Each week from now on we will be crowning a "wig of the week" from The Americans, FX's wonderful show about Russian spies who happen to wear a variety of insane wigs when doing their spy duties.
Wig of the Week: Okay, so we cheated. The wig of the week this week isn't actually a wig, but rather the beanie that Philip wears for the majority of the episode as he keeps a Mossad agent hostage, hoping for a trade.
Why this Wig: As we mentioned before, this isn't really a wig, but it would be impossible to ignore the hat's influence on Matthew Rhys's performance.
Easily the runner-up goes to the wig that Elizabeth dons to play the sister of Clark (the alias Philip used to seduce and "marry" a secretary Martha, who can feed him information). Elizabeth as Clark's dowdy sister goes to Martha in order to talk her out of mentioning Clark's name on a job application, and then listens, interestedly, when a drunken Martha talks about Clark's sexual prowess. It's a moment that clues us into Elizabeth and Philip's own relationship. The two were only acting the part of a couple in the first season, whereas in the second season (which began with a pretty graphic sex act between them) they are a team in more than one sense.
But the far more interesting aspect of this episode is Philip's relationship with the Mossad agent he is holding prisoner, after a messed up attempt to capture a Russian-Jewish scientist. The beanie Philip wears on his head for most of the episode covers his own hair, but makes him look like what he ultimately is: a hired gun and a criminal with very little of his own agency.
The interaction addresses one of the questions hanging over the show: Elizabeth and Philip are dedicated to their cause, but what is their personal attachment to their homeland? Philip maintains a straight face as the agent tries to remind him of the icicles. "You probably had that back home probably," the agent says. "I don't remember," Philip replies. The agent later remarks: "Very cold place the Soviet Union." To which Philip says: "I like the cold."
The ultimate, irony of the episode—which the agent points out—is that in trading the agent for the scientist, Philip sends the scientist, desperate to stay in America, back to Russia, the home to which Philip would ostensibly like to return. The agent makes us explore questions about Philip's identity, questions that naturally apply to Elizabeth. Who would they be if they stayed in the land that they truly love? Probably not anonymous killers. Philip completes the deal, making him appear to be exactly what the scientist claims he is, a "monster."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.