The Americans Ep 1.10 ‘Only You’ says farewell to a loyal soldier

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the americans ep10

The Americans Season 1, Episode 10 ‘Only You’
Directed by Adam Arkin
Written by Bradford Winters
Airs Wednesday nights at 10pm ET on FX

In a surprising move, The Americans shows us its hand halfway through ‘Only You’, an episode focused solely around the FBI’s hunt for Chris Amador’s murderer. In a scene near the episode’s midpoint Phillip and Elizabeth – now living in separate quarters – go to meet Granny, who tells them that it’s time to move Gregory out of the country. He’ll be rewarded she tells them, but she wonders if he’ll be able to adjust to life in the Soviet Union. Elizabeth thinks so – Phillip isn’t so convinced, which leads Granny to subtly suggest that if Gregory should decide not to go, there’s always another option to tie up the loose end.

From that moment on, ‘Only You’ makes it clear that Gregory will die. He meets Elizabeth in a bar, and questions the idea of living in a foreign country, leaving behind the fight (and of course, the woman) that’s kept him motivated for so long. What happens to a solider when he’s told to pack up and go home after being at war with his own country for decades? How does a man like that feel useful? For Gregory, the answer was always clear: he fought for his ideals, yes… but Elizabeth was everything he ever wanted – alluded to in tonight’s title, ‘Only You’.

Gregory’s fate quickly becomes inevitable – and that’s where ‘Only You’ goes from a good episode to a great one, as the KGB say farewell to a loyal agent, a man who lived life with purpose, and realized he had fulfilled it. That’s not to say the first act of the episode is no good – once you get past the wild convenience that the FBI could track down a ring inside the trunk of a car in a salvage yard overnight, Stan’s continuous decline from formal agent into cold-blooded counter-intelligence solider (as Gaad tells him, they have to “fight like soldiers now”) is simply fascinating to watch, as Noah Emmerich chews up scene after scene.

‘Only You’ really finds its focus once Gregory’s fate is sealed, taking its time on Gregory’s exit as the FBI chase desperately, and Phillip and Elizabeth try not to let their volatile emotions cloud how they handle their delicate situation. Phillip knows how much Gregory means to Elizabeth (albeit reluctantly), and he knows he’s got to let Gregory go out on his own terms. Phillip’s standing there, screwing in a silencer to his pistol – but he never raises it, knowing full well how hard it would be for Elizabeth to watch him die.

As always, The Americans finds a terrific way to blend the core relationships and emotions with whatever is going on during the week. No matter how desperate or disheartened these characters get, there’s a piece of them that clings onto hope for survival. Sandra dreams of the day Stan will just run away from the FBI (begging for him to just give it all up in a short, but touching scene), Phillip hanging onto whatever emotional connection is left between him and Elizabeth, or even the KGB as a whole, holding out hope and continuing to push forward, even as the body count continues to grow on their side.

In terms of plot, ‘Only You’ slows down quite a bit once the ring is found (which happens in the first five minutes), and the pacing of the rest turns it into an acting showcase for every character on the show. Gregory gets to go out in grandiose fashion, saying his tender farewell to Elizabeth and going out in a hail of bullets (of course); Granny gets a terrific scene putting her pride and loyalty on full display for Gregory; and of course, Elizabeth’s emotional struggles with the truths she has to face when Gregory decides not to go to Moscow (Phillip asks: “Has he heard how nice the springs are in Moscow?”). The performances on this show are all-around terrific, and they drive an episode like ‘Only You’, where there’s a lot of time spent letting the tension and emotion of the episode brew.

Other thoughts/observations:

– Derek Luke is awesome in this episode – why don’t see him in projects more often?

– only one scene for Nina this week, but she’s fantastic again as she mourns the death of Vlad, her friend, who just wanted to be a doctor (sniffle, sniffle). “This is a really bad day, yes?” she asks him, not knowing how much worse it would be if Stan he actually told her who killed him, like she wants him to do so badly.

– Stan tells Sandra “The world is a little darker and a little uglier than I think you know.”

– Gaad’s subtle racism always cracks me up for some reason. After Stan tells him how Curtis outran him in Philly, Gaad looks at his mugshot and says “Figures.”

– Paige is being emotional, if anybody cares.

– Gaad: “In a war, blood gets spilled. That’s how it goes.”

 

— Randy

 

 

1 Comment
  1. tmack says

    Very good review. Derek Luke was an asset to The Americans & the two episodes in which he was featured were top drawer–great writing, characterization, ambiance.

    Although I hated to see Gregory go, I loved the way the writers created his final act. Walking down the street, hatless, smoking a cig, he knew he’d pick up flak. The entire scene soundless except for the haunting Roberta Flack song “Only You.” A revolutionary’s end and a tragic sacrifice for love and ideals.

    Overall, great episode.

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