9.5

The Americans: "Operation Chronicle"

(Episode 2.12)

TV Reviews The Americans
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<em>The Americans</em>: "Operation Chronicle"

As the penultimate episode before next week’s second season finale, “Operation Chronicle” positioned all the characters for a nail-biting ending.

“Operation Chronicle” picks up immediately where we left off last week with Philip and Elizabeth trying to figure out how to get Jared out. They learn that Jared knew his parents were undercover KGB agents. Elizabeth approaches him on his walk to school, and delivers one of the biggest understatements of the series: “There are some problems and you might be in some danger.” Jared ends up with the same woman who nursed Elizabeth back to health after she was shot last season.

As Elizabeth tries to take Jared to safety, Larrick is right behind them. Larrick has been such a great villain this season. Lee Tergesen has the perfect balance of menace and aw-shucks charm. so I totally believe that he would kill Jared if he had the chance and also that he would be able to sweet talk a train station employee.

Things are not looking good for Nina. Stan tells her he will get her money and a car and she can disappear. “You know how to disappear if you have to and I’ll visit you whenever I can,” he tells her. That is not enough for Nina. Did Nina decide not to go ahead with Stan’s plan when she realized she would be all alone, or did she know all along she would not betray the KGB again? Either way, Nina lets herself get beaten up to raise the stakes. Stan gets them the Echo technology, or Nina is sent back to the Soviet Union to stand trial. “You could go off together – free and happy,” Arkady promises him. What I continue to love about Noah Emmerich’s performance is that I still believe Stan could go either way on this. Is he a loyal FBI agent? Sure. But he’s already crossed the line once for Nina. He could do it again.

Two marriages—one ostensibly real and one fake—had some key moments this week. Martha has taken some confidential files from the FBI. Philip is stunned, but Martha says she’s been complaining about the lack of security around these documents for months and no one has been listening to her. But then Martha does something shocking: she tells Philip she even loves his toupee. WHAT?? Martha knows Philip’s hair is not real. Is this the first step in her figuring out that his hair isn’t the only thing Philip is lying about? I’m glad Martha has lived this long into the second season, and I really hope she makes it to the third. The development of her relationship with Philip has been a very interesting aspect to this season. Now Martha wants children and clearly that’s not an option for “Clark.” I would like to see more of their relationship unfold.

Meanwhile, Stan may have a real marriage, but it’s equally built on lies. He lies every day to his wife about what’s really going on with his job and, of course, he’s having an affair. Sandy tells her husband that she’s going to move in with the man she’s been seeing, telling him that “He’s able to go with the flow of things.” Once again, this announcement comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Stan. He doesn’t have his wife’s love, but he thinks he has Nina’s love.

And what about Paige? She doesn’t know exactly what’s going on with her parents, but she knows “she doesn’t believe a word that comes out of their mouths anymore.” I loved the scene where Paige demanded of her mother, “Tell me what exactly happened at work!” when Elizabeth makes some vague excuse about why she has to leave the house. One of my chief complaints last season was how Philip and Elizabeth were able to do things at all hours without ever really worrying about their children. This season has brought their family to the forefront of the story. And Paige, ever the skeptical teenager, isn’t buying what her parents are selling any more. She even picks up the phone to eavesdrop on her parents’ conversation, although it does seem highly risky for Paige to have a phone in her room in general.

Elizabeth frets over where Jared will be sent to. Philip thinks he will be fine, just like they were fine when they were sent to America at a young age. “We had each other. We were older. Our parents hadn’t just been killed,” Elizabeth reminds him. She worries that the day is coming where Paige and Henry will be in danger. That it’s not a question of if it will happen but when.

While suspicious of Larrick’s whereabouts, the episode ends with Philip and Elizabeth still unaware that Larrick is back in town. And I’m still suspicious of Jared—does he know even more than Elizabeth thinks he does?

The Americans has built this season flawlessly. Everything and everyone is perfectly situated for next week’s finale. The only downside is after next week, it’s going to be a long wait until Season Three.

Other thoughts on “Operation Chronicle:”

• Anyone else suspicious of Pastor Tim? His conversation with Paige on the bus gave me the heebie-jeebies.
• I get Elizabeth’s rationale, but I would think it would be much more dangerous for Paige to go to a nuclear war protest than to Bible Camp.
• We had a Matthew sighting this week! Part of me is wondering where Matthew is going to go. Is he going to live with his mom and her lover or stay in the house with Stan? Just curious.

What did you think of “Operation Chronicle?” Do you think Jared knows even more than he’s telling Elizabeth? How scary is Larrick? Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.