A evaluate of tonight’s The Individuals arising simply as quickly as I’ve hair like a Vidal Sassoon advert…

“You don’t assume I’m a human being?” -Elizabeth

Elizabeth Jennings has all the time put the mission first. She cares about her children to various levels (Paige greater than Henry), however she solely had them as a result of the Centre informed her to. She fell in love with Philip, however solely after years of being collectively, and she or he fought the concept for so long as she might as a result of it might — and did — compromise operations. Everybody she meets is a software to additional the trigger. She could genuinely come to love a Younger-Hee, however that doesn’t cease her from wrecking Younger-Hee’s marriage. The outdated girl on the robotic manufacturing facility, the warehouse worker whose girlfriend occurred to work in safety, the poor man who was simply tuning up his automotive in his personal storage — none of them deserved to be murdered by Elizabeth Jennings, however all have been standing between her and finishing a mission, so murdered they have been.

However two seemingly contradictory issues have been occurring with Elizabeth on this closing season. On the one hand, she’s extra ruthless (and/or sloppier) than she ever was when she labored alongside Philip, to the purpose the place it’s nearly startling when an episode doesn’t finish together with her having killed somebody throughout an operation gone flawed. However on the opposite, she’s such a uncooked, uncovered nerve now that she’s extra weak to Philip and Erica Haskard’s separate makes an attempt to achieve previous the automaton and remind her of her personal humanity.

Firstly of the episode — throughout the pause Elizabeth takes after Philip tells her what he’s been doing with Oleg, which appears to final for 11 weeks — the concept of the human overcoming her programming seems inconceivable. However by the top, considerably amazingly — and conveyed fantastically via the best way Keri Rusell modulates her efficiency — the human appears to be lastly profitable.

Glenn Haskard botches Erica’s euthanasia, and though Elizabeth might probably preserve her alive and manipulate him into staying with the summit, she opts to play angel of mercy and put he ability for murdering folks in undetectable methods to a extra altruistic function.

The kiss she locations on Erica’s brow earlier than jamming the paintbrush down her throat, and the protracted inner battle she goes via earlier than following protocol and burning Erica’s portray (which, if discovered within the storage, might hyperlink her to the Haskards), convey simply how a lot this girl and her work — which Elizabeth didn’t initially perceive, and virtually seemed on with contempt — has come to imply to her.

Mercy shouldn’t be all the time fairly, and whereas Erica’s darkish humorousness might need appreciated the concept of being asphyxiated with the thing she used to create her artwork, within the second she’s up to now gone that every one that is still are her physique’s primary bodily responses, and that physique fights tooth and nail to save lots of itself earlier than Elizabeth can end the job. It’s a sort factor Elizabeth is doing, nevertheless it’s among the many most disagreeable deaths the present has ever depicted.

When Jackson finds the recording machine she tricked him into putting in a room at State, he appears to be speaking himself right into a bullet. As an alternative, shaken by what Philip has informed her and by the loss of life of Erica, Elizabeth lets him dwell, though he’s clearly going to inform somebody about her. And when she listens to the recordings and realizes each that Nesterenko isn’t the traitor she’s been promised and that Gorbachev’s disarmament agenda is one thing she will help, the robotic lastly shuts down altogether, and the human opts to not solely refuse to kill Nesterenko, however to inform Philip concerning the mission after which head out into the night time to guard this stranger from whomever the Centre subsequent assigns to his loss of life.

It’s a outstanding transformation, and an instance of the sequence’ patient-bordering-on-excruciating pacing paying off in spades. Sure, there have been moments this season when it appeared like showrunners Fields and Weisberg had misplaced observe of what number of episodes they’d left and have been dawdling the best way they typically do early in non-final seasons. However the time spent on the Haskards, on Elizabeth chain-smoking and slowly falling aside, on the gaping chasm between husband and spouse, have been all essential to get her to this place the place she would defy Claudia and the Centre — the place she would lastly, all these years later, select to assume for herself about what’s proper and flawed, and what traces she merely gained’t cross.

There’s now pressure hanging over every thing, with the FBI getting nearer and nearer to uncovering the illegals’ identities, and now our protagonists each turning towards their masters. Aderholt has the FBI raiding garages (in an episode the place Philip opts for a style of house by renting the 1980 Russian movie The Storage), so when Elizabeth takes her candy time deciding whether or not to maintain or burn the portray, it’s not only a nice character second, however a ticking time bomb.

It has taken Elizabeth ceaselessly, it appears, to get to this second of full self-awareness. She has performed totally monstrous, unforgivable issues prior to now, however the benefit of leaving the decision-making as much as others was that she didn’t normally must dwell on the ramifications of those horrible acts. Philip might by no means compartmentalize like that, which she used to take for weak point. However now she is lastly beginning to see the world the best way he does, the best way Erica did. It’s onerous, and it’s painful, and it seemingly ends in both Chekhov’s Cyanide Tablet or a jail cell for her. However it’s nonetheless higher for her, higher for the world, and a lot better for The Individuals as we head into the house stretch.

Another ideas:

* Stan’s ongoing investigation into Philip and Elizabeth is a bit more backburnered than feels preferrred, on condition that he was breaking into their home final week. It’s attention-grabbing that he doesn’t acknowledge the more moderen sketches of them from the Chicago mission, which look rather more like them than the 1981 sketches, however Gregory’s former soldier Curtis does describe a stupendous girl with salon-quality hair who smokes like a chimney, and Stan did see Elizabeth’s unhappy flowerpot ashtray final time, so he’s getting nearer, even when it feels agonizing.

* Extra observant than skilled law-enforcement agent Stan Beeman: Stavos, who in his listing of grievances to Philip admits that he knew one thing fishy was occurring within the again workplace all these years, even when, “I by no means known as the police, or stated something to anyone.” Stavos is simply fortunate he expressed this sentiment to delicate retiree Philip, and never Elizabeth, who won’t have been fairly so merciful towards his cranky outdated self than she was with baby-faced Jackson.

* Additionally agonizing — and, given how little time is left, considerably irritating — was Renee getting ready for her FBI interview with Stan noting that an important questions are whether or not she will preserve a secret, and if she’s a loyal American. That doesn’t really feel in any respect like foreshadowing, does it, people? The issue is, we’re so late within the story that the present is form of damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t by now. If Renee is a spy, it’ll be launched too late — and with an excessive amount of else happening — to land correctly. If she’s not, then it’s simply distracting that they solid somebody like Laurie Holden, and had Philip voice his personal suspicions about Renee final season.

What did everyone else assume?

Alan Sepinwall could also be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com. He discusses tv weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new guide, Breaking Dangerous 101, is on sale now.

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