The Americans: Paigeland

After mercy-executing Elizabeth’s  fav asset, she and Philip meet Gabriel to hand over the virus sample. Gabriel must be thrilled to have yet another deadly pathogen on his hands. What could possibly go wrong this time?

“Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Steady as she goes.. Uh-oh! There goes the Eastern seaboard.”

Philip can’t quite get out the words about what just happened to poor Hans. (Elizabeth … can’t … even.) Fortunately, Gabriel knows them well enough to get the message  when it’s garbled. Philip, trying to make lemonade out of this clusterfuck, says he thinks William would have liked that they got the sample off of his body. “Liked” as in making some cynical wisecrack about it, maybe? Now more bad news: Gabriel informs them the US may be sabotaging grain imports to the Soviet Union. Philip thought there were some things even “they” wouldn’t do, but as we should have learned already, and will be reminded of in this very episode, there’s almost nothing that either side wouldn’t do.

The Jennings are still shaken when they get home, and wordlessly check on the kids. We get our only glimpse of Henry, but Paige is not in her bed. They go into near panic mode, wondering if she could be at Stan’s, or worse if something happened and Stan tried to contact them. They find her asleep in the closet. As Stan will later point out to Philip, it looks like all is not well in Paigeland.

With her penchant for flannel shirts, some of us suspected Paige might be in the closest.

In Russia, the colonel talks to Oleg about the culture of bribery and temptation, and how their service is the only one that hasn’t been corrupted. The colonel seems like a stand up guy, so no doubt something terrible will happen to him before we reach season 6.

Another day, Stan waves down Philip to update him about his gym flirtation and ask him in for a brewsky – because that’s how men handle things in 1984. Meantime, Elizabeth decides it’s time to give Paige another self-defense lesson, while interrogating her about how far things have gotten with Matthew.

The bathroom is where Elizabeth, often in a nightie, is at her most vulnerable. Someone could do a compilation of her brushing her teeth scenes. Here she is applying moisturizer, not because she wants to, but because she must stay seductive for the Motherland. She reports her fear that Paige will “slip.” Philip confides that Stan already suspects something is up with their daughter and apprentice. Elizabeth talks about Hans, and how his sister is coming to visit in three weeks. The Americans is good at planting details to be used later. Perhaps, Han’s sister will report his disappearance to the FBI. Maybe Hans himself “slipped” in a letter or a phone call to her.

Stan and Mr. Munchkin are meeting with a CIA-biggie who wants to know more about Oleg, so they can blackmail. Stan tries to tell him Oleg can’t be turned. He just wanted to prevent a bio-disaster. It was a one-time thing, but the CIA doesn’t care. They have Oleg on tape committing treason, and they’re going to use it. Stan suggests that instead of going after the guy who gave them “the tip of the century” maybe they should find whomever killed John-boy Gaad – you know: Do their job!

It doesn’t end well although it doesn’t end with Stan’s walking out and the 1980’s country tune, “Take This Job and Shove It” playing on the soundtrack.

Somewhere in rural Illinois, which looks a lot like the exurbs of New York City on a crisp fall day, Elizabeth is in a red pick up truck tailing a sedan to a greenhouse. Yakov Smirnoff, Pasha’s dad, is one of four passengers in the sedan. Strangely, he is not doing his “In Russia everything sucks” shtick for them. Maybe they told him to can it until he got better material.

Philip and Tuan are in full pretend-family mode. Philip is cleaning the gutters on the roof. He and Tuan talk about the car that’s been watching Pasha’s family, which has got to come into play because they keep mentioning it. Tuan is confident he can handle things. We learn of his background, a previous foster or adopted family after arriving as an orphaned boat person. He blames America for the death of his family. Tuan thinks Pasha is weak and he can talk him into anything. He sure sounds like he could be Elizabeth’s son.

Paige and are Matthew are “doing homework” which is not a euphemism, but then they start making out.

The chemistry between these two is underwhelming.

He goes for hand under shirt but over bra. She goes for hand over pants heading up thigh.

Stan tells the Munchkin he’s meeting with the Deputy AG about Oleg, and asks if he wants to come with. The Munchkin is not very sympathetic to Stan’s spy-love that dare not speak its name, and thinks Stan should drop it. The Deputy AG (who Stan went to before causing a rift with Gaad) tells him he has no authority over the CIA. Stan makes the case that Oleg did the right thing for the right reason, and just wanted to go home and live his life. The Deputy AG won’t help him, and it all sounds almost like some movie about gangsters, who “took an oath” and can never leave the life.

