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On 3/28/2021 at 8:25 PM, sistermagpie said:

The scene where Philip talks to Martha after Gene’s death often got referenced as evidence that Martha was the “real” wife that Philip went to her for comfort and this, to me, shows why Philip often gets underestimated as a spy. It’s easy to see what Elizabeth’s doing with Lisa, for instance. But Philip’s being a master manipulator here and yet the scene’s remembered as him being vulnerable. When Philip first tells Martha he’s killed Gene, she’s horrified, tells him not to come near her or touch her. After work, she’s still repulsed by him. When he sits down beside her she moves away.

Telling her he tried to make Gene’s death “easier” it doesn’t help. But when he tells her about the toys he saw at Gene’s, intentionally letting her see him as haunted by what he’s done for her, and muses about trying to understand himself, it does. Martha doesn’t offer comfort, exactly. She returns to her imagined place as his partner. And once he’s got her on that hook, he vows that having murdered Gene in order to protect Martha, he will not put her in danger again, prompting Martha to say they need to make that kind of decision together. Okay, Philip relents, in that case bring him surveillance reports. It’s a ball-of-steel move, and yet this is a scene people remember as showing him needing to unburden himself to her for comfort!

Well, some people tend to take what characters say literally, that is, they believe that "I love you" means "I love you", although saying it can also be a means to make other person do or give something. (And of course also "love" can mean many things.)

As you so splendidly show, we must never forget that Philip is a spy and acts like one. His motives are best seen in the result he achieves. That's not mean that he doesn't care for Martha, in a way he does, but also this caring is almost to the end a means to make her do what he wants.

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I just read Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991 by Orlandi Figes. He regards Gorbachev as the last Bolshevik. As a 60s person, he was aware of a Stalinist terror whose victims had also been his own relatives. However, he still believed in the ideals of Leninism and wanted to reform the country. But this was exactly what sealed the fate of the Soviet Union. Without Gorbachev, the Soviet Union could have continued to squat. On the other hand, Gorbachev has the credit that the liberation of Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union took place without violence.

So perhaps Claudia wasn't so wrong!

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21 hours ago, Roseanna said:

Well, some people tend to take what characters say literally, that is, they believe that "I love you" means "I love you", although saying it can also be a means to make other person do or give something. (And of course also "love" can mean many things.)

As you so splendidly show, we must never forget that Philip is a spy and acts like one. His motives are best seen in the result he achieves. That's not mean that he doesn't care for Martha, in a way he does, but also this caring is almost to the end a means to make her do what he wants.

Yes, Philip's feelings for Martha seem really hard to agree on. Because he obviously did care about her in some way, but different people mean different things when they say that. Ultimately, he went to some lengths to avoid killing her--but he continued to use her and agreed they might have to kill her.

I remember someone once said that Philip liked Martha because Martha needed him, unlike Elizabeth. And I thought it was the opposite. Elizabeth does need him in many ways--ways that seem more equal and honest, imo. Martha needed his protection once he'd gotten her into a mess, but she would have been better off if she'd never met him, probably. Obviously he gave her something she wanted--but she might have found that with someone else, or survived without it.

9 hours ago, Roseanna said:

So perhaps Claudia wasn't so wrong!

She definitely wasn't crazy in what she was saying! But then that's also complicated, probably. Because there's the question of what form the survival of the country took. Like, if Claudia supported Stalin, is she actually supporting the same system that Elizabeth thinks she's supporting? Or Oleg/Arkady/Philip? It gets to the point where the characters all love the USSR, but they're all striving for a perfect version of it that doesn't yet exist, and they all have different ideas about the most important foundations for that.

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The actor who played Paige is now on the series Manifest.  She looks about the same, but her acting skills have improved.   

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Just watched Pastor Tim, aka, “How do you solve a problem like Pastor Tim?”

PASTOR TIM

Of course, Pastor Tim has a framed picture on his desk of him, Alice, and three smiling black children. Of course, he does.

 

NINA

Literally every time they cut to the facility Nina is in somebody has just started announcing “Attention! Attention” on the loudspeaker.

Nina meets with her husband, Boris, to help Anton, having had some personal epiphany that she doesn’t yet suspect will lead to execution. I feel bad for the mother of Boris’s children, aka “Not Nina.” He practically says outright that her main appeal is that she’s satisfied with a loveless relationship. He was sure Nina would find somebody she liked better than him and want a divorce. Unlike Boris, who found only some woman to have two children with and would never divorce Nina. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled if they suffer for what he does for Nina here.

 

OLEG

Arkady tells Oleg his brother has been killed. He stayed in Afghanistan after his tour of duty was up, which not only says something about his character, but reminds me of the Jennings staying longer than they should on the job. Stan tries to use this information to get to Oleg, who just dismisses his attempt to act like he cares about him. They’re not friends. Stan really is just using that info to turn him.

It always seems like Stan puts far more importance on the personal, often competitive, aspects of his relationship with Oleg than Oleg does.

 

STAN

This is where the Stan/Henry relationship evolves into the state we recognize, since Henry’s now suddenly a teenager with a hot teacher. I think it’s written as far more complicated than the cliches it’s often flattened into.

Definitely there’s nothing Stan’s doing here that’s inappropriate or pathetic, imo. (There was some talk of that first time around.) But NE does play Stan as a bit too excited at Henry’s positive attention in ways he wouldn’t be if he wasn’t in the place he is now emotionally. Philip was right when he earlier compared Stan to Santa Claus. Henry likes the mac&cheese? Stan will make him more! Henry’s wearing cologne now? Stan has a bottle he will find and give him right now! The fact that it technically belongs to Matthew, his actual son who still hasn’t gotten over Dad abandoning him for 3 years and not doing anything to fix that, is just another interesting wrinkle.

The conversation about hot teachers is also perfect for Stan imo. He can talk in hearty, old-fashioned sexist cliches without having to get into hardcore womanizing talk like with Amador.

 

HENRY

The scene explicitly contrasts Stan as not a parent like P&E. He’s a single guy role model, which Henry finds cool. Henry’s parents think his cologne is terrible and his dad had a talk with him about body odor and how girls really just ask that you be clean and use deodorant. Stan sends him home with more cologne.

The mac&cheese is making a similar point. Stan’s is better because it’s cheesier and not burnt around the edges, Henry says. Stan thinks the secret might be that he’s in too much of a hurry to cook it as long as it says on the box, but probably it’s that it’s instant mac&cheese from a box where Elizabeth’s is homemade—back in S1 Philip and Paige even made some together. Henry prefers the less-healthy, bachelor version. (No judgement there—I love microwave mac&cheese.) He even has to make sure not to have so much he can’t eat his mom’s healthier dinner later.

Also, God, Henry’s energy is a breath of fresh air compared to his sister. It’s not just that he’s happier. He’s fully present in the scene.

 

PHILIP

Philip confesses about EST and Paige confesses she told Pastor Tim everything. It’s amusing watching Philip have to squirm to explain EST—I prefer it to his later “In EST they say…” attitude. Elizabeth seems sweet in asking if he wants her to go too, but when she does go, she’ll use it to insult him. Philip’s been talking around his memory of murder with EST, Martha and Sandra, but only after he tells the story outright to Elizabeth—which he started to do back in S2—does he let it rest.

This ep confirms that it’s Philip who’s going to be interacting/snarking with William. William and Philip share the same fatal flaw—no matter how much they grumble and point out how dumb this all is, they’ll pick up the damn Sucrets box.

Philip’s part in the Paige drama is relatively passive. Twice he drives into the garage to find Elizabeth waiting with bad news about Paige. She’s freaking out, listening to the bug, wanting to kill Tim, disappointed when she can’t. Philip, like William, is just grateful for anything that might keep the Centre’s plans from being successful. Elizabeth makes a joke about making up with his “boyfriend” Stan, but Philip seems to be reluctant about that too, like maybe he thinks it would be good if they weren’t friends anymore. This is the ep where Philip starts openly suggesting they all go back to the USSR.

Philip warns Elizabeth that if Paige does work with them and gets even a glimpse of what they do, she will realize that they killed the Tims and reject them. Now we know he’s correctly predicting exactly what will happen: when Paige finally “glimpses” what they actually do, she connects it to Jackson and rejects it. Elizabeth’s too arrogant about her ability to control all this.

Philip has serious Jack Nicholson in The Shining energy going on here—though he’s more the Wendy of the marriage. I like how where Elizabeth is still outright hostile about religion, Philip always seems to just keep it at arm’s length.

 

ELIZABETH

Elizabeth is pretty confident that the whole “feelings” aspect of EST is stupid. She always believes that feelings can only interfere with your perception even though there’s plenty of times when they make Philip more perceptive. They really do lay the foundation for her in the last season where her no-feelings rule has the opposite effect, making her see what she wants/needs to see. And here already Philip is able to and tries to see things from Paige’s pov more than Elizabeth does.

She has a great dream in this ep, where Paige screams at discovering a murdered Pastor Tim, who then turns into Timoshev. Again, on re-watch it’s consistently the sex work/rape that bothers Elizabeth, especially with Paige, even if Timoshev represents more than literal rape.

