The Americans “Glanders” Review (4×01)

16 Mar


“I guess you never really know a person, do you?”

Since the beginning, The Americans has tackled the idea of identity from all angles. Its premise is already a treasure trove for that particular theme, and over the last three seasons, it has built a complex web of lies and deceit, slowly unraveling it all in season three with several big revelations. “Glanders” turns the show’s focus inward, delving into internal struggles raging in the minds of Philip, Paige, and Martha. It’s a premiere that kicks off the season in style, and it previews a season that is sure to be one of the best on television this year.

What I’d first like to point out about the premiere is the notion of interpretation, specifically the idea that people see things in different manners. First off, we have Elizabeth telling Paige about the purpose of her job and that “some people don’t see it that way”. Next, we have Stan responding to the question about whether he messed up with “It’s a matter of interpretation.” Later, we have the EST guy offering a different perspective on Philip’s bullying flashback. Finally, Sandra promotes the idea of honesty to Philip– “There’s a limit to how much progress you can make if you are not honest about what’s going on in your own life”–and Philip responds by saying that Elizabeth would kill him if he were to do so. It’s all about different perspectives sliding in and out of each other, building up conflict and tension in a masterful way.

An even better way to build up tension? Craft a fascinating relationship like the one we see with Martha and Philip. It truly is wonderful to watch these two actors work, and their conversations throughout this hour have a significant connection to that final conversation I mentioned in my last paragraph. Note that it is not Elizabeth Philip winds up being open and honest to; it’s Martha, as he tells her about the conflict he’s been having over those bullying flashbacks. Interestingly, after Philip tells her about killing Gene Craft, she expresses appreciation and resolves to continue spying for him. It’s a markedly different reaction to the one Philip says Elizabeth would have, and it’ll be interesting to watch this all play out over the course of the season.

The season seems to be centering around a biological weapons plot, one that already hits the audience hard with that intense final scene in the garage. It’s just so well done by Emmerich and Rhys, and it’s such an important moment even given it may not be due to Stan suspecting Philip’s true allegiances. This scene is all about that tiny vial, one that seems harmless but can unleash absolute hell across the show’s universe. It’s a metaphor for the Jennings family itself, for all the secrets bottled up that are bound to explode.



– “You have to separate the feelings and the event.” Philip’s already had to do that many times.

-I love how they’re already setting up the inevitable season finale plot twist: that Henry’s cologne was the real biological weapon the whole time.

-Nice to see Dylan Baker on the show.

-Pastor Tim is not long for this world, I believe.

-Like last year, I probably will only have time to cover selected episodes, but I’ll try to write about as many as I can.

Photo credits: FX, The Americans


5 Responses to “The Americans “Glanders” Review (4×01)”

  1. Bonnie Hobbs March 17, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    I liked your review; very well done and you made some good points. I love this show!

  2. Randall Underwood March 18, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    I record the show and usually watch it the following evening……thus eliminating the commercials. Great show, I love it……

  3. Justin March 18, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    Good start of the season. I love what’s been done with the Paige character with her being torn between her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to her country. Pastor Tim getting killed for being told the truth won’t surprise me. But perhaps the show will take that direction with his fate or have him set something into motion that not even his death can stop.

  4. Matthew Thompson March 19, 2016 at 2:05 am #

    Good premiere. That first scene between Phil and Martha was particularly great. Among the many things this show does right, this episode made me think of how impressed I am with how far they have brought characters like Martha and Paige over the course of the show.

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