Review of 'The Americans' 6.7

Suspension of Disbelief and the Sketches

Throughout previous seasons of The Americans, I've wondered why Stan, looking at the sketches of Philip and Elizabeth in disguise, didn't recognize them as his nextdoor neighbors. I mean, the disguises are good, but not that good. The sketches of the Soviet-agent suspects sure looked to me like Philip and Elizabeth, and, if anything, Stan knows them much better than I do. I see them just once a week, for an hour or so, for ten or a few more weeks once a year. Stan sees them all the time.

I always assumed this was just the willing suspension of disbelief — see Coleridge — that I and all viewers of this great series had to make. It was the price we had to pay to enjoy this excellent, and important, series. But in last night's episode 6.7, that willing suspension of disbelief was really put to the test.

Stan is suspicious of Philip and Elizabeth — suspicious that they're up to something no good, or at very least something they don't want to tell him. Of course, there's no reason to assume that they're Soviet spies. Yet he's moved in this episode to break into and look through their home — while both are in Chicago (Philip told him they would be in Houston), on a mission that will result in the death of two FBI agents.

He finds nothing. Presumably the sketches of the suspects from Chicago have not yet arrived — that will be left to the next episode, according to the coming attractions. But why isn't Stan looking at the previous sketches right now — he's already been told that a white man and a white woman were in that bus in Chicago. Given that he's already suspicious about his neighbors — if not for being Soviet spies, for something untoward — it's hard to believe that he's not already putting two and two together — his two neighbors are this couple that keep showing up at all of these murderous occasions.

Well, they'll be plenty of time for that next week and in the remaining episodes of this extraordinary series, and I'll be back here with reviews of them all.

Read next: Humour & Offense
Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code (winner Locus Award, Best 1st Science Fiction Novel of 1999) & The Plot To Save Socrates. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context has been translated into 15 languages. 

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Review of 'The Americans' 6.7
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Humour & Offense