The Americans S1 E10: Only You

Wow, any misgivings I had over the last two episodes were erased by this one. Another stellar installment of what has already been one of the best inaugural seasons of television ever. I apologize for the lateness of this review, but I’ve been busy.

I’ve come around on Stan’s position now and am more accepting of the ending of the last episode (as is his boss Agent Gaad). Stan and the rest of the FBI begin Only You on a mission: find Chris Amador’s killer. At this point morals and rules are out the window. Stan has become a possessed hunter. He’s now willing to do things he previously was incapable of (cold-blooded murder) and convince himself of things that seem very unlikely (Amador left his ring as a signal to help catch his killer). However in this case he is right–it seems that Amador did leave his ring intentionally, as they trace it to a chop shop owner, who in turn leads them eventually to Gregory. It was a magnificent swan song.

Derek Luke did not have much screen time this season, but he didn’t waste a moment of what he had. He gave Gregory a quiet but powerful reserve. He respected and admired strength, and reminded Elizabeth to make sure Philip did too. Gregory just wanted something to live and die for, and he did just that. The character fascinatingly recognizes the finality of his role in the show. Unlike Philip and Elizabeth, who have had varying levels of consideration of defecting, Gregory understands and accepts his lot in life.

The final montage was shot and scored beautifully to Roberta Flack’s To Love Somebody. Elizabeth makes spaghetti while Gregory gracefully braces for a firefight with the cops. It was a fitting looking and sounding end for the character Derek Luke created.

Does Elizabeth insisting to Philip that he let Gregory walk out the door show she trusts him more than she trusts Philip? I believe so. Gregory was her first ‘agent’ that she turned in America. For any Homeland fans, we know that this creates a significant bond, as was evident when Carrie’s agent insisted that she would only talk with Carrie directly. We already knew about Gregory and Elizabeth’s romantic past, but this information intertwines them even more. You never forget your first.

Will Elizabeth blame Philip for Gregory’s death and drive the wedge between them even further? After all, let’s not forget that Gregory is dead essentially due to Philip’s impulsiveness when he saw Amador. Elizabeth made sweet love to Gregory one last time and then didn’t let Philip be the trigger man, essentially saying to his face that he trusted Gregory more than him. If Philip had any optimism about them getting back together before, this powerful scene was surely a reality check. In fact, Philip letting Gregory walk out that door is an incredible gesture of love, as by doing so he is directly defying an order. He is also running the risk that Gregory doesn’t go out to kill himself, and is allowing the man who just fucked his ‘wife’ to die the way she wants to let him. This is a huge gesture, which seems to be ignored.

I haven’t even talked about so many other significant moments in this episode: when Stan drunkenly stumbles in to Philip’s motel room and waxes poetic about how all motel beds are the same; Nina making sure Stan knows the difference between Vlad and Amador is that Vlad was her friend. If she finds out what Stan did who knows what will happen; Stan explaining to his wife how he keeps information from her to protect her, which is setting up a showdown where she will finally go off on him for being so secretive; etc. It was a great episode, and I’m sure Buckeye will fill in the details where I left them out, but I am too busy to do it myself.

Random Observations:

According to Todd VanDerWerff the ratings have not been great in the middle of the season. It’s already been renewed for Season 2, but everyone should tell their friends to watch!

I thought it was funny how Claudia and Elizabeth kept describing Moscow as this cosmopolitan place, when that’s not what anyone thinks. Furthermore, do they really think that Gregory, a civil rights activist, in interested in living in a country with maybe 5 black people total?

The preview commercials for ‘The Bridge’ by Meredith Stiehm are more cryptic than the coming attractions for next week’s Mad Men.

Minor complaint: how is Keri Russell beating people up? she’s soooo skinny–probably weighs like 90 pounds. It is a little far fetched that she can fight people who had 100 pounds on her right? I don’t care what training she’s had.

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