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TV Review: The Americans 3.7 “Walter Taffet”
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Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans Season 3 Episode 7 Walter Taffet

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 7 – “Walter Taffet”
Directed by Noah Emmerich
Written by Lara Shapiro
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
Air date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 10pm

As we enter the back half of the third season of The Americans, things are beginning to really heat up as star Noah Emmerich jumps behind the camera for another fantastic episode of the best show you’re (probably) not watching. Our review of Episode 3.7 “Walter Taffet” here below.

“And if you don’t love me now / you will never love me again / I can still hear you saying / you would never break the chain”

“Walter Taffet” is another series high for The Americans in a season full of series highs. Working with from an action-packed script from writer Lara Shapiro, star Noah Emmerich gets plenty of meaty material to work with, as various simmering plots suddenly erupt, further tightening the noose for Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys).

After a few weeks off from her plot, Martha’s (Alison Wright) storyline finally erupts as the bug ‘Clark’ had her place is finally discovered. It was only a matter of time before the bug was discovered, a pseudo Chekhov’s Gun just waiting to materialize. And once it does, it sends the FBI office into a spiral of chaos and sends Martha rushing to covering her tracks.

The entire investigation sequence works so well, mostly because it’s very apparent that Emmerich really knows his stuff. I really love the way he handles the entire sequence with Martha in the office, as the bug scanner comes works his way from one end of the office closer towards her, the camera focuses in on her ever so slightly. It’s subtle, but it dramatically helps to build the tension in the moment and further place us in her shoes as the pressure mounts.

This sends Martha’s paranoia into overdrive, questioning ‘Clark’ and asking to see his apartment and asking him if they’ll ever get the chance to actually live together. These scenes between Rhys and Wright work so well, as each is keeping something from one another – but both recognizing they’re keeping secrets from one another.

On the Stan side of things, the chain has been broken. After holding out hope for so long that he might be able to salvage his relationship with Sandra (Susan Misner) breaks the news that it’s time for a divorce, only adding to the incredible stress he’s facing at work – Stan now finds himself backed against the wall in all aspects, something he’s quick to remind Philip about over pizza. Yet while Stan might not be able to find solace in his wife, there’s a sweet conversation shared between father in son that gives me so hope for Stan’s situation.

In fact, the only ones who manage not to break the chain are Philip and Elizabeth. After being divided at the start of the episode (literally, even, as Emmerich frames the two after their conversation with a windowpane separating them in the shot) over what Elizabeth told Paige (Holly Taylor) last week, the two come together at the end of the episode as Philip tells Elizabeth about his son. For all the ups and downs we’ve seen in the Jennings marriage over the course of the show, I love that the professional secret keepers rarely hold on to secrets between one another. It’s what makes them strong and keeps them working as a team. The pillow talk between the two of them is another great moment for Emmerich, who keeps the framing tight until the two are speaking together and then slowly zooms out to give the quiet moment the space it needs to breathe.

Which is exactly what we need before another fantastic Fleetwood Mac-scored action sequence. Part of what made the pilot episode for the show sing so well was the inclusion of ‘Tusk’ and this scene certainly benefits from ‘The Chain,’ not only from an action standpoint, but as a thesis on the episode itself.

The chain keeps Elizabeth and Philip together as the run in the shadows, but there’s pressure mounting that might not be enough to keep it from breaking.

Quick Thoughts:

– “She could have shot JR for all I know.” Hey, I understood that reference!

– I love the inclusion of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” for so many reasons. Rumours is an album that was fueled on the same relationship paranoia that this show handles so expertly. And it’s one of my favorite songs from that album. I literally gasped out loud in excitement when I heard it play.

– Again, such masterful work from Noah Emmerich. I hope gets another chance to direct very soon.

– “I’m not American.” No, no you’re not Elizabeth.

– I love that Stan’s frustration over Aderholt’s tenacity comes to back to bite him, as it’s the new agent’s inquisitiveness that finds the bug in Agent Gaad’s office.

I’m seriously blown away by just how good an episode “Walter Taffet” was, but what did you think? Sound off in our comments below!

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