The Americans “Arpanet” Review (2×07)

10 Apr


“You are a very good liar, Nina Sergeevna.”

The Cold War resulted from a clash of ideals, but it was also very much a war of technological advancements; that idea is prevalent in “Arpanet”, an intriguing and thrilling episode about the relationships between humans and technology.

We see that with Nina and the lie detector, as well as Philip and the Interface Message Processor. With Nina, we get one of the best sequences this show’s ever produced in the form of the lie detector scene, complete with excellent direction and acting that allows us to observe not only the technological aspects on display, but also the tensions between her and Stan (she looks directly at him at mention of Vlad’s murderer). Even Oleg’s presence is felt, as beforehand, he tells her to find a spot and imagine him being there; it lends the guy a ubiquitous nature that’s befitting someone as–as we’re starting to realize–crafty and manipulative as he is.

Yet, what about Nina’s manipulation? The very essence of a lie detector test is truth, truths we may keep hidden that must come to light when we’re hooked up to a machine. Nina, however, is able to suppress those truths due to anus-clenching advice from Oleg; it’s one liar feeding another, and there’s no way to know exactly what type of game is being played by either of them at the moment. All we know is that they’re sleeping together, and because of this, Nina’s coming between Stan and Oleg (no, not like that). In particular, the dynamic between her, Oleg, and Arkady is so intriguing to watch unfold.

The theme of suppressing truths travels throughout the episode, from Larrick and Elizabeth’s meeting at the park–which is one of the most quietly intense moments we’ve seen so far–to Henry taking on some of his parents’ characteristics. We also see how very singular and base motivations can drive a person, causing them to push aside other truths and zero in on one thing: Lucia on killing Larrick and Duluth on doing his job. Interestingly, both of them actually jeopardize their work through their actions, and Philip is sure to point that out.

That last conversation between Philip and Charles at the bar reveals the former’s struggles with who he is and what he does, an idea that’s been present throughout this half season (paralleled by Elizabeth’s family fears). It also ties in nicely with the technology theme, as a machine feels no remorse; a machine doesn’t care if it has to kill an innocent. All that matters is the job ahead, and for everyone involved, those jobs are about to become a lot harder.



-I shall squeeze my anus during all polygraph tests.

-“The painters want to know if you prefer eggshell or ivory for the walls.” “What’s the difference?” “The color…?”

-Paige is somewhere.

-Professor Rosenbloom’s explanation is pretty interesting to listen to, and the shot going up through the ceiling afterwards is excellent.

-Oleg has something else in mind, I’m sure, but if his whole plan is to just get Nina in bed, I don’t blame him.

-“You keep a tiger as a pet, it’s still a tiger.” Damn, there goes my plans of having my tiger magically transform into 10 cute puppi–*Is eaten*

Photo credit: FX, The Americans

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