With only two episodes left to go in The Americans, episode 6.8 this week mapped out a profound change in Elizabeth. Till now, in this season and earlier, Elizabeth has been nothing but coldly homicidal regarding anyone identified as an enemy by the Centre and ordered by them to be eliminated. Likewise, any innocent person who jeopardized her continuing work for the Centre. But, after a game-changing conversation to start the episode, in which Philip finally tells Elizabeth what he's been tasked by the Soviet government—in contrast to the Centre—to do, Elizabeth finally begins coming into her own, as, well, a human being.
First, she allows Jackson to walk away after he tells that he knows she's been using him for some unsavory purpose. In every episode up to this one, Elizabeth never would have let him get out of the car. And next, she disobeys an order to kill Nesterenko, because she's seen for herself that he's not an enemy of the state.
She's still loyal to The Soviet Union, but that means loyalty to the Communist Party and Gorbachev, not loyalty to the Centre. This puts Elizabeth and Claudia on a collision course, and it's not clear what Claudia will do. But Elizabeth—and Philip—ironically have worse things to worry about. Stan is all but convinced that they are the couple who killed so many of the FBI's assets over the years.
A big question mark still hangs over Renee. The one thing that can stop Stan—easily kill him, if need be—is Renee. Tonight we see her noticing that Stan is looking across the street at the Jennings home. When she asks him what he's looking at, he lies to her and says the moon. She's got to know he's lying. If she's a Russian agent, what will she do about this?
So far, we've seen no evidence that she is indeed working for the Centre. But scenes like this, and Stan lying about the moon, should oblige us to think more about Renee. I wouldn't be at all surprised if part of the stunning ending in two weeks is she kills Stan before he can bring Philip and Elizabeth down.
On the other hand ... well, I'll be back here next week with my next-to-last review of this extraordinary series.