Monday, July 21, 2014

The Americans: The Oath Review


The Bride Cries, The Groom Spies...

It's every girl's dream to be married (except the girls I send messages to on Match or Christian Mingle: they are in their own words, 'selective', yet wonder why they are alone, but I digress).  It's almost sad, though, seeing the wedding at the center of The Oath, given not only that it is built on lies, but that love will tear them apart (to quote a great 80s band, the late-and-still-missed Joy Division). 

Martha (Alison Wright), the unwitting mole of KGB agent Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), who has fallen in love with Philip's cover of 'Clark', now finds herself Clark's blushing bride.  He has proposed to her as part of a plan to plant a bug in Agent Gaad's (Richard Thomas) office to find out if they are being set up.  One of Elizabeth's (Keri Russell) recruits, who has a gambling problem, claims that he has turned a high-up military official in the Reagan Administration.  Both Philip and Elizabeth smell a rat, but after they hand over the documents her mole gave her to Claudia aka Grannie (Margo Martindale), Claudia tells them the information is too sensitive to be part of a trap and orders them to proceed.  Elizabeth, already hating Grannie for all she's put her through, wants her out.  A lovestruck Martha, who believes 'Clark' is working for the U.S. counterintelligence, agrees to plant the bug as a pen in Gaad's office.

Meanwhile, Viola (Tonye Patano), the Weinbergers' housekeeper who was forced to plant the bug in the Secretary's office, has been feeling guilty over her actions.  A sermon has convinced her to disclose her information to both Gaad and Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich).  Her description of the couple who forced her to plant the bug appear to match the description they have of Richard Patterson's kidnappers from the previous episode.  Now with this information, the FBI plans their own trap.  Elizabeth goes into a mild panic when her mole Sanford Prince (Tim Hopper) is arrested, but quickly learns it is for failure to pay child support.  She still thinks this is the trap, with everyone unaware the FBI knows about the Weinberger bug.  In a shocking turn, Nina (Annet Mahendru), convinced Stan either knows who killed Vlad or that Stan himself did it, goes to her boss and confesses her treason, offering to become a double agent.

The Oath has a pathos at its center with the wedding of Martha and 'Clark' (surprisingly not surnamed 'Kent').  Martha loves 'Clark' and wants to make a life with him.  'Clark'/Philip/Misha would have the opportunity to have what he has wanted from Elizabeth (a wife, a real wife), yet he still harbors something for Elizabeth.  As Elizabeth, masquerading as 'Clark's sister', she wonders during and after the ceremony if saying the words, if having a wedding ceremony would have affected how their relationship turned out.  It's clear that Elizabeth and Philip, despite themselves, still harbor feelings for the other that reflect marriage. 

There is also something both comical and tragic in having Claudia and Elizabeth pretend to be 'Clark's' family.  In a certain sense, they are his family, as they are the only connection to his roots. 

However, The Oath doesn't skimp on other aspects, particularly the FBI investigation as it is coming to a conclusion as The Americans has one more episode this season.  Story threads that were almost forgotten (such as the spy clock we haven't seen in a while) are now roaring back to the forefront.  How the tangled personal lives of the Jennings' or how they will get away with things will make the finale either a great success or a disaster.


Next Episode: The Colonel

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