The Americans: Fever Dreams (S4: E4 Recap)

the-americans-season4 logoElizabeth is outside of Gabe’s apartment, using a pay phone to call the Center and tell them the Epcot plan is off, and those “packages” cannot be delivered this weekend. Absolutely not! No! You got that? Those TWO packages BOTH of them, that thing you were going to do to with them — just don’t. We good? Could you please repeat it back to me?

So it looks like Gabe’s bad luck is a reprieve for Pastor Tim and Alice!

Next Elizabeth calls Paige who should really be used to the “Mommy and Daddy are going to be out a while” late night calls, but given the whole Pastor Tim and his blabbermouth wife situation she’s panicked and wants to know if they’re in danger. Elizabeth tells her they’re not. Strangely, Paige doesn’t believe her own mother!

After Elizabeth hangs up, William uses a bolt cutter to get rid of the phone receiver and prevent the zombie apocalypse. They go back to the apartment where Gabe is still alive. Philip asks William if there’s anything besides hanging out in quarantine and taking antibiotics that they should be doing. He can’t think of much other than praying which of course isn’t an option because as Ronald Reagan told us there’s no word for God in the Russian language.

the americans s4 e4 william elizabeth philip

Hmm. Soup’s on.

Meantime, in a better part of Moscow, Oleg is home with his grieving family, only he doesn’t feel at home. To him home is Washington DC and he wants to go back and “complete his tour” by which he means live in the west as long as possible or at least till the system collapses under its own weight in six more years. He and his father argue about Nina. Oleg wants to know what happened to her. His father says she’s not dead. They would have told him that. His father can’t really figure out why she means so much to Oleg. Has his father seen Nina?

Seriously? His dad wants to know why Oleg wants to save this woman?

Seriously? His dad wants to know why Oleg wants to save this woman?

Back in the USA, Henry stops by Stan’s house early in the morning because they’re out of milk. How has no one called child services on these people? Naturally, Henry also wants to chat with Stan about love and computers and all sorts of other things a boy with talk to his dad about if he had a dad who wasn’t always away on business. When Stan talks about the first time he met Sandra, it’s clear he was smitten then, and is still smitten. He lights up. When Henry asks him what happened after that, Stan tells him they got married, had Matthew, got divorced. He looks like it still hurts – a lot. Seriously, what happened to Torrie? Did she only exist to tell him that Sandra was having dinner with Philip? Was there a break up scene they had to edit out?

Is Stan the least bit suspicious about the frequent absences of the Jennings? Who knows? He does stop by their house to tell Paige he’s driving Henry to school and offer her a ride. He asks about her parents and she lies easily or rather she lies uneasily but well.

Funny thing. Did I ever tell you about how when your folks moved in, I thought there was something a little funny about them?

Funny thing. Did I ever tell you about how when your folks moved in, I thought there was something a little funny about them?

Over at the FBI, Agent Aderholt starts a conversation with Martha, and asks her to dinner. Since she’s already told him her plan was to drink wine and watch television, it would be awkward for her to refuse.

At Gabe’s, Elizabeth looks flushed, and William says her pulse is high. It could be a bad reaction to the antibiotics or she could be deathly ill. Philip and Elizabeth argue about who was supposed to help Henry with his biology test. Poor Henry. Once Paige and Elizabeth and Philip go back to the Soviet Union, Henry and Stan should get their own heartwarming spinnoff: “He was a father without a son. He was a son without a dad. Together they’re a new kind of family.”

Martha at home, is flushing down her pills with wine, while making multiple calls to Clark’s answering machine. Strange how Clark’s voice sounds just like Philip’s. Didn’t those old-timey message machines have a machine voice option? Given all the mishigosh going on with the bug at work, would she still be calling him from her home phone? She hears a click or two on the line, comes to her senses, says it’s no big deal, hangs up, and drinks has some more liquid courage.

Elizabeth, now sweaty and feverish tells Philip that if anything happens to her, he should just blame Tim and Alice and everything on her, and raise the kids as Americans – which, she acknowledges – was what he always wanted.

At dinner in some generic place with checkerboard table cloths, the kind that could be romantic if the people dining there were, Martha drinks more wine. Aderholt talks about not being a party guy, not being good at small talk, but Martha is too distracted to even listen.

Couldn't you just pretend to listen?

Couldn’t you just pretend to listen?

We’d feel bad for the shlub, if it weren’t for the fact that the dinner was a set up and at that very moment, Stan is rifling through Martha’s underwear drawer, finding condoms and spending a little too much time inspecting her copy of the Kama Sutra. Let’s hope he doesn’t find that wedding photo. He does find the gun – a reminder to us that she still has it and it could go off any time. Anyone care to bet on which we will come into play first – the gun or the wedding photo? One thing’s for sure: In a show that  usually plays the long game, both those items are going to be important.

