The Americans Season 2 Review “The Deal”

The Americans Season 2 Episode 5 The Deal (3)

On the latest episode of “The Americans,” we picked up where we left off with Phil and Liz stuck with the guy who was helping guard psychics professor Baklanov, after his mistress/other bodyguard absconded with the man himself after a thwarted attempt by the former to kidnap him. After he covers for them during a run-in with the cops, Phil recognizes his accent as Israeli and they call in to see what is to be done about the situation. In the end, the man in question proved to be more valuable to the Israelis than Baklanov, so “The Deal” was made for their exchange.

Beyond that, Beeman got wind of the whole missing professor incident and, with Gaad’s help, figured out that the teacher also worked for the DOD- though on what they wouldn’t say. So, Beeman and a team followed Oleg after a tip-off from Nina led Stan to believe that Oleg might be going rogue and looking to take over in Arkady’s place, which might not be far from the truth.

However, no fool he, Oleg spotted the tail and led Stan to an isolated location to make a deal of his own: he’d protect Nina, who he claimed was in danger of being exposed in her relationship with Stan, for a favor to be declared later. Stan took him up on it, but clearly Arkady already knows that Nina did what got her into this mess in the first place already, so my guess is that they’re setting Oleg up to take a fall somehow to get him out of Arkady’s hair. Either that, or they knowingly sent Oleg to set Stan up later on. Given Arkady’s dislike of Oleg- and vice versa- it could go either way.

That was about it, really, but there were some nice moments along the way. I liked that the Mossad agent knew the words to “The Gambler” (and the irony of the song’s message probably wasn’t unintentional- “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…” and so on), and his assessment of America was interesting: “America isn’t our friend. America is our father, who thinks we’re not ready to drive his fast car. So, sometimes, when he’s not looking, we get behind the wheel and take it for a spin.”

Arkady’s assessments were pretty sharp, too. “We are better at vodka. They are better at tobacco,” he replied after he grumpily accepted a foreign cigarette from a colleague. He also deemed that Russians died for their principles, while Israel’s Jewish people die for their “tribe,” to the point of sacrificing themselves if necessary. Talk about signs of things to come. Granted, it’s easy to comment on this stuff retroactively- just ask “The Newsroom”- but still, there was some deft dialogue going on here, and occasionally, darkly funny, such as when Arkady quipped to an antsy employee: “Is President Reagan personally scaling our walls in his cowboy hat?” Now there’s a hilarious mental image! I’m sure the show’s Republican viewers loved it.

I also got a kick out of the reference to Columbia House Record Club, which an agent used as a front to communicate a message to Liz. I used to live in fear of those people coming after me after I neglected to fulfill my contract(s), let me tell you! (Settle down- I eventually honored it.) The bit with Stan’s wife about “soul retrieval” also piqued my interest, so I looked that up, having never heard of it, or “EST,” which turns out to be this New Age-y movement that was less touchy-feely and more shouty-outy. (See for yourself- here.) Sounds a bit nutty to me, but hey, it was circa the 70s-early 80s, so crazy was going around, especially in the cult sector, of which this sounds pretty adjacent.

The scene with Liz/Jennifer and Martha discussing Clark/Phil’s wild-man-in-the-sack antics was pretty interesting as well. I thought Liz was going to give him grief about it, but instead, her reaction was interesting: she was actually nice to him, and even nicer to her sailor source that she opted to not take any more advantage of than she already had. It would have been easy to sleep with him to further seal the deal and make him feel less used, but she actually took the high road, seeming to realize from the Martha situation that their actions in that area can indeed have repercussions. I think she’s coming around, slowly but surely.

Meanwhile, Phil is going in the opposite direction, becoming hardened, as he ignored poor Baklanov’s pleas to let him go and/or let him stay in America with his family and work with the Soviets here, instead of shipping him to Russia, which is what ended up happening. Not that Phil had a lot of say in the matter, but he was the one that told the Russians that the professor wasn’t convertible to their cause, so he is sort of partially responsible. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t the most exciting episode of the show, but they don’t all have to be. I did like the intricate way that Stan had Oleg followed, though fat lot of good it did. I thought it was pretty smart, nonetheless, what with the multiple cars switching in and out of rotation. Most anyone else would have not known what was happening, but this was a time of heightened paranoia, so it makes sense that those being watched would be on their toes that much more.

What did you think of “The Americans” this week? Looking forward to seeing who’s playing who exactly? Do you think Oleg is being set up? Or is Nina the one in trouble? How about Arkady? Do you think Liz and Phil will come to their senses and do what’s best for their family, or stay loyal to their cause? Will Paige really stop snooping? Do you think Liz was more jealous of Martha than she lets on? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next time!