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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Americans 2.7: Embryonic Internet and Lie Detection

The Americans 2.7 tonight was better than usual - which is to say, very good indeed - with an episode that had our Soviet anti-heroes putting a "rat"-sized bug into the ARPANET,  and the best we've seen so far about Nina caught between Oleg and Stan.

Who knows if the Soviets really tried to hack the precursor of the Internet in the early 1980s, but it's a certainly plausible and makes a good story.  The Americans handled this all with its customary aplomb, including Phil not really getting the virtual highway jargon, though he's able to speak it.  What is undisputed in our real history is that our government abandoned the ARPANET for military uses, and, for all we know, maybe part or more of the reason was that the real equivalents of Phil were able to compromise the ARPANET via a suitcase-sized bug.

Meanwhile, the story of Nina is becoming Greek tragic and Shakespearean in the deep conflicts of loyalty and love she's experiencing.  Up until tonight, it definitely looked as if she had some feeling for Stan, but was spying on him for the Soviets to save her life.  For Oleg, she apparently felt a mixture of annoyance and fear about what he might and could do to upset her status quo.

But Oleg moved into a very different position in Nina's life tonight.   His coaching and training her to beat the galvanic response lie-detector saved her life point-blank.  When she sleeps with him at the end, it's certainly out of gratitude, but with Nina you never know if there's something more - if she really feels something for him, which is exactly the perilous situation she appears to be in with Stan.

So in Nina, we have a perfect tragic relationship consisting of two relationships with two men, which mirror each other in the proportions of lying and affection they contain.   And, just to turn up the heat even more, Stan and Oleg, as we know, are also in touch with one another, about the very subject of Nina.

"What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," as Walter Scott - not Shakespeare -noted back in 1808.  But the line certainly feels Shakespearean, and its describes exquisitely the situation in which Nina now finds herself, making her, at least as of this episode, probably the most compelling character on this powerful series.

See also The Americans 2.1-2: The Paradox of the Spy's Children ... The Americans 2.3: Family vs. Mission

And see also The Americans: True and Deep ... The Americans 1.4: Preventing World War III ... The Americans 1.11:  Elizabeth's Evolution ... The Americans Season 1 Finale: Excellent with One Exception


Like a post Cold War digital espionage story?  Check out The Pixel Eye

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