There’s four dreams I remember in the show—1 Nina’s, 1 Stan’s and 2 Elizabeth’s. Stan and Elizabeth are the ones who are given message dreams, because they’re the two most disconnected from their unconscious. They would naturally have dreams that speak in really obvious metaphors about stuff they don’t want to think about. Elizabeth’s anxiety about Paige is almost more desperate than Philip’s because she keeps denying it. After both of Elizabeth’s disturbing dreams, she turns to Philip. In fact, that’s a foreshadowing theme throughout the ep. Elizabeth pushes so hard to force the understanding with Paige she wants to have, but can only get it from Philip.

Elizabeth doesn’t seem to believe that her mother sent a message that she loved her on her deathbed. But I gotta say, the way Elizabeth describes her mother rarely seems to jibe with the woman we actually see or hear on her tapes. Elizabeth probably considers herself hard as nails as well, but she wants her kids to know she loves them when she’s dying too.

 

PAIGE

We’ve gotten to the part of the show where people started to see Paige as really dumb or badly written, but I don't think she's either, at least not as much as it seems. I really do think part of the reason she comes across badly is she’s not being played the way the other characters are. The performances are how we viewers experience the script and understand the story. 

At the end of the ep, Elizabeth tells Paige her mother died, which leads Paige to confess to telling Pastor Tim. Throughout the confession scene, KR is doing specific things with each line of hers and Paige’s. Paige’s performance is more general—first effusively apologizing, then explaining herself. Reading the script would give you the same idea.

KR making more choices not only makes her more interesting to watch and Elizabeth a more interesting person, it keeps you grounded in Elizabeth as a person and what her story is, even if you’re not consciously thinking about that. She can contradict herself on the surface and still be coherent. Paige often seems more random.

For instance, while I get that Paige’s confession is linked to Elizabeth’s telling her about her mother, I don’t see it in her. In the kitchen, her sadface and shaky voice are signaling that she’s emotional, but she doesn’t really seem to be feeling anything. I don’t know why she’s falling over herself with apologies except that it’s the obvious way to read those lines.

I really noticed this at the biggest transitional moment in the scene, when they’re interrupted by the phone. Before the call, Elizabeth is calmly guilt-tripping Paige and Paige is frantically apologizing, unable to say why she did it. Elizabeth answers the phone. It’s Philip, who she was already trying to contact about her mother. Elizabeth asks him to come home and says goodbye.

After the call, their emotional states change. Paige starts justifying herself and Elizabeth gets angry in response.

With Elizabeth, you can see the whole shift. When she gets on the phone with Philip she sighs with relief and her voice softens, becomes more vulnerable. KR doesn’t have Elizabeth order Philip to come home in response to the new crisis, she has her asking him as her friend/husband/emotional support. Hearing him triggers her emotional openness, so she reacts more honestly to Paige after she hangs up, showing her contempt for Pastor Tim and the anger and hurt she feels about Paige’s betrayal. It fits her lines, of course (“If I hear one more thing about Pastor Tim…”) but the performance shows how she gets from one state to the next. There’s a lot going on for Elizabeth in this scene.

But the call is just as big a transition for Paige in the script. There’s even a big closeup on her sadface while Elizabeth is talking to Philip, making it clear she’s part of this call as a witness. But it really doesn’t seem like she has any specific reaction to it beyond what her lines are saying, though there’s plenty about it that could provoke her into a new emotional state. (Script-wise throughout the show there’s a lot of lines that point to Paige having a complicated, sometimes negative relationship to her parents’ marriage, especially with regards to her mother as role model/antagonist.) It makes it seem like Paige is stupid because she just can't get it instead of dangerous because she's an unstable adolescent under serious psychological distress.

When you see the whole scene performed this way, it’s natural, as a viewer, to just think, “Well, she showed she was upset, she said her lines in logical ways—what else could she do?” But I think it’s just easy to underestimate how much we really are getting from the actors. I know it’s not fair to make a comparison here to Alison Wright, but there are similarities to Martha’s story. It’s not just the plot beats that make her story riveting. After four seasons of Paige presented as a girl shaped by her fury at the lies that surround her, she still can’t give the word “liar” any power or specific, personal meaning. She never, for me, makes these things (her relationship to lies and to her parents’ marriage) part of Paige, even in her climactic confrontation with her mother in Jennings, Elizabeth.

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On 4/25/2021 at 6:47 AM, sistermagpie said:

Arkady tells Oleg his brother has been killed. He stayed in Afghanistan after his tour of duty was up, which not only says something about his character, but reminds me of the Jennings staying longer than they should on the job.

Yes, but exactly what? That he believed in the Soviet version about war? Or that he felt duty towards the comrades of his unit and didn't want to leave them in trouble (the most common motive for which f.ex. the Germans fought to the end in WW2)? Or even that he enjoyed war (there were such men in every army although it's hard to us to admit it if it concern our army?

The best and worst qualities of the character can be used to good or bad, depending in the circumstances. Leaving aside that the Soviet war in Afghanistan was morally dubious, it was politically stupid. History taught that the British had in the 19th century failed there. Therefore, f.ex. getting a medical certificate about imaginary infirmities that made one unfit to serve or using one's family relations in order to avoid the service there can be understood. (And of course f.ex. Estonians had no reason to fight for the Soviet Union to whom they had been forced to join.)    

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On 5/21/2021 at 3:52 AM, Roseanna said:

Yes, but exactly what? That he believed in the Soviet version about war? Or that he felt duty towards the comrades of his unit and didn't want to leave them in trouble (the most common motive for which f.ex. the Germans fought to the end in WW2)? Or even that he enjoyed war (there were such men in every army although it's hard to us to admit it if it concern our army?

 

It's interesting how in this case we'll never know, since we didn't know the character. It could be any of those things, or even something more personal, like that he felt it was something that would make his father proud, since it seems like Igor considered Oleg the black sheep.

In Elizabet's case it seems like she wasn't fully aware of why she needed to stay, but she ran out the clock to the point where they no longer had the option of taking the kids with them. And Philip as well, since he knew she would do that if he told her about Kimmy's Dad's promotion. I think he was ultimately just more self aware about his choices.

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I just started watching Amazon’s Sneaky Pete with Margot Martindale and Allison Wright.  It’s not new, but new to me. 

Edited by SunnyBeBe

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Just watched Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. It’s entirely possible I didn’t know or had forgotten what EPCOT stood for before this ep. It has a lot of foreshadowing for the endgame I couldn’t see before—and includes the single funniest moment on the show, imo: William running away from Glanders-infected Philip and Elizabeth.

NINA

Nina’s story is winding down. She’s asking to read what Baklanov said about her and smiling beatifically at it before dreaming of white flowers in white rooms. Hope whatever he wrote is worth it, Nina!

I do wonder what kinds of things Baklanov would say in this context that would elicit her reaction, because it seems like what she wants to hear and what the authorities need to hear would be very different.

 

STAN

Stan asks Adderholdt’s help in watching Martha. Their alliance might originate in character conservation, but it feels believable, like suspicious game recognizing game.

Stan mentions having waited for Martha until 3AM, reminding us that his schedule can be as unexpectedly extreme as Philip and Elizabeth’s. (Slightly related, there’s references here to the Jennings going to amusement parks in the past.) On first run I thought Stan and Adderholdt’s talking near the mail robot would be important, but in fact, Stan draws Adderholt away and lowers his voice for it. That’s how useless this bug is!

 

GABRIEL

The discussions about killing the Tims while the Jennings go to EPCOT foreshadow S6 now—and, imo, support my theory that the second-gen program has petered out by S6. Philip says killing the Tims will make recruiting Paige impossible. Gabriel says that’s not their priority—and I think he means it. Paige has known about a month, and two valuable agents are seriously threatened. Two Russian birds in the hand are worth one flightless American bird in the bush. Gabriel says the same thing as Philip to Claudia: they should run and should have tried to bring Paige in.

To their faces, Gabriel assures P&E that Paige won’t ever know for sure they killed the Tims because people believe what they need to believe (he doesn’t know Tim’s already been warning her that her parents might hurt innocent people). Elizabeth buys it, because she needs to believe it. Elizabeth is more associated with short term thinking/action.

 

ELIZABETH

Speaking of short-term, when Paige asks if people get hurt because of their work, Elizabeth not only says no, she adds “you know us better than that,” which twists the knife effectively in the short term, but will make things worse later.

She’s determined to stay in the US—I never get why people insist Philip being in the US in S6 is down to some sacrifice of Elizabeth’s when even this early it’s exactly the opposite. She does think wistfully about living in Odessa (USSR) until she imagines how the kids would hate them for dragging them there. Watching it now, it’s foreshadowing the future.

Elizabeth, who will later dismiss EST as a money-making scheme, seems to like being an actual door to door salesperson. As “Patty” she seems to wear foundation to make her face paler. It’s the first time I’ve noticed them using that as part of a disguise (wise choice choosing whiteface over black or brownface, show!).

Young-Hee is another character built specifically to get through Elizabeth’s defenses. At first watch it seemed natural to assume that she was the type of person Elizabeth would want to be friends with, but I’m not sure that’s it.

She’s an immigrant, so Elizabeth can tell herself she would agree with her opinions about the US without ever having to find out for sure etc. But also, Elizabeth doesn’t have to give anything to the relationship. Young-Hee just offers to help her and invites her home. She’s immediately sensitive to the hints Elizabeth drops about her dark backstory. She jokes all the time, so she never seems to have problems. Once you accept that Elizabeth genuinely finds her amusing, you can see why she enjoys her, but it seems almost unlikely that Young-Hee wouldn’t have a dozen Pattys in her life already.

