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Friday, April 22, 2016

The Americans 4.6: Martha, Martha, Martha

There have been three unbelievable things at work on The Americans -

1.  Elizabeth and Philip happen to live next door to Stan, who is FBI.

2.  Paige told the pastor that her parents are spies.

3.  Philip is pretending to be Martha's husband, with the thinnest disguise possible.   Martha works in the same FBI office as Stan.

My late science fiction editor, David Hartwell, always said that readers will allow one unbelievable aspect in a story, but their willing suspension of disbelief will break down if there's more than one. Audiences are of course the equivalent of readers.   Let's say Stan living next door is the one unbelievable element that the audience is willing to accept in The Americans.  The still leaves us two.

The Paige story has been handled this season, but clumsily.   It's not yet resolved, though, so there's hope for a resolution more satisfying than what we've seen.

Episode 4.6 at long last got down to Martha.   Again, it's amazing that it took so long for the FBI to catch on to what she was doing, and that Stan didn't run into Philip in disguise at some point, but now that the twisted yarn is finally unraveling, it's going to pieces well.   I can believe that Philip can't just kill Martha because he loves her on some level.  And that Elizabeth can't do it, either, out of her feelings for Philip, strange as that might seem.   Gabriel, however, is likely subject to no such decisive emotional restriction - though he is in some synch with Philip and Elizabeth - and it will be interesting to see what role he ultimately plays in the fate of Martha.

And our FBI men, now that they've finally seen what Martha has been doing, are moving with all deliberate alacrity.   The episode ends with Martha on the street, letting Gabriel know that she knows her "husband" is KGB, and the FBI just one step away.

Good ingredients for next week, and for the rest of this season and beyond.

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