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“The Walk In” was not the best episode of The Americans. The episode featured both flashbacks and a Paige plot that garnered nearly as much time as the other plots, but neither quite hit. It also continued Elizabeth’s struggle to regain her mental and emotional edge from before she was shot, and saw a resolution to the FBI/KGB storyline involving last week’s walk-in at the Soviet embassy.
The Americans' first two episodes were superb hours of television, so the show was due for an episode that was a notch below. “The Walk In” actually started off very promising with a flashback to 1966 with Elizabeth and her comrade Leanne, who was recently killed. In Season 1, The Americans used flashbacks to great effect as they were mainly used as further insight into who a character was or a relationship they had. Seeing the early stages of Phillip and Elizabeth’s relationship, and infiltration of America, has always been a treat.
Unfortunately, the flashback wasn’t utilized to its full affect in “The Walk In,” and instead, it gave off a feeling of being tacked on. Besides Elizabeth saying in 1966 to Leanne that she didn’t really want to have kids, there was no insight truly gained. She has clearly grown since then, as possible threats to her kids are partially the reason for her struggle to regain her espionage form, but the flashbacks weren’t as in depth as they had been last season. The flashback was also used as a means to introduce a letter Leanne wrote to her kids to tell them the truth about who she was. While this idea sounds good, it felt cheap when actually played out on screen.
Likewise, Paige’s suspicion of her parents went a tad too far this week. Paige decides to visit Aunt Helen in Harrisburg, the woman who she tried to find via operator last week. Paige hops a bus and goes on out there without telling anyone. The main problem here is that Paige has very little evidence to do such a big thing. Her doubt of her parents is another layer of drama for the show, but her visit to Aunt Helen felt out of context for her based off the little evidence she has against her parents. Even when talking to the new friend she made on the bus, Kelly, Paige reveals that, originally, she thought her parents were cheating on each other.
When she arrives at Aunt Helen's, Helen pretends to have dementia to get Paige to leave. Helen, of course, is another KGB operative and calls Phillip to tell him of Paige’s visit that day. Phillip lays down the law when she returns home and Paige tells him that they have so little family in America, which is more of a reveal to the audience. Again, this feels like it would be a good idea but it felt a little rushed before we knew any of Paige’s thoughts as to why she suspected her parents. In any case, Paige is still hell bent on rebelling as she calls up Kelly after Phillip reprimands her and sneaks out late at night.
On the espionage side of things, Phillip and Elizabeth go to the propeller factory to get readings off the machine that Fred, the informant from the first two episodes, had told them about. Perhaps it’s just me, but it is unclear as to why they have put so much import on this mission. Clearly this machine is not just for propeller grinding or what not. In any case, Elizabeth comes out the strongest in the episode.
After being happened upon by a random worker at the plant, Elizabeth threatens him to tell her what she needs to know by not explicitly threatening his life. In the old days, Elizabeth would’ve killed the man, but when he brings up his kids, Elizabeth feels too close to his plight and decides to let him live. She seems genuinely affected and torn by her worry for her children since seeing her friends and their daughter dead in the hotel room from “Comrades”.
Elizabeth then retrieves the aforementioned letter from Leanne to her son to deliver it to him. Once she talks to the boy, however, she realizes the best course of action is to break her promise to Leanne. At the end of the episode, she burns her letter. It’s another instance in which Elizabeth has clearly been affected by what has gone on in her life since being shot. Doubt of her bosses is clearly growing as she doesn’t even take comfort in knowing “The Center” will make sure to keep her kids safe when neither Phillip nor Elizabeth are there.
Meanwhile, Stan and the FBI are trying to figure out who Bruce Dameron, the guy who walked into the Soviet embassy last episode, exactly is. Stan is watching him, but neither Stan nor his boss understand what Dameron could possibly offer the KGB. It turns out he has nothing to offer except his hatred of the World Bank. Stan realizes that there is a World Bank meeting at a hotel across the street from where he watched Dameron do way too many loads of laundry earlier. Just in time, Stan reaches Dameron as he is taking aim through a sniper rifle. Dameron, a Vietnam veteran, has come to believe that the World Bank must be punished as they are not at all working in the best interests of the average person. Before Stan could talk Dameron from doing anything Dameron raises his gun, which forces Stan to shoot and kill him. It is unclear if the Soviets had a role in putting Dameron up to it or not, but it seems like Dameron was acting alone and was just a pawn for the Soviets to confuse the FBI.
Stan is next seen at his love nest with Nina, telling her that he loves her. This immediately interests Arkady as he tells Nina she is finally starting to become useful.
There was no way The Americans could keep up the quality of its first two episodes this season and even though “The Walk In” didn’t continue that quality, it was by no means not a solid episode for the show.
Image courtesy of FX