Elizabeth’s dinner with Young-Hee’s family is juxtaposed with Philip’s talk with Sandra since they happen at the same time. Philip and Stan’s friendship also started with fun since they both liked playing sports. But by now Philip is able to have a real give and take with Sandra and about Stan. When Young-Hee needs a friend, Patty will be “dead.”

P&E instinctively divide up the personal work they have to do in this ep. Elizabeth does more of the talking in the meeting with Pastor Tim since not only has Elizabeth been going to his church (during the day…), she’s the one who’s good at arguing the righteousness of their cause.

 

PHILIP

Philip, meanwhile, gets the job of telling Paige how to deal with Pastor Tim. This is obviously more in Philip’s skill set. He warns Paige about not angering Pastor Tim while carefully not angering her. When Paige starts to object to having to put on an act, Philip assures her that she doesn’t have to lie, just keep Tim’s pov in mind. That’s a glimpse into how Philip works. And lives. And what he’s doing in the Sandra scene. And why he needs EST.

Btw, when Sandra comes to the door Philip’s literally just standing in the kitchen suffering. Also, I love that when Philip offers to make tea, MR picks up the kettle to check the water level before turning it on, like a man who makes tea a lot.

Philip warns that even if Paige doesn’t immediately accuse them of murdering the Tims, she will eventually know. Iow, she won’t “need” to believe them innocent forever. He says that if Paige gets even a glimpse of what they do, she’ll be out. This is exactly what eventually happens with Jackson.

Watching Philip argue how Paige isn’t stupid, it’s no wonder he’s frustrated with her willful ignorance in S6. She’s already had way too many glimpses without getting it by then. But that also shows how she almost consciously decides to stop being herself to follow Elizabeth.

He later describes himself as having told Paige to talk to Pastor Tim about her feelings, which is exactly what Paige said Pastor Tim told her to do when she confronted her parents. In a way, Paige’s parents reflect different services of Pastor Tim—Elizabeth makes her want to be a hero; Philip listens patiently and gives gentle encouragement.

Stavos unexpectedly and earnestly praises Philip for planning a family trip. Stavos maybe hero-worships Philip or considers himself Philip’s secret guardian angel or something. He is not prepared when Philip lets him down!

Philip uses his “run run run” phrase again here.

 

PASTOR TIM

On re-watch this ep seemed really important for Paige and Pastor Tim. However sincere of intention he’s intended to be, his actions are those of a guy guided by personal ambition. He ends his hilarious meeting with P&E exactly where they all started, demanding they return in a few days to appeal to him again. Like there’s no way he is letting go of his role in this morality play.

The line that still stands out to me is when Elizabeth gives her “we fight for everyone” speech and he says “unless they’re believers,” referencing Catholic Polish dissidents and Jewish Refuseniks. It’s like he wants a moment to challenge the USSR on behalf of other “believers,” even though many of the people he’s talking about are probably atheists. There’s a lot of things he could criticize the country for, but this one puts him at the center.

He doesn’t buy Elizabeth’s feigned amusement at Paige calling them “spies,” saying he knows what spies do…but in fact, finding out what they do is what he says he wants most. I wonder why he didn’t ask them for more details, since he seems to think Paige should? It honestly seems like he doesn’t really have a specific plan or goal here, he just wants to feel like he’s doing something important. He sometimes reminds me of that guy in Die Hard who tries to be important and gets shot.

With Paige, Tim’s completely unapologetic about telling Alice. In fact, he claims she should be grateful, because he was trying to help her. See, he knows that Paige claims to care about other people, therefore it would help her to team up with Tim to find out details about her parents’ work in case they’re hurting people.

But until this ep Paige hadn’t expressed worries about her parents hurting people. She’s afraid about her parents being in danger themselves (and in despair at having to lie). Introducing a whole new area of anxiety and telling her they have a responsibility to do something about it is a ballsy move after betraying her and lying to her.

The main thing we know about this guy is, after all, that his identity is tied to heroism. The facts we have about his biography really do support the reading that when Tim sees a chance to feel like a big hero, he drops more mundane responsibilities to do it, whether that means pushing Paige or leaving his very pregnant wife for one last adventure before being tied down with the baby he’s avoided until now.

 

PAIGE

Paige has 3 scenes. In the first she unhappily learns Pastor Tim told his wife and she needs to keep him on their side. In the second she confronts Tim and walks out when he tries to recruit her to find out if people get hurt because of her parents. In the third, she reports on the meeting going badly to P&E and asks if people get hurt.

HT plays the most superficial level of all of them, so we get plot movement that puts Paige into a new place, but not much going on underneath, which on rewatch I think is the important part, because that’s what is driving her to eventually join Elizabeth.

For instance, in the first scene she’s mad at Tim for telling Alice, who she complains is a blabbermouth. But there’s different levels of things she can be mad about here. Philip describes Paige as being “betrayed, hurt, angry” but she seems more “indignant, annoyed, peeved.” If you just watched her reaction in isolation, you could believe she was upset that Tim told his wife about a surprise party she’d been planning, or something vaguely embarrassing she didn’t want gossiped about.

I think another actor would have interpreted and played the scene more deeply. Tim is the guy we’ve been reminded is the only person Paige trusts now. A guy she just insisted to Elizabeth she and they can trust. At the start of this ep, Paige thought the seas had calmed a bit. Now she’s learned Tim casually betrayed her and has been lying about it! It’s directly opposed to everything the guy’s presented himself as being.

When she says “How could he do that? Why would he do that?” she sounds like she’s questioning his decisions in a practical sense, annoyed at the problem he’s created. It doesn’t ring true as an expression of that hurt and betrayal Philip mentioned. If Alison Wright was doing this scene, you know she’d have fully owned that melodramatic “How could he do that?” just the way she does similar lines about Clark!

When Paige talks about how Alice gossips with other women, her emotion doesn’t match how bad it would be if she gossiped about this. Or a growing horror as more scales fall from her eyes—The Tims aren’t wiser and holier than her parents, they’re just another pair of adults that like to gossip. All those times Alice said stuff she “really shouldn’t be saying?” She got that juicy stuff from Tim, who never respected privacy. This is a huge change in Paige’s world, and the loss of a major support.

In the scene in Tim’s office, Paige paces and raises her voice to indicate she’s upset, but she’s still at that same manageable level of distress—more importantly, she seems like she’s openly showing all the emotions she’s got. When she says, “Alice likes to talk” it sounds like “I disagree she won’t blab” and not anything else besides, like “How can you act like you didn’t stab me in the back?” Even her pacing is low-energy. It’s just blocking.

When she cuts him off about her parents with “This is my mom and dad that you’re talking about” she doesn’t sound scared at what he’s implying about her parents or what he might do to them. Or furious that this guy who just betrayed her is now trying to pressure her and make demands. Or like she’s on her parents’ side in this moment. When she walks out, she seems more “fuck this” than “I can’t do this.”

So it’s not clear how her wide-eyed, timid question to her parents about people getting hurt or her reaction to the answer specifically comes out of that scene with Pastor Tim. The connection is there in the writing, but the performance doesn’t make me feel like there’s anything specific going on inside her like you can see in any scene when Martha asks Clark a question like this.

This will, iirc, become an ongoing problem with Paige asking questions, that she tends to ask them all in one of two ways. So this is an example where her scenes feel like plot points rather than character beats. The plot part works, but she doesn’t feel like a person caught between previously reliable people whose every attempt to find stability (learning the truth, meeting her grandmother, telling Pastor Tim, confessing that to her parents) fails.

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On 6/12/2021 at 9:36 PM, sistermagpie said:

With Paige, Tim’s completely unapologetic about telling Alice. In fact, he claims she should be grateful, because he was trying to help her.

I just can't understand that any pastor doesn't know, and follow, the rule that what a member of his flock tells him in confidence, even if it's strictly as confession, he must keep secret.

Well, actually I would understand, and accept, if Pastor Tim had gone to the police which is his duty as a citizen (just as he should tell other crimes, unlike Roman Catholics priests do, at least in movies). And there is no sign that he would think that he decided against it because he put Paige's need to keep her parents and home first. Quite the opposite, he thinks that growing up with such parents harm her morally.  

But the wife is absolutely off-limits, even if she isn't so unreliable as Alice. Why would anybody trust him?

Pastor Tim completely lacks humility to understand that such things as spying isn't for him but to the authorities to judge.  

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On 6/12/2021 at 9:36 PM, sistermagpie said:

She does think wistfully about living in Odessa (USSR) until she imagines how the kids would hate them for dragging them there.

Well, I think that if they were an ordinary family who had to flee for some reason to another country, I would say that however hard circumstances are, it's far better that the family is together, than children living materially well but without their parents.

But in Paige and Henry's case, the crux of matter that they were betrayed by their parents.

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On 6/24/2021 at 8:06 AM, Roseanna said:

I just can't understand that any pastor doesn't know, and follow, the rule that what a member of his flock tells him in confidence, even if it's strictly as confession, he must keep secret.

