Each week 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: As you might have already been able to tell, we've diverged from the theme a little this week to focus on double agent Nina Sergeevna.
Why This Wig: There were some good wigs in this episode. Elizabeth pulled out her sophisticated blonde number to meet with Andrew Larrick, the dangerous Navy captain the Soviets are using. Philip, to bug the ARPANET, pulls out a Rust Cohle sort of look, which only makes him more horrifying when he murders an innocent who happened to get in his way.
But the episode truly belongs to Nina, and we cannot ignore that for the sake of our wig gimmick. Whereas Philip and Elizabeth quite literally put on disguises to complete tasks for their country, Nina has consistently had to complete the harder task of disguising her emotions. In the first season, trapped by FBI agent Stan Beeman, she has to fool the KGB agents at the Rezidentura. She then engages in a relationship with Stan that has flashes of real passion, only to feel betrayed when he killed her friend Vlad.
Now, working as a double agent, she must fool a polygraph test the Americans have her take. In order to do so, she is coached by Oleg, the boisterous agent with family connections and a taste for Western music. "You have to lie to tell a greater truth," Oleg tells her. Their chemistry and connection grows. At the end of the episode, after she has successfully passed the test, we see her in bed with Oleg.
The audience knows that Nina has frequently used her body to perform the tasks set out for her. In the first season she ends up in a sexual relationship with the Soviet official Vasili Nikolaievich so she can provide information to the Americans. Her tryst with Stan now has ulterior motives, even if, at times, her eyes may hint that it's something more. Now, she is in bed with Oleg, for whom she had previously shown a great distrust. He asks her about Beeman, and she says he means nothing to her. "You are a very good liar, Nina Sergeevna," Oleg says.
Nina has rarely had any agency in the series, having been blackmailed into action by both the Americans and the KGB. One has to wonder if, finally, she may be working for herself. She may not have wigs to change her appearance, but she continues to hide her motives even while wearing her own skin.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.