The Americans “Clark’s Place” Review (Season 4 Episode 5)

The Americans 6

On the latest episode of “The Americans,” the noose continued to tighten around poor Martha’s neck; Liz and Phil started to work Pastor Tim and his wife in earnest, with an assist from Paige; Oleg mourned his brother and Nina, later spreading the word back in the States; and Stan and Aderholt started working together to monitor Martha, causing an even bigger rift between her and her husband in the process, in “Clark’s Place.”

We opened with a lonely Martha, downing booze and pills, looking painfully alone when Phil finally arrives in Clark mode, enormously apologetic, but unable to really tell her where he’d been these last few days. (“Sorry, honey, I was off battling a potentially deadly virus with my other wife- I’m sure you understand” probably wouldn’t have cut it.)

Martha fills him in on everything that’s been going on, much to his horror- and he thought things were bad back at Gabriel’s apartment! Well, things are only getting worse at Martha’s, sad to say- not to mention the troubles just beginning at “Clark’s.”

So bad in fact, that she’d been having panic attacks, hence the pills, which were at least doctor prescribed- though I’m guessing he didn’t advise the whole taking them with wine part. I worry that this fact may just be a foreshadowing of her ultimate, seemingly inevitable demise. Either way, to ease her fears, he gives her his “special” number, aka the one at the Centre-based switchboard directed by the mysterious lady whose name we still don’t know.

Back at Phil’s “real” home, Paige is continuing to have a problem dealing with everything, waking up her mom to ask her where she’d been all that time when they were supposed to be at EPCOT. Liz won’t say, saying that maybe they need to “take a break” on all the sharing for now, but is clearly rattled by the revelations that Stan and Henry are spending a lot of time together and that Stan was suspicious of their whereabouts while they were away.

The Americans 8

In Russia, Oleg had a talk with his dad, who delivered the sad news that his efforts to save Nina had been too little, too late and that she had already been executed. He probably knew that this would only drive Oleg back to America, but good on him for being honest about it, at least, when he easily could have lied. (Indeed, as we later discovered, even Arkady and Stan don’t know about the development yet.)

Oleg is predictably upset, saying of course he didn’t help Nina- he didn’t even help his own son, Yevgeny, Oleg’s brother. Igor reiterates that Yevgeny wanted to stay and fight, but is admittedly saddened by the revelation that he won’t be commemorated as the war hero he was because the Soviets won’t even acknowledge there really is a war going on and just expect families to sacrifice their children without the honor he himself received when he did the same as a younger man.

Igor admits that the country is going to hell in a hand-basket and snootily tells Oleg if he doesn’t like it, he should go back to America, with their luxurious lifestyles and fancy clothes and such. It’s clear that Oleg can’t wait to do just that, the current state of his family be damned, and I certainly can’t say I blame him. Why would anyone want to, given the circumstances?

Phil and Liz compare notes about the Martha and Stan situations, with Liz suggesting that they put Hans on Martha at all times, and that Phil and Stan make up sooner than later, as they need to give Stan something to do with his time that doesn’t involve hanging out with their son and potentially investigating Martha.

Meanwhile, Stan and Aderholt do the same, with Aderholt saying that Martha’s explanation for her behavior lately made perfect sense- but it was also the perfect cover if she was up to something. Stan also acceded that what he found at her place supported that she had a man in her life, but it’s obvious that the two aren’t completely convinced, either, and some further investigation will be in order.

The Americans 4

Liz and Young Hee continued to bond, with the latter telling an adorable story about the way her grandfather wouldn’t take no for an answer when courting her grandmother, while Liz naturally gave Young a completely fabricated version of her own family history that made sure and emphasize that she was mostly alone in the world. I know Liz is only using her as a means to an end, but these two are great together, it must be said.

Oleg and his family lay Yevgeny to rest, with Igor eulogizing his son with the lovely sentiment: “May the soil feel soft as feathers,” which is both nice and a little creepy- and totally Russian. As a final “suck it, Russia” salvo, Igor decides to give his son a military send-off, actual military be damned, and fires his gun into the air in salute to his heroic boy that was callously allowed to be buried without honors.

Liz returns home to find the family watching Reagan- well, save Henry, who was playing videogames as usual. Typically his harshest critic, Liz instead burst out laughing at the sight of Reagan’s overdone make-up, comparing him to a clown. It’s clear that she might have had a little too much wine at the get-together with Young, but it’s nice to see Liz blowing off steam nonetheless, as she is usually the tensest of them all.