Well, actually I would understand, and accept, if Pastor Tim had gone to the police which is his duty as a citizen (just as he should tell other crimes, unlike Roman Catholics priests do, at least in movies). And there is no sign that he would think that he decided against it because he put Paige's need to keep her parents and home first. Quite the opposite, he thinks that growing up with such parents harm her morally.  

But the wife is absolutely off-limits, even if she isn't so unreliable as Alice. Why would anybody trust him?

Pastor Tim completely lacks humility to understand that such things as spying isn't for him but to the authorities to judge.  

This is one of the things that fascinates me on re-watch, is trying to figure out what's going on in his head. Because it really only makes sense to read his actions as motivated by character flaws. That is, that he's not really thinking of the right thing to do for Paige or for his country or later any of the Jennings. He's just using those things as excuses for himself so he can enjoy feeling important. And for him, part of being important is talking about being important with Alice.

I almost wonder what it would have been like to see him with other parishioners at the same time. I wonder if he doesn't drop hints that he's dealing with something really important that he can't talk about. Tim obviously doesn't have a problem with Alice "liking to talk" with other women.

I even think that his later notes in his diary about Paige being harmed by her moral environment are similar moral posing--but I'll have to see if I still feel that way when I get to it. Tim just doesn't work for me as a character representing an actual moral pov or faith, but he does, maybe, work as a flawed person who likes to talk about sacrifice, but has limited capacity for it. Thinking back, I feel like his priorities shift dramatically halfway through and he starts doing something different, while always presenting himself as the same great guy.

On 6/24/2021 at 8:17 AM, Roseanna said:

Well, I think that if they were an ordinary family who had to flee for some reason to another country, I would say that however hard circumstances are, it's far better that the family is together, than children living materially well but without their parents.

But in Paige and Henry's case, the crux of matter that they were betrayed by their parents.

Yes--and ironically, Elizabeth herself will later seem to think taking them to the USSR will be much easier. In this scene Elizabeth doesn't actually want to return, so the kids' trouble adjusting is a reason not to do it. But when she actually thinks about going back--both in S5 and then in S6 when they actually are leaving--she doesn't hesitate to take the kids. It's Philip who knows Henry's built too much of a life and is too close to adulthood to justify taking him. And Elizabeth has long-since convinced herself that Paige will be no problem even though she's never shown any enthusiasm for it.

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12 hours ago, sistermagpie said:

This is one of the things that fascinates me on re-watch, is trying to figure out what's going on in his head. Because it really only makes sense to read his actions as motivated by character flaws. That is, that he's not really thinking of the right thing to do for Paige or for his country or later any of the Jennings. He's just using those things as excuses for himself so he can enjoy feeling important. And for him, part of being important is talking about being important with Alice.

Well said!

Only, these character flaws are so individualistic (just like those of Paige) that they are difficult to understand on the basis what I otherwise know about similar cases.

Some persons with radical opinions wouldn't have informed on a spy because they would have felt sympathy towards the USSR and/or at least would have been alienated from the government of their country.

Some persons wouldn't have informed for moral reasons, regarding informing always wrong regardless of reason. Others wouldn't have informed even about a planned murder attempt because their peer group would have ostracized them for it (such was the atmosphere among intellectuals in Tsar's Russia in its final decades).   

And finally, the reason that helped Cambridge spies so long; they were friends, colleagues and members of the elite.

In the same way, when Russia sent desants to Finland during the war and they asked for help for people who they regarded trustworthy for political or personal reasons, even those who refused to help them, often didn't inform on them because "I couldn't do it to my comrade/my relative/my friend/my friend's relative", knowing they would be condemned to death. 

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10 hours ago, Roseanna said:

Well said!

Only, these character flaws are so individualistic (just like those of Paige) that they are difficult to understand on the basis what I otherwise know about similar cases.

Some persons with radical opinions wouldn't have informed on a spy because they would have felt sympathy towards the USSR and/or at least would have been alienated from the government of their country.

Some persons wouldn't have informed for moral reasons, regarding informing always wrong regardless of reason. Others wouldn't have informed even about a planned murder attempt because their peer group would have ostracized them for it (such was the atmosphere among intellectuals in Tsar's Russia in its final decades).   

And finally, the reason that helped Cambridge spies so long; they were friends, colleagues and members of the elite.

In the same way, when Russia sent desants to Finland during the war and they asked for help for people who they regarded trustworthy for political or personal reasons, even those who refused to help them, often didn't inform on them because "I couldn't do it to my comrade/my relative/my friend/my friend's relative", knowing they would be condemned to death. 

This also makes me think how Philip thinks it's terrible that Elizabeth informed on him, while Elizabeth thinks that was her duty. And later, in S5, the Jennings don't tell anyone about Tuan's moment of weakness when he calls his family, but then he turns on them and uses it against them, informing their superiors about what he did and that they covered it up for him.

With Pastor Tim, I feel like he's acting out in a very personal way--that he doesn't feel any pressure from outside himself--beliefs or politics or society. In fact, I feel like he's just not thinking any of this through, he just does what he want to do. Or maybe more accurately, he doesn't do what he doesn't want to do. He doesn't want to turn the Jennings in because that makes him feel like the kind of guy who likes the FBI, and a youth pastor the kids can't trust not to act like the kind of adult who would hurt them for their own good.

But it seems like he also just can't stop himself from wanting to be involved with the Jennings. He says he needs to find out what they're doing, but of course they won't tell him, and that doesn't exactly discourage him. It feels like he's attracted to the danger and the drama--but not enough to get involved. Which is a little smarter for himself, but where I used to think he was just ultimately unhelpful to Paige, I now feel like he might have done a lot more harm, carelessly pushing her into a bad place and then backing off when he gets his priorities straight,. 

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11 hours ago, sistermagpie said:

This also makes me think how Philip thinks it's terrible that Elizabeth informed on him, while Elizabeth thinks that was her duty. And later, in S5, the Jennings don't tell anyone about Tuan's moment of weakness when he calls his family, but then he turns on them and uses it against them, informing their superiors about what he did and that they covered it up for him.

Well, in Stalin's time children were given as a role model Pavlik Morozov who informed on his father: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlik_Morozov

Elizabeth is a Communist of Stalinist type although she sometimes acts against the orders and therefore it's quite useless to try to get her relay on arguments based on common sense (f.ex. is the USSR really a superior country?") as it would be like arguing to a believer with the arguments of natural science.

I just read a book of a Finnish ex-Communist who belonged to youths (often from bourgeois families) who had been pacifists and protested against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 - and only a year later turned all upside down, even accepting the Soviet puppet regime during the Winter War which was the ultimate affront against their parents' values.

This transformation can be understood only by such concepts as "Escape from freedom" by Erich Fromm and Stockholm Syndrome (out of fear towards the kidnapper/bully one goes to the same side and adapts his attitudes and values).

Now, as Elizabeth has never been free, she can't escape from freedom, but clearly she is afraid to be free - and I don't mean going over to the Americans, but mentally free. Nina's last choice may regarded as "stupid" as it led to her death, but she makes it because of values she had finally chosen to follow as a free individual, instead only trying to survive at the expense of others.

Elizabeth fits better to "Stockholm Syndrome". Her father has been shot as a traitor although he evidently had only fled from the front after loosing his nerves (I wonder if he fled to home and it was Elizabeth's mum who informed on him to the authorities because it's otherwise incomprehensible that "the traitor's family" isn't punished or at least treated as second class citizens (as all those who had lived under the German occupation) were and Elizabeth is even selected to a secret mission. The natural reaction would either be angry against the state because injustice or be shamed because the father, but Elizabeth both accepts the Soviet version of history and adores her dad, representing him a hero. During her training Elizabeth was raped which clearly broke her - she could hate the rapist but not the state who commanded/allowed him to do what he did. 

 

Edited by Roseanna · Reason: adding words "often from bourgeois families"

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Continueing

In the same book there is a story of a older Communist who became the mentor of the writer and many other new recruits. His father, like thousands of Finnish Communists (just as Polish, German, Korean etc. Communists belonging to minority nationalities who had another fatherland across the border), had been executed in 30ies in Russia, but he used to tell that that his dad had been sent during the war as a desant to Finland, caught and executed here, thus making him Communist hero and giving the son the motive for a revolution in Finland.

Now, the Communists belonging to "Red orphans" whose father, and sometimes also mother, had been executed by victorious Whites during the Finnish Civil War in 1918 or died thereafter of hunger or diseases in the camps, had very valid reasons to hate the bourgeois Finland. But the fate that Stalin ordered to those Reds who after the defeat managed to flee to Soviet Russia and actually only there became Communists or who later defected across the border was even far greater tragedy - but it wasn't talked about. It has been compared with incest - those who you love and trust make do evil to you.

The Soviets had an absolute trust in the leader of Finnish Communist Party until 1968, because he hadn't protested when his wife had been sentenced in the 30ies and thus had proven his loyalty with blood. In the other hand, there was a clear unwillingness among many emigrant Communists who returned to Finland when their party became legal in 1944, to try to make a revolution - they were afraid of their victory, knowing that those Communists who had been in prison in the bourgeois Finland (and now released) had been safer than they had been in the USSR.

Elizabeth reminds these Finnish Communists who had repressed their memories that were too painful to them. They had sacrificed their whole life, and life of their dearest, to their ideal - what would they have if it have been in vain? 

