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On 'The Americans,' the Monster is Closing In

By Sarah Carlson | TV | May 8, 2014 |

By Sarah Carlson | TV | May 8, 2014 |

Tensions moved closer to a boiling point in “Stealth,” the eleventh episode of The Americans Season Two, as stories intersected and lives were threatened — even ended. Those on the Rezidentura’s side aren’t even aware of all the hits they are taking, just that something is wrong. That main something is Larrick, the monster Elizabeth said the cause needed no matter how destructive his tendencies. They got a monster all right, and the reasoning behind his actions isn’t far from some of the agents’: “You people destroyed my life, not that I didn’t have a hand in it. An unwilling hand. I made my bed, and now I will have to lie in it. As will you.” It’s consequence-reaping time, a time to fight back, or to run. But it’s a gamble either way.

Jared, the surviving child of Emmett and Leanne, is suspicious of Elizabeth’s social worker disguise now that he’s talked with Stan and reviewed a sketch of Elizabeth in a different disguise. Whether he knows she’s lying to him or not is unclear, as is if and how the Connors were involved in the mission to uncover stealth technology and why they were murdered. Kate’s meeting with Jared also remains a mystery — she didn’t even disguise herself in front of him, Elizabeth notices. What is he being told? She doesn’t want him hearing the FBI’s side of events, to be indoctrinated with beliefs that go against what his parents fought for (a worry mirrored in her increasing concern with Paige’s interest in Christianity and desire to attend a church summer camp). Elizabeth made the decision to go against Leanne’s wishes and not deliver an explanatory letter to Jared after his parents’ death, and that has potentially shifted control of the situation — of which side he trusts — against them. “You did what you thought was best,” Phillip reassures her. “I made a promise,” she says. “And now, he may have found out from an American.”

The Jennings have sorely underestimated Larrick and his loose cannon abilities, and he’s quickly stacking up casualties in his vendetta against them for killing his friends at the Martial Eagle military camp. He already knows much of how the Centre and its agents operate, so who better to take the communication network down and force his enemies out of secrecy? He easily finds Kate at her apartment, but he doesn’t torture her for long. She won’t tell him where the “scumbags” are who killed his friends, and that’s OK. He tracked her down; he can track them down, too. She spits in his face, and he snaps her neck. It’s nothing to him, barely a setback. Kate knew more than she disclosed to Phillip and Elizabeth, but her last words to them via a code scrawled on an empty toilet paper roll get the point across: “Get Jared out.” The Connors are a bigger key to the story than they’d realized.

Both sides are closing in on the sought-after stealth technology, with Stan trying to determine how it all relates to Oleg and the Connors and with Phillip uncovering how stealth actually works. They need radar-absorbent material and Echo, a computer program that determines if stealth aircraft will or won’t be detected by radar, for stealth to be successful. Luckily, a dying former Lockheed employee (the always excellent Zeljko Ivanek), convinced he was deliberately poisoned by the chemicals, is willing to reveal what he knows to Phillip — another instance of people switching sides, whether it be for idealogical purposes or out of necessity to save their own necks. Either way, giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who’s willing to betray their country in the first place isn’t wise. Nina’s pleas to Stan are true — she doesn’t want to be sent back to Moscow to face trial for treason, which is what will happen if she’s unable to get Stan to betray the U.S. over stealth. She may end up siding with whoever can keep her alive, but unfortunately, she isn’t much looking like a candidate for survival. Oleg is right to be worried for her: “If you don’t think Agent Beeman will betray his country for you, you need to run.”

Elizabeth’s description of Paige and her “confusion” about church sums up everyone’s situation: “She wants to make a difference in the world; she’s just looking in the wrong place.” It’s “us verses them” — each side poisoned against the other — and it won’t end well.

Sarah Carlson is Television Editor for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.

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