Liz and Phil tell Paige they are scheduled to meet with Pastor Tim and Alice and hash things out, which Paige isn’t sure how to react to. Ditto Tim himself, when they arrive with a Father Rivas (David Anzuelo, “Law & Order”) in tow, a Jesuit priest who waxes on about the good work Liz and Phil do for others, including giving him a heads-up about an impending threat back in his home country of El Salvador that they knew about courtesy of a contact in the American government.

Liz and Phil claim that they are heavily involved with Human Rights issues, particularly in El Salvador, and are focusing on helping them with evading the so-called “Death Squads” that America is supposedly funding. They point out that both sides have bad people on them, but that Liz and Phil aren’t among them.

The Americans 7

This obviously hits home for Tim, who is well aware of the Death Squads and the names dropped that Rivas supposedly knows. Later on, though, we discover that even Liz and Phil aren’t aware if this Rivas is even a priest, having been set-up for them by the Centre- nor do they ask him one way or another. But did it convince Tim and his wife? That remains to be seen.

They tell a still-anxious and awake Paige about the talk and say that it went well overall. However, they also point out that it won’t matter if Paige doesn’t do her part in convincing Tim that all is well between him and her and that Paige still trusts him enough to confide in him after their strained relationship as of late. As such, they need her to touch base with him and mend fences. Liz nonetheless is skeptical about whether this plan will work, even though it was essentially her own.

Oleg returns to the States and talks to Arkady, informing him about Nina, which he was not aware of. Arkady is obviously upset, but also allows that they wouldn’t have executed her if she hadn’t done something wrong. He points out that she had every chance to cooperate and dig herself out of the hole she was in, but she had a bad habit of only digging herself deeper, which is true, but not exactly what Oleg wants to hear, either.

Hans (Peter Mark Kendall, who also cropped up on “Gotham” recently) tails Martha as she heads to Clark’s apartment and sees Aderholt tailing her as well. Hans calls Phil, who puts on a disguise and grabs the lone picture of him and Martha and gets out of Dodge, narrowly evading her. Martha is obviously disappointed that he isn’t there and immediately notices the picture’s absence. Phil manages to also sneak past Aderholt, who is keeping a watchful eye outside the building.

Paige, as told, pays a visit to Pastor Tim and tells him that her parents seem to have made their peace with him now and that they have been seemingly coming clean about everything. She says she thinks they are being honest- perhaps even more honest than they should have been, to the point that maybe they shouldn’t have told her what they had- but that maybe she wasn’t ready for so much truth.

She also apologizes to him for her last outburst and heavily implies that she still needs him to talk to about this stuff, which he seems to buy into. As much as Paige may be genuinely unnerved by all these revelations as of late, there’s no denying that she has a natural gift for this sort of thing, no doubt inherited directly from her mother. But would she be so willing to do as her parents asked if she knew the real truth? Probably not.

The Americans 5

Hans tells Phil that he’s fairly certain he’s seen the car tailing Martha before, if not the person driving it. He says that he didn’t think he saw anyone else on the scene, but that he can’t be sure. He also was hesitant to double-check the apartment to see if anyone had been there, which Phil thinks was wise, given the circumstances. He did, however, get the car in question’s license plate number.

Martha calls the Centre switchboard lady, concerned that Phil didn’t show up for their meet. They say they’ll have him call her at her current location- a pay phone- in about an hour. It ends up being considerably longer, which doesn’t exactly help matters.

Liz and Phil meet with Gabriel and let him know that Martha’s cover might be blown. He says that it’s crucial that they keep abreast of the government’s surveillance reports, and suggests giving Martha a camera when it’s mentioned that they are getting wise to the copies she’s making, but Phil balks at this. Gabriel says he’ll see if he can get the Centre to slow their roll a little bit, but seems doubtful.

Liz wonders about whether or not Will is still onboard with them after what happened, and Gabriel thinks he will be, with a little reassurance on their end. He says to point out to Will that he’s been in place for some 25 years and that if he succeeds in this latest task and it’s enough to tip things in Russia’s favor, he’ll receive a hero’s welcome when he returns home after.

Phil reiterates that he’s concerned about the Martha situation and doesn’t want her to end up getting arrested for their faulty handling of the situation. Gabriel tells him to give them until Tuesday to check out the situation and that they should know how to proceed from there. Gabriel is looking a bit worse for the wear and coughing a lot, meaning he may not be long for this world, either. I think the whole virus affair really took a toll on him.

