Describing an episode of TV as “filler” or all about “table-setting” can be a bit reductive. (I’m guilty of this crime, sadly.) The best counter for this I’ve heard is that one wouldn’t treat a novel the same one, dismissing chapter 12 because it didn’t have the same amount of action as chapter 13. Yet the twelfth episode of The Americans Season Two, “Operation Chronicle,” is definitely the “before” chapter, moving all the pieces in place for a finale that is sure to knock most of them off the board. All that was missing was a “To be continued” placard as the screen faded to black on the monster haunting the Jennings getting closer to his goal of making them and their cause suffer.
We know what the board looks like now. Here is what we don’t know:
That would be fitting — the chink in the armor being their children — and would tie in nicely to where we began the season with the murder of the Connors and Elizabeth and Phillip worried their family may be next. Trying to maintain their home life, which matters and is real no matter how under cover/built on lies it is, with their job has been a key struggle for the couple, with Phillip growing increasingly tired of it and Elizabeth convinced it all will inevitable come crumbling down around them. She’s right — consequences are inevitable, for them and for Stan and for Nina and everyone living in this world of deceit. They’re all in position for the final battle, whether they are fighting for their own freedom or for another’s. The plots have tied together nicely this season, but don’t put it past The Americans to leave us with more than a few unexpected outcomes.
Sarah Carlson is Television Editor for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.