The Americans – “Cardinal”

Season Two, Episode Two


Grade: B+

In the first season, Elizabeth’s trust and allegiance to the cause was admirable and full of respect. She was willing to die for her country just to see her job through, but as the season progressed her eyes opened to how real the possibility was that she or Philip could die. What would happen to the kids? She suggested that she would rather have Philip in charge of the kids rather than herself, but now that their marriage is straightened out (for the time being) it’s important that the whole family stays intact. This is the story-line since day one and will continue to be until the end of the show.

But since the season two premiere, Elizabeth is shaken and paranoid. Something went terribly wrong with their fellow agents. Someone or something sold them out and now Elizabeth is sleeping with one eye opened. This episode it was a construction team doing work down the block. It’s almost certain that something is going to catch her eye every week, which will result in impaired judgement and cautious decisions, something that she and Philip didn’t particularly stress about last season. To me, it’s great seeing these two almost indestructible beings as fearful as they are right now. It’s going to be a nice, long story-arc having the parents worry about their kids while they grow older and become more independent. Also, it adds to the suspense how Paige is snooping around.

While the KGB is still freaking out about losing its agents, Philip is assigned to check in on Fred, the man who made the exchange last episode before Emmet, his wife and daughter were killed. Fred’s very careful as he should be, but Philip opens up to him telling him a lot of truths about Emmet, whom Fred knew as Paul in disguise. It turns out that Emmet opened up to Fred about his family and they’ve grown to be very close. Fred claims he was careful not to slip up, and maybe he did, but hearing how Fred knew about Emmet’s family makes you wonder how many other people knew.

The whole event wasn’t a waste because Philip finds out that the information Fred handed him is time-sensitive material, the same time-sensitive information that Oleg is waiting for. Which brings me to the walk-in at the Rezidentura, World Bank employee Bruce Dameran. With this event, we’re able to have Stan back in the mix of things after Nina spills the beans about the walk-in. Is it just me or does it seem like Nina is one confused woman. Is she falling for Stan? I’ll go with probably not. Is she staying true to the KGB? Maybe, but only because if she slips up she’s dead. It really is a lose-lose situation for Nina, but I sure hope somehow she can get away from the mess she’s in.

Talking about messes, Martha admits to Clark she’s searching for another job, which obviously concerns Philip. While Gaad’s office is tapped, I guess this is the immediate conflict in the Martha/Clark story-line, though it probably won’t play itself out until much later. I’m okay with that though, because there is so much else going on at the time being. With only two episodes in the second season, the landscape for this season is being set. There is plenty of information dealing with the technology of the bombs that adds a nice outside sense of fear during the Cold War.

But the immediate danger that looms over the family is not knowing much at all. Always being ordered to make drops or confront different people without knowing who or what is a part of their job. Now, Paige is pursuing the mystery that surrounds her parents by tracking down the place where Elizabeth stayed at while recovering. Paige is surely going to cause problems in the near future and it’s going to be fun seeing how her parents try and deal with her. I hope this doesn’t become another Dana Brody in Homeland fiasco, but I have faith in The Americans. For now, Paige hasn’t figured out anything yet, but giving her more screen time doesn’t bode well.

The episode ends with Philip and Elizabeth talking about their concerns for their children. What are they supposed to do, Elizabeth wonders. Just get used to it. That’s what Philip suggests, but you can tell he’s not even convinced that is possible.


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