The Americans Season 1 Review “Safe House”

This week on “The Americans,” it was party time at the Beeman’s, but this party wasn’t about the barbeque and beer, it was about planning and scheming. On the ironically-titled “Safe House,” those wacky FBI guys got together to ostensibly have a party- complete with next-door neighbors Liz & Phil in attendance, no less- to plan a hit on the not-so-sly. It’s called “keeping it on the down-low” for a reason, guys.

Though Phil doesn’t know who the target is, it’s clear from what he overhears that there is a target and that the hit is happening sooner than later and that it’s a renegade affair not sanctioned by the FBI, which makes finding out the who that much harder. We find out it’s no less than the Embassy Head Arkady who’s being targeted, but what happens next is the very definition of a cluster-fu*k.

First, we discover that Liz made good on her threat to separate with Phil, who moves out, much to the heartbreak of his kids. Paige clearly blames Liz and Henry goes straight into complete withdrawal mode. Phil goes straight into Martha, and I mean that literally: “Shoot yourself into me!” Alrighty then! Yikes. He ends up staying the night, which completely unintentionally sets into motion a series of events that screw up everything else for everyone. Man, oh man, this guy cannot get some without causing complete chaos all around him.

He runs into Martha’s pseudo-ex Amador outside the next morning, who confronts him more as a jealous ex than a cop, though he flashes a badge nonetheless. He and Phil get into it and it does not end well for Amador, who gets stabbed and unceremoniously dumped into the trunk of Phil’s car. Phil takes him to an isolated locale to grill him and gets Liz to help keep him alive while he does so. While he does cave in a sense, it’s only after he knows that the hit has already taken place…or so he thinks.

Instead, the FBI hit a snag when Arkady doesn’t show up for his regular jog, having injured himself and bowing out of it that particular day. Whoops! Beeman kidnaps Arkady’s page anyway, convinced he must know something, which would help make the mission somewhat worthwhile. How intense were the dual scenes with Phil & Liz grilling Amador while Beeman grilled the page? I couldn’t help but feel sorry for both guys, who really were in the worst possible place at the worst possible time.

That “dead bird” analogy was chilling on Beeman’s end, and you knew things weren’t going to end well for the page. They did not, though Beeman played it perfectly, eventually only dispatching him after realizing the guy really didn’t know a thing. I liked how he gave him a burger and let him have a bite or two before assassinating him wholesale mid-bite. That’s just cold, man. The whole bit with Beeman and the page reminded a bit of a similar confrontation in “Pulp Fiction” with Jules and Brad, only completely humorless. The scenes with Beeman and the page were definitely my favorite thing in the episode.

I felt bad for Nina when Stan confronted her. She clearly knew nothing, either, and why would she? The whole thing was a complete mess. The KGB had nothing to do with kidnapping Amador, it was all a misunderstanding on both ends, only unlike the thing with Reagan getting shot, this time there will be consequences. Two people were killed as a result of both sides’ actions, and I’m guessing neither one will be taking it lying down. Thankfully, Beeman was right about Amador not narc-ing on Nina or she’d be in trouble, too, but I wonder how she’ll take his all-but-attacking her over the whole thing.

Though not a lot happened to propel the plot forward overall, making this another sort of transitional episode, I still thought this was one of the better episodes to date. You could cut the tension with a knife in the two mirrored interrogation scenes, and it was interesting to see how each side handled it, with one side fiercely antagonistic, and the other trying to be civil as possible under the circumstances.

Ditto the atmosphere in Liz’s home, with the kids reeling from the separation. As a child of divorce myself, it really rang true to me as far as how the kids are affected when something like that happens. My hope is that Liz and Phil will ultimately reconcile for their kids’ sake, but that’s not always how these things go.

What did you think of “The Americans” this week? Good stuff or were they treading water a bit? What do you think the fallout over the two respective deaths will be? How do you see things playing out? Let me know in the comments!