THE AMERICANS lose someone close and Paige kung-fu’s Matthew out of her life in “The Committee on Human Rights.” There was a lot of relationship movement in tonight’s episode directed by Matthew Rhys. I love the episodes where he turns the cameras on his peers, he knows exactly how to capture their best, most intimate character moments.
The first scene expands where last episode ended, Gabriel introduces himself to Paige and explains his relationship to her parents. Paige asks him a few questions but it isn’t like a session with Uncle Buck. Gabriel explains, her parents are heroes to the people back home. She comments that Gabriel seems like family, he knows everything there is to know about her. It’s likely she is the closest thing he’s had to family for fifty years.
We see Elizabeth question Gabriel about why he’s really returning home. Gabriel says he’s tired, it adds up. These are great scenes, Langella has the proper gravity to sell the toll of a life burdened by unrelenting vigilance and duty. Later, Philip has a little chat about things they’ve done for love of country. Gabriel admits times were bad in his early days and sometimes he killed people just to make an example of them. The party was full of paranoid people and he was young and afraid too. Philip has killed people but Gabriel never pushed him to do anything without calculation or just because. Gabriel always treated Philip and Elizabeth with respect. Now he returns to a land where he has virtually no living relatives, but he is returning with a sample of super-wheat Philip and Elizabeth dug up while shadowing Ben to Mississippi.
This was a fun bit for the wig crew and it gives us some scenes with the Agricorp targets. First, Philip and Deirdre share an uncomfortable pre-coitus discussion about living together. Deirdre says he’s a little needy and still wants to have sex, but that’s all. It’s direct and stings on some level, but not enough to walk away from her bed. Tough situation, definitely a duty call. Later, Elizabeth and Philip follow Ben around Mississippi for a day. Here, Elizabeth sees Ben hook up with someone else. She tells Philip she’s surprised but he thinks her feelings are hurt, he says that’s okay, but she says it isn’t. This is another weird discussion. Here they seem less husband and wife, more like partners, buddies in a tough job.
Paige dumps Matthew this week. She doesn’t think the half involvement is fair for a loving relationship and he feels like it’s a little out of the blue. That’s par for most break-ups but when Matthew grabs Paige to prevent her from leaving, she fires off some of her new defense skills. Paige may have her father’s needy lips but she has her mother’s nasty fists.
Stan’s world is mostly good news this week. Agent Wolfe informs him that the CIA is pulling the pressure off Oleg, but they want Stan pulled off Counter Intelligence too. By the way, for anyone following the news about unmasking American citizens and who ordered what, consider this; not one news agency has uttered the words counter intelligence. Those are the people who would make that kind of discovery. Cops don’t grab hoses to put out fires and intelligence operatives don’t run hook ops to catch their own leaky peeps; that’s the job of counter intel. News, all of you reporters, have failed us again. Agent Wolfe keeps Stan where he’s at, one of his targets calls in for a meeting.
Sofia, the single mother from Tass, is curious about the arrangement the FBI offers. She wants assurances her son will be okay if she agrees to pass them information. Aderholt paints a rosy picture, he talks up the compensation benefits. Stan keeps it real, he assures her it may be dangerous for her and her son, no guarantees. Aderholt thinks the honesty blew their chances with Sofia but Stan thinks it’s the best way to gain her trust.
Oleg runs the full spectrum with the CIA blackmail scheme. First, he felt the pressure of the threat. Then, he got comfortable with the arrangement. However, since they’ve suddenly disappeared from his life, he wonders why they approached him in the first place. We also see him pull his mother’s file from a records archive building. This season, Russia is full of possible story convergence. Mischa went home, Martha is still there, and now Gabriel returns to the motherland. This has all the signs of great writer sorcery.
Finally, we find out why Elizabeth is sneaking around a psychiatrist’s office. The KGB wanted her to steal a file called, “The Committee on Human Rights,” which is filled with names and addresses of people in Russia. Gabriel says they are people opposed to their Party. That’s right, Russian agents steal information from American sources about their political enemies back home. Wonder if that would really work? It’s been a few weeks since Elizabeth killed anyone, but I feel like Ben would be a good candidate. Watching Elizabeth in action is like watching the Death Star explode, it never gets old.
Season 5, Episode 7 (S05E07)
The Americans airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor