We know the Russians love their children too

Music, books, movies, TV, games, hobbies, food, and potent potables. And forum games! Pour a drink, put on your smoking jacket, light a pipe (of whatever), and settle in.
Post Reply
User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 14 Sep 2014, 11:58

One episode away from the end of season 2 of The Americans. A few thoughts:

1) The supporting character I am most impressed with this season is Arkady. It's no one thing, just a lot of little things. Like the way that he has slowly gone from hating Oleg's guts to understanding that he's more than just a spoiled rich kid (in a "classless society"). Or the way that, when Philip was holed up in a vulnerable position, Arkady seemed just as interested in getting his man out of danger as he was in the potential big win that could come of this operation.

Or the way that, when Oleg says that sending Nina back to Russia means sending her back to die, Arkady says, with a mix of completely sincere conviction about the system and compassion for the people involved, "She will get a trial. The state will decide." We know what a farce the trial would be, but Arkady has to be able to persuade himself that just authorities will make a fair decision about a hard case involving a person that he is responsible for. Otherwise he wouldn't be "Arkady Ivanovich, patriotic and conscientious public servant." He would be "Arkady Ivanovich, villain."

Or the time when Arkady tries a Russian cigarette, after smoking American cigarettes for a while, and reluctantly admits "They are better at tobacco. We are better at vodka."

Or when Oleg interrupts him and Arkady asks (paraphrase) "Is the embassy on fire? Is President Reagan personally scaling our walls in his cowboy hat? No? Then do not interrupt me ever again!"

Arkady is a patriot, and I could see him going on Usenet and sincerely arguing for page after page that he is part of a just system.

2) Philip is really showing the strain from his job. Honestly, he's a bit more realistic than Elizabeth at this point. She is pushing forward on some reserve of fire, and is still maintaining the facade. Philip is a guy that I could see joining a support group for military and intelligence personnel who are at the breaking point. Actually, that would be a fascinating plot point, if he donned one of his fake "Air Force Security Office" or "FBI Internal Affairs" personas, not to steal intelligence, but because he needed to join a support group and couldn't really tell the people in the room that he's KGB.

His relationship with Martha is simultaneously incredibly unrealistic yet also the most realistic thing about his character. On the one hand, the logistics of how he juggles that relationship just makes no fucking sense at this point. On the other hand, a lot of his conversations with Martha are about his stress at work, and he often goes to have sex with her when things are particularly difficult at home or at work. On that level, his interactions with his mistress make absolutely perfect sense.

3) I miss Claudia, but Kate is doing a genuinely good job of playing "Person who's no substitute for Claudia" which was her assigned role. So kudos for that.

In keeping with the idea that these spies are genuine patriots, not villains, I like the part where she talks about having relatives serving in Afghanistan. It's something that Americans can relate to, whether in 2001, 2014, or 2027.

4) The deaths of Emmett and Leanne have provided an interesting arc to sit alongside the other arcs. I do think the plots have gotten a bit too crowded, but I like the way that so much of the action is driven by the fallout from a murder that hit close to home for the Jennings family.

5) Teenage Jesus Rebellion* is an unusual plotline, yet one that makes absolutely perfect sense for this show. The Jennings family is supposed to be completely assimilated into American life. The only sign that they might be Russian is that they like hockey more than football. And then they are confronted with an oddity of American culture that none of their training has prepared them for. An oddity that (at least to a 2014 audience) fits perfectly with the ascendant conservatism of the Reagan era.

If Paige got into sex and drugs and biker gangs, Elizabeth would know what to do. She has underworld connections. If Paige became a cheerleader and got knocked up by a football player, Elizabeth would at least know that their family is blending in perfectly. If Paige started reading radical literature and got into left-wing causes, Elizabeth would beam with pride and say "That's my girl!" But Christian youth groups? This is something that Elizabeth has no preparation for. It's not even the sort of religion where Elizabeth could put up icons and teach Paige to make traditional Russian food and celebrate a nostalgic Christmas on January 6.

*Good band name.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 15 Sep 2014, 01:10

Just watched the season 2 finale.

Priceless moment: Arkady giving Stan romantic advice on Russian women. I would donate to a Kickstarter for an Arkady spin-off. Arkady Games? Chern of Arkadia? Maybe Arkady moves to Chicago in the mid-80's and lives with his cousin?

Stan, if you can't save your marriage, at least take care of your mistress.

The real killer revealed: Didn't see that coming.

