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The Americans - S4E6 - The Rat

Previously on The Americans, “Clark’s Place”

Images: FX

In this episode, people did an inordinate amount of sitting around, sipping tea, and talking. If you were watching it on mute, you might fall asleep half way through. However, the full experience – the dialogue, the score, the whistling tea kettle — created more tension than any other this episode this season.

Martha. You in Danger, Girl.

The FBI is onto Martha, but that’s the least of her worries. There are so many ways Martha could have died in this episode. There were so many opportunities. She’s downing Valium like candy. She carries a gun. She knows too much. There were so many opportunities. Elizabeth says she’ll refresh Martha’s drink. Gabriel sends Philip away from the apartment to meet William. Philip finds Martha comatose on the bed. I half expected Philip to shoot her with her own gun while she slept.


Philip showed his real face to Martha. Now there are only two ways to take care of Martha.

Arkaday tells Oleg and Tatiana they are moving to extradite an American secretary, so there are plans to move rather than kill her. Let’s just hope Martha keeps herself alive and evades capture, in the meantime.

At the end of this episode, Martha runs out into the street, certain that Gabriel has done something to Philip. She walks away from the infirm Gabriel. Who knows where Martha is going and how long she’ll survive. This is why you leave notes, Philip.

Unlucky in Love

Martha hasn’t been lucky in the romance department. She told Aderholt as much when they had dinner. Aderholt and Stan discover she was jilted twenty years ago and had an abortion. We see her sadly watching a show about single women, reminding her of who she was before she met Clark. This gives us insight into her devotion to Clark/Philip. She’s willing to hand wave the KGB nonsense because he’s a good man. It doesn’t matter as long as they’re together. They can run away together. Ironic, as Philip has brought up running away to Elizabeth quite a few times. What will Martha do when she realizes her husband won’t be disappearing with her? Let’s hope she makes it that long. Let’s hope she doesn’t have access to her pills or her gun when she does. 

The Other Woman?

Elizabeth learns some hard truths about Philip’s relationship with Martha. She knew he cared for Martha’s well-being, but his feelings obviously run much deeper. Allowing Martha to see him without a disguise, is a betrayal to Elizabeth. Martha was just supposed to be part of the job. Now Elizabeth realizes the extent to which it is personal. If I were Philip, I wouldn’t leave Elizabeth alone with Martha, either.

Martha, in turn, discovers Elizabeth isn’t Philip’s sister. She seems to believe Philip’s evasive reply about the nature of their relationship, but Martha has always believed what she chooses to believe. Elizabeth isn’t that naïve.

Between a Rock and an Elizabeth 

Philip is truly married to both these women. There is a close shot on Philip’s wedding band when he’s in bed with Elizabeth and the camera lingers on his wedding band when he’s driving to Martha’s. Martha hikes up her skirt (a little more) and climbs on top of him in much the same way Elizabeth did, last episode. They both suggest to him at different points that maybe the FBI isn’t onto Martha and they can go back to being as they were. They can’t go back to the way things used to be.


In their Martha War Room, Stan and Aderholt come to the conclusion Martha has been turned, despite the lack of hard evidence. They are going off their intuition and reasonable deduction. This is enough to convince them. Gaad is in shock, but he doesn’t doubt his men.

Conversely, the KGB is all about logic. In the first episode of the season, Elizabeth all but sneered at Philip’s gut telling him something was off when surveilling William. In this episode, Elizabeth and Gabriel point to the lack of evidence against Martha. They can’t prove it, so maybe Martha is okay. It’s a good thing for Martha that Philip is more open-minded and trusts his feelings. Maybe it’s EST.

Stop with the Foreshadowing

“Martha is done.”

“It won’t be long, Martha.”

“You don’t have to do anything. Not ever again”

“I’m never going home, am I?”

I Spy

  • Very little Paige and Henry. They’re in it just long enough to hate tofu
  • They explicitly mentioned KGB in this episode. They don’t do that very often (ever?).
  • Philip uses this word several times when talking with Martha. He promises everything is going to be okay. We all know nothing good comes of promises on TV.
  • Gabriel hears Philip and Martha have sex in the other room. It’s creepy, but also shows he knows Philip has gone too far.
  • We’re seeing a growing dissent of individuals Russians against their government’s party line. “Our bosses don’t know what they’re doing.”
  • There’s no more glanders, but there is only tularemia. This “nasty stuff” “sounds good” to a hideously wigged Philip.

  • There was literal dead rat in this episode. They got away with it because of the dark humor. This isn’t The Departed.

Spy Baby

Thank goodness for grocery bags.

The Americans S4E6
  • 9.5/10
    Plot - 9.5/10
  • 9.5/10
    Dialogue - 9.5/10
  • 8/10
    Action - 8/10
  • 9.5/10
    Performances - 9.5/10


This episode had me on the edge of my seat and wishing I could fast forward to the end. It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t care about Martha. I believe in Elizabeth and Philip’s relationship, but I believe in Martha and Clark’s relationship, as well. On paper, Martha could come off as an annoying, hopeless character, but Alison Wright has given her heart and warmth. I watched this episode biting my lip and I might have to watch the next one through my fingers. Thank goodness for vodka.

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About Mallika Chakravarti (99 Articles)
Mallika is a digital marketer, yoga teacher and nutritionist. She spends her fun time writing, podcasting, consuming vast amounts of media and wishing she could fly. Mallika can currently be found thinking of something else.
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