Martha emboldened by drink, drugs and maybe pasta, tells Aderholt some version of her truth. She says she’s seeing a married man, and he’ll never leave his wife, but she accepts it and she’s not ashamed. She tells him it’s the most “grown-up” relationship she’s ever had. She even makes a joke about wearing wigs. The speech is almost like a dream in that it takes a bunch of elements from real life, switches them around and reinterprets them.

Who could have imagined how good Martha would be at this?

Who could have imagined how good Martha would be at this?

Really, if she suspected that the FBI suspected she couldn’t have come up with a more plausible story, or one more likely to be “corroborated” by what Stan finds – except maybe for the gun, but this is America, so why wouldn’t Martha have a gun?

Elizabeth has some dream and/or flashback to a time when she was a girl and her mother was very sick. Her mother told her to go to her cousins if anything happened to her. When Elizabeth wakes up she wants to go out and try to reach Paige again, but Philip tells her it’s very late and he’d just scare her.

Somewhere in the bowels of Soviet hell, Nina is in a bare cell, feeling the cracks in the wall by her bed. Well at least, Leg’s father was right. She is still alive.

Oleg and his father are walking through Prospect Gorky Park, still having the same conversation.  Hi dad really wants Oleg to stay. Finally, a deal is struck. Dad will look into this Nina thing and try to help if he agrees to stick around. Oleg says yes. Whew! So we’re good right? Oleg’s dad is a big shot. We can stop worrying about Nina, okay? Show you are so cruel!

If Oleg sticks around, does that mean we won’t have the sequel where he and Stan are private eyes together or roommates? “One’s a slick ex-KGB agent who loves the ladies. The other’s a divorced, sad-sack former G-Man. Together they’re Borscht and Hot Dog the oddest couple of private eyes ever!”

Over at the safe house, Elizabeth’s fever has broken and even Gabe looks a little better. William tells Philip how lucky he is to have a partner because not having anyone to talk to about the work could drive you crazy. Philip talks about the struggles they’ve had, including the fight over whether or not to tell Paige who they are. William gets the dynamic. Elizabeth is all about the mission and runs the show.

William declares that Gabe is no longer contagious and no one else is sick. Elizabeth was just having a reaction to the medication. Elizabeth tells Philip she realizes he was right. They can’t kill Tim and Alice because they’d lose Paige forever. They don’t want to run either. They’re going to “work” Tim and Alice – which shouldn’t be impossible given the show’s belief that every vaguely progressive thing that happened in the United States was a commie plot.

They tell Gabe. He thinks they’d better off getting out of Dodge if that’s the case, but he doesn’t argue. He refers to a time before World War II when he lived in fear because everyone was killing each other in the Soviet Union. Elizabeth does not report him to the thought police for saying that things weren’t always perfect in the Soviet Union – at least not at that moment.

Elizabeth and Philip go home where Henry is playing computer games and Paige is fretting. Then they all go bowling. Elizabeth with her super spy skills bowls six strikes in a row, which is a bit indiscreet for someone trying to pass herself off as an average American. She even jokes around about being a spy with Paige. Must be the influence of her new best friend whose life she’s totally going to ruin.

And so it looks like a happy ending to a ….

Uh-oh. Back in Soviet jail, Nina gets out of jail and strolls through the lab where the guards and scientists practically applaud her. She finds Anton waiting, and she shows him some document and their plane tickets and they seem to float out of the building, and there’s the plane waiting to take them away. Then she’s abruptly woken up in her cell and told she’s being transferred. She doesn’t even grab her own things. One of the guards puts them in a plastic trash bag and carries them out. She’s brought to a corridor where an officer sitting behind a desk tells her that her appeal was denied and she’s going to be executed. And then she is. One of the soldier’s shoots her in the back of her head, and there’s no waking up from that.

They carry out her body and all that’s left is a red blotch on the concrete.

Wowzer. While there have been semi-regular characters killed off before, she is the most major character we’ve lost, and while it looked like this was where the story was going (We heard the words “exceptional punishment” last week) we may have been lulled by the deal Oleg made with his dad. Too late, apparently, or maybe daddy didn’t have enough juice. It recalls another death foretold, Adriana’s death on The Sopranos. It’s a moment when our sympathies come into play. Just when we’re feeling good about where things are going with the Jennings family, we’re reminded in a way that counts that they are working for a terrible system that grinds up the guilty and the innocent alike. We’re reminded that as Pastor Tim might say, “People get hurt.” And we’ve got to start asking, “Who’s next?”

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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