The KGB trying to recruit Paige? Didn't see that coming. I'm starting to wonder if the church is part of an elaborate recruitment effort. First, the girl who drew her into the youth group just happened to stumble across her on a bus on the day that the KGB had extra security around her. Second, joining a church, even one liberal enough to protest at a military base, is a sign of middle class American respectability, and the long term goal is to groom an agent who can pass background checks. It is also a test of how good she is at sneaking around behind the backs of authority figures (parents).

Or maybe the church is just a plot twist for both the parents and the Centre to stumble over. The parents have to deal with the church as rebellion, and the Centre has to figure out how to groom an enthusiastic Christian convert into a loyal Communist.

Since I previously praised The Americans for being a spy show that isn't about super-heroes, let me praise them for their handling of "A dark, secretive, multi-generational plan." I mean, yeah, the Centre is trying that sort of plan, but look how it's blowing up in their faces.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 15 Sep 2014, 16:48

Arkady is a patriot, and I could see him going on Usenet and sincerely arguing for page after page that he is part of a just system.
I'm not so sure that he think the system is just. Only that it has sustained the Motherland during the dark times of the Great Patriotic War and the ongoing battle against the West for survival. (which is old enough to perfectly remember, and may have even been part of the fighting as a teenager) The system isn't just, but worth keeping. He perfectly understands the growing cracks in the system (like having to endure the hiring and employment of a connected son).

This does contrast with Oleg, who's just a player, (mostly), and Phillip, who is also just doing a job he found himself incredibly good at (and then fell in love with Elizabeth so kept doing it). His son is starting to follow in his footsteps at being good at being bad, but not in an evil way. And of course, Elizabeth is the true believer in the system, just like her daughter is a true believer in whatever cause she is (and is going to) fight for.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 15 Sep 2014, 20:08

I think Elizabeth is a true believer in The Cause, but I think Arkady actually considers himself a part of a just system. The way he said to Oleg "She will get a trial; the state will decide" it sounded completely sincere. He really seemed to feel that this trial was more than a formality, that it really was a fair outcome for Nina.

But I don't know that Arkady is much of a Communist. He says all the right things, but he doesn't seem passionate. He seems like a man who goes to bed satisfied that his day's work was for a good system. Give him something more boring to do, but still honorable, and he could feel just as contented at the end of the day. Elizabeth, OTOH, seems like she actually enjoys being out there, on the edge, pushing things forward. She isn't simply doing something that Mother Russia asks of her, she is actually striking a blow against somebody else.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 03 Apr 2015, 02:17

Oh.

My.

God.

Paige knows.

And Arkady is going to have to have The Talk with Oleg.

I am speechless.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 04 Apr 2015, 18:27

Will Arkady know it's Oleg that freelanced that op? Considering Arkady right now thinks that wasn't a freelance job, but a bureaucratic snafu? Does Arkady have the instincts to consider Oleg as a suspect in who was threatening WILLOW?
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
nicole
Posts: 9088
Joined: 12 Jan 2013, 16:28

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by nicole » 06 Apr 2015, 09:30

The part where Philip said to Paige, "If you tell anyone...we'll go to jail." Definitely thought he was going to say, "...we'll have to kill you." And would have been nice for him to follow up by killing Paige.

I really don't like Paige. I'm not going to be very happy if she becomes more a part of the show rather than less. But it also looks like, based on the upcoming clips, her religion is going to make it difficult for her to accept the whole spying game ("Do spies steal?" Yes, honey, and they kill too.).
"Fucking qualia." -Hugh Akston

"This is why I carry a shoehorn.” -jadagul

User avatar
JasonL
Posts: 22769
Joined: 05 May 2010, 17:22

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by JasonL » 06 Apr 2015, 09:47

nicole wrote:The part where Philip said to Paige, "If you tell anyone...we'll go to jail." Definitely thought he was going to say, "...we'll have to kill you." And would have been nice for him to follow up by killing Paige.

I really don't like Paige. I'm not going to be very happy if she becomes more a part of the show rather than less. But it also looks like, based on the upcoming clips, her religion is going to make it difficult for her to accept the whole spying game ("Do spies steal?" Yes, honey, and they kill too.).
I like ... not so much the character of Paige in that I'd want to hang out or something, but the concept of Paige as a situation for her parents to have to deal with. I like how they are playing the true believer thing through a bunch of different angles.

The reveal to Paige was clunky. There was no real precipitating event other than the out of the blue confrontation and while I accept her reaction and the tension that ensues, they don't have any good way to move forward believably. They didn't really "recruit" their daughter, they just dropped it on her like "this is who we really are surprise". I thought we were going to have a series of exercises where they introduced her to a kind of activism that maybe involved information discovery so now she's involved, then one day we say this is what we are really doing. That standoff would have been great.

