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“The Americans” gets entangled in psychological spy games

I want to pay “The Americans” a compliment, but to do so, I have to start with an insult. I was really aggravated and bored with the first half of last night’s episode —“Trust Me” — in which first Philip and then Elizabeth appeared to be captured by the FBI, who torture them, and Phil especially, in the hope they will confess their true identities. I was bored and aggravated because it just so obviously could not be the FBI that had captured them. That’s a plot point we’re not going to see for a few seasons, at least, because it will mean the show is pretty much over. And besides, the Russians had just realized they had a mole in their outfit: Clearly they had captured Elizabeth and Philip, and were testing them to make sure they hadn’t flipped. (This is a particular spy-genre trick I’ve seen before, like in that bad-but-sort-of-fun to watch Colin Farrell–Al Pacino movie “The Recruit”; also, if the Russians meant it, they would have kept Philip and Elizabeth for more than an afternoon.) This is, in fact, what had happened, but when Elizabeth and Philip figured out it was the KGB doing the physical and psychological assaulting, “The Americans” got original and dark.

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