Things took on a new, creepy dimension in “Dimebag,” as The Americans‘ Paige Issue became more than just about Paige for Philip. On one side, he’s still warring with Elizabeth over telling Paige the truth, as well as the truth of Elizabeth “developing” her, which she openly admitted to in “Dimebag.” On the other, the revelation that the head of the CIA Afghan group’s daughter may be their best bet to get their targets makes Philip incredibly uneasy. Kimberly is 18 (close to Paige’s age), and Philip worries about using someone so young. And then that Love’s Baby Soft commercial comes on, which is like a pedophile’s dream come to life, and everything gets really, really weird.
“Dimebag” examined different ways of manipulating people. Elizabeth gets her time as Michelle, going to see her AA sponsor Lisa, whose unemployed husband is making their life a nightmare (she had to send her kids away, and though physical abuse wasn’t specifically addressed, some bad stuff is clearly happening). Stan continues to try to be an EST man, and comes clean to Sandra about things he had been hiding from her before, in an attempt to win her back (gleaned from the fact that he tells Philip that he’s not single). Paige sets a trap for her parents regarding her desire for baptism, and in the USSR, Nina begins manipulating her roommate into opening up so that she can get info from her in exchange for a lighter sentence.
But “Dimebag” really belonged to Philip, not only because of how funny and natural he is around his kids, and how cold he still is to Elizabeth, but also how completely freaked out he is by what he’s doing with Kimberly. He’s been making a huge deal to Elizabeth and Gabriel about wanting to protect Paige and ensuring that she has a nice, safe life. And yet, he’s smoking up with, making a fake ID for, and eventually doing something kinky with poor little Kimberly, somebody else’s daughter who they too surely would not want to know was out with a mysterious lawyer/lobbyist from New York with ill designs. (And surely, what happened with Annelise is still fresh on his mind).
There are also some strange crossovers between the two daughters’s stories, like Philip buying Paige the Yaz album because Kimmy told him about it, which almost felt like penance for his actions. It also brings him up against Elizabeth once again regarding Paige’s future with the program. At this point, it feels like The Americans is really setting up for Paige to find out the truth, although the timing remains uncertain. Philip cautions Elizabeth not to tell her anything until this baptism stuff dies down, because otherwise it will all explode. What’s worth noting though is not only is Henry left out of Paige’s churchgoings (you would think she would want to encourage him in that way like she does with her parents), but he’s also left out of their discussion regarding a potential spy future. Yes, the decision about Paige would logically have to be made first, but why is Henry never part of that dialogue?
The manipulations in “Dimebag” were all about giving people what they think they want, but once it happened, it’s not how they thought it to be. Philip and Elizabeth wanted to do something for Paige’s birthday, but they weren’t expecting her announcement. Stan gave Sandra the truth she wanted about Nina, and she left him wordlessly and in tears. Nina’s roommate wanted a friendly connection, but now, it may cost her and/or her boyfriend something dear. Philip plays into Kimmy’s fantasy about sex with an older man, but that doesn’t seem like something that’s going to turn out well for anyone. Elizabeth giving Lisa comfort as a friend is a way for her to slowly start turning her towards treason. On The Americans, nothing is ever as it seems.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
Musings and Miscellanea:
— The Americans‘ main theme of identity is never far, though, and “Dimebag” opened up a new avenue of conspiracy and spycraft through Stan’s suspicions of the Milky Way-loving Zinaida. Is he paranoid, or on the right track that she is a plant?
— It’s interesting though that as close as the FBI got to tracking down Elizabeth last week, that seems to have been completely vanished from their radar.
— Philip: “You don’t know her, I could go there and a kid could already be sitting there!” Elizabeth: “Who wears the pants in that relationship?”
— Loved the crickets and ambient noises outside of Sandra’s new house. So calming.
— I have a feeling that is not the last we or Stan will see of Tori.
— If someone’s life may be in danger, do you really want to sit by a big window at a dinner?
— Yaz, “Only You”