Elizabeth waits hours till the men have left the greenhouse, which has a padlock, but is otherwise unguarded. Like last week’s digging sequence, this scene manages to build tension with no dialogue and very little action. Elizabeth walks around looking at many wheat plants. Does she even know what she’s looking for? There are noises, but they’re sprinklers or other machines, not people she’ll need to kill. Finally, she gets it – bugs, the pests of the episode title. They’re all over her and all over the plants. As the camera pans out it’s like something in a horror movie, possibly one with a one word title ending in an exclamation point, and all the more effective because she doesn’t scream. She goes home and showers. It must be noted by any person with eyes that Keri Russell (or her double) has an amazing body for a 40 year-old woman who recently birthed herself a baby – or for any woman of any age for that matter, or any human. If The Americans had been a show in the 1980s a Keri Russell’s poster would be adorning more teenaged boy’s bedrooms than Heather Locklear’s.

Cute, but no Keri.

Stan and his wing-man Phillip, have perfectly acceptable dad-bods, at least that’s how it looks in their 80s era men’s gymwear. They’re waiting for a racquetball court. Stan is telling Philip about his date with Renee, the blonde he’d mentioned before. He says she like sports more than Philip does, drinks beer, and is like a “female version” of Philip. Has Stan just given us way too much information? Will Renee turn out to be a spy? Or is that what they want us to think? No sooner do they speak of her, then she appears. She’s a bottle-blonde hottie, whose apparel and hair may have been inspired by Locklear.

Philip and Elizabeth are at the travel agency, maybe to remind us they have a travel agency, or because if you have a set you should use it. They’re discussing the bugs and what they should do about Yakov Smirnoff. Philip wonders if they should just “get rid of him.” But Elizabeth thinks they need him to figure out what’s happening.

Oleg is walking down a dark Moscow streetwhen a man passes by and tells him in English that Stan Beeman sent him. He passes him a note. Oleg goes home and his pathetic mother greets him. He manages to hug her and seem okay till he gets to his room, looks at the map with meeting time the American slipped him,  and just about collapses.

That moment when you realize the good you did is going to kill you.

What should Oleg do? I vote for him going to his kindly boss and bluffing. If he reports an attempt to recruit him before he goes to any meeting, maybe he can claim the tapes are fakes. It probably won’t work, but we’ve been down this road before with Nina, and we know once those dirty Americanskis get their clutches into you, you’re done – and it would kill his mom.

The Eckharts and Morozavs are eating in a casual dining chain-restaurant, leading to more marveling about the wonders of the west and complaints about the deprivations of the motherland, and really Tuan had a point about shooting Pasha’s dad in the back of the head because this routine is getting old. Pasha interrupts his papa to tell him in Russian, that he’d rather be dead than stay in America, though God knows he might feel differently if his father would stop embarrassing him by shouting “I hate Russia!” in the middle of Bennigans. Granted this is the unenlightened 1980s, but parents should pay attention to that “I’d rather be dead” talk – if they are not too busy sabotaging the motherland’s wheat supply.

Another dinner like this, and Tuan will have no problem recruiting Pasha to kill his dad.

First glimpse of Aderholt, and within thirty seconds he’s got more screen time and lines than Henry! He and Stan are staking out the rezidentura looks like. Stan has been confiding in his black best work friend about Renee. Does that mean he’s cheating on Philip? Stan also mentions the Oleg situation. Aderholt doesn’t really understand Stan’s problem with the CIA going after Oleg. Maybe Stan needs to confide in someone else, like that nice woman he’s been dating?

Impressed by Tuan’s hardheartedness, the Jennings decide to take a different approach with Paige. Elizabeth announces, “I’m sick of treating her like a goddamn kid.” It looks like they’re going to be playing good cop, bad cop. First Elizabeth warns her daughter that sex muddies things. Paige tells her for the umpteenth time that she is not doing the sex, but then adds (also repeating something she said earlier) that that she’ll be alone the rest of her life. They then calmly explain they’re going to show her a technique to manage her emotions. Given what we know of their training – that Elizabeth was raped by one of her instructors, and Philip was sent beyond the frosted glass door where he learned a lot about making “it real” with an assortment of types – this looks like it could be about to turn really icky and inappropriate. But take a breath! They suggest that if she’s feeling overwhelmed and in danger of forgetting who she is, she just rub her thumb and forefinger together and picture them to remind herself of where she came from. That’s actually kind of sweet in a Wizard of Oz, click your heels three times kind of way.

“What did you think we were going to show you?”

As always feel free to use the comments below for predictions, thoughts, and speculation– other than this (name your plot thread) won’t end well – which we already know because this is The Americans, the bleakest 51 minutes a week on television.

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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