This episode’s title, “Clark’s Place” refers to the apartment that Philip has for his “Clark” identity—the man he initially pretended to be when he was romancing FBI administrative assistant Martha Hanson, whom he eventually “married”—with his “real wife,” Elizabeth, acting as a witness to the marriage as “Clark’s sister.” However, during the course of this current season and the last half of the previous season, Philip seems to feel more comfortable being Clark than he has felt being Philip. Thus, the title of this episode can also allude to the notion of whether Clark’s place is with Elizabeth as Philip, or whether Philip’s place is with Martha as Clark. In any event, while Philip-Clark has yet to work out where his place in life is (or whom with), I did uncover the approximate location of Clark’s apartment based on visual clues in this episode. A few weeks ago, I ended my review of episode 4.02, “Pastor Tim,” by pointing out that a scene that was supposed to be taking place at one of the three airports in the Washington, DC area (probably Dulles or BWI) had a bus that was clearly labeled as a “JFK Shuttle.” The prop managers of the series did not take the time to create a sign that read “Dulles Shuttle” or “BWI Shuttle.” Well, I’m happy to report the prop managers were on top of things with this episode. The mass transit system in the DC area is called the Metro, and Martha clearly gets off at a Metro bus stop in this episode (based on the “Metro” bus-stop sign. What’s more, the bus’s destination is clearly “Friendship Heights” (a neighborhood in the District). However, I can tell the scene was not actually shot in Friendship Heights or the adjacent areas in Maryland. It was shot in New York—probably in Brooklyn—but we’ll pretend it’s in DC. At first, I thought Clark’s place must be in Friendship Heights. However, after Martha gets off at her stop, the bus continues down the road (which would be Wisconsin Avenue, also known as MD-355). Thus, Martha had to have gotten off the bus in Bethesda instead of riding to the end of the line in Friendship Heights. Of course, Martha riding the “Friendship Heights” bus to Clark’s place raises another issue—namely, why was Martha in Montgomery County? FBI headquarters, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, is about 6.5 miles southeast of Friendship Heights. However, Martha rode a bus that was coming from the northeast down 355, which means she was coming from Rockville. Based on the bus she was riding, Martha was obviously not going to Clark’s place straight from work. However, it seems odd that she would go all the way to Rockville (supposedly to her own apartment, though I thought she lived in the District) and then go to Clark’s place. Still, that must have been what she did based on what was shown in the episode. Of course, the other possibility is that the creators of the episode really did not work out the details of where the exact stops and routes for the Metro buses are located. They didn’t consider why Martha was so far west into Montgomery County. In fact, that “possibility” of ignorance of DC-area geography is proven a few minutes later when Martha uses a payphone at a laundromat after she leaves Clark’s place. The payphone’s exchange is “521”—which is a prefix for phones located in Forest Heights and Oxon Hill—Maryland suburbs on the complete opposite side of the district from Bethesda and Friendship Heights. In other words, Martha seems to have walked about 20 miles from Clark’s apartment in Bethesda to use a payphone at a laundromat in Forest Heights. Nevertheless, despite the spatial anomalies it contains, “Clark’s Place” was a very good episode. For one thing, I just really like the idea of Clark’s apartment being about five miles from where I used to work in North Bethesda. However, what I liked most about this episode was the snippet of the famous televised speech President Reagan delivered to the nation on Wednesday, March 23, 1983—and how well it compared to Philip and Elizabeth’s own “speech” to Pastor Tim a few hours later. In fact, I liked the inclusion of Reagan in this episode so much that I went off on a 1,859-word tangent that analyzed parts of Reagan’s original speech and then compared it to (and contrasted it with) the subsequent scene in which Philip and Elizabeth meet with Pastor Tim and his wife. However, after much hand-wringing regarding the length of this review due to that tangent, and in consideration of the short attention spans of most Internet readers, I decided to cut those 1,859 words from this review—which I will re-purpose in an upcoming installment of my soon-to-be-revived column “Spontaneous Quixote.” Meanwhile, back at Clark’s place . . . Agent Aderholt continues to help Stan Beeman investigate Martha and her possible involvement with the KGB. After having dinner with Martha in the previous episode while Stan conducted an illegal search of her apartment, Aderholt compares notes with Stan and they acknowledge that Martha’s claim of having an affair with a married man would explain