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TV Review: The Americans 3.4 “Dimebag”
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The Americans Season 3 Episode 4 Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 4 – “Dimebag”
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Written by Peter Ackerman
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, and Frank Langella.
FX
Air date: February 18, 2015, 10pm

So much of The Americans Episode 3.4 “Dimebag” is about our main characters trying to become more honest, pure, and innocent versions of themselves, each with varying degrees of success. It’s also a quieter episode that helps set up the pieces of the puzzle that will presumably carry us through our next couple of installments.

Stan (Noah Emmerich), Philip (Matthew Rhys), and Paige (Holly Taylor) take center stage in Dimebag, the latter of the two getting significant stories to play around with (especially Philip, whose storyline touches the two other characters in subtle but effective ways). Let’s start with Stan, who’s attempt to come clean doesn’t happen the way he’d like for it to. Prompted by an exercise at EST, Stan comes clean with Sandra (Susan Misner) about his affair with Nina in an attempt to be honest. Here’s a man who lives on the currency of secrets and deception being totally open and it backfires. Not that we should have expected anything else, but situations and paranoia at work involving the recent Russian transplant drive Stan to a place where he can try and find some place that feels normal and honest.

Meanwhile, Paige’s attempt to become pure and honest comes in the form of a trap so perfectly calculated, even the world-class spies didn’t see it coming. While Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) fight about her future with the KGB, Paige’s involvement in the church has placed her in a position where she wants to make a deeper commitment and become baptized. “You wash away your old self and become clean for Jesus Christ,” she states with a smile. The way that director Thomas Schlamme (returning this week hot of his tremendous work in last week’s episode) shoots that scene puts everyone in a situation of total awkwardness – Elizabeth and Philip realize they’ve been duped, while Pastor Tim has to play along with the idea that he’s comfortable with this in the wake of Philip’s late night warning from last season – and the camera focus from Tim to Philip is just a brilliant shot.

This, bookended with an earlier revelation that Elizabeth is moving forward with bringing Paige into the spy world clearly doesn’t sit well with Philip, who spends most of the episode working ‘Kimmy’ to further the plan of taking down the CIA’s Afghan group. Yet this provides an escape for Philip, especially at the end of the episode where the titular dimebag comes into play. Kimmy is the inverse to Paige and Stan’s attempts to come clean. By continuing to hang out with Philip’s ‘Jim,’ she’s headed down a path she won’t be able to wash away.

This is the line that The Americans handles so well. It’s clear that Philip needs Kimmy to progress his goal of getting into the CIA, but at what cost? He’s directly involving someone that’s just a few years older than his own daughter. The irony isn’t lost on him. Nor is it on Stan. He told Sandra what she wanted to hear and he’s left further alone with his thoughts.

Baptism is nice. But not everyone gets to be clean.

Quick Thoughts:

– An already tense encounter with Elizabeth could have turned a lot worse should Philip revealed he bought Yaz’s ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ record because of his time spent with Kimmy.

– Nina (Annet Mahendru) has her own moment of coming clean as she talks to her new cellmate about what landed her there. However, we know that’s just for a get out of jail free card.

– Elizabeth gets a little sidelined this week, but not at the expense of donning what’s easily my favorite whig combo this season.

– What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off in our comments.

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