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Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 3 Episode 7, ‘Walter Taffet,’ Brings Trouble

Review: 'The Americans' Season 3 Episode 7, 'Walter Taffet,' Brings Trouble

LAST WEEK: Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 3 Episode 6, ‘Born Again,’ Finds a Universal Religion

Briefing:

Heading into Episode 7, the question on everyone’s mind was whether or not Paige would find out more about her parents. While the issue was certainly addressed, it’s no longer the priority. Martha — and her relationship to “Clark” — is now the priority. After Agent Gad discovered the bug in his office, all eyes turned to his secretary, or that’s how it felt to poor Martha. Now she’s suspicious of her boyfriend-turned-hubby, demanding he take her to his apartment and then refusing to share any of his “special” wine while there. Philip knows something is up, but the extent of his immediate danger is unknown…for now. 

Outside of Martha — who was given a few lengthy, tense and rewarding scenes — “Walter Taffet” dug into the stark realities of marriage, including a nude scene for both Philip and Elizabeth without a hint of sexual tension. Mimicking the casual nature of nudity in a couple’s life after so many years of communal bliss, Philip and Elizabeth’s bathroom scene outlined the barrier between them; a barrier broken when Elizabeth reached for her husband’s hand in the middle of the night and he told her about his bastard son. 

To add to the stack of revelations in Episode 7, we also discovered Sandra wants to officially divorce Stan, and watched in suspenseful disbelief as our “heroes” shot a woman carrying some bread and kidnapped a man outside a restaurant. The man was Eugene Venter, a South African intelligence officer suspected of an attack he would blame on Georgetown apartheid protesters. The woman… she was an innocent bystander, and someone we’re bound to hear more about next week.

Philip’s Loyalty: USA

Philip had a light week this week, or so he thought. Kimmy was out of the picture and Martha just needed a little calming down after a long day at work. But at the beginning, he sided with his American family, even if he fought for the Russians at episode’s end. “I still believe in those things,” he told Paige when she asked why he’d given up on change. “You just get older and other things become important. And you realize there are a lot of ways to make a difference.”

Philip said this as he stood up to ruffle Henry’s hair, clearly illustrating his main objective was protecting his family. Be it a fake, KGB-orchestrated cover unit or an honest-to-goodness American family, Philip is sticking with them — even if he does have a son fighting for Russia on the ground. 

Elizabeth’s Loyalty: KGB

Elizabeth, meanwhile, is clearly standing by country over family. It was concerning to hear her say she was sending “weekly updates on Paige” to the Centre, but the disconnected way she passed the news along was all the more painful. She’s clearly forcing herself to be deadened, impartial even, to the demands of her country’s secret service. “Am I going to come home one day and Paige is just going to tell me that she knows who we are?” Philip asked. “Honestly, I just don’t know,” Elizabeth answered.

Her reaction to Philip’s “other” son could be seen as equally cold, but it seemed far warmer than anything else Elizabeth has done in a while. She was understanding and comforting to her tortured husband, perhaps because she hopes having a family member in the fight will motivate him to be more supportive with Paige, or simply because she loves Philip and wants him to be okay. Either way, the assassination of the “baker” is the biggest question attached to Elizabeth’s storyline for next week. Was the baker working in conjunction with Eugene? Was her accent the only hint to the audience as to her true reason for being? That she didn’t have an answer to Liz’s question certainly helps as well, but damn. That was some cold-blooded shooting.

Stan: Savant or Square?

Stan had quite the week. First, he mistakenly asked his ex-wife to come to a memorial service with him. Then he failed to think of her as his ex-wife, when apparently that’s what she’s been leaning toward this whole time. Then he had a heart-to-heart with his son about what he’d done in his past life. To top things off, he’s worried about “the new guy” at work talking badly about him, and now there are bugs in the office. Not a great week for the big guy, even if that conversation with his kid should help him mend some familial mistakes of his past.

Of note: Noah Emmerich, who plays Stan, directed this episode. 

Wig Count: 5

“Great wig week!” That’s what TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller said when I told her we had not only five wigs in Week 7, but three of them were brand spankin’ new! Philip’s “Jack” ensemble during his dinner date with “Michelle” and Lisa was the first new look. Then we got to see his emo/Ringo crossover costume complete with long, black locks during the kidnapping to close things out. Stealing that scene, though, was dare-I-say Elizabeth’s hottest look ever — dark eye shadow, biker jacket, hoodie and a smokin’ short blonde wig to top it all off. The few seconds we got was by far the cruelest tease of the season.

Quote of the Night:

“I’m not really in the mood for that.” – Martha

Though she was officially talking about the wine “Clark” had saved for a special occasion, Martha was also very much implying she wasn’t ready to have it out with her husband right then and there. She may not be wholly convinced he’s doing something wrong, but her suspicions have been roused more than ever (event though their relationship has never been “normal”). Will she turn on her hubby in favor of Walter Taffet and Boss Gaad? Will she go back to being the complacent, supportive house wife? Will Philip find out what’s happened before she makes a move? It’s hard to say where her loyalties lie, but it’s safe to assume Philip wished they hadn’t been altered. Now he’s got two unstable extramarital relationships to worry about, and when emotions are in play, so is everything else.

Grade: A

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