The Americans “The Rat” Review (Season 4 Episode 6)

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Martha, Martha, Martha! It was all about everyone’s favorite secretary this week on “The Americans,” and things were clearly coming to a head as Phil and company raced to come to her aid, and Stan and his team rushed to try and prove that she was “bad” on their end, in the aptly-titled “The Rat.” Meanwhile, in the worst timing ever, Will obtained another virus sample to replace the one lost a few weeks back and needed to meet to pass it off to Phil.

We picked up pretty much where we left off, with Phil and Liz in bed, as she remarked on something she never noticed before: one of his nipples was bigger than the other. However, there was another person in bed between them, metaphorically, keeping them from achieving the newfound intimacy they’d building on since early on in the show: Martha.

As much as Liz’s gambit to put Phil’s mind at ease was needed, in no time he circled back to it and worrying about Martha, convinced her days were numbered. Martha herself also clearly felt something was off, as evidenced by her not only looking around her apartment warily, as if noticing that someone that maybe shouldn’t have been there had been rifling around her things- which, of course, they totally had- but also her taking her gun along with her when she left.

Perhaps, on a certain level, she might even have wondered if that was the last time she would ever see her home again, and she might well be right. It certainly appears that Stan and Aderholt aren’t backing off anytime soon, as we see them researching Martha in private, deep-diving into her past, and turning up everything from the fact that her love life left something to be desired to the fact that she’d gotten pregnant in high school and had an illegal abortion when she was just a teenager.

Stan also notes that her only major relationship as an adult was with the late Chris Amador, who was murdered. It was clear looking into her life that she’d had a lonely existence, which wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that she was currently having an affair with a married man- if that was even true, which both Stan and Aderholt remained on the fence about.

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Phil meets with Will, asking for another Glanders sample, sweet-talking him with notions of returning home a hero, as per Gabriel’s request, if Will succeeds. Will says that getting another Glanders sample just isn’t possible, but that he might be able to get one of something called Tularemia, which isn’t quite as bad as Glanders- or infectious- but will likely satiate the Soviets thirst for potential biological weapons for now.

Phil can’t help but mention Martha to Will and his worry that she’ll be arrested if they don’t get her out of the country soon. He says that his employers don’t share that concern but Phil thinks they’re wrong. Will, ever the co-conspirator when it comes to bitching about something, seconds that the Soviets don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

Now convinced that he has to act, he tracks down Martha and picks her up, letting her know his suspicions. He says he can help but they have to move now and go to a safe-house he knows about, which turns out to be Gabriel’s new place. Gabriel is taken aback by Phil’s arrival, much less with Martha, and tells him he’s being impulsive and not thinking straight. Gabriel still thinks there’s still time to go back to the way things were, but Phil begs to differ.

Phil tells Gabriel it’s too late for that, as Martha has seen his real face, out of disguise, and that he’s pulling her out immediately. Gabriel is upset, but resigned to help. They cook dinner, and later on, Liz arrives to help out, talking to Martha soothingly. Liz is likewise taken aback that Martha has seen Phil’s “real” face and upset that he acted on his own without talking to her first.

The matter isn’t helped when Phil tells Liz he plans to stay the night with Martha, not wanting to leave her alone under the circumstances. An upset Liz leaves and goes home, telling the kids that Phil had to work late and cooking them up a new Korean dish she learned from Young Hee. Paige is vaguely into it, but, as ever, Henry is fixated on his videogames. Well, that and EPCOT. (“Don’t kill the dream,” he begs Liz.)

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Back at Gabriel’s, Phil has a talk with Martha, begging her to trust him. She quite correctly picked up on a vibe between Phil and Liz, but he tells her that they just “work together” and have for a long time. She obviously isn’t buying it, so Phil plays the only card he thinks he has left: he confesses that he’s KGB. She’s blindsided, but ultimately says she doesn’t care, just as long as they’re together.