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19 hours ago, Roseanna said:

Now, as Elizabeth has never been free, she can't escape from freedom, but clearly she is afraid to be free - and I don't mean going over to the Americans, but mentally free. Nina's last choice may regarded as "stupid" as it led to her death, but she makes it because of values she had finally chosen to follow as a free individual, instead only trying to survive at the expense of others.

 

Though it's interesting that she does seem to be able to start covering for Philip. In S6 neither of them repeats their mistakes of S1. Philip tells her about what he's doing with Oleg (belatedly, but without being caught) and Elizabeth never seems to consider telling Claudia about this secret thing going on. One could say that was because Philip has suggested Claudia might be the one who is the traitor, but by that time in the series it's hard to imagine her informing on Philip at all. Not because she personally loves him, but because she seems to really see him as loyal. Like through him she starts to see that someone can have the right values but express them differently than she does.

And of course in the end being free to choose and come out of that "cage" they talked about in EST is exactly what Philip points out she has to do in S6. She has to choose what action represents her values best, because the country's leadership is split on this one. And she chooses to protect the man whose heart is in the right place even though he's a reformer. It's not as clear of a choice as Nina or Philip ultimately make, but it's, imo, a sign she might be able to adapt.

20 hours ago, Roseanna said:

Elizabeth fits better to "Stockholm Syndrome". Her father has been shot as a traitor although he evidently had only fled from the front after loosing his nerves (I wonder if he fled to home and it was Elizabeth's mum who informed on him to the authorities because it's otherwise incomprehensible that "the traitor's family" isn't punished or at least treated as second class citizens (as all those who had lived under the German occupation) were and Elizabeth is even selected to a secret mission.

I don't think we actually know what kind of traitor he was--though this version makes a lot of sense to me. All we know is that Elizabeth's mother told her the memorial service wasn't for him because he ran away and was shot. 

I sometimes wonder if Elizabeth even remembers that--like you said about suppressing bad memories. In the scene where she remembers that moment, she claims to have been just thinking about the blue dress her mother wore, and I'm not sure if she's lying to Philip about what she was thinking about or whether she herself was really just focused on the dress--maybe only we, the audience, heard what her mother was saying.

That always felt like it fit with her reaction to the rape, though, as you said. Seems like she learned early that not being a loyal Soviet is the worst thing you can do--originally, as a child, she thinks her mother should be going to the memorial celebrations because she should be honoring the man as a husband and father. So it's almost like Elizabeth has to hold onto this false father in her mind, the war hero, so she can keep feeling anything for him.

 

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We just finished our second watch of the series.  As much as I liked the first view a couple of years ago, I found the series even better the second time around.  I do disagree with those who think P & E will get executed in USSR.  Their side won, Gorby retained his power and became stronger.  Poor Oleg was probably screwed for a few more years since he was stuck in America.  

I did find it funny that with all of the clues Stan failed to put together, his light bulb lit up over E smoking when many many women were smoking at that time compared to now.

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3 hours ago, Goldfish77 said:

We just finished our second watch of the series.  As much as I liked the first view a couple of years ago, I found the series even better the second time around. 

Me too. Watching it a second time is really making me appreciate how the story and characters are built towards that inevitable end!

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Just watched Chloramphenicol—really noticed this time how carefully character arcs are laid out. The show’s often at its weakest in the plot machinations/mystery department, but even when flawed, those can work for me when in the service of themes and characters. (Renee = total failure.)

 

NINA

Nina dreams herself rewarded for becoming a good person and leaving with Baklanov, then faces the reality of execution, which is just as powerful now as it was the first time.

 

OLEG

Nina’s story also plays out through Oleg, who talks to his dad about staying in Moscow in exchange for his dad saving her. At the time there was a lot of talk about Oleg defecting because of this or his father being responsible for Nina’s death, but neither is true. It’s more that all their negotiations are pointless.

It seems like Oleg is much more complexly affected by Nina’s fate than Stan. Stan seems more like Elizabeth. He never really strays that much from who he sees himself as, while Oleg and Philip evolve differently.

Btw, the first convo between Oleg and Igor looks like it takes place at dawn or something. The light is cold and blue even though there are lights on. It’s always cold and blue in Russia. If they were all from the Mexico the light would always be yellow. (I feel like they might even switch that filter in the middle of Philip and Elizabeth’s very last scene.)

 

MARTHA

Once again Clark’s unreachable in a crisis so Martha has dinner with Adderholt. At the time people thought Martha came up with her “I’m dating a married man” on the fly, but I remember we later learn Clark told her to say that. Both she and Paige tell lies in this ep that they’ve learned from Philip and Elizabeth. Martha’s also like Paige in that she would like to think her relationship with Clark is honest now that she knows a secret, but she keeps getting clues that she’s still an outsider. It’s secrets all the way down.

Stan looks at Martha’s Karma Sutra just as Martha is saying that she and her boyfriend give each other comfort and companionship. It could be a joke, like yeah, this is what they really give each other. But it can also be read the other way, that it’s not the sex that keeps Martha with Clark.

 

PAIGE

Paige starts off this ep scrunchy-face crying to Elizabeth on the phone, signaling how traumatic this is for her. That’s important in hindsight because fear is such a huge driver for Paige in the next few seasons. She’s also up late – her not being able to sleep is always a sign that she’s maybe not handling things well, and often that she’s afraid.

I am still so often distracted by Paige’s clothing. Even though she’s wearing jeans in the second part of the ep she still always looks more dressed up to me than I would ever be when sitting at home on a Saturday in high school. Or as an adult even before COVID!

 

HENRY

Philip and Elizabeth talk about an upcoming biology test they both thought the other was helping Henry study for. This is why it drives me nuts when people say they weren’t involved in the kids’ lives or didn’t know exactly how well Henry was doing in school his whole life!

Henry lays the foundation for his future as a great student by saying he wants to find a better computer teacher, since his own doesn’t know shit. It’s clearly not a switch-a-roo when Henry turns out to be a star student after so many scenes with Paige planted in the kitchen or in her bedroom doing homework. They’re both always written as who they are going to be.

When Stan asks if Henry ever asks Philip about girls like he does Stan, Henry truthfully says Philip travels too much. But I wonder if there’s more to it than that. I mean, it’s not like Philip isn’t home plenty. Henry knows Stan was with Sandra, who Henry thinks is sexy, and he brought Tori to dinner so he may just see Stan as the stud. I also can’t help but wonder if this says something about Henry’s dynamic with Elizabeth more than Philip—I mean, Henry and Elizabeth aren’t estranged at this point, but they’ve always been the weakest link in the family while also being mother and son. There’s so much speculation about Henry looking for a “true father” when his relationship with his own father is the good one. Like maybe he doesn’t easily form relationships with adult men because he lacks of father, but the opposite: men come naturally to him and women are the puzzle. (Wonder if Henry will wind up dating women like Elizabeth or being like Elizabeth himself…)

Mainly now, looking back, the main thing always set up with Henry is that he, like his father, will be trying to figure out who his own father was after the fact. Not thinking of his dad as a good authority on picking up women is a good example.

Btw, listening to Henry talk about Philip not being around, it’s nice to think that Philip does what he can to make it up to him by the last season. Henry’s abandoned in the end, but Philip spends his last few years showing Henry that he wants to be with him, something Henry himself notes.

 

STAN

When Henry quizzes Stan about women he first affectionately recalls meeting Sandra when she bumped into him at a party. But when Henry asks what he did next, it’s like Stan is describing a car accident he was in, but can’t explain. All his relationships are with women who seem to decide they want him and do everything they need to make that happen. Henry’s got Clark Herbert Westerfield right there and he’s asking Stan for advice about women!

Thinking about his divorce makes Stan want to change the subject by asking if Henry asks Philip about this stuff. And when Henry says his dad’s never around, that they were supposed to go to EPCOT until his parents cancelled last minute, Stan goes *cold*. I never noticed how clearly NE plays Stan flipping into FBI mode when he asks where Philip went. This whole sequence is a mirror to his actions in S6. He starts fishing just like he will when he drives Henry to his friend’s house in S6 – in fact, here again he offers to drive Henry to school, then uses that as an excuse to come over to the Jennings place and look around (which he’ll also do in S6) while fishing for more info from Paige.

He still hasn’t made up with Philip over suspecting him about Sandra. Maybe it’s a stretch for him to be thinking about Illegals here but who knows? He is the one who always thinks about “the couple.” He’s plainly investigating here, not being nice.

 

GABRIEL

After recovering from Glanders, Gabriel talks about the Purges of the 30s, which is obviously unusual. When he starts talking about being afraid Elizabeth assumes, naturally, that he’s talking about the war. I think this is definitely meant to be an important step in Gabriel’s own evolution. He never manages to act the way Philip does, because he doesn’t ever, imo, completely break out of the fear instilled in him as a young man, but he starts recognizing it for what it is and taking responsibility for his choices. That’s a big connection b/w Philip and Gabriel, their experiences with fear.

It’s also consistent that Elizabeth always focuses on the war while Gabriel and Philip—and Oleg too!—become associated with self-inflicted national wounds, represented by the GULAG. Just as they all have here begun to look inward into themselves and the USSR while Elizabeth and Claudia blame foreign enemies and traitors.

