Before I get started, let me put on my crash helmet. There, that’s better.
I don’t like The Americans. Or should I say, I haven’t been able to get into the show like everyone else. Watching Justified every week, I see the clips and the FX ads proclaiming The Americans “The best show on television,” and I make my usual exaggerated scoffing noises. But this week I thought, “It’s a new season; maybe I should try again…”
Firstly, I’ll explain that much of my problem with the series has to do with not being able to take Felicity and Kevin Walker seriously as spies and killers. I did originally watch the series from the beginning, but found myself actually laughing, because they just seemed so silly to me. Whether or not that’s only my internal perception, or the actors, I can’t say for sure; I like both Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, but I just wasn’t buying what they were selling. So, after a few episodes I dropped out. Though the roar of the crowd brought me back later in the season, I still couldn’t get past Phillip and his goofy disguises (those wigs!), and couldn’t see Keri as a sexually manipulative badass. But all that changed last night.
WHY, OH WHY DID I GO BACK AGAIN? Spoilers for last night’s episode, the aptly titled “Baggage,” ahead.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. So, I’d read Vivian’s account of a woman in last week’s episode being murdered, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened only a few minutes into the hour. Things are just quietly simmering, Phillip makes a call to Elizabeth asking for help, then she’s walking down a hallway, rolling suitcase in hand. Phillip and Elizabeth and (the guy I had to look up) Yousaf are preparing to dispose of Annelise’s dead body, moving her to some paper (butcher?) they’ve laid out. I’m sort of half paying attention, half not, when suddenly I see Phillip holding the dead woman’s arm, and SNAPPING HER FUCKING ARM AT THE ELBOW LIKE A TREE BRANCH. AND THEN THE OTHER ARM. Phillip moves down to her lower limbs, and now I know why we saw Elizabeth bring in that ENTIRELY TOO SMALL SUITCASE and OH MY GOD, Phillip had to help Yousef SNAP A LEG, and THEN I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO THROW UP.
I apologize for these gifs, even though it doesn’t begin to properly convey the scene (via Uproxx)
I’ve seen bodies mutilated and hacked, guts flying all over Dexter and Hannibal, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead — all manner of onscreen killing — but watching and hearing that bone-snapping really, really got to me. The methodical breakdown of Annelise broke me. Those problems I had seeing Russell and Rhys as cold-blooded killers (Elizabeth’s expression throughout that scene was ice)? Solved. I still can’t decide if I want to go back and play catch up, but I know I probably should.
Truth be told, that scene so disgusted me, I looked away for quite a bit, and because I don’t know the ongoing storylines — aside from Elizabeth’s worries about her daughter — the rest of the episode did not hold me rapt. I have newfound respect for Matthew Rhys,
Felicity Keri Russell and The Americans, and I fear I may never be able to look at a suitcase the same way again.