The Americans “March 8, 1983” Review (Season 3 Episode 13)

The Americans March 8 1983 Season 3  Episode 13 06

In the oddly muted season finale of “The Americans,” Liz and Paige finally went to visit the former’s ailing mother, while Phil cleaned up some loose ends states side and Stan did some housecleaning of his own, both literally and figuratively, in “March 8, 1983.” I had to look up the significance of the title date, but it actually features in the episode itself: it’s the day Reagan gave his famed “Evil Empire” speech, in which he rallied support for stepping up the nation’s military presence and defeating the Soviet Union once and for all, by any means necessary, including the use of nuclear weapons, if need be. Many saw this as the beginning of the end for the Russians, and the speech that led the way towards the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union as a whole.

I will leave that sort of assessment to the professionals, and instead concentrate on the show itself. It’s highly appropriate for the show to have used this landmark event in history as the backdrop of what will likely also inevitably lead to the collapse of the Jennings family itself. Just as Regan set the stage for the end of the Soviet Union as it was then known, so did Paige set into motion the events that will almost certainly spell doom for the Jennings as a whole.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve no doubt that other people are listening at the other end of that phone line, and that Pastor Tim will almost certainly not be long for this world in the next season, likely before he has the chance to do a thing. But now that Paige has cracked, she isn’t likely to back down from her decision, and that can only end badly for her and her family. Either she’s going to end up dead, or her family is going to have to defect and do some praying of their own that the Soviets don’t get to them. I think the latter seems more likely.

Of course, some have posited that Pastor Tim is actually an undercover agent himself, and has protections and precautions in place to safeguard himself and his own family, but I haven’t seen enough evidence to support that as of yet. If not, he is almost surely doomed, and it will happen sooner than later. Paige may think she’s seen the worst of her situation, but it’s only getting started. Once things like this are set into motion, they rarely stop until it’s too late.

Though this episode didn’t really feel like a finale overall- I’d say last week actually would have been a better one to go out on, on the whole- it did have its moments. Phil stood up to Gabriel and defied authority for the first time, sending Liz and Paige to visit her mother without anyone’s permission, which did not sit well with Gabriel, who ultimately brought Liz’s mother to her, rather than to risk Liz going to her mother.

Meanwhile, Oleg confirmed that Zinaida was indeed a spy and Stan promptly turned in the evidence he’d gathered, having recorded Oleg’s admission on the sly. It looked as if he were going to be dismissed for his secret op, as Gaad was livid when Stan told him, but instead he was essentially promoted, albeit with a catch- despite his best efforts, Nina was not going to be part of the trade for Zinaida. However, Stan would be allowed to continue to work with Oleg to cultivate more information- though I suspect Oleg won’t be too thrilled to do so when he discovers that Stan didn’t deliver on the Nina trade-off. I also can’t help but wonder who they will be trading Zinaida for.

On Nina’s end, Anton was finally given the photos he needed to continue his work, but there was still no forward momentum on Nina’s release. I do think her success is imminent, though, now that Anton has what he needs. After all, he himself said he plans to cooperate, and doesn’t want to be a martyr, in hopes of eventually being released if he does what they want him to. Will the same hold true of Nina?

I was slightly confused by the incident with Phil in the man’s house where he chloroformed and faked his suicide, leaving a note on the man’s computer. He later said that he’d taken care of the “Martha problem,” leading me to assume that he’d set the man up to take the fall for the bug in her office. (Note that he stashed some stuff in the man’s drawers, such as a tape recorder and the like.) Phil later confesses he felt bad about doing it, and Liz says she thinks he should talk to Martha about it, instead of letting her find out on her own. He also confesses he’s starting to have mixed feelings about what they do before Regan’s speech causes Liz to cut him off.

That was really about it, so the episode on the whole was a bit anticlimactic. Not that I expected anything earth-shattering after last week’s jaw-dropper of an episode, but there were a fair amount of loose ends left dangling: i.e. whatever became of Lisa or Kimberly? Nina’s still stuck in her unpleasant situation, so Stan and Oleg’s maneuvering was essentially all for naught, beyond helping Stan get inadvertently promoted.

We never even saw Martha, and Liz and Phil were separated for most of the episode, leaving most of Phil’s emotional moments to him and Sandra, of all people, who said she thought they should tell each other everything after their EST meetings, which Phil has continued to attend. (Yeah, that’s going to happen!)

Finally, Liz’s plan to take Paige with her completely backfired, as Paige returned more conflicted than ever, leading to her ultimate betrayal of her parents at the end. Granted, we had to have something major to happen to lead into the next season, but overall, the episode was a bit anti-climatic, save that final scene.

That said, that didn’t stop the season as a whole from being mostly top notch. Yes, it was a bit slower than previous seasons, and the amount of action was somewhat limited, but you also had some of the best episodes of the show ever, notably the one in which Liz had to kill the older woman at the factory where the mail-bot was being repaired, and last week’s chilling confrontation with real evil via the character of Abassin Zadran.

Overall, I was satisfied, even with the quieter finale this year. Still, there’s a good chance the next season might be its last, so I suspect we’ll have a lot of drama moving forward, especially with Paige’s actions setting into motion a big old mess of a situation.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Were you somewhat disappointed in the finale, or did you like the quieter approach? Were you hoping for more action? Were you disappointed that certain people didn’t crop up, or that Liz and Phil were kept separated for much of the episode? What about the season on the whole? Did you like it, or did you prefer previous seasons more? Is there something that didn’t happen that you wish would have? Or conversely, was there something that happened that you wish hadn’t? Let me know what you think down below in the comments section and see you next season!