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TV Review: The Americans 3.3 “Open House”
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The Americans Season 3 Episode 3 Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 3 – “Open House”
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Written by Stuart Zicherman
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, Frank Langella
FX
Air date: February 11, 2015, 10pm

Sometimes I forget that The Americans is a spy show.

While I’ve been enjoying digging into and parsing apart the relationship dynamics of the show, “Open House” is a reminder that this show is just as compelling when the game is afoot. After hunting down members of the CIA’s Afghan group last week, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) begin their hunt for a specific target and land on Ted Paaswell, a member of the group who is looking to sell his house after what seems to be a nasty divorce. Philip assures Gabriel (Frank Langella) that the CIA can’t watch everyone all the time and that they should be in the clear.

Famous last words.

After visiting the titular open house, Elizabeth and Philip end up in one of the most intense situations the show has provided. Essentially a bottle episode in a car – the Jennings find themselves getting increasingly surrounded by CIA operatives, not realizing what’s going on until right before it’s too late.

That’s when the tension kicks in. And once it does, it’s incredible. Director Thomas Schlamme does a great job of placing a noose around the neck of our favorite Russians and then letting it ever so quietly tighten. It’s a true feat that even the audience doesn’t know what’s going on until it’s already too late. After that moment, it’s a thrilling act to see just how everyone is going to make it out. And while Philip is able to get out and escape to give Elizabeth the backup she needs, it’s her who’s again put in the direct line of fire of the CIA and FBI.

Of course, this dovetails with Philip’s arrival home. As he enters through the door, an ad states that “we have taken risks that have changed the world . . .” – it’s a moment that’s a touch on the nose, but speaks lengths to the actual work that Elizabeth and Philip are doing. The last lines of the audio state that “this won’t hurt a bit,” which is not true, especially in the world of this show. In a fantastic sequence: Elizabeth finally makes it home and while the two embrace, that old tooth flares up again. What comes next is just as squirm-inducing as the body-folding sequence from last week. As Philip goes to pull the rotten tooth, Elizabeth sheds a tear. It’s a small moment; quick and fleeting, but there just long enough for Philip to catch it. She places her arms on his shoulders and in this space they’re together.

Everything is a risk. Everything hurts.

But perhaps getting rid of the rot that plagued Elizabeth might finally rid them of the rot that’s the decision of what to do about Paige.

Quick Thoughts:

– I think I say this every week, but the work that Keri Russell is doing in this show is tremendous.

– I really like the approach Frank Langella has brought to Gabriel. We’ve seen him grow increasingly more forceful about what the Center’s intentions are when it comes to Paige, but he’s still a pseudo-father figure to both Elizabeth and Philip. I can tell there’s something darker lingering under the surface and I hope we get a peak into what that is.

– Speaking of the Jennings children, I’m not quite sure what the show is doing with Henry (Richard Thomas) this week. Sure, every teenage boy goes through his stage of looking at pictures of bikini-clad women, but I’m not sure why this came up. Time will tell, I suppose.

– Was Martha’s (Alison Wright) talk about a foster child foreshadowing for how Philip might handle the Paige issue?

– The end reveal certainly changes up the pace of things moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see what the new approach will be, considering that Ted is in a compromised place.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off below!

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