Martha asks Phil if he’d be willing to make a run for it and he says that he’ll see what he can do. They make love, and Gabriel overhears in the next room, obviously concerned. It’s clear to him that Phil is getting way too attached to Martha and acting and behaving rashly in doing so. Indeed, one could argue that things only come to a head as fast as they do because of Phil’s actions, not Martha’s.

Proof of this comes when Martha calls in sick the next day to work. This naturally sets off all kinds of alarms for Stan and Aderholt, who go into overdrive. Would they have if Martha hadn’t called in sick? Hard to say, but they were obviously continuing to research her at work, not to mention following her after hours, so maybe Phil wasn’t wrong to think it was only a matter of time before Martha did something wrong and was caught.

Either way, there’s no going back now. Stan calls Martha’s house to check up on her and gets the answering machine. He and Aderholt go over there, but naturally she’s not there. They search the place, but find nothing. Stan remembers the other “secret” apartment that Martha went to, supposedly to meet with her boyfriend and the two head over there.

Martha tries to reason with Phil, saying that things could go back to normal if they could just convince whoever was following her that what she had told them was true. Phil says it’s too late for that, and that they would never be able to pull it off, knowing full well that the minute Stan or Aderholt saw him, his own cover would be blown, as both know him at this point and would immediately recognize him if they saw him with Martha, even in disguise.

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Gabriel gets a signal from the Centre and tells Phil that Will has another sample and needs to meet. Phil thinks it’s a terrible idea at the moment, given the circumstances, but Gabriel points out that they really need to keep the Centre happy if they want them to cooperate with Phil on the Martha situation, so he begrudgingly agrees to go to the meet. He also points out that if she wasn’t burnt before, she almost certainly is now and there’s nothing Phil can do for her at the moment, anyway. They just have to wait at this point.

Phil goes to tell Martha but she’s dead asleep. He looks in her purse and finds the pills she’s been taking and is concerned, even more so when he finds the gun she’s carrying. Phil takes the gun as a safety precaution, clearly worried about what Martha might do with it, and leaves, also looking at Martha like he might not ever see her again, which might prove true.

Stan and Aderholt search the alternative apartment and once again, find nothing out of the ordinary. Stan asks to see the lease, wondering if some clue might lie there, perhaps in the signatures on it. He also has Aderholt call in a forensics team to lift fingerprints and the like, which just goes to show that Gabriel is probably right- Martha is all but burnt at this point.

Oleg gets word that his mother is in bad shape since his brother’s death, having taken to her bed and refusing to get out of it since Oleg left town. Tatiana tries to comfort him, but they are interrupted by Arkady, who tells them that they need to prepare for a possible extraction, by which he obviously means Martha, referring to her as a “secretary” they have on the inside.

He says he doesn’t know for sure if the government is looking for her at the moment, but that they need to be ready, just in case. He won’t say much more than that, save that the powers that be plan to send her to Moscow. He just lets the question hang when Oleg asks what exactly the woman in question has been doing for them.

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Stan gets the results back from forensics, who attribute the fingerprints to one Clark Westerfelt, though there are several known people with that name in the general area. The most likely seems to be a lawyer from Atlanta, which Aderholt points out is close enough that he could be there in less than two hours, thus making it still possible that she could be telling the truth and that Clark is the married man she referred to on their dinner date.

Stan tells the man in charge of forensics to look into other Clarks with the same name all over the country, even those thought to be deceased, just in case, suspecting that it’s possible someone may have assumed a dead person’s name and that Martha might not even know it. But he seems skeptical of the whole “married lover” excuse at this point.

Stan asks to talk to Gaad, and finally breaks the news to him that he thinks Martha might be “bad.” Stan and Aderholt lay out what they have so far to him, and Gaad obviously doesn’t want to believe it any more than Aderholt.

He points out that Martha was there before he arrived, and that he consciously chose to keep her there, even though he had his own secretary that he could have replaced her with. They’d been together ever since, for some ten years, and he trusted her implicitly.

