Dan Attias directs and Joshua Brand gets the first of consecutive writing credits.
Big choices are made: Venter to die, Martha to live, Nina freedom and Elizabeth chose life for Todd: even the mail robot has a Shawshank moment.
Pre-credits we’re into quick-fire scene setting: Phil’s offer to Nazi guy of $1m and a new life is rejected, Martha is summoned by Walt ‘smiling assassin’ Taffet and Nina picks up a get out of jail card. Okay, I’m in.
Post credits, we’re into the ANC/South African Intel storyline. Deal rejected, Phil and Venter know this must end badly and we move quickly to Venter’s 3rd act. His end is shocking because what was happening in SA was shocking. It felt appropriate that Reuben administered a ‘township necklace’ and the white supremacist ended his days defiantly shouting “kiffer communist” (South African slang for the ‘n’ word (it’s not the Muslim/Arabic usage)). Todd soon babbled the bomb plot. So would I.
Once explained, Reuben and Phil divided on Todd and E holds the casting vote: the whimpering Todd lived but he won’t be able to wear those pants again, or change a tire.
This story dominates into the second half of the episode before it ends in a parked car denouement; two guys sitting talking war, marriage and wives. There was a lot of that in 1982, as now: a poignant, understated, perceptive moment. The two soldiers – only briefly met – then go their separate, stoic way.
LETS TAKE A STEP BACK
E taking Paige to the Projects – and her subsequent interest in Gregory – developed at the exact same time as Hans spotted the spy in his class: the story of Paige’s blossoming interest in civil rights via Gregory and the Apartheid bomb plot have been running side-by-side ever since, and it’s interesting to muse why that is.
Maybe the answer is in the conversation E had while Paige was eating breakfast cereal for dinner. About Gregory:
“He never stopped fighting for what was right”
“So, was he a criminal or wasn’t he?”
“Things aren’t that simple. You know that; you are already fighting against injustice …. Who are you fighting against: countries, governments, people who make laws … know what I mean?”
All of a sudden the ANC/SA bomb plot looks a lot like geo-political exposition for our benefit, while Paige gets to work with friend-of-the-family Gabriel’s civil rights story. Never mind Paige joining up the dots, maybetheidea is we all do …
Final thought here: are we beginning to look at the Reagan Administration’s policies through the eyes of a 14-year old?
Fwiw, the final episode on this season is titled ‘8th March 1983’, the date of Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech. It might be interesting to see how everyone responds to that extraordinary moment, not least Paige.
WHO ARE YOU, CLARK?
And so to Martha, who quivered through all of this episode and was within a single word of meeting Clark The Terminator. WHAT an exchange:
Martha: “What have I done! Oh my God, what have I done!”
Clark: “I would do anything to protect you”. Is that enough …. Or do you need more than that?”
If it’s not “enough” Martha dies there and then. That stark. Somewhere in Martha’s head subtext speaks to subtext, Clark takes a step forward and … she accepts his embrace – it is ‘enough’. And breathe.
The great difficulty now for Martha is she knows she’s an asset, and she doesn’t even know who for…. But hey, at least she’s not lonely. Some really great acting from Alison Wright.
WHERE’S THE LEMON?
Elsewhere, Nina and Oleg had some developmental scenes. Similarly so Gaad, who is told straight up he was negligent. The mail robot has already asked for a transfer to Dr Who.
Huge contrast of the week: Venter chose to die for hatred and, whether she knew it or not, Martha chose to live, for love.
E visiting Gabriel, her angel, at the end was interesting; she doesn’t like asking for favors, she treated this like a business meeting not a friendly dinner. Her empathy for Philip was, again, touching. The things we do for love.
By the way, this all seemed to take place in one day; from after the diner/kidnapping scene to Clark lying in bed with Martha, with clenched hands. And you thought you’d had a bad one …
Fun fact: township necklaces, like the one used on Venter, may not have begun until the mid-80s (and we’re still in 1982)
Question: Does P really need this relationship with Kimmie? If it’s only purpose is to allow P to change the tape hidden in dad’s briefcase, are we really accepting P can’t find another way into the house to do that?
(Very belatedly added the 5 stars rating thing tonight (Sat, 11th April). Up top – please do use!)