Stan’s suspicions about Martha’s behavior—but they also acknowledge that the affair would be an effective KGB cover story, so more unwarranted investigation of Martha’s private life is warranted. Thus, when Martha takes the Friendship Heights bus from Rockville to Bethesda, Aderholt follows the bus in his car—and then follows Martha to Clark’s apartment building. He then sits in his car for a while on a stakeout of the building. Fortunately, Philip was also having Martha followed—by Hans, the South African college student whose Marxist ideology led to him becoming an operative that Elizabeth trained in the art of surveillance and counter-surveillance. Hans notices Aderholt (or Aderholt’s car, actually) and phones a warning to Philip, who quickly dons a disguise and sneaks out of the back of the apartment building—passing unknowingly (for both men) behind Aderholt as he sits in his car. It’s a narrow escape for Philip that parallels the narrow escape Father Rivas claims to have made due to Philip and Elizabeth phoning a warning to him about the death squads that were staking out his church in El Salvador (there will be more about Father Rivas and his narrow escape in my upcoming “Spontaneous Quixote” column about Ronald Reagan’s speech that was used in this episode). Despite Philip’s timely exit of the building, the FBI now know where Martha’s paramour lives—which, of course, creates complications for Philip. More importantly, though, from the standpoint of where the writers are taking the viewers this season, all of these events continue to create complications for Martha—and she is only partially aware of the events in which she is a major player. During the four seasons I’ve watched The Americans, I have never been particularly fond of Martha as a character—which, of course, was the intention of the writers and showrunner of the series. The sympathies of the audience have always been directed toward Philip and Elizabeth even though they are KGB agents working undercover in the United States, and despite the acts of murder, sabotage, and espionage they have committed over the course of 44 episodes. However, part of this season seems to be about the audience viewing Martha as a sympathetic character—a plan that is in part achieved through the cinematography techniques that are used in many of Martha’s scenes (particularly when she is sitting alone in her apartment). This season, we have been getting shots of Martha sitting alone in her room as we watch her either from outside through a window or from an adjoining room through an interior door that has been left ajar (such as the above image from this episode). The effect is one in which Martha is framed within the window or door frames in a way that symbolizes how the events of her life are boxing her into a decreasingly smaller world in which others are making decisions that are limiting the choices she can make in how her own life will unfold. Of course, Martha’s current plight has already been experienced by former KGB officer Nina Krilova when she was employed at the Soviet’s Rezidentura. In the previous episode, Nina (who was one of my favorite characters in seasons one and two) was finally executed by the Soviet government with a bullet fired into the back of her brain. Of course, if Martha’s treasonous crimes are uncovered, she is not likely to be executed by the US government like Nina was by the Soviet government. Martha’s situation in may be partially inspired by the real-life espionage case involving Sharon Scranage—a CIA clerk (similar to Martha’s job with the FBI) who became romantically involved with a foreign intelligence officer in Ghana to whom she then passed classified CIA documents beginning in 1983 (the year in which the current season of The Americans is set). After she was arrested and convicted of espionage in 1985, Scranage served eight months of her original prison sentence of five years. Thus, we might expect the same type of punishment for Martha should her crimes become known. Still, Martha’s current situation of feeling boxed in by the circumstances that are currently controlling her life are similar to the enclosed world with limited options that other characters in the series are facing back in the Soviet Union. Finally, Elizabeth is also feeling a sense of limited options due to the decisions other people either are making or are contemplating that will have an effect on her own life. She seems to be sensing Philip’s emotional connection with Martha—his love for the woman who is neither as physically attractive or as intellectually engaging as Elizabeth, but who is far more emotionally attractive and engaging. Thus, Elizabeth attempts to keep Philip interested in maintaining their marriage in the only manner she knows—one that is both instinctively animalistic and skillfully trained in her. She hikes up her skirt, pulls down her panties, and marks him with her scent. At least for now, Philip-Clark knows his place. It’s inside Elizabeth’s vagina. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.