Hans and Liz stake out the meeting place for Will and Phil and give Phil the go-ahead to proceed. Phil picks up the package from Will, which proves to be a dead rat in a bottle labeled “Hazardous Materials,” appropriately enough. Will says that they can easily get a sample of the virus via a tissue sample.

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Will apologizes for the unorthodox way of obtaining the virus, saying he had to improvise under the circumstances. He asks Phil what he did about the undercover agent he mentioned and Phil tells Will that he’s bringing Martha in. Will is happy about this news, and says so, mentioning how he had to do the same with his wife long ago and never regretted it, even though he missed her desperately. Everyone concerned heads out, mission at hand accomplished.

Martha finally wakes up and has a conversation with Gabriel. She wants to know where Phil is, and Gabriel tells her he had to step out for a moment. She’s unmistakably concerned about his absence and it’s readily apparent she doesn’t trust Gabriel at all.

Stan half-heartedly tells Gaad that maybe they are wrong and that Martha is having an affair, just like she said, but Gaad can tell Stan doesn’t believe that. Gaad points out that it makes perfect sense that Martha could be the undercover agent- she has access to their files and everything else, and could have easily planted that bug in the pen, and also had her people put the blame for it on Gene to cover her tracks. He blames himself and his affection for Martha for not seeing it sooner.

Martha tells Gabriel she’s leaving the safe-house immediately, convinced something bad has happened to Phil. Gabriel tries to stop her, but he’s too frail from the after-effects of the Glanders run-in to put up much of a fight. Martha threatens to expose him- and by extension, everyone- as KGB agents if he doesn’t get out of her way. Gabriel is stunned and lets her go in spite of himself, and that is where we leave things for now.

Needless to say, next week is either going to end in yet another tragedy, with the inevitable death of Martha, or if cooler heads prevail, her going back to work and really working overtime to sell her “affair with a married man” cover, which could still work if finessed just right. Personally, I think if they were going to go that latter route, they already would have. It’s just too late, and Phil’s actions only acerbated matters to make them even worse.

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Now everyone suspects her more than ever, so Martha returning would only seal her fate. True, she might not be killed, but it would certainly lead to the beginning of the end for Phil and Liz. I just can’t see Martha withstanding that kind of intense scrutiny if she did return. No way she wouldn’t crack under pressure. True, she’s more resilient than Phil often gives her credit for, but by taking matters into his own hands, Phil all but ensured there’s no going back for Martha now.

That means there’s only two choices: get Martha out of town or kill her. I just don’t see Martha willingly leaving the country, least of all without Phil, so even if they managed to pull that off, she’d probably kill herself in short order. She’s already hitting the pills and booze pretty hard as it is- no way she could deal with being alone in a strange country where she didn’t know anyone or even speak the language.

So, either Martha manages to turn herself in and face the consequences, or she’s taken out by the Centre. There really are no other alternatives at this point, save maybe going on the run alone, but I don’t see Martha doing that either. I hate to say it, but I think Martha may be joining Nina on that Soviet hit list sooner than later.

This was, as ever, a tense, near-unrelenting episode, as the show really turned the screws on poor Martha. It will suck to lose yet another strong female character on the show, assuming Martha is killed off, but I really don’t see any other way around it at this point. With the likelihood of the show wrapping up next season- assuming there is one- we’re getting to the point of having to do these sorts of things, and that means more and more casualties.

I think we all know this likely isn’t going to end well for some of these people, if not all. All that remains is to see where the chips fall in the end. I don’t think Phil and Liz will be going down this season, though there may be some hints to that inevitability by the end of the season. We shall see, but I don’t think they’ll go there that soon.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Is Martha doomed? What do you think her ultimate fate will be? Will she turn herself in to the government? Will she leave the country? Will she kill herself? Or will she be killed by the Soviets? Or even worse, will Phil or Liz have to take her out? (I don’t see Phil being able to do that- I think, if anyone, Liz would be the one.) Make your predictions below and see you next week!