The Americans RECAP: The Hot and Cold War Between Men & Women (S3:E1)

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Elizabeth Jennings, Soviet spy and working mom, is enjoying a relaxing bath—though it’s unlikely Elizabeth actually “enjoys” anything or “relaxes” ever, what with having to save the world (from her point of view) week after week. She flashes to a memory of her and daughter Paige at a swimming pool back when Paige was barely bigger than a Post-it note (which hadn’t even been invented yet). Paige is scared of the water, so when she’s not looking, Elizabeth throws her in—because that’s how they roll in Mother Russia.

Is this a metaphor? You betcha.

Elizabeth with glasses and a wig meets up in some bar with another career gal, Charlotte—an embittered CIA officer. Charlotte tells her how she did all the work and the guy got the promotion because MEN. Therefore, here Soviet spy, please take the names of our agents working on Afghanistan. Then she excuses herself to pee and calls someone on the phone, confessing, “I’ve done a terrible thing.”

Yeah, right! Like the CIA would ever hire someone so clearly psychologically unstable. What a ridiculous premise!

The most dangerous thing a TV show can do is let Keri Russell change her hair.

The most dangerous thing a TV show can do is let Keri Russell change her hair

Also, three minutes in, and already two examples of how you can’t trust dames, ever.

Cut to some EST for-men-only thing. The head-dude is telling the other bros that if they are sexing up a lady but are thinking about whether or not she’s enjoying it, then they are not really experiencing the sexytime. He also extorts his charges to, “Stop being so reasonable. Stop expecting things to get better.” Elizabeth’s husband Philip and his FBI buddy Stan are in the audience and give each other knowing looks. But what is it they know?

He watched Tom Cruise in Magnolia sixteen times in a row to prepare for this role

He watched Tom Cruise in Magnolia sixteen times in a row to prepare for this role

Stan is there because he hopes it will help him win back his ESTy-ex. Phillip is there because that’s what friends are for, and it’s always a good idea to keep track of the FBI agent who lives across the street.

Back at the restaurant, Charlotte is now trying to get Elizabeth to stick around. Drinks? Dinner? Elizabeth’s spidey-sense kicks in or maybe she’d rather have nails driven into her skull than spend another minute around this loser. If Elizabeth had gotten passed over like that, she would’ve kicked the shit out of her competitor and/or slept with her boss—whatever it took—like a real spy instead of this Americanski whiner.

On the cobbled industrial streets of Long Island City, which frankly, show, looks NOTHING like DC or its environs, no one is around as Elizabeth walks off into the night. A car pulls up and two FBI agents are behind her. One of them is Agent John-boy Gaad. John-boy tells her to stop. She turns and socks them both, managing to totally deck John-boy. The other guy is larger and gets her in a choke-hold. Her wig stays in place. Luckily, a motorcycle comes along and hits the agent holding her, but not her. The driver is out, and the agent is pinned under the bike. Elizabeth realizes the list has at some point slipped out of her pocket, and she begins looking around for it. John-Boy comes around, but before he can stop her, she grabs his gun and is about to shoot him in the head. But there are sirens coming, so she hits him with the gun and runs away.

Fortunately all chicks look alike except for their hair to 1980s FBI agents

Fortunately all chicks look alike except for their hair to 1980s FBI agents

Over at the den of KGB, a.k.a. the Soviet “Embassy,” they are watching a film of a young Osama Bin Laden, or mujaheddin who looks just like him, executing a Russian national.

Let us now pause briefly for a history lesson. While the CIA was busy in Central America propping up puppet regimes that murdered nuns and tortured “rebels” who wanted democratic elections, land reform, and access to education, the Soviet army was busy in Afghanistan propping up its own puppet regime and taking down US-supported “freedom fighters” like young Osama, whose goals included making sure no girl would ever go to school again and no woman would leave the house without her husband’s permission and her bright blue burka.

Oh history, you are an ironic bitch.

There’s a debrief after the film. There’s also a new face at the Embassy, and she’s taking notes. She’s devoid of make-up, wearing sensible shoes—the Anti-Nina. But deep down you know she’s longing to put on a silly hat, drink champagne and fall in love with Melvyn Douglas. Please seduce her, Oleg.

Oleg blurts out that the Soviets should get the hell out of Afghanistan. Arkady doesn’t do a face-palm, but tells him in the hallway to maybe be careful what he says in front of new-girl, whose name is Tatyana.

Elizabeth is icing up her badly bruised face when Philip and Stan come home for a post-EST brewski. Stan notices the ice-pack because he’s an FBI agent. Elizabeth’s excuse is she fell bringing in groceries. “Can you believe it?” she asks.

And Stan, you better believe it because if you don’t Elizabeth is totally gonna ice you.

The next day, listening to the story from Gaad’s point of view, Stan can’t help smirking. They got beat up by a girl! The other agent has his arm in a sling, and there’s mention of checking hospitals for a woman with injuries to her jaw, face, or shoulders.

Stan seems to be thinking. Is he thinking that the EST dude was right and he has to stop caring about whether or not the lady has an orgasm? Is he thinking that he wouldn’t let a girl beat him up? Who knows, but he’s probably not thinking that the hot lady what lives across the street is a super-spy.

The Jennings go to meet their old handler Gabriel. They bring him a special dessert, which Elizabeth says is Swedish. It’s Frusen Gladje, which was a fake-Swedish ice cream made to compete with fake Danish ice cream, Haagen Daz. It’s funny because this is a spy show where everyone is fake all the time, and sometimes Philip is fake Swedish.

Gabe tells them about the boys coming home in coffins from Afghanistan and how Reagan wants to turn it into their Vietnam. The talk turns to Paige. Gabe is doing the good cop thing, assuring them, “The Center takes seriously what you said about staying away.”

THE AMERICANS RECAP: The Hot and Cold War Between Men & Women (S3:E1)

Paige turner

Elizabeth updates him on Paige’s activities with the granola-eating churchy people and explains that “ideologically” Paige is “open” and Elizabeth has been joining in on the church stuff. Philip murderizes his wife with his eyes.

Later, in the car, Philip calls her on “assessing” their daughter. He wants Paige to have her own life, which she will if they can just stall the Center another few years ‘til she gets to college.

Meantime, the other wife, Martha, is at target practice—because that’s what secretaries did in the 1980s on their lunch hour—and Stan is helping her. He tells her she needs to focus on her sites. That’s right, Stan—YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON WHAT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR NOSE or maybe across the street.

Back at the Den of KGB, Arkady and Oleg are having a soulful discussion about Nina because they are Russian and to be Russian is to suffer. Nina has been convicted of treason and espionage. Arkady suggests she was careless, and “it’s possible” she did love Stan. Oleg still wants to help her. Arkady asks if he’s talked to his politically very well connected Daddy. He has, but his father won’t get involved.

Philip is in a car with his asset, Annalise—the one who is married to an Undersecretary of Defense and thinks Philip is a Swedish spy named Scott, and spying for Sweden is totally cool. Annalise is still shtuping Yousef—a high-ranking Pakistani agent, made more high-ranking after Elizabeth killed his boss—but he’s not giving her much intel, just sexytimes. And she’s beginning to fall for him, which doesn’t stop her from sucking off Philip/Scott because anything for Sweden.

Stan tells the ex-Mrs. Stan he went to EST. She is not impressed.

Philip goes from Annalise’s blowjob to full-on tantric sex with his freaky fake wife, Martha. She must be having mind-blowing orgasms; otherwise, she might begin to question why her husband is never around.

He’s very by-the-book

Over at the FBI, they are talking about a Soviet agent who will be working for them, and they will need to protect “her” on American soil. Could this be Tatyana? That could be interesting.

Elizabeth is out giving spy-driving lessons to some young, possibly Pakistani man. I wonder if she’s going to sleep with him and then send him off to be killed by his terrorist uncle?

Won’t someone think of the children? Paige and Henry are home alone as usual, watching news reports about Brezhnev’s just reported death. They change the channel because Russia, who cares?

Philip is in a hotel room listening to Yousef make love to Annalise when something begins to go terribly wrong. Annalise whispers to her lover that she’s been doing “important work.” He panics, and before she can explain much more, he strangles her dead.

Always establish a safe word

Always establish a safe word

Philip, disguised in big clunky glasses, enters the room and reminds Yousef it’s always hard to explain the dead girl to your colleagues, but he can make it all better. He’s there to help.

Women, can’t live with them, can’t leave dead ones lying around.

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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