 

WILLIAM

This ep is so important for William’s character. It’s the only time he really spends with Elizabeth and she’s unconscious for most of it. Elizabeth herself isn’t really important to him, imo. It’s seeing Philip with her, them hugging when she wakes up etc. You get why they are who he’ll talk about on his deathbed. When he says Philip’s lucky, that’s what he means. He doesn’t say “she’s pretty” because that’s what makes Philip lucky, it’s just all he really knows about her.

It might be easy for William to think Philip just pulled a lucky card with Elizabeth but we, the audience, know they both stuck it out for years before they were happy and William may suspect he threw away his chance by fighting it.

William is like Elizabeth in that way, but is Philip in more important ways than I saw before.

 

ELIZABETH

Elizabeth seems most like the protagonist in this ep. She starts out determined to kill the Tims, but after facing death wants to preserve her relationship with Paige – with both the kids, hence the little “Liz is the greatest and we love her!” scene at the end where she makes a joke. (Kind of annoying, really—it feels like she’s getting a standing ovation for briefly turning it down a notch.) She even gets another flashback. It turns out Elizabeth was just having a bad reaction to the antibiotic because of course Elizabeth’s body would react to something helping her by attacking it like an enemy!

This is the second time Elizabeth was close to death and instinctively wanted to be with her family. In S1 she got shot and wanted them all to go away together. Here she gets sick and wants to call Paige. In S6 she calls Henry before what she thinks might be her last job.

In the flashback her mother again calls by her full name—it’s just as consistent as how Philip is always referred to by his shortened name. More importantly, I verified in this ep that although it’s not shot in a way that’s totally obvious, Elizabeth’s mother has a rug or some other hanging on the wall behind her bed. Just as the Jennings have a patchwork quilt hanging in their bedroom in Falls Church and in their first apartment in DC. Elizabeth has been recreating her mother’s bedroom every time she decorates. (Philip could hardly do the same, we now know!)

After throwing up, Elizabeth tells Philip what to do if she dies. This scene tends to get referenced as her telling him to defect, but her instructions clearly don’t include defection—and she’s not yet sick enough to be confused about what she’s saying. She tells him to kill the Tims, which he would not have to do if he were defecting, and says Henry will never have to know who they are, which would not be possible if he defected. When she says, “You can just raise them here. Be Americans” she means he will raise them as Americans in an American family. That’s what they’ve been fighting about, after all. Not defection, but recruiting the kids. That’s what she thinks he’s always wanted, to let the kids be free and themselves. That seems important given what I was thinking about William.

 

PHILIP

It struck me in this ep is how it’s such a cliché on most shows for a man in Philip’s situation (his wife potentially sick with a deadly disease) to yell at the doctor and generally rage to show the audience how much he loves the woman and hates feeling helpless. It’s so refreshing to watch Philip remain completely calm.

Elizabeth’s general arc throughout the series is really clear—she even goes through it several times, learning the same lesson more than once. It’s easy to see her conflict because that’s just her personality. It’s clear what she wants to believe and who she wants to be, and just as clear what she has to repress to try to be that. Philip’s arc/conflict, otoh, is harder to see.

The show often shows their characters by pairing them with people to compare and contrast. The most obvious example is their exes back in S1. At the time I mostly noticed how their exes were more like them than their spouse, but I think what’s just as important is how they’re *not* their exes. Gregory chooses suicide, but Elizabeth, when faced with death, wants life.

Where Elizabeth had Gregory, Philip had Irina. And what does Irina do? She runs. I feel like Philip’s whole arc is him coming to understand and accept that he doesn’t actually want to run away any more than Elizabeth wants to die. That’s partly why it seems important that Elizabeth isn’t telling him to defect as if she believes that will make him happy—by this point she is sure of Philip’s patriotism in ways Philip himself isn’t.

This is also where Philip being William in significant ways comes in. William shows us that somebody who seems completely over this, yet continues to do it, might be underneath it all, the patriot. William wants to live. He tries hard to protect himself from infection until facing interrogation, at which point he infects himself rather than flip.

When William and Philip talk about having to be crazy to choose to live like this, it seems it usually gets heard in the context of Philip wanting to quit but Elizabeth won’t. But it’s William who asks for clarification that Philip would want to be normal *with* Elizabeth. Iow, Philip actually has something to love in this life.

I can’t put into clear words all the things William seems to mean in the show—he’s one of the best characters they ever created imo. But besides being great on his own, I feel like he and Philip unconsciously recognize something in each other—it’s why they both refer to each other as an asshole, yet in the end seem to work out something important about themselves through the other.

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On 7/23/2021 at 5:53 AM, sistermagpie said:

Where Elizabeth had Gregory, Philip had Irina. And what does Irina do? She runs. I feel like Philip’s whole arc is him coming to understand and accept that he doesn’t actually want to run away any more than Elizabeth wants to die. That’s partly why it seems important that Elizabeth isn’t telling him to defect as if she believes that will make him happy—by this point she is sure of Philip’s patriotism in ways Philip himself isn’t.

I was always firmly against that the defection, because I saw that this show showed the "opponents" being "just like us" with problems of same kind. Philip's patriotism was always clear when his countrymen (Afghanistan, the submarine) were in trouble.

Also, defection means betrayal not only of one's country/system but many people one knows and likes. P&E should have betrayed all the spies they knew of. John le Carré shows this dilemma at best in The Little Drummer Girl.

And of course P&E's family members would have met hardships back home. I think it's really great that Ben MacIntyre shows in his book The Spy and the Traitor only Oleg Gordievsky's courage to oppose the USSR in secret but also that he left his family in stick when he defected, actually already when he decided to marry and have kids after he had become a spy. 

I think that in the show it was with purpose we were not only shown Martha's misery in Moscow but also how bad Pasha had in the US. His father may be an admirable opponent of the Soviet system but for his political opinions he had put his family in the second place in his life.       

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Defection and betrayal is of course a theme from the beginning. In the pilot we Nikolai Timoshev, a KGB operative who has defected to the United States whom P&E kidnap on the orders of KGB. He tries to save his life by suggesting that they also defect. I think it isn't a chance that he is such a contemptible character: he has used his power by raping Elizabeth during her training and his reason to defect has obviously been only money.

I leave Nina away both because her case is complicated and because we have discussed about her so much. 

I wonder why I feel so little sympathy towards Sofia and Gennady. Maybe because they are so "ordinary" and are shown in such a comical light? In any case, they were first used by Stan and Dennis and then brutally murdered by Elizabeth on the the KGB orders. Unlike in Nina's case, the focus is really never in them.

The Andrei is a different case, although he is only a minor character. He has to choose between loyalties that are complicated: loyalty towards KGB he has served although the Soviets persecutes his church back home means also loyalty towards P&E who he knows and has married, but in the end Dennis skillfully makes him see that loyalty towards his church is most important by blackmailing him that unless he doesn't inform on illegals, the Americans represses his church's activities in the US. A very complicated case that shows that there is no "black" and "white", but when you betray something/somebody, you do it in order to be loyal to something/somebody else.

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On 7/24/2021 at 4:43 AM, Roseanna said:

I was always firmly against that the defection, because I saw that this show showed the "opponents" being "just like us" with problems of same kind. Philip's patriotism was always clear when his countrymen (Afghanistan, the submarine) were in trouble.

Yes, it always felt like there were a lot of viewers who always assumed defection to the US was easy because they were from the US or the west themselves and so mostly thought of immigrants or defectors.

On 7/24/2021 at 4:43 AM, Roseanna said:

I think that in the show it was with purpose we were not only shown Martha's misery in Moscow but also how bad Pasha had in the US. His father may be an admirable opponent of the Soviet system but for his political opinions he had put his family in the second place in his life.       

Yup, and I think now we can see that Philip first reacts to Alexei's plight by wanting to keep Henry at home, saying "this family stays together" but later obviously sees it the other way. He's seen what it would be like for Henry if Philip just decided to take him to the USSR without warning and expect him to adapt at Henry's age, when Henry himself obviously wouldn't choose to go.

On 7/24/2021 at 5:29 AM, Roseanna said:

Defection and betrayal is of course a theme from the beginning. In the pilot we Nikolai Timoshev, a KGB operative who has defected to the United States whom P&E kidnap on the orders of KGB. He tries to save his life by suggesting that they also defect. I think it isn't a chance that he is such a contemptible character: he has used his power by raping Elizabeth during her training and his reason to defect has obviously been only money.

And I think sometimes it's easy to forget that Philip chooses to kill him in that moment when he didn't have to. A lot of men in his position might have been sympathetic to Elizabeth but still want to use him for his own purposes. He would probably even justify it to himself and her--isn't it great that he can help us after what he did. 

I think maybe that's also the moment when Philip rejects defection. That is, it's not just that after this he never gets the same kind of opportunity where he has something to trade. He might also see Timoshev's character in full in that moment and be killing the bit of himself that was tempted by him. That's in my head, in fact, because I started watching the next ep and Oleg's father has a similar line to Oleg where he says if Oleg is the type of person he doesn't respect, then he can just go back to America and his clothes and his special favors. And the scene then cuts to Philip, with him and Oleg in similar positions. Philip might tell himself that he stays because of Elizabeth, but it seems like one of the reasons he loves her is that she keeps him loyal to that part of himself, like he keeps her warm, loving side alive. He likes having her as a compass. 

