It’s been a bloody and brutal two weeks on The Americans.
Once again, the FX drama killed off a character much sooner than I expected. I loved what Gregory (Derek Luke) brought to the series and what he exposed about Elizabeth and the Jennings marriage. There was much, much more to explore here and, as with the untimely death of Amador last week, Gregory was taken from the series too soon. We’ve known since the series began that Elizabeth puts devotion to her country above all else. “Only You” made this point abundantly clear.
The episode truly belonged to Noah Emmerich. In the hour’s most unsettling scene, Stan arrives drunk at Philip’s hotel room and tells him that his partner was killed. Ever since he hid in the Jennings’ garage, I’ve wondered if Stan remained suspicious of Philip. Is he playing some kind of long, long game with his neighbor to see who will blink first? In Stan’s next scene, he’s lying to Nina who desperately wants to know what happened to her friend Vlad. “I don’t know who killed Vlad, Nina. If I can find out I’ll let you know.” There was something so quietly menacing about how cavalierly he’s able to lie to Nina. “I know you just tell me what I want to hear,” Nina tells him. She knows he’s lying to her. But she doesn’t know how deep his lie goes.
Stan has built his life and his career on lies. He infiltrated a white supremacist group by lying. He lies to his wife about what he’s done for his job. “The world that we live in is a little darker and a little uglier than you know,” he tells her. He lies to his boss about the true nature of his relationship with Nina. It’s no wonder he’s so world-weary at all times.
When the FBI closes in on Gregory, Claudia offers him asylum in Moscow (in the episode’s second-most unsettling scene). That’s not what Gregory wants (can you blame him?). He wants to start anew in Los Angeles. The KGB won’t allow that obviously—way too much risk involved. The only other option is, of course, to kill Gregory—something Philip is planning on doing until Elizabeth pleads with him to let Gregory go and die a death on his own terms. Gregory, who we learn was probably recruited at the height of the civil rights movement, wanted something to live for. He got that by picking up a cause that was not his.
I love how the series continues to interweave and juxtapose the Jennings’ careers with their crumbling marriage. Some of their arguments are so benign—Philip coming over unannounced to drive the kids to school. Elizabeth telling them if he really wanted to be helpful he could clean the kitchen.
The closing montage where Gregory is shot down, Elizabeth sees the report of his death on the news, Vlad’s body is sent home and Philip and Stan contemplate their next step was a gut puncher. What will this brilliant series do next?
Other thoughts on “Only You”:
• You really, really can’t worry about logistics on this show—like who is watching Paige and Henry during all of this, and who’s minding the travel agency business?
• If Martha ever finds out the role she played in Amador’s death, it’s not going to be pretty.
• Why are women always half-dressed when the police raid an apartment? This is one TV cliché I could live without.
• Stan’s boss Agent Gaad embraces and celebrates the fact that Stan killed Vlad. So I guess there won’t be any professional consequences for his unauthorized execution.
• Elizabeth really dresses quite fashionably for the ‘80s.