The Americans: That Awkward Age

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This week on The Americans, Clark teaches Martha some tricks of the trade. John-Boy Gaad contemplates his future—and it’s probably not at the bureau. Nina and Anton practice their English. And Oleg charms Tatyana with his impressions.


A sunny morning at the Jennings’ home, with both parents preparing breakfast. Amazing how they look so refreshed when they are usually out most nights killing Sookie’s Grandma and/or getting stoned with teenagers.

Eat your eggs or she will kill you.

Eat your eggs or she will kill you.

Paige walks in, and they go silent. She tells them there’s no need for that unless there’s more stuff they aren’t telling her. (There is, Paige, and you really don’t want to know.) Apparently this whole finding out your life is lie thing has caused her to revert to that annoying phase of childhood where you ask questions incessantly. “Is Henry my brother?” “Are you two really married?” “Is Mr. Beeman really your friend?” “Am I really your…” Surely they must have drugged the kids when they were younger to make sure they slept through the night; don’t they have something in the house they could give her?

"In Soviet Russia, does Waldo really find you?"

“In Soviet Russia, does Waldo really find you?”

Over at the FBI, Stan is talking to John-Boy in “the vault,” which, like Elaine Benis’ vault, is where secrets are supposed to be kept—only John-Boy, like Elaine, isn’t very discreet and admits too much was probably said in his bugged office. Sounds like he is totally expecting to be canned. Will Stan get his job? Or will it be… the New Guy?

Elizabeth and Philip apparently have a key to Gabriel’s or maybe they don’t need no stinking keys because they can pick any lock. They are in his living room waiting when he gets home. Where’s he been? Up to no good, I’ll bet. They tell him about Paige. Philip, who is still in his defiant/petulant stage, asks if this will keep the centre quiet. Gabe is really trying to be the good dad here, to speak softly and sound sympathetic, but Philip doesn’t trust him anymore than Paige trusts them. They talk about the mujahidin who will be visiting soon. Elizabeth has a “way in” at the hotel. The route is through her vagina, which the hotel manager’s penis will soon be entering because that is how they get things done. Philip will have to deal with Yussef, who Gabe says will need some “hand-holding,” delicate flower that he is, what with feeling so bad about strangling the love of his life and all. Also, too, doesn’t anyone notice Annalise is missing? Isn’t she married to a muckity-muck? Wouldn’t her disappearance be a pretty big deal? But it isn’t all business as usual. Gabe hands Elizabeth one of those envelopes with a tape from the motherland and tells her there won’t be many more. This is spy talk for: You’re mother is either dead already or she’ll be dead soon.

Elizabeth-as-Michelle stops by her “mother’s” house to visit her A.A. sponsor Lisa, who is living there since walking out on her husband Maurice. Maurice is there, visiting the kids. He’s cold sober. He wants Michelle to set up a meeting with her consultant/contact what’s been paying all that money for intel, only seeing as how Lisa has a very high security clearance and could go to jail, he’s demanding Lisa get twice as much as she does. Knowing how to bring in the marks, Elizabeth argues that this is not a good idea. But Maurice insists and wants to be a part of this meeting. Also, he knows that “Michelle” is really “the brains of the operation.” Smart man. Too bad a car might be about to fall on him.

Philip meets with Yussef, who tells him how Annalise might have been the one, and he was ready to change his life for her. So sad. He also says that three mujahidin commanders who speak English are coming. One of them specializes in cutting off Russian heads with a dull knife. Philip asks about the other two. What is the play here? Does he really think he’s going to turn a religious zealot into a Soviet asset? Good luck with that.

Paige is hanging out in the family car to get away from Henry, who is now obsessively imitating Eddie Murphy, which was not yet a recognized mental disorder. Elizabeth sits with her in the car and talks about her mother. It must be great for Elizabeth to finally be able to open up to her daughter and all, but Paige kind of spoils the moment by asking, “How can I believe anything you say?”

"You'll believe it, young lady, or you'll find yourself in a suitcase."

“You’ll believe it, young lady, or you’ll find yourself in a suitcase.”

Martha is a bit flipped out because Walter Taffet has told her to clear HOURS in her schedule to talk to him the following day, but Clark is very reassuring. He patiently teaches her the way of the liar. Did you know if you look at the tip of someone’s nose it will be easier than looking them in the eyes and they won’t know the difference? Who will you be trying this on today?

"I did not pour the last cup of coffee without making a new pot."

“I did not pour the last cup of coffee without making a new pot.”

Elizabeth is also hard at work at the hotel or rather the manager is hard at working her—nudge, nudge. Go ahead, Lizzie. Let yourself go. She’s so stressed out she needs a little strange, and he’s hot. After a while she seems to be enjoying the perk, or it could just be her training. What’s the point of her making the love with him? Who knows? But I’m sure it’ll make sense before the episode ends.

Meantime, in Gulag-lite, Nina and Anton are continuing to practice English together. He tells her the thing he hates most of all is that his son has no idea what happened to him. Later Nina sneaks into his quarters and finds a bunch of letters he’s written to Jacob, his boy. Then, when he’s cursing the Israelis for trading him to the Russkies and Nina is talking about her own feelings of being used and passed around, she mentions Anton’s son by name. Anton knows he never once told it to her. Nina admits to reading the letters and tells him to keep writing his “stories,” and she won’t tell. Was the whole thing a setup? A tease to at once admit what he already knows—that she is there to spy on him—and at the same time to tell him she can be trusted? Seems like it.

Speaking of teases and slippery operators, Philip is meeting with Gabe at the waterfront. Strange how the Potomac looks so much like Sheepshead Bay. They’re talking about the coming of the mujahidin, but Philip is pissed off. He wants Gabriel to arrange for Elizabeth to be able to say goodbye to her mother, and he’s getting a no. Then he talks about all the hard stuff he’s had to do. Gabriel asks him if he’s falling apart. Philip tells him he needs Gabriel to start saying yes. Did he get this from EST?

Back at the FBI, Martha’s interview goes well. Maybe too well. Taffet asks her about her personal life. She tells him she doesn’t date much, talks a little about poor Amador. Martha doesn’t even know that he was just as into her as she was into him, more maybe. She has no idea that’s what got him killed, but wouldn’t it be interesting if this line of questioning got her thinking about it? The interview ends so abruptly she can’t quite believe it’s over. She shakes his hand and wishes him luck on the investigation. Wonder if he’ll ask her out for coffee?

In Crystal City, Elizabeth has gotten Mr. Manager to show her around his office because, sure, that’s what people who are hot for each other do—wander around each other’s workspaces. He has one of those modern desktop computer thingies, which are the latest thing. He’s showing it off when he gets called away because someone (that would be Philip) is insisting on talking to a manager about a lost reservation. What does the resourceful Soviet agent do while she has the office to herself? First, she looks at the reservations, and then she makes an impression of what’s probably a master key. When Mr. Manager comes back, he wants some more loving, but she has what she wants and leaves the boy all worked up.

THE AMERICANS: That Awkward Age

“Wow, your drive is so… hard.”

Guess who’s starting to bond? Tatyana and Oleg, that’s who. Seems like the Mail Robot has picked up many hours of conversation at the FBI. It’s all been transcribed, and they have to go through the transcripts for relevant data. Whose brilliant idea was it to bug a machine that mostly roams the hallways? What they have is many hours of garbage—complaints about broken vending machines and sports talk. Oleg makes Tatyana crack up by imitating the “beep” sound of the machine. He is a charmer that one. She’s no Nina, but she’s is kind of cute. Go for it, Oleg! (And then maybe you could get her to tell you that Zenaida is really a double agent.)

By the time Elizabeth gets home, Philip is asleep, but she wakes him and gives him some sexytimes. In the morning, he tells her he thinks he found a way for her to see her mother, but before he can tell her the plan, Paige knocks on the door. Under the new family perestroika, Philip even tells Paige what they were just discussing, but Elizabeth insists she can’t go. Then Paige turns around and closes the door behind her because all this insight into these total strangers is just too weird.

Two more episodes left, and it looks like Claudia is coming back. Is the Washington metro area really big enough for two spymasters? That should be fun. And what about Martha’s gun? Shouldn’t it be going off sometime soon? But most importantly, how will they keep Philip from having to sleep with Kimmi next week?

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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