Basically, it's like the show was always working up to characters like Philip and Oleg being principled reformers in S6.

On 7/24/2021 at 5:29 AM, Roseanna said:

I wonder why I feel so little sympathy towards Sofia and Gennady. Maybe because they are so "ordinary" and are shown in such a comical light? In any case, they were first used by Stan and Dennis and then brutally murdered by Elizabeth on the the KGB orders. Unlike in Nina's case, the focus is really never in them.

Yeah, they never seem to really know what they're doing. They seem more like ordinary people who haven't taken any vows and just don't think on that level. 

On 7/24/2021 at 5:29 AM, Roseanna said:

The Andrei is a different case, although he is only a minor character. He has to choose between loyalties that are complicated: loyalty towards KGB he has served although the Soviets persecutes his church back home means also loyalty towards P&E who he knows and has married, but in the end Dennis skillfully makes him see that loyalty towards his church is most important by blackmailing him that unless he doesn't inform on illegals, the Americans represses his church's activities in the US. A very complicated case that shows that there is no "black" and "white", but when you betray something/somebody, you do it in order to be loyal to something/somebody else.

It's funny, I always read Andrei differently. To me it seemed like he wanted a reason to turn on Philip and Elizabeth and when Adderholt gave him a justification, he jumped on it. I didn't think he wanted any harm to come to them or anything, I just didn't think he was just a weak link and wanted to give the authorities what they wanted and go home. Neither Philip nor Elizabeth had any faith in him, I don't think, and not because of his loyalty to the church. I feel like he might have thrown the another priest under the bus if he was facing a different set of authorities who gave him a justification.

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Just watched Clark’s Place. On the surface it seems like mainly plot, but there’s important character stuff being laid down too.

 

MARTHA

Poor Martha’s at peak Poor Martha. When Clark gives her Joan’s direct phone number to memorize and return, she jokes about not getting to keep anything, but this snark is way too little, too late. Later she’ll come to Clark’s Place and see their wedding photo has disappeared.

Philip looks like such a mess talking to her as half-Clark/half-Philip with his earth tones, wig hair and bobby pins.

 

OLEG

Oleg goes to his brother’s funeral, learns Nina’s dead and shares the news with Arkady and then Stan when none of his Russian father (figure)s give him a satisfying response. Nina and her death have so much more of an effect on Oleg than on Stan. Granted, it wasn’t Stan’s government that executed her, but Oleg related to Nina much more like a real person than Stan did, and he starts to question himself in ways Stan never does. (Stan’s terrible in this ep so I’m not impressed with him at the moment.)

He accuses his dad (rather cruelly) of being responsible for his brother’s death because he didn’t pull strings to get him out of Afghanistan, but Igor’s integrity is the show already setting up Team Oleg for the final season. In fact, at the end of the scene there’s a mirror cut from Oleg to Philip in similar positions that plays differently now that we know Philip and Oleg are destined to team up.

The members of Team Oleg get defined by their differences first, but come together over what they have in common. Team Claudia is the opposite.

 

PASTOR TIM

Philip and Elizabeth meet with the Tims, bringing along a Spanish speaking priest from central casting. On the question of whether the Tims buy this act, I think Tim’s not just looking for a reason to think the Jennings are harmless, but also excuses to keep himself involved and seriously considering them, telling himself that he still hasn’t decided what to do yet, needs to keep pumping Paige for info about them.

 

HENRY

Henry’s officially hanging out at Stan’s now. Paige says this makes her nervous, yet remains the only Jennings kid to blow their cover.

Elizabeth has thoughts about the weirdness of Henry hanging out with an adult and knows that Henry’s friend Doug is still around—iow, she’s not an absent mother. Henry’s not there for a surrogate parent, but to play at being more adult. Stan has remained, as Philip called him, Santa Claus, filling his house with junk food, videos and games, a PG-rated frat house.

More evidence of that appeal is that Henry is just as happy to hang with Matthew as Stan—he’s not threatened or awkward in the presence of the “real son,” which he would be if he needed Stan as a dad. Henry’s exploring the world outside the home. (Henry gets two dinners in this ep, Stan’s toaster pizzas and tuna noodle casserole made by Philip and Paige.)

 

MATTHEW

Matthew really takes after his mother. He’s clearly taken aback to find Henry playing host to him in his own house, but tries to give it his best shot with his dad, jumping on anything that helps him know him better, and doesn’t hold anything against Henry for being comfortable with Stan in ways he isn’t.

 

HANS

I remember Hans following Martha being once referred to as further “training” but it’s a serious job—Hans saves Philip again here while doing it. Seeing him in his basic baseball cap and glasses disguise in a car with Philip recalls Paige in S6 the first time we see her working with Elizabeth. And as ever, it seems like it’s set up for the contrast, as Paige and Hans seem to be at similar places in their spy careers at those points. Hans is what an average, competent newbie looks like—Paige is not.

At first watch, some assumed the scene with Philip and Hans in the car was setting up Hans as inadequate, but he’s fine. There’s one moment where Hans starts volunteering unnecessary information because he doesn’t have the info Philip needs and Philip cuts him off, but not impatiently. Otherwise, it’s a professional conversation. When Philip asks if Hans went up to Martha’s apartment after warning Philip Hans says no, since if he’d been seen earlier, it would be bad if he was seen again upstairs—Hans is sensitive about being recognized after what happened with Kurt. And he’s right, it’s a good reason for not going upstairs, Philip agrees. Hans is thinking along the right lines. Philip’s frustration is about the lack of information, not Hans’ performance.

Compare that with Paige’s “de-briefing” with Elizabeth after her encounter with the sailor. That’s *all* defensive emotion on her part and dishonest soothing on her mother’s. Elizabeth gets useful info from her too, but where Hans understands the motives behind Philip’s questions and gives an accurate report, Paige gets the info wrong and unwittingly puts a target on the sailor’s back while just trying to insist she did her homework. Elizabeth would never let Hans continue to work if she’d had a scene like that with him.

 

PAIGE

I originally misread Paige in her scene with Pastor Tim. I think I imagined that her parents told her she had to make up with him and then left Paige to work out a good strategy. She couldn’t think of a good reason she’d have forgiven him, so wisely decided to start by saying her parents told her to do it because they like him.

But on re-watch I see that it’s really important to her character that she doesn’t do that kind of tactical manipulation. Her saying her parents told her to forgive him was just the same blunt honesty she showed in their last meeting. Luckily when Tim asks why they would do that, Paige can also honestly answer that they apparently like him because her parents, especially Philip, has primed the pump on this. (We learn in this ep that he also gave Martha the cover story about seeing a married man.)

Iow, she doesn’t see her being “important” to Tim as only leverage, she thinks her parents think Tim has earned her forgiveness. It’s only in the second to last ep, when she hears the Jackson story, that she finally understands how deeply her parents manipulate people. Until then she believes their lies are more superficial and not so emotionally devious.  

This does contribute to the impression that the older Paige gets, the more childish and dim she becomes, though, and it’s probably exacerbated by the performance. HT always plays the most superficial reading of any scene simply and earnestly, so it seems like Paige doesn’t understand things the adults are doing now that she’s old enough to understand, rather than venting justifiable anger at all these adults as garbage people.

 

ELIZABETH

Elizabeth’s first scene with Paige parallels Philip’s with Martha as the show once paralleled an earlier scene between Elizabeth/Paige and Philip/Kimmy. When Paige comes into her room late, Elizabeth sits up in a panic, even though we’ve seen Philip sneak in late on nights she didn’t expect him. Iow, Elizabeth knows the sound of Philip sneaking in while Paige reads like an intruder. Nice foreshadowing of how Paige isn’t one of them.

Elizabeth has one of her most interesting scenes in this ep after coming home from Young-Hee’s house. Philip and Paige are watching the news, Henry’s at the computer. Elizabeth starts laughing about Reagan’s cheeks on TV and everyone’s weirded out. She seems almost drunk, but I think it’s because Elizabeth here is like a teenager who’s made a new cool friend and is trying to copy her. Young-Hee laughs a lot with Patty. But it’s OOC for Elizabeth and so seems weird and forced.

She casually apologizes for being late because she was “with a friend” and “lost track of time.” As if she wants to make Young-Hee part of her actual life and feels cool for having a friend to hang with. Paige would no doubt have grilled her on this if she wasn’t already in on the secret, but it’s an obvious enough mistake that Henry challenges it with, “You have friends?” Elizabeth snarks back that yes, she does, wise guy, but of course she really doesn’t have friends. She can’t just mention one to people who know that.

It’s setting up why Elizabeth shuts down in S6, because she’s not able to care for her sources like Philip does. With Young-Hee Elizabeth goes all in in ways she can’t handle and it makes her want things she can’t have.

 

PHILIP

Philip’s frustration and fear about Martha has a whole extra layer when you know that nobody but he knows that Martha has seen him without his disguise. (Best shock of the series!)

In this same ep where Philip has that parallel connection to Oleg, Gabriel describes William in a way that is 100% Philip and his arc. Philip questions William’s willingness to take risks for them (it’s always Philip or William who question this), and Gabriel says he’s known William a long time and he complains a lot, is sometimes volatile, but he’s a patriot. He’s been here a long time feeling like he’s achieved nothing, so if he gets a chance to really protect the country, he’ll do it. Gabriel’s describing both William and Philip and he’s right about both of them.

