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The Americans “Yousaf” Review (2×10)

1 May

 

The Americans - Episode 2.10 - Yousaf - Promotional Photos (5)

Moral ambiguity is a staple of The Americans, a theme that snakes its way through every character interaction and every event. Coming off the heels of a masterpiece such as “Martial Eagle”, the show continues to explore that idea, crafting a fairly compelling episode in “Yousaf” as we head into the season’s endgame.

Although I would’ve liked to see more elaboration on Philip’s actions from last week, this episode does do a nice job of conveying his current mental state: he’s not willing to see his wife in a situation in which she uses sex as a manipulation tool, but he’s willing to place Annelise in the same situation. It’s not necessarily that he’s callous here, but rather that through his attempts to protect his own wife, he’s making the situation a whole lot worse. Last week, he was reaching a breaking point, and this week, he’s trying to compensate for what he feels he’s losing.

Elizabeth is paralleled with Annelise in this episode, most notably in the intercut between her murdering Javid in the pool and Annelise having sex with Yousaf. It’s like a substitution of sorts, the same kind of substitution that plays out in Philip’s mind as he’s making justifications for the usage of the (let’s face it, a bit unstable) Annelise in a mission of paramount importance. He comforts her in the end, but he doesn’t see her. He sees his wife.

Of course, in this world of espionage, when you start to buckle under the toll of a lifetime of hurt and hiding, you become vulnerable. For the first time since early season one, we really start to see outside forces bearing down on the Jennings: Larrick and Stan are closer than ever, both motivated by emotion, but both with the potential to tear the fabric of their cover. To elaborate on the latter, his scene with Jared is extremely compelling because if we place Paige into that exact spot, we’d get an entirely different result, one ripe with suspicion and secrets and accusations and guilt. Her relationship with her parents is based upon distrust–note her nonchalant reaction to Elizabeth finding the forgeries, followed by Elizabeth going “Watch me” and ending up being the one watching her daughter storm out–while Stan builds a relationship with the kid based on trust.

As for Larrick, what makes him dangerous is his unpredictability. His actions in this episode evoke images of Leanne and Emmett, and Tergeren is perfect when it comes to conveying the danger and the chilling confidence of the character. He’s a moving wall, closing in on our characters as they try to get their lives and their jobs on track. He’s not going to stop, and we’re barreling toward what should be an explosive conclusion.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Honestly, I had no idea who Annelise was until I looked her up online. Second episode of the series, folks.

-Gaad and Arkady have, once again, an excellent scene together.

-“It Must Be Done” is the new song by Pete Townshend that’s been hyped up by FX, and it plays over the sequence cutting between Yousaf/Annelise and Elizabeth/Javid.

-Henry is somewhere.

-3 episodes left!

Photo credit: FX, The Americans

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