Astrology: Television: Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 2 Finale: ‘Echo,’ Greek Myth and Who’ll Get the Last Word



To call a television episode “Echo” all but begs rabid fans to hit the mythology books. In the spy business, the work is all about digging deep for secrets useful and necessary to the government who hired you. And in last night’s Season 2 finale of “The Americans,” the mythology connection seemed especially on the money.

Spying is pretty much a take-and-give operation between two entities working for a mutual goal: the advancement of the mission espoused by the country beloved by both parties. Ideally, and as “Echo” made clear through its well articulated theme, spies’ personal preferences are not part of the call-and-response equation. Every act of espionage is ideally akin to devotion, sacrifice and a bearing witness to the greater glory of the homeland.

As woven into “The Americans,” “Echo” is a piece of software tied to the U.S. Stealth program whose purpose is to make military vessels undetectable. For the Russians to keep up in the arms race, securing American “Echo” technology is essential. Because FBI counter-intelligence agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) is deeply in love with Nina (Annet Mahendru) – and he wants to prevent the Rezidentura from shipping her back to Russia as a traitor – there’s a good chance he just might betray his own country and turn over “Echo” to Nina’s handlers.

In mythology, Echo was an extremely talkative and Mercurial nymph and, as it turned out, a bit of a spy herself. Zeus, the king of the gods, was known for his philandering. One day, as legend has it, she distracted Zeus’ wife Hera with some chatter so his romantic diversions could flee. Hera, none too pleased, punished Echo by allowing her to keep only one way of speaking: to repeat the most recent words said by an individual. In other words, she could not initiate speech, but only respond, through what came to be known as an echo.

Half of Echo’s power to communicate, the domain of archetypal Mercury, was suddenly gone, which is basically the theme “The Americans” has set up for next season.

Up until this point, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) Jennings seem to have been equal partners with Mother Russia in the spy game. Now, the Soviet boss lady wants the couple’s first born, Paige (Holly Taylor), as part of its Second Generation Illegals program, and the only parental response that will be accepted is a resounding yes. Also known as a birth goddess tied to the Voice and creation, Echo, as seen through this finale-episode’s lens, is now linked to the Jennings’ children.

The second part of the Echo myth involves Narcissus, a beautiful youth who spurned Echo’s affections. (Over time, she pined away, leaving only her echo as a trace.) As punishment for his overall bad behavior, Narcissus was fated to fall in love with his own reflection in a pond, never being able to possess the rippling image. The traditional “narcissistic” position, one of smugness and self-centeredness, is all about how benefits accrue to you and not a broader swatch of humanity.

The Echo and Narcissus myths, seemingly romantic at the surface, are, at their core, tales of disempowerment dispensed by the gods for underlings’ bad behavior.

In Season 3 of “The Americans,” will high-power communication be reinstated as a two-way street, thereby restoring the mythical Echo to full voice? Or will her fate carry over and give Nina, whose voice was clearly taken away last night, a new conduit? Who, in other words, will have – who will echo – the last word?

Astrology Television Rating: ☿ (Mercury)

Facebook Twitter Email