The Americans “Divestment” Review Season 3 Episode 8

The Americans Divestment Season 3 Episode 8 08

In the latest episode of “The Americans,” the situation with Eugene Venter (Neil Sandilands) and Todd (Will Pullen) finally came to a head, as we picked up right where we left off with “Divestment.” Liz, Phil and Ruben (Dwayne A. Thomas) headed to a safe-house with the two captives in tow, and proceeded to question them about what Venter was up to on the local college campus. Venter wasn’t talking, even after Phil offered him one million dollars and a new life set-up in another country. However, once Ruben adopted his particular method of getting rid of a problem- the so-called South African way- Todd changed his tune considerably.

Reminiscent of the drug cartel’s MO in Oliver Stone’s recent “Savages,” the method involved putting a tire around the person in question, pouring gasoline all over them and lighting them on fire. Yikes! Even Liz was taken aback, and that’s saying something. Ultimately, and understandably, Todd was singing like a canary after that, and confessed that Venter had been planning exactly what the Soviets thought he was: to set off a bomb on campus and lay the blame squarely at the feet of the burgeoning anti-apartheid movement at the local university.

While Liz and Ruben held onto Todd, Phil went after the bomb in question, which proved to be right where Todd said it would be. After that, they opted to let Todd go, somewhat begrudgingly on Ruben’s end. While I don’t disagree with Liz and Phil opting to do so, quite correctly assuming that what he’d witnessed with Venter would go a long way towards keeping him quiet, I couldn’t help but notice- nor did it go unnoticed by Liz- that Todd almost certainly caught sight of a fleeing Hans (Peter Mark Kendall) as they were preparing to leave the safe-house.

I’m wondering if that means we haven’t seen the last of Todd after all, and indeed, the character is listed in next week’s credits on IMDB.com, so I suspect he might approach Hans on campus- or even vice versa. To what end, I couldn’t say, but that should be interesting. Would Todd have the guts to try and blackmail Hans? Or did what went down rattle Hans and give him second thoughts about working with Liz and Phil? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

As if all of this weren’t enough to deal with, Phil also finally discovered, via Martha, about the visit from Walter Taffet (Jefferson Mays) to the FBI offices this week. Wondering why someone was there doing what Phil himself claimed to be doing- watching over the watchers, as it were- Martha confronted Phil about who he “really” was. While Phil managed to settle down a clearly-rattled Martha in the short-term, the look on her face at the end of the episode seemed to indicate that she still had her reservations about who she was sharing a bed with.

I can’t say I blame her after the interrogation she sat through earlier at work, but it does not bode well for Martha’s ultimate fate. At this point, either Phil’s got to trust that she won’t crack or get rid of her, and I think it may end up being the latter, because Martha is obviously about to crumble. It occurred to me that, if he’d only went along with her desire to adopt, they might be okay, but it’s probably too late for that now. It’s just as well, as it only would have made things harder. Either way, Phil’s got some tough decisions to make- as does Martha.

Speaking of which, though Nina’s work with Evi as of late earned her some good will in earnest with her captors, who reduced her sentence to ten years, she’s still not completely out of the woods yet. Indeed, much to her dismay, it turned out her warden was none other than Vasili Nikolaevich (Peter Von Berg), aka the man who used to work with her at the Embassy, and who Nina played a big part in the fall from grace of. Though he claimed he could keep his emotions in check in regards to Nina- even while he admitted he’d never forgive her for what she did- he wasn’t about to let her get off scot-free for her crimes.

Instead, Nina was tasked with yet another assignment, but this time with a much more impressive perk: if she succeeded, she’d be free and clear, with all charges dropped and her freedom attained in earnest. This time, her task was to do whatever was necessary to help move along the Soviets’ work with kidnapped scientist Anton Baklanov (Michael Aronov), who they suspect is intentionally dragging his heels, stalling for time. If she succeeds, she’s done for good- or so Vasili claims.

I think he’s telling the truth, as much as he’d like to keep her locked up for good for her trespasses against him. However, he’s not the one calling the shots, so I think Nina has a fair chance to get out of this thing if she pulls it off- and we all know that she’s more than capable, even if her initial efforts were unsuccessful. I think in due time Anton will fall prey to her considerable charms. She better hope so, at least, or else she’ll be stuck in that nightmare prison for some ten years or so longer.

Also between a rock and a hard place is Arkady, who received a call from none other than Oleg’s father, Burov, aka the Minister of Railways, wanting to know why Oleg hadn’t arrived for duty as requested. He informed Burov that Oleg was doing a good job there at the Embassy and was well-respected, despite his father’s insistence that he wasn’t cut out for such work. Burov didn’t exactly agree, and informed Arkady that Oleg better be transferred soon or else, then promptly hung up on him. Later, Arkady met with Oleg and told him about the call, and in what I guess passes for a sense of humor for Russians, told him he’d stick by him and what was Burov really going to do to him, anyway: “So…I won’t be able to ride the train?” That’s pretty good, by dry humor standards.

On other fronts, Liz finally went to bat for Phil with Gabriel (Frank Langella), mentioning how much of a toll the situation with Kimberly was taking on him, and implying that he might be more amenable to doing what needed to be done if he knew his son was safe, having noted how much time Phil has spent as of late monitoring radio reports on what was going on in Afghanistan, where his son is stationed. Like Ruben said to Phil before heading back home, being married and being at war don’t always mix, but it was a smart move on Liz’s part to launch a preemptive strike against her husband’s state of mind by catering to his emotional needs behind his back via Gregory. She’s a clever one, that Liz.

I love how this show makes underlying connections without spelling them out for the viewer. While in some ways it might almost be too smart for its own good in that sense- witness the dwindling ratings for the show as of late, despite all the critical acclaim- it is not unappreciated. In a television landscape that all too often in the past has talked down to viewers by spelling things out too much, it’s nice to have a show that thinks highly enough of their viewers to give them the benefit of the doubt in putting things together on their own, while allowing for others to figure it out eventually as the puzzle pieces come together one by one.

That’s a pretty neat trick, and proof positive that this is far and away one of the smartest shows out there. I may not pick up on things as quickly as some of the show’s older viewers who lived through a lot of the events here, but I know enough to appreciate when I’m not being talked down to. Now if we could just get other people to watch the show, too…

That was about it for this week, beyond Paige looking into Gregory and having mixed feelings about what she discovered (that he’d been arrested on drugs and weapon charges) and confronting her mother on it, who cagily avoided speaking the complete truth of what really happened. Then again, is there anything about Liz that’s not at least a little cagey? Meanwhile, Stan prepared to leave for his late friend and fellow undercover agent’s memorial, while Gaad nearly blew a gasket dealing with the mail ‘bot after getting a dressing down for lax security in his office by Taffet. Expect more robot-driven shenanigans next week, with the excellently-titled “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

So, what did you think of this week’s episode of “The Americans”? How did you feel about Venter’s ultimate fate? Do you think Liz and Phil should have let Todd go, or will it come back to haunt them? Is Martha doomed? Or will she go to her superiors and rat Phil out first? Will Nina succeed in her task? If she does, will Vasili deliver on his promises, or will he find a way to get her back for what she did to him? Will Arkady’s actions with Oleg’s father come back to bite him? Will Gregory succeed in getting Phil’s son back home? Will Paige’s digging into her parents’ past lead to trouble? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!