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Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Americans 4.12: Detente and Secret History

An excellent episode 4.12 of The Americans last night, in which unexpected allies and players strive to stop a virulent strain of horrendously deadly bug from entering the arms race and potentially the world.

The most surprising of these alliances is between Stan and Oleg, who comes to Stan with news that the Soviets are on the verge of obtaining this monster bug, already developed by the Americans.   Also on the Soviet side, William tells Philip he does not want to let this bug get out of the American labs, and Philip agrees.  Gabriel does not - which is somewhat surprising, since he knows the effects, personally, from a less virulent strain, and is still physically not up to par.   But he's too far into what the Center wants to suddenly change course on this operation, and the bug is still in play at the end of the hour.

It was satisfying to see Oleg and Stan working together, even for a moment, reprising what they tried to do with Nina earlier.  That, of course, did not work out.

History tells us there was no plague unleashed upon the world in the 1980s, which points out an underlying, continuing problem with this kind of story and the series in general.   We can be in total suspense about fictional characters, and their involvement in events that were below the radar of reporting in this time period.   Thus the fate of Martha remains genuinely open in this story.   But not the fate of the Eastern seaboard of the United States, which was unafflicted by plague, the way Oleg's lover worried it might happen.

But that's ok.  The Americans is doing great job not as alternate history but secret history.  I'm looking forward to the season finale next week, and glad the series has been renewed for two more.

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