User avatar
nicole
Posts: 9088
Joined: 12 Jan 2013, 16:28

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by nicole » 06 Apr 2015, 09:57

JasonL wrote:
nicole wrote:The part where Philip said to Paige, "If you tell anyone...we'll go to jail." Definitely thought he was going to say, "...we'll have to kill you." And would have been nice for him to follow up by killing Paige.

I really don't like Paige. I'm not going to be very happy if she becomes more a part of the show rather than less. But it also looks like, based on the upcoming clips, her religion is going to make it difficult for her to accept the whole spying game ("Do spies steal?" Yes, honey, and they kill too.).
I like ... not so much the character of Paige in that I'd want to hang out or something, but the concept of Paige as a situation for her parents to have to deal with. I like how they are playing the true believer thing through a bunch of different angles.

The reveal to Paige was clunky. There was no real precipitating event other than the out of the blue confrontation and while I accept her reaction and the tension that ensues, they don't have any good way to move forward believably. They didn't really "recruit" their daughter, they just dropped it on her like "this is who we really are surprise". I thought we were going to have a series of exercises where they introduced her to a kind of activism that maybe involved information discovery so now she's involved, then one day we say this is what we are really doing. That standoff would have been great.
Yes, I also liked her as a situation for the parents to deal with. But I can't handle her voice. She has a lot of the same problems as Martha for me. Cool situation, but oh god you are so annoying.

And I agree about the reveal. It also seemed weird and sudden from her end, even if it is sort of believable. I mean did we have any reason to think this is what she was using Pastor Tim for, to complain they didn't have any relatives?

Also...she's willing to accept they might be aliens, but not Soviets?
"Fucking qualia." -Hugh Akston

"This is why I carry a shoehorn.” -jadagul

User avatar
JasonL
Posts: 22769
Joined: 05 May 2010, 17:22

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by JasonL » 06 Apr 2015, 10:43

I don't think the aliens one was all sincere n' shit. I liked the witness protection idea. I also liked the reaction to Stan coming over to dinner. Like, oh wait a minute ...

Paige is no more than 2/3 Martha on a scale of annoyance.

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 06 Apr 2015, 10:53

I don't think Paige actually dropped this out of the blue. She has occasionally noticed things that are weird, like her mother's absence to care for "Aunt Helen" and "folding laundry in the basement at 2am" and shit like that. She has spent time at church encountering other ideas about what a normal family is. She has perked her ears up at some of the phone calls. She didn't just accept the Gregory story uncritically; she looked it up. She has been taking this all in for a while. The fact that they didn't drop a gajillion additional anvils before she finally asked them what's going on is reasonable enough.

Also, there is a widespread theory that Pastor Tim is a KGB agent. The two biggest pieces of supporting evidence are that Paige met someone from the church on a day that the KGB supposedly had extra security watching their family, and that Pastor Tim apparently helped prod her into asking her family what is going on. The Center is not happy with the slow pace at which things have been revealed to Paige. Maybe Pastor Tim was ordered to push things along.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
nicole
Posts: 9088
Joined: 12 Jan 2013, 16:28

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by nicole » 06 Apr 2015, 10:59

thoreau wrote:I don't think Paige actually dropped this out of the blue. She has occasionally noticed things that are weird, like her mother's absence to care for "Aunt Helen" and "folding laundry in the basement at 2am" and shit like that. She has spent time at church encountering other ideas about what a normal family is. She has perked her ears up at some of the phone calls. She didn't just accept the Gregory story uncritically; she looked it up. She has been taking this all in for a while. The fact that they didn't drop a gajillion additional anvils before she finally asked them what's going on is reasonable enough.

Also, there is a widespread theory that Pastor Tim is a KGB agent. The two biggest pieces of supporting evidence are that Paige met someone from the church on a day that the KGB supposedly had extra security watching their family, and that Pastor Tim apparently helped prod her into asking her family what is going on. The Center is not happy with the slow pace at which things have been revealed to Paige. Maybe Pastor Tim was ordered to push things along.
Plus, presumably, the whole, "You have to treat a kid like Paige more like an adult" thing. Which made me feel more like Pastor Tim was looking for a new wife than anything else, but I can see it I guess.
"Fucking qualia." -Hugh Akston

"This is why I carry a shoehorn.” -jadagul

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 06 Apr 2015, 11:20

I'm not convinced that Pastor Tim is KGB. I am, however, convinced that the writers are deliberately leaving that option open.

If he is in fact KGB, and if Paige and/or her parents find out, this will backfire horribly on the Center. Paige is sincere in her faith. If she finds out that something so deeply and personally important to her was a cynical manipulation I am pretty sure that joining the KGB will not top her to-do list. Likewise, Philip and Elizabeth have both insisted that if Paige is recruited it will be on their terms, not the Center's. If they learn that Pastor Tim is KGB they will kill him and then turn informant for the FBI.

