TV Review: The Americans: 4.10 “Munchkins”

The Americans
Season 4, Episode 10 – “Munchkins”
Directed by Steph Green
Written by Peter Ackerman
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Dylan Baker, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, and Frank Langella
Air date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 10pm

We’ve got another quick review of last week’s The Americans after the jump.

Munchkins” has three moments that stood out for their noticeable use (or lack thereof) of sound. Fittingly, they’re also some of the most important scenes from the episode.

Paige’s heavy footsteps walking into the church: After the time jump, we saw how heavy the burden of having to work Pastor Tim and Alice has affected Paige, but that weight is conveyed perfectly by the slow, looming, thudding footsteps Paige takes inside the church as she goes to speak with Alice. Each step echoes as a reminder to the consequences of her actions.

Henry and the ball: As Paige, Elizabeth, and Philip all come to terms with the reality that they very much might have to flee to Russia, Henry’s ball literally hammers that reality home as it bangs against the garage door of their home. While Paige’s footsteps were impactful, this carries with the sound of doom – not entirely similar to what I imagine this Walt Simonson panel from his run on Thor would sound like if brought to life – adds incredible tension and stakes to this moment.

Stan’s silence: Poor Gaad! I was curious as to how the show would continue to incorporate Richard Thomas, but we very quickly received the answer to that question, as Gaad meets his maker on the end of some glass whilst running from some Russian operatives. Stan’s reaction to the news is crushing, supported by a bit of excellent work from Noah Emmerich, who sells it with just a bit of facial acting. Stan has been put through the ringer this season – as have many of our characters – and I except this will be the catalyst that springs him into action to recruit Oleg. His silence is deafening.

The sound of children: As Elizabeth speaks with Gabriel about what to do with Young-hee and Don, the sound of children lingers in the background. As Elizabeth tells Gabriel, what she’s done isn’t the hard part, but rather, what comes next. Those children serve as a stark reminder that Elizabeth will not only be hurting her friend, but potentially hurting those children as well – that is until Gabriel provides an option to see if there’s another way. It’s a watershed moment for Elizabeth, who has been tested a lot this season and in this episode particularity, to maybe salvage the situation before it gets any worse than it already has.

These sounds and sounds of silence dominate “Munchkins” and serve to drive these strong emotional points home. It’s an episode that’s a bit of a table-setter for the remaining episodes in the fourth season, but like just like trust is on the minds of so many characters this week as they question who they can believe in, I fully trust the rest of the season will fully explore the consequences of so many actions that transpire here.

Quick Thoughts:

– Nice bit of bookending as Paige, much like Martha, laments over the fact that she can’t speak Russian.

– First time we’ve seen Kimmy all season, as Philip gets to offer up the advice to Kimmy that he would have liked to given to his own daughter. I also admire the way that the show trusts the audience to remember that this operation has still been underway even if we’ve not been privy to every single specific detail of it.

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