The Americans 2

Oleg meets with Stan and breaks the news to him about Nina, which clearly knocks him for a loop. I think up until now, the two have been uneasy bedfellows at best, thrown together more out of necessity than anything else, and the likelihood of their become friends dubious, but that this development may have finally done the trick. Might their working together to achieve a particular goal on both ends be a possibility? Liz and Phil better hope not, but I suspect that this is where it’s headed, with Oleg in particular fed up with the Soviet way of doing things.

Phil talks with Martha and reassures her as best as he can over the phone, but says he can’t meet with her face-to-face just now. He says they will have to stick to the schedule and meet on Tuesdays, as per usual. He’s also obviously upset by it all, which Liz takes note of, realizing that he legitimately cares about her and her well-being and it’s killing him not being able to go to her and reassure her in person.

They go home and check in on Paige, who is in bed but not sleeping, also as per usual, and she tells them that it went well with Pastor Tim. She says he was nice to her and still seems to care deeply about her well-being and that she thinks everything is going to be okay. While I think she was being honest, it’s also clear from her tone that she’s already had just about enough of all of this and just wishes things could go back to the way they were and regrets having ever pushed her parents to reveal what was really going on with them.

Matthew (Danny Flaherty, “The Leftovers”) comes to spend some time with father and is taken aback to find Henry hanging out there. Though he doesn’t say anything, it’s clear he’s rattled to have been somewhat “replaced” by the boy. He isn’t he only one, as Liz sends Phil over there to fetch Henry and talk to Stan. Phil apologizes for the whole Sandra thing and Stan accepts, though he’s not above letting Phil know it was a dick move.

Ultimately, he says he knew Phil was a friend and wouldn’t do that to him, but points out that he doesn’t have a lot of friends, so if he could not do that sort of thing again- i.e. talk to his wife on the sly- he would be most appreciative. Phil agrees to and the two finally make up. He also sees that Matthew is there and that he and Henry are getting ready to watch “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (“Is that a good thing?” he asks, cluelessly- lol) and that Stan is leaving, so he lets them be and walks Stan out.

The Americans 1

Much to his surprise, Aderholt is out there, waiting on Stan, and Phil recognizes him, with Liz also observing the meet from her window. She also remembers him, from the fight he got into with Gaad, when she lost the Afghan Task Force list. Phil points out that Aderholt is who took Martha to dinner as well, and it’s obvious that these two going out together isn’t good and that it almost certainly has to do with Martha, and they’re not wrong, as we see them outside Martha’s place, as she lies sleeplessly in bed, the worry about everything written all over her face.

As the classic Queen and David Bowie collaboration “Under Pressure” plays, Liz reassures Phil about Martha and hikes up her skirt and kisses him. The two blow off some much needed steam in a sex scene that pushes things just about as far as they can go on cable. Whew! I think I need a cigarette, and I don’t even smoke!

It should also be mentioned that, though it was undoubtedly cleared long before it happened, the use of the song also serves as a nice inadvertent eulogy for the late David Bowie as well, albeit making for some mixed emotions for the viewer, given what we were seeing at the time. I’m not sure if that was really Keri Russell in those scenes, as she was pregnant at the time, but if it was, consider me impressed- not that I wasn’t already, mind you.

All in all, a solid enough episode, which effectively ratcheted up the… well, pressure on all concerned, making that song selection a bit on the nose, but still apropos, nonetheless. I think it’s apparent that the show is working up to something big, and I suspect that it may not end well for some of these characters- Nina might well be the opening salvo in more death to come, I’m afraid. I have a feeling Gabriel in particular isn’t long for this world, and Martha might not be far behind.

The Americans 3

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Who do you think will be the next to go? Will it happen sooner or later in the season? Was Pastor Tim convinced by the Jennings’ efforts to recruit him, or is he still secretly dubious? Is Paige getting better at this, and if so, does she really want to? Is Matthew gay? (Not just because of “TRHPS” mind you- lots of people like that, gay or straight, but back then, it did tend to be a signifier of other things, I’m guessing.) Is he into Henry?

Is Martha doomed? Will she keep it together? Will Stan and Aderholt figure out what’s really going on? Will Stan and Oleg work together to bring down the Soviets? What is Liz up to with Young? (I think a member of her family works at the same lab as Will, personally.) Will she end up recruiting her or just using her as a means to an end, as Phil did with that teenage girl last season? (At least this subplot isn’t as icky as that one- I quite like drunk Liz.) Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!