TV Review: The Americans: 4.11 “Dinner For Seven”

The Americans
Season 4, Episode 11 – “Dinner for Seven”
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Written by Joshua Brand
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 25th, 2016, 10pm

Considering events with Philip (Matthew Rhys) dominated the front half of the season, it’s refreshing to see Elizabeth (Keri Russell) fall back into the spotlight for the back half of season four – with one of the most rewarding aspects of that pendulum swing being the way in which Elizabeth and Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) find themselves in one another’s orbits throughout “Dinner for Seven.”

It’s easy to paint AuCoin’s Pastor Tim to an antagonist role – a reaction that’s reductive and wrongheaded – but the strength of the character comes from his empathy: something that Elizabeth desperately needs throughout this episode as she comes to terms with having to wrap up the Patti operation. I guessed that the pregnancy angle would be how Elizabeth approached it, but I forgot that you’d still need some way to actually get into Don’s office. My heart sank for Elizabeth as Philip entered into that building – that’s the goodbye she was referring to a couple of episodes back.

It’s this pain that ultimately sends Elizabeth to Pastor Tim. Sure, there’s a convenience factor to it as well: if Paige is going to be spending all this time at church, it makes sense that Elizabeth would be there to collect her. But the conversations between the two provide Elizabeth with an outlet that she’s previously not had. Philip has EST and Stan (Noah Emmerich) to vent frustrations, but with Young-hee gone, Elizabeth is high and dry. Pastor Tim reminds Elizabeth that “None of us are in control. Not really. Not ever.” which . . . leads us to the aforementioned Stan.

Stan Beeman isn’t sleeping. And it’s showing. Between Martha, Gaad, and pressure to turn Oleg (Costa Ronin), he’s got a lot on his plate. The only time he shows any happiness is at dinner – which might as well be dinner for a schmuck. But beneath that wariness is a desire to repent, befitting of an episode that explores so much of Pastor Tim’s personal relationship with religion. Stan’s conversation with Oleg taps into that: he’s lost so much of his faith that he needs make sure his conscience is clear, and for that, it’s time to say goodbye to Oleg.

For an episode that centers a gathering of people around a table, “Dinner For Seven” is very much focused on additional goodbyes in a season that’s already been full of departures. “All that matters is how we treat each other,” Tim says to Elizabeth. But what happens when you’ll do anything to protect the ones you love? Elizabeth provides one potential answer to that question in the form of a knife to the throat of a mugger. And if that answer is indicative of how it’s all going to end when Stan finds out the truth about his neighbors, I think his statement that the KGB are animals might be grossly understated.

Quick thoughts:

– Stan’s “bun in the oven” comment is nice little bit of acknowledgment around Keri Russell’s pregnancy.

– Stan and Aderholt are figuring things out pretty quickly now. I don’t like to speculate too much when it comes to this show, but Stan finding out has got to be happening soon, yes?

– Last week, the show was renewed for a 13 episode fifth season and a ten episode final season. I’m very glad and relieved this show will get to tell its full story.

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