contact Philip, but the KGB switchboard takes the call and informs Gabriel. Claudia thinks Mischa is mentally unstable but Gabriel has a much more compassionate view of his circumstances. He also knows it would be bad if Philip were to find out his son was institutionalized just for speaking out against war in Afghanistan. Gabriel goes out to meet Mischa, who doesn’t know much English, and tells him he can’t ever meet his father in America. Maybe someday, while they’re both back in the U.S.S.R. This is another quiet, but beautiful scene filled with emotion. As a story point, I have to wonder, they can’t possible send Mischa back to Russia now, what would have been the point of his journey? On a similar note, what’s up with Martha and when do we get to see her again?

Season 5, Episode 5 (S05E05)
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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