The Americans RECAP: Corpse Goes Crunch (S3:E2)

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In this week’s episode there are no high-speed chases, and no one dies. It’s all quiet moments of people coming to terms with the choices they’ve made.

Nina the beautiful and elegant is peeing in her prison cell. How did it come to this? It started with smuggling goods to her family, which led to Stan blackmailing her, which led to treason and espionage. No wonder Elizabeth is so worried about Paige! You take the tiniest step off the correct path and look what happens.


Speaking of people who did something they regret… Philip is still in the hotel room with Yousaf and the corpse of Annalise. Philip is assuring his new asset that it’s going to be okay.

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Elizabeth is home spitting out her teeth and assuring her daughter that Philip isn’t having an affair. Philip calls Elizabeth, telling her, “I have a lot of files to move,” which must be spy code for “Bring your Dexter brand plastic tarp—we’ve got a body to pack into a suitcase.”

This show never made the most of its merchandising opportunities

This show never made the most of its merchandising opportunities.

In an homage to an as-yet-unmade Tarantino film, Annalise’s corpse is already stiff—medically unlikely, but dramatically AWESOME. Philip and Elizabeth struggle to bend Annalise and pack her into a suitcase. Yousaf, summoned by a nod from Elizabeth, helps. He bends a leg, and it goes crunch.

How the Russians really invented Tetris.

How the Russians really invented Tetris.

In bed that night, presumably after they’ve made sure there is nothing left of Annalise to find, Elizabeth thinks of her dying mother and has a tender memory of that time Mom wouldn’t go to a war memorial because her husband was a deserter so fuck him.

The Soviet defector spoken of at last week’s FBI meeting, who is NOT Tatiana, arrives in a crate. She immediately starts eating American candy bars and wants to go sightseeing. Why did she turn her back on the motherland? Turns out it wasn’t for the Milky Ways. She’s against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and believes the Afghani people have the right to self-determination even if they are religious fanatics who want to ban music and oppress women.

"The Milky Ways are just gravy."

“The Milky Ways are just gravy.”

Speaking of Afghanistan, Philip meets Yousaf, and they commiserate over what a great gal Annalise was. Philip tells his new buddy to set up a meeting with his CIA friends so he can get intel on who they are.

What further indignities is Nina suffering? She now has a new roomie—a Belgian who doesn’t know why she is there and cries and wheezes. Could she be a plant? Probably. But is she CIA or KGB?

Coming out of a video rental place—because in the 1980s that’s where lonely guys like Stan went for their porn—Stan is confronted by Oleg, who points a pistol at him because to be Russian is to suffer, and Oleg is suffering big time over his poor Ninotchka rotting in a Soviet prison. Maybe shooting Stan, whom he holds responsible, will temporarily blot the pain. After a brief conversation, Stan turns his back on Oleg, “You want to shoot me, Oleg. Shoot me in the back.” Oleg doesn’t shoot.

"If youre gonna shoot me, shoot me in HD."

“If you’re gonna shoot me, shoot me in HD.”

Elizabeth and Philip have a talk that circles back to Paige—something that happens to them frequently. Philip does not want Paige to ever have to stuff a corpse into a suitcase, or to ever be a corpse being stuffed into a suitcase. Elizabeth asks what he does want… “A guarantee that life will be easy?”

Phillip, who has totally gone soft and American, answers, “For my daughter, yeah.”


Stan goes to visit his ex, Sandra, because he is doesn’t know whom else to talk to about almost being killed. Sandra is glad he isn’t dead, but she’s finding this whole thing awkward, given that she has totally moved on with her life and all.

In their secret spy room, Elizabeth is listening again to the tape her mom sent. Philip mentions they are good at getting across borders. Maybe she could see her mother again? She gives him that “what a child you are” look and tells him, “We can’t go back.”

Real spy caves arent all theyre cracked up to be in James Bond movies.

Real spy caves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be in James Bond movies.

Remember how Gaad got a really good look at Elizabeth’s face that night she beat him up? Gaad shows Stan some sketches he had made of the “illegal.” It looks like a generic white woman between the ages of 25-45. Stan barely glances at it. Gaad talks to Stan about the defector. “Beeman, don’t let whatshername get killed.”

Whatshername is SOOO going to get killed.

Gabe and Elizabeth have a heart-to-heart about family, including his visit to Elizabeth’s mother and Elizabeth’s progress with Paige. Gabe is working Elizabeth. For all her spy-craft, it’s not entirely clear Elizabeth knows that or cares.

He looks perfectly harmless to me.

Who wouldn’t trust this guy with your daughter?

Philip and Elizabeth are surveilling Yousaf and his CIA contacts—doing real spy stuff like taking photos of people and license plates. They follow them to a bar. Elizabeth wants to go in. She lost the list once, and she’s not going to lose this chance. Philip thinks it’s too risky, that the CIA is going to be looking for them, too. They go in because she’s the one in charge, and they ask the waitress what kind of beer they have. The waitress shoots off a list of 1980s beers, and all the 50-somethings watching the show get nostalgic. Elizabeth spits out her last tooth. Her husband remarks maybe she should see a dentist, but she points out they are looking for a woman who looks like her with her injuries, so she’s just going to have to live with the pain—for Mother Russia.

Nina gets a prison visit from Oleg’s dad, who doesn’t seem too thrilled about his son’s choices. But will he intervene and save her? Unclear.

Say what you will about Russian prisons, but the guards uniforms are always nicely pressed.

Say what you will about Russian prisons, but the guards’ uniforms are always nicely pressed.

Back over at the travel agency, Philip and Elizabeth are working together, looking for some files that seem to actually be related to the travel biz. Elizabeth says seemingly out of nowhere, “This thing with Paige. It’s not going to just go away.” Elizabeth recalls how she told her mother when they recruited her at age 16, and her mother insisted she serve her country.

Philip closes the file drawer, sits in a chair, and speaks volumes with silence.


Elizabeth goes back to her desk, turning her back on him.

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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