The Americans Season 2 Review “Cardinal”

The Americans Season 2 Episode 2 The Cardinal (2)

In the latest episode of “The Americans,” everyone was still pretty tense about the fallout from the murder of the Jennings family friends and fellow spies, the Connors, in the previous episode, save one lone surviving son- who saw Phil leaving the scene, in fact. Certainly understandable, but it was nonetheless surprising to see the normally unshakable Liz get her cage rattled so much by the incident, to the point that it was undeniably noticeable, particularly to Phil, who opted to bail on Martha to go home to Liz because he could tell how off her behavior was.

Also noticing Liz’s wacky behavior was daughter Paige, who has picked up where she left off with her own junior league spying, and is trying to track down dear old mom’s whereabouts for her extended stay at “Aunt Helen’s” house, where she was actually recovering from being shot in last season’s finale. How much you want to bet this snooping is going to cause some major league problems for all concerned? Only a matter of time, I’m suspecting.

Meanwhile, you’ve got Nina leading Stan around by his little head, while setting up his big one with some planted information via a “walk-in” named Bruce Dameron, who Stan subsequently stakes out once it’s established by the FBI that he is a “person of interest.” Clearly, Arkady is using Nina to set up the FBI via false leads, but I still think there’s something up with the guy beyond what we already know. We’ll see, I guess.

As for the whole “Cardinal” business, I did a little searching online and couldn’t find anything Russian-related about the word, but it is a chess piece name, so maybe Dameron is just a pawn in the overall game the Russians are playing to dupe the Americans after getting wind of what they’re up to last season. The only other thing I found was that, in terms of counting, Russian cardinal numbers designate the number of people or things in a given assemblage. So, maybe Dameron is the opening move, aka the first person in a given operation. Note that Arkady requested a code name and a name for the given operation revolving around Dameron, so obviously something is afoot with the guy.

Meanwhile, the FBI has yet to identify the Connors as spies, and the Russians haven’t figured out what to do with the surviving son yet. As Liz put it, will they take care of him, as in financially and so forth, or will they “take care” of him, as in eliminate the poor kid? They might if they find out he saw Phil, that’s for sure. Phil did determine that the Connors didn’t appear to have been set up by their contact for the drop on the premiere, Fred, who seemed legitimately shocked the Connors were dead.

He also suggested the Russians move while they still could on the info he shared, as the window on that was rapidly closing. I’m a little fuzzy on what he was talking about, but it involved the opportunity to read some setting on a machine that was used to grind propellers or something like that, and the fact that the Americans were about to relocate the operation elsewhere and soon. Maybe one of you can help explain that bit to me, as I was a bit lost on that one.

There was also some weirdness involving an agent from Costa Rica, who the Russians were in support of because of a revolution occurring there, which would help them gain a foothold in Central America, if the revolution goes their way. The agent was posing as a student, and had been cozying up to a congressional aide with ties to the intelligence committee overseeing the Central America situation.

Unfortunately, the guy in question was a heavy drug user that nearly overdosed on a date out with the agent in question. Lucky for the agent, Liz was sent in to resolve the situation, which she did by saving the guy’s life and giving the agent some helpful suggestions on how to handle the guy in the future. Not 100% sure what’s going on there, either, but I will look into it, as it looks to be about to become an ongoing thing on the show.

So, truth be told, this episode was mostly a set-up for things that are currently in motion and which we won’t fully understand until later on. As such, it was a transitional episode at best, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless. It was interesting to see Liz show a vulnerable side, and it also sets up the fact that she might be much more willing to distance herself from Russia if it meant protecting her family. That shows she’s some a long way from the first season, where she and Phil’s duties for Russia held precedence over pretty much everything else, to the point that she became wary enough of where Phil’s loyalties lie to almost get him killed.

Now the tables have turned, and she’s starting to understand Phil’s mixed feelings about what they are doing. After all, do they really want to put the well-being and safety of their children above their work for Russia? (Loved Oleg’s line in regards to that, BTW: “I am a feminist. I work only for Mother Russia.”) Whatever the case, Liz may be wavering a bit more than she used to, so I suppose that’s progress.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Any idea where all this is headed? What’s the deal with Dameron? What are the Russians up to with him? Will Stan get wise to Nina? What the what is up with the propeller business? Or Cardinal? Will Paige screw everything up? Will Liz tell her that they are spies? What’s going on with the Costa Rica agent? Sound off on this and more below and I’ll see you next time!