The Americans: Feelings (are such real things)

This week on The Americans: Elizabeth goes to a shrink, Philip has more flashbacks, Mary Kay comes a calling, Gabriel makes like ET, and while Paige reads a book on Marx, Oleg waits for contact in the park.

Elizabeth is telling Gabriel that all Ben wants to do is end world hunger. “Like Miss America” Gabriel declares. She doesn’t mention how he also wants to make sure she is totally satisfied in her lady-parts because that would be too weird seeing how Gabriel has always been the father Elizabeth never had. They discuss Philip’s reaction to learning the guy he killed wasn’t a bad guy, but when did collateral damage become a problem? Remember the airport security guy Philip killed on a bus? Remember poor Sukie Stackhouse’s Gram, what Elizabeth forced to overdose on her own heart meds? Why is Philip having a problem now? Could it be as Gabriel will say later because they’ve been here too long and seen too much? Burn-out seems to be the theme of the season.

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Gabriel tries to make lemonade out of what should be good news anyway (no plan to sabotage the wheat) by suggesting that if they could get their hands on Ben’s very special brand they’d never have to buy from the west again (unless they forgot to build containment for a nuclear power plant and the meltdown costs them 125,000 square miles of land).

Elizabeth does that passive-aggressive sigh when Gabriel tells her she’ll have to “stay on” Ben and poor Philip will have to court Deirdre. Gabriel says he knows she and Philip are “spread so thin.” (Was that a sexual pun, or am I twelve?) What Gabriel may be missing is that it’s not that Elizabeth has too much to do, but that Elizabeth might be having FEELINGS. Remember how she warned Paige how confusing things get when you throw sex into the mix? It might have been easy to ignore Ben’s attractiveness when she thought he was evil, but now that even Gabriel seems to think the man is a saint, it could be quite a bit harder to turn off her heart, and/or other parts.

Poor Elizabeth!

At home we spot Henry just long enough for Philip to awkwardly attempt to compliment him by telling him he’ll be taking over the travel agency soon. As if! Henry knows there won’t even be travel agencies in a computerized future.

Philip’s other son steps off a small plane back in the USSR, while Philip continues to be plagued by memories of his dad bringing home strange items, like not so gently used boots. Was he a grave robber?

Aderholt and Stan have maybe found a live one – a mom at a playground who is terrified of them, but seems possibly interested in their offer to work with them, and the idea of her little boy having a future in America.

Ben notices that Brenda/Elizabeth seems different and even uses the word “softer.” You’d think a guy this observant might have noticed the wig. He gets her doing some Tai Chi he learned in Nepal.

You know this guy’s got a copy of the Kama Sutra.

Gabriel is reporting to Claudia that Mischa is home safe and getting his old job back. Well, at least he’s not going to prison or back to the psych hospital! She assures him he did the right thing, and clutches his arm in a gesture that at once seems friendly and threatening.

“Oh did I mention we have one final mission for you? Just kidding!”

Later, in the evening, Gabriel takes a solo walk around and views the Lincoln Memorial. We know from previous comments he digs Lincoln. Maybe he’s thinking, these Americanski, they aren’t so bad, but then he turns and sees the Washington phallus, and probably changes his mind.

Oleg and Ruslov are waiting in the home of the supplier they tried to shake down for names in the last episode, but now they’ve found his secret stash of cash. He’d rather sit in a cell then talk and warns them, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

This guy, maybe?

Marilyn and the forgettable black guy now seem to be full time KGB employees, living the spy life in Illinois. Their assignment: Take pictures of Sasha’s mom with her students. Is she going to be taking her students out to lunch? It’s not like they can get into the facility. And it’s not like the Department of Agriculture plans to secretly drop these guys into the country.

Ding-dong! Uh-oh a Mary Kay rep is at the door talking to Paige. She’s not one of the ones “Patty” worked with – at least not according to IMDB, but we can see the terror on Elizabeth’s face, even if Paige can’t. This is worlds colliding, and more evidence that their cover could be blown any second.

Elizabeth trying to figure out whether or not she’ll need to kill this woman and calculating how long a backyard burial will take if Paige helps.

Oleg waits around on a park bench for a meeting that looks like it’s still been called off.

Elizabeth and Philip check in with Gabriel who tells them he’s going home. He insists nothing is “wrong.” He’s just old, and he’ll miss them terribly. They’ll miss him too. And won’t it be a bit awkward if Claudia replaces him again? Especially given that time Elizabeth beat her up and all?

Elizabeth is now dressed in homage to Billie Newman, gal reporter on The Lou Grant show, as she makes her way into a shrink’s office, and tells a bunch of half-truths while casing the joint. (Her assignment will be to come back later and grab some files.)

Billie Newman — she had spunk!

Then she’s back at the travel agency where Philip is having FEELINGS again about these disturbing memories. Maybe Elizabeth has been inspired by the shrink’s advice to actually TALK about stuff instead of just burying it, so she tells him he should have a chat with Gabriel because there might be something in his personnel file and he might not have another chance.

Henry is having dinner with Stan, leftovers he brought over with him, because sure it’s perfectly normal for a teenage boy to have an independent friendship with the lonely neighbor across the street. Stan tries to get intel on why Paige hasn’t been around lately, but Henry deflects. We find out that the previously mentioned “Chris” is an age-appropriate girl that Henry is interested in.

Has super-secret-secret agent Henry actually been spying on Stan for years?

Is Henry sitting on a very low chair so as not to appear as freakishly tall as he looks next to his parents?

Speaking of bonding with surrogate dads, Philip goes to see Gabriel who tells him his father was a guard at a penal camp, but he doesn’t know much more about the kind of guard he was, and nobody likes to talk about the bad old days.

Elizabeth drives to Young Hee’s house and sits in her car. When another family comes home, she looks devastated. And here one might ask: Wouldn’t the FBI have followed up after William was caught? Wouldn’t they try to figure out how he got the code to get the sample? Wouldn’t they have thoroughly interviewed all of the people who had clearance and looked for any strange behavior, possible blackmail, etc? Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were some continuing investigation going on and we the viewers got a peek into it maybe?

Elizabeth decides to check in with Paige, whom she finds reading Marx’s Capital. She does a nice long “Hmm” when Paige tells her it was a gift from Pastor Tim. Paige likes some of Marx, but not the part about how religion is a drug. The happiest day of her life was when she got baptized. Elizabeth still doesn’t get that, but when she starts talking about how her country was based on the ideas in that book, she has a religious fervor.

Nothing brings mothers and daughters together like discussion on religion and politics.

Philip drives into the garage and Elizabeth gets into the seat next to him to talk because little pitchers have big ears. He tells her about his father, and wonders why his mother never told him. He’s upset about not knowing anything about his parents. I wonder how his son might feel about that – by son I mean Henry. Mischa knows more about him than Henry does — unless of course Henry knows a lot more than we think.

Oleg walks through a prison as the soundtrack begins Lay Your Hands on Me by Peter Gabriel, which might be a little too on the nose given how the characters are all suffering from too much stimuli, and a need for redemption. He looks down at the supplier who’s sitting still silent in his cell. Then he goes home and takes the map and the tape given to him by the US spies, and burns them. With the full moon it feels like a ritual, a cleansing of his past, but at the same time, the CIA still has the tape. Like Mary Kay, they could come knocking on the door anytime.

Elizabeth and Philip take Paige to meet her spiritual grandfather, Gabriel, who just beams when he sees her.

When did the ruthless spy master turn into a mush?

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: The Americans

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