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: Philip's Clark wig, which he wears this episode during a sexual encounter with Elizabeth.
Why This Wig: Philip has always been the Jennings that has struggled most with his identity. At the beginning of the first season he was on the verge of defecting from the KGB. He has become, however, a brutal hired hand, as evidenced by his interaction with the Mossad agent in last week's episode. That coldness has extended into his family life. When Paige sneaks out to visit Aunt Helen earlier in the season, Philip berates her, looking like he could kill his own if he needed to.
Still, Philip's relationship to Elizabeth has been stronger (and kinkier) than ever. Remember, in the first episode of the season their daughter walked in on them performing oral sex on one another. After a rather tender sexual encounter at the beginning of last night's episode, Elizabeth (lying naked for some reason while Philip is fully clothed) brings the information she gleaned from Martha when she visited her in character as Clark's sister. Martha had revealed that Clark was an "animal" in bed, and Elizabeth, in what appears to be a mixture of curiosity and jealousy, wants to see what it's all about.
One night, when Philip is wearing the Clark wig and glasses Elizabeth implores him to show her what Martha is talking about. She gets frustrated when he seems to be initiating sex the same way he does as Philip, and suddenly he turns. He becomes ferocious, turning her on her back and taking her violently from behind, in a way that recalls her rape by then-KGB operative Timoshev. Elizabeth herself has—in a guarded way— opened up about the attack on her this season. In attempting to use young naval recruit to get information on her friends' possible killer she plays a woman who had been raped, a role that the audience knows is filled with truth.
"Is that what you want?" Philip says after finishing and turning her to face him. She lies crying on the bed, as he goes to the bathroom, takes off his Clark glasses, and pulls the pins out of his wig, so tightly secured on that he needs to rip it off.
It's not clear what provoked him to act so violently toward Elizabeth. Was it frustration with her questioning his identity? Was it his pure cruelty, explored in last week's episode, unleashed? As an audience, we've always mostly known Elizabeth's motivations—she is a loyal KGB operative—Philip's are more of a mystery. We expect that the repercussions of this moment will extend throughout the season.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.