Philip’s apology to Stan remains the work of a master. He hits *everything* Stan needs with it. First, he says he didn’t tell Stan about seeing Sandra because he was a wimp, which is somewhat true in that he was embarrassed about going to EST. But by repeating the word wimp twice, he plays into Stan’s need to be the “tough guy” as Sandra said and Stan proved by threatening Philip. He reassures Stan that he’s still the alpha in their relationship.

He claims to have been afraid it would “bug” Stan that he talked to Sandra. Really, his reasons for not mentioning it had nothing to do with Stan. Plus, Sandra *asked* Philip not to tell Stan she was at a sex seminar in case he got the wrong idea. Philip intentionally chooses to validate Stan’s egotistical view that it was all about Stan.

Stan then asks if Sandra said anything about him. She really didn’t, at least not until after Stan threatened Philip, at which point Philip encouraged her to feel sorry for Stan and consider if she’d been too hard on him. Philip only tells Stan that last part, as if his interaction with Sandra was not only all about Stan, but about how Sandra now sees she was wrong.

 

STAN

Ugh, Stan is the WORST in this ep. Somebody on first run had the insight that Stan seems lighter after learning of Nina’s death because when Nina was alive, he had to try to save her. Now she’s a weight off his shoulders.

This makes sense, because at heart Stan truly, imo, most of all needs to see himself as the good guy. He chooses people who make him feel like that, often over those who challenge him to live up to it, like Nina and Renee vs. Sandra. Stan might be able to spot Zinaida telling America what it wants to hear, but when it comes to his own life, he wants to hear what he wants to hear.

So it’s no puzzle why he likes Henry, a kid he’s never disappointed, thinks he’s cool for effortless things and wrote an essay about him being his hero. Why wouldn’t he prefer that to Matthew, the teenager he abandoned, who didn’t give him the reunion he wanted, and who he then continued to avoid after coming home? It floors me how awful it is for him to have Henry hanging out there when Matthew arrives and then act as if they’re “the boys” he’ll treat with toaster pizza. He even greets Matthew by asking why Sandra’s not coming in, as if he really wanted to see her.

And then he leaves. Matthew learns from Henry that Stan will not be spending the night. He says a work thing “just came up” but he’s staking out Martha, which isn’t an official job. He’s chosen to do it on the night Matthew is there, already blowing the second chance Philip and Sandra arranged. It’s so weird how Stan gets called anyone’s “real dad” when he’s literally the dad Philip’s accused of being and isn’t.

Stan skips out, leaving Matthew with Henry and Rocky Horror, a movie meant to be watched in a theater at midnight with a raucous audience (big change from Henry’s original choice of Max Dugan Returns). Stan still doesn’t get Rocky Horror—but Henry’s more impressed by Stan’s knowledge of pop culture from when he was young. (There’s a nice moment where Matthew shows interest in Stan watching Howdy Doody as a kid, showing how much he values any knowledge of the guy.)

Everything’s coming up Stan. Nina’s off his mind. He doesn’t have to lie to Adderholt. He’s tracking Martha. Matthew’s back. And then, to top it off, Philip comes crawling back to apologize to him. Philip even misses a trivia pursuit question, giving Stan a chance to again be the “Trivial Pursuit Genius.” (This moment’s nicely leads into a little exchange between Philip and Matthew as outsiders.)

Stan admits that he doesn’t have many friends, so it was hard to think of Philip betraying him (yeah, about that…).

He says he knew Philip wouldn’t really “do anything” like sleep with Stan’s ex, but he’s not so sure about Sandra. Which is a rotten thing to say about Sandra, who was always straight with Stan, who cheated on her. He’s making himself the good guy again. Even his line about knowing Philip wouldn’t do that reassures Stan that Philip, the wimp, is not a romantic rival--ironic since Philip is the guy behind that Kama Sutra book Stan recently flipped through. The disconnect is real. (Likewise, when Stan corrects Philip’s wrong trivial pursuit answer you can’t help but think how Philip’s wrong answer is more impressive than Stan’s correct answer, given he had to learn all this stuff from scratch, along with a whole other language to native fluency. And people think Henry won’t be interested in ever seeing Philip again after the show’s over? No way. Kid’s got follow-up questions.)

 

PHILIP & ELIZABETH

Had to put in a note here about the ending sex scene. Some people thought this sex was some fake performance on Elizabeth’s part, because every time she initiates sex she gets accused of honeytrapping Philip, and I feel like you have to be either too anti-Elizabeth (she’s incapable of love!) or too pro-Elizabeth (she’s too powerful for love!) to read this scene as anything but stress-relieving sex between spouses who love each other.

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On 8/30/2021 at 2:17 AM, sistermagpie said:

PHILIP & ELIZABETH

Had to put in a note here about the ending sex scene. Some people thought this sex was some fake performance on Elizabeth’s part, because every time she initiates sex she gets accused of honeytrapping Philip, and I feel like you have to be either too anti-Elizabeth (she’s incapable of love!) or too pro-Elizabeth (she’s too powerful for love!) to read this scene as anything but stress-relieving sex between spouses who love each other.

Or maybe they are so old-fashioned that a decent woman can't make an initiative in sex? But it's one of the things that shows Philip's deep love Elizabeth that he understand that because of her traumatic experience of being raped and because she uses sex in her work as he in his and because their marriage was first a sham, that he understands that it must be her who takes an initiative.

I don't think I can't even count shows where a sex scene are like that: a couple suddenly kiss passionately and then they either rip off their clothes or, to show even more "passion", make love standing or at the kitchen table etc. 

This show is really rare as sex scenes always tell something essential of the couple's feelings for each other just in that moment. In the same time, comparing their sex scenes with others tells volumes why they love each other, and therefore what is lacking even Philip's relationship with Martha whom he cares for.      

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I just saw the movie Dear Comrades that tells about the massacre Novotsherrkask in 1962 that the Soviet regime succeeded to keep a secret.

I think that the movie can learn us to understand Elizabeth and even more Claudia. The protagonist isn't only a Communist, she thinks that that Stalin's time was better as the wages were declined every new year and one knew who was "us" and who was "the enemy".  She believes promises of Communism in the near future and sees nothing wrong that as a member of the local Soviet she can pass by the rows in front of the shop. Her daughter represents the youth of 60ies who believes that the citizens' rights declared in the Soviet constitution are real. Her father has had to conceal his medals from Tsar's army in WW1 and remembers the famine in the early 20ies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_Comrades!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10796286/

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On 8/31/2021 at 4:52 AM, Roseanna said:

Or maybe they are so old-fashioned that a decent woman can't make an initiative in sex? But it's one of the things that shows Philip's deep love Elizabeth that he understand that because of her traumatic experience of being raped and because she uses sex in her work as he in his and because their marriage was first a sham, that he understands that it must be her who takes an initiative.

I don't think I can't even count shows where a sex scene are like that: a couple suddenly kiss passionately and then they either rip off their clothes or, to show even more "passion", make love standing or at the kitchen table etc. 

This show is really rare as sex scenes always tell something essential of the couple's feelings for each other just in that moment. In the same time, comparing their sex scenes with others tells volumes why they love each other, and therefore what is lacking even Philip's relationship with Martha whom he cares for.      

Yes, it's funny how often I've seen it assumed that any sex between them must be 100% devoted on Philip's part and fake on Elizabeth's, I mean, first there's even a scene where Philip talks about learning to "make it real" in his sex training and admitting that yes, sometimes he's done that with Elizabeth. Which doesn't mean he doesn't love her, just that it's complicated and he can be distracted too.

In Elizabeth's case it always seems so central to her character that she would *never* have sex with Philip as she does in her job, because this is one relationship where she didn't ever have to do that and she hates doing it. Like even when they were first together their sex life was honest--first they didn't have it, and then when they were trying to get pregnant they had sex for that reason only and they both knew it. It's really important to her, imo, that their sex isn't a lie. In fact, I think in most of his sex scenes with Martha the show makes a point of showing him avoiding very deep eye contact with her. (I wonder if that changes when they have their very sad last sex scene that's coming up...)

 

10 hours ago, Roseanna said:

I just saw the movie Dear Comrades that tells about the massacre Novotsherrkask in 1962 that the Soviet regime succeeded to keep a secret.

I think that the movie can learn us to understand Elizabeth and even more Claudia. The protagonist isn't only a Communist, she thinks that that Stalin's time was better as the wages were declined every new year and one knew who was "us" and who was "the enemy".  She believes promises of Communism in the near future and sees nothing wrong that as a member of the local Soviet she can pass by the rows in front of the shop. Her daughter represents the youth of 60ies who believes that the citizens' rights declared in the Soviet constitution are real. Her father has had to conceal his medals from Tsar's army in WW1 and remembers the famine in the early 20ies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_Comrades!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10796286/

That makes me think of something that occurred to me recently, how through most of the series Elizabeth always seems to have more power than Philip just because she's always on the side of the Centre/the state while he's alone in standing against them. Yet at the end of the series the people Philip is mostly allied with stick together or at least show some personal care/respect for each other, while Elizabeth is abandoned or betrayed by her confidantes (except Philip).

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