Archetypes: Television: Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 3 (2015): Parent-Child. Parent-Asset



Children are the most personal entities in the world. But, in the spy arena, to refer to someone in the field as a nameless “asset” is as impersonal as it gets. “The Americans” sees these two categories of individuals – neither of whom, for different reasons, are capable of fending for themselves and ensuring their own survival – as needing to be heavily nurtured, or, more accurately, managed. When these people no longer want to be controlled, as the series’ Season 3 often shockingly demonstrated, the  archetypal Lunar Caregiver hands over the reins to the Plutonic Manipulator.

At the more intimate “child” level, the Jennings’ daughter Paige (Holly Taylor), angry about her parents’ side-stepping around what they actually do for a living, has persevered in her quest to learn the truth. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) finally reveal to her that they’re Russian spies.

Possession of this knowledge, however, has only fueled her dismay about her roots which, unknown to Paige, Mother Russia hopes to put to good use when they transform her into an asset.

In an effort to maneuver her daughter’s beliefs, Elizabeth takes Paige to West Germany to meet, for the first time, her dying Russian grandmother who, years earlier, had surrendered Elizabeth to be trained to work on behalf of the state. Grandma’s life-altering decision only exacerbates Paige’s rebellion against living a lie. At the end of the finale, Paige, electing to break confidentiality her parents insisted on, reveals that Mom and Dad are Russian to Pastor Tim, a sympathetic minister just “doing my father’s will” who heads up a Christian youth group that Paige has embraced. Further amplifying the child theme, the third season sees Paige baptized and becoming a child of God (in addition to being the progeny of the Jennings and Russia).



More children are introduced: the teen character Kimberly (Julia Garner), a conduit for Philip’s spy work, who’s part child and part unwitting semi-asset; Elizabeth’s youthful South African charges; the yearned for child that Martha (Alison Wright) wants to adopt with her “husband” Clark; and even the child ghosts, as represented by the toys belonging to unfortunate computer tech Gene.

At the collective level, the show presented the notion of the child-asset in even more horrifying fashion.

Annelise, Philip’s exuberant child-like asset, is murdered and stuffed into a suitcase, in death literally looking like a rag doll or a child with a broken body. An indelible image, this permanently confined woman represents the equivalent of a child under the thumb of a parental agent. By analogy, Gabriel, the elder handler of the Jennings, treats Elizabeth and Philip as though they were children, too, especially when it comes to exacting a certain obedience regarding Paige. Nina, now serving time in Russia for her treason, is paying off her freedom bit by bit in a way that evokes a child getting a weekly allowance for tasks performed.

If there’s a truth to be exacted from “The Americans” this season, it’s the ultimate joke tied to Russia’s expectation that Paige will one day work for that country as a spy. The proposition implies that one graduates from childhood into asset status. The reality is that there’s no either-or. Every asset is a child-asset, with sky-high penalties for rebellion. “For unto us a child is born,” Pastor Tim said at the baptismal tank, unaware that Mother Russia was smacking its lips. Infantilization is the name of the game. Children are a blessing.

Archetype: Child. Parent. Spy. Manipulator.

Astrology Archetype: ☽ ♇ (Moon, Pluto)

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