I think Pastor Tim will not be KGB, but he will learn the truth, and then he will be killed.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
dbcooper
Posts: 18024
Joined: 05 May 2010, 15:40

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by dbcooper » 06 Apr 2015, 11:21

8th dimensional chess! ;)
Slip inside a sleeping bag.

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 09 Apr 2015, 12:32

"I pushed F3."
"The machine is messed up."
"It gave me a Payday."
"I ordered $100,000 bar."
"BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP"

Ah, Operation ZEPHYR.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 16 Apr 2015, 11:05

Martha is finally interesting. Claudia and Gabriel together were excellent.

I suspect that the Center will let Paige go to Russia because they want to recruit her. But seeing her grandmother receive the standard of care provided in a Soviet hospital will probably not fill her with awe for the Rodina.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 16 Apr 2015, 21:51

Period detail they messed up - the M*A*S*H finale, a CBS show, would have been on Channel 9, not Channel 5 (which was then independent, but would later become the FOX affiliate.)
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 16 Apr 2015, 22:00

Does anybody in that family plan to pay attention to Henry?
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 16 Apr 2015, 22:24

He's the archetypical latchkey kid.

Heck, another kid around that time was able to hide an undocumented alien in his closet and his mom never realized that all the Recces Pieces in the house had gone missing (as well as a six pack of Coors).
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 16 Apr 2015, 22:38

I've heard an interesting theory that Henry will (wittingly or otherwise) tip of Stan to what his parents really do, and Paige and Elizabeth will be stuck in Russia. But I don't think the writers would completely revamp the premise like that. Revamping a premise is only done when writers are desperate and this show is still strong.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 16 Apr 2015, 22:52

Did I already mention the internet theory that Henry is the one that gets killed in the finale, an ironic twist on all the foreshadowing concern about Misha's son in Afghanistan and his daughter's future in whereever?

There's another theory that the cold open of next week's episode is Philip and Elizabethe mopping up (literally and figuratively) Poor(TM) Martha's apartment because the wig removal was a prelude for 'Philip' killing her, because 'Clark' couldn't bring himself to do it.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 16 Apr 2015, 23:08

If Martha dies, or even goes missing, this is going to cause major, major problems for Philip, if not in the season finale then definitely in season 4. A secretary goes missing from an FBI office that is in the midst of a mole hunt. Her parents will most definitely be interviewed. Even if Philip and Elizabeth burn her apartment to the ground to destroy any and all photos, fingerprints, and whatever other evidence, her parents will still know that she married this guy "Clark." They'll probably have a wedding photo or something. At the very least they'll be able to give a lot of descriptive info.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 17 Apr 2015, 00:38

Here's the one way out that I see for Philip:

Persuade the FBI that somebody other than Martha was responsible for the bug. The easiest way for this to be happen would be if there really is a second mole in the FBI. There were hints that somebody other than Martha is getting the tapes from the mail robot. Aderholt sometimes seems fishy. This second mole doesn't even have to be working for the KGB (knowingly or unknowingly). They could be somebody who got blackmailed into working for another intelligence service, maybe even a friendly intelligence service (since allies spy on each other). It just needs to be somebody that they can convince the FBI is a spy. Then they kill the person, so he/she can't be all "OK, yeah, I'm a spy, but I can prove that I had nothing to do with this bug." It might mean burning a KGB asset, but nothing is more important than protecting a Directorate S agent.

Then Martha can stay alive, but eventually transfer from the FBI to some other civil service paper-pushing gig, after a suitable waiting period so that nobody is all "Yeah, pretty funny how quickly she left as soon as the spy was busted."
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 13524
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by Kolohe » 17 Apr 2015, 07:02

You got me thinking that it might be Beeman that takes the fall for everything as the result of an untimely too timely demise. (That would also explain why a Mrs Beeman appearance was teased in next weeks promo.)
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 26514
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: We know the Russians love their children too

Post by thoreau » 17 Apr 2015, 11:21

Do they have Noah Emmerich and/or Alison Wright doing more promotional interviews than usual for the finale? On some shows the way to figure out who will die in the next episode is to see which actor(s) suddenly do a whole bunch of interviews. That's how they telegraphed who would die on 24.
"ike Wile E. Coyote salivating over a "4000 Ways To Prepare Roadrunner" cookbook without watching his surroundings, the Road Runner of Societal Inertia snuck up on them both and beepbeeped them off the mesa."
--Shem

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests