The Americans: Beyond the Frosted Glass Door



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Philip is working overtime on the seduction line, Elizabeth plays squash with her asset’s workplace rival, and Reagan was right, as always


Martha has dragged Philip-as-Clark to KidCo, where they are having a two-for-one sale on little girls. Or you can just rent. It’s some kind of foster care agency that operates like none in real life, where prospective unscreened people can browse. “We’re not buying any today,” Clark tells her—which would still be good advice even if he weren’t a spy juggling two wives and assorted assets.

"I'm sorry, buying white children is just wrong."

“I’m sorry, buying white children is just wrong.”

In what will be the first of many scenes shot in Prospect Park, Elizabeth-as-Michelle is meeting with her AA sponsor Lisa and encouraging her to leave her husband. Michelle’s mom is in a nursing home, so Lisa can move in to her empty house. Isn’t that convenient! How does she so easily convince this near-stranger to do her will? She speaks to her in her own language—recovery-speak.

Also in Prospect Park, Stan approaches a jogging Oleg with a plan to exchange possible double agent Zaneida for Nina. If Oleg can find out if Zaneida is faking being a defector, then Stan can expose her, and they can trade her in for Nina. Oleg neither agrees nor disagrees to this.


Philip meets with Youssef so we can be reminded how badly the war in Afghanistan is going for the Russians and how crazy the fundamentalists being sponsored by the U.S. are. These are the stakes, and the fate of the world rests—to paraphrase something Gabe will say later—on Philip’s ability to make sexytimes with a teenager.

Elizabeth-as-Michelle is showing Lisa around her “mother’s” house. Lisa mentions her long commute to work and how she’s put in for a transfer to the Northrup plant ten miles away, but what are the odds? People love working there so much the only way they leave is in a box. Then again, maybe it’ll work out. Ever since she started hanging out with Michelle, lucky things just seem to happen.

Philip tells Elizabeth about kid shopping with Martha. They reminisce about Paige as a little girl. Speaking of little girls, Elizabeth asks him what babysitter/potential asset Kimberly is like, and he answers, “Young.”

She doesn't even remember a time before floppy discs.

She doesn’t even remember a time before floppy discs.

Stan comes over to dinner and pays attention to Henry, which is great because his family never does. Henry asks him how Mrs. B is, which is awkward, especially for Paige, who discovered Mrs. B’s picture in Henry’s pants and now she needs to wash her brain out with soap. She changes the subject to the new dress she needs for her baptism. Stan totally misses the dynamics at play and Elizabeth’s complete hostility not only to religion but to shopping. Could it be any more obvious that she is not a real American?

Elizabeth, looking pretty spiffy with her hair up like a Hitchcock blonde, is walking a dog in a suburb. Having the dog with her makes her look less suspicious as she observes her target. Did the dog train for this mission? Will he be shot later for knowing too much?

In the evening, Philip as Whatever-His-Name-Is-This-Time meets with Kim. He thought they’d be alone, but it’s a big party out in some park, with tons of kids hanging out. So he tells her he’s shocked, SHOCKED to discover she’s in high school and not a Georgetown student as she initially claimed. He starts to walk away, knowing she’ll come after him. After initial faux-resistance, he agrees to meet her at her parent’s house a few nights later when they’ll be out. He gives her a sheepish, “I can’t resist your smile.” He’s just dreamy, isn’t he?

What 80s teenage girl could resist?

What 80s teenage girl could resist?

After hours at the Residentura, Oleg tries to loosen up Tatyana with louche charm and hard alcohol. He awkwardly brings up Zaneida. She lights a cigarette and looks at him like, “I am totally onto you but you sure are cute.” He probably gets that a lot.

In case the viewers aren’t wigged out enough already, Philip goes shopping for a baptism dress with Paige. There’s a sweet father/daughter thing happening that we can’t help contrasting with the Kimberly situation.

"I'll forgive your years of neglect if you'll just buy me this one dress."

“I’ll forgive your years of neglect if you’ll just buy me this one dress.”

Late night, Philip is having some beers in the kitchen with his fake-friend Stan. Stan talks about how much his son hates him. Philip suggests he spend alone time without the other “influence” around. Stan talks about not seeing his son for the three years he was undercover. Given how obtuse Stan is around the Jennings, it’s easy to understand why it took him so long to complete the mission.

Elizabeth is back in the suburb, this time without the dog. She passes the same house as last time. A man is under his car changing the oil. No one else is around. She jerks the jack away, crushing him with the car. Turns out he works at Northrup, in the nearby plant, in the exact same position as Lisa, so now she’ll get the transfer.


Back at Casa Jennings, Elizabeth is mad at Philip for getting Paige an expensive dress and being on board with the baptism. He reminds her, “You’re the one singing in choir,” which she is, literally. It’s a cold war at home.

Stan meets again with Oleg, who didn’t find out anything and thinks maybe Stan is setting him up. Stan makes the case that Oleg loves Nina. Stan is trying to save her and make things right. She might not have much time. If Oleg has the guts to betray his country for Nina, that makes him so much better than Stan and the Jennings combined.

Lisa tells Elizabeth/Michelle the great news about her new short commute. Lisa also wants to know what’s up her friend suddenly having beaucoup dinero for new clothes and fancy handbags. Michelle tells her she’s met a man—a consultant—who will pay her cash money—lots of it—for information. Lisa tells her to be careful, but given Lisa’s pride in her job and her security clearance (which she keeps reminding us she has), isn’t it a bit strange she’s not more like, “Are you crazy?”

In this week’s lesson on What Revisionist Bullshit Are They Shoving Up Our Buttholes This Week on The Americans: Gabe tells Philip to thank Elizabeth because the U.S. Congress passed the Boland Amendment. For you young ones, the Boland Amendment was legislation to limit funding to the Contras in Nicaragua. Reagan signed it into law but found covert ways around it, leading to the Iran/Contra scandal. The amendment came about because many Americans were sick of supporting right-wing death squads intent on overthrowing democratically elected governments. It was not a Soviet plot, though possibly Dick Cheney would beg to differ.

"Youre welcome, little lady."

“You’re welcome, little lady.”

Gabe then gives Philip some premo Afghani weed that Russian agents gave their lives for so he can share it with his Kimberly. He emphasizes the importance of Philip’s mission and that he shouldn’t let a little thing like his “conscience” prevent him from getting the job done. The job being turning Kim into his sex slave for whom she’ll do anything.

"Im going need a full and detailed reporter of everything you do. Everything."

“I’m going need a full and detailed report of everything you do. Everything. In detail.”

Philip goes over to Kim’s house. They get high, eat ice-cream, get into a popcorn fight, and watch television. It would be cute if it weren’t totally creepy. She has no idea her dad works for the CIA, and given how much time her stepmom spends away working on her “foundations,” it sounds like she may be an agent as well. She tells him it wouldn’t surprise her if her father had another secret family.

THE AMERICANS: Beyond the Frosted Glass Door

“I don’t find anything ironic about that statement at all.”

He goes upstairs to “use the bathroom,” by which he means to take lots of pictures in her father’s home office. When he comes back down she’s fast asleep. What a relief! Maybe he can avoid having sex with her. He carries her upstairs and puts her to bed, but she wakes up and starts kissing him. Then they hear a car door slam. Uh-oh! Her folks are home. He runs out the side door like a teenager.

When he comes home to Elizabeth, he tells her what happened, but stops at actually articulating what he felt, beyond, “The whole thing was… I dunno.” Then he asks if she ever thinks about when they learned to do this. This leads to a flashback montage we shall call Beyond the Frosted Glass Door. Philip recalls the many practice sessions he had where he learned to make it feel real and keep it up (“it” being his penis) with anyone of any age or gender. This would have been a lot funnier with cheesy porno musical accompaniment and if the final sequence had involved a man wearing a raccoon costume or maybe an actual raccoon.

"Leave me out of this."

“Leave me out of this.”

For once, Elizabeth is not being a hard-ass, but maybe that’s how Gabe instructed her to play him. She asks, “Do you have to make it real with me?” He admits he sometimes does, but “not now.” They tenderly hold each other.

"Honestly, Ive got blue balls from the babysitter."

“Actually, I’ve just got blue balls from the babysitter.”

Stray thought:

How does he keep it up with Martha (and by “it” I mean the faux-marriage, not his penis). She was only in the first 10 seconds of the episode. Doesn’t she wonder where her husband is?


How do you think he’ll avoid having sexytimes with Kim next week? Scroll down to share your theories.

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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