Apr 16, 2017
The Americans: Everybody Needs Somebody (S4 E7 Recap)
We begin with the the “travel agents” of the title – the true heroes behind the scenes in the back office of the Rezidentura. Oleg and Tatyana are trying to figure out how to get Martha to Moscow (though Cuba apparently). But if Martha is missing, will all their efforts be for naught? Tatyana is also arranging travel for a certain dead rat carrying enough deadly virus to start the zombie apocalypse, but that’s so top secret that not even Arkady seems to be in on it.
Speaking of dead rats in glass jars, Philip and Elizabeth return to Gabe’s safe house with the speceman. Gabe informs them that Martha has flown the coop. Gabe, despite his previous terrible experience, takes no special precautions securing the virus carrying carcass, and simply places the bottle in the freezer. Uh doesn’t glass crack in the freezer? Or is that only if there’s water in it and not dead rat? Isn’t this how Chernobyl happened? Or will happen in a couple of years? Is this some kind of Russian fatalism thing that we don’t understand? No wonder we won the cold war.
Everyone agrees that if they find Martha and she starts screaming or doesn’t want to come in, she’s going to have to be made dead. Even Philip, who feels terribly guilty for leaving Martha which he knew was a big mistake, knows that if Martha falls into the FBI hands things won’t end well for anyone.
Over at the FBI, Stan and Aderholt inform John-boy that Clark Westerfeldt is an assumed identity. John -boy recognizes his life is ruined, but given that he’s been such a tool, and was so mean to Stan, and didn’t lift a finger to help Nina, are we supposed to be sad about this or do we want to see him more humbled? FBI agents then explore every nook and cranny at Clark’s place, to the point of unrolling tampons and checking for secret messages in the cotton wading.
Elizabeth goes out searching for Martha in places that Martha might feel connected to, while Philip goes to the center so he can pick up if she calls in. Martha is looking for a phone booth, but when she sees some trench-coated stranger coming, she freaks. At the Center, Philip looks at maps and is offered borsht by the nice telephone lady who seems relieved to have someone to talk to even if Philip is kind of preoccupied. Seriously, do they ever let her out? Does she even get bathroom breaks?
The FBI bigwigs (not John-Boy) are pressuring Stan to use the tapes he made of his Rezidentura contact (Oleg) and blackmail him into helping them nab Martha – who they think the Russians must already have because what kind of idiots would let her walk away? Stan won’t do it as he thinks they need to play “the long game” with Oleg. It’s good they gave us some explanation for why Stan doesn’t try to use Oleg to help with this since it would have been the logical thing to do. One logical thing the FBI does do is bug Martha’s parents’ phone. Martha calls in and tells her father she’s in big trouble. It sounds like it could be a suicide call and they trace it to a book near the Taft Bridge in Rock Creek. They also figure at that point that Martha is in play, as no way would the Russkies have allowed her to make that call.
Martha’s next call is to the Center, and Philip is so relieved, not only to hear from her but also because that woman what answers the phone and delivers the messages is very chatty. Philip can’t apologize enough to Martha (really he can’t), and tells her he’ll be right over. Looks like Stan and Aderholt who’ve arrived at the bridge might find her first. Aderholt goes to check the creek to see if she actually jumped. Then Elizabeth calls in at the Center and the phone lady tells her where Philip is going. She’s close to the location so she’s going there herself. Uh oh! Is Elizabeth planning to take out this threat to her family on her own? Maybe. She has her hand in her pocket like she’s about to reach for a gun. Martha is not thrilled to see her and immediately asks two things: “Where’s Clark?” and “Are you sleeping with my husband?” Elizabeth assures her she’s doing no such thing and promises she’ll take her to see Clark, and then she leans in close and punches Martha in the gut. Martha collapses into her, and Elizabeth insists, “Do what I say and you’ll live.” Elizabeth is not playing.
Philip arrives after they’re gone, looks around and then goes to a pay phone. How exactly did none of them manage to run into any of the FBI agents who must have been swarming the place?
Meantime if you are reminding yourself that some of these people have children that nobody is thinking about ever, don’t worry because the kids are all right. Henry is as usual at Stan’s. He’s hanging with his foster brother Matt. Then because we must be reminded that it’s the eighties, Henry comments on the hotness of young Brooke Shields in a commercial for Calvin Klein jeans. He begs his foster bro’ for some beer, and Matt reluctantly gives the foundling child a small taste. There’s a knock on the door and Paige comes in to tell her brother to come home and eat a nice hot meal what she’s made for him. She winds up having a beer too and they all sit in front of the television, and if this were really the eighties, wouldn’t someone have some weed?
Philip comes back to the safe house where he is much relieved that his real-fake wife didn’t kill his other fake wife. He goes to get Martha some ice for the bruising Elizabeth gave her and Elizabeth asks him if he’d go back Russia with Martha if he could. Philip asks her if she’s crazy, so any doubts we were having about where his loyalties are should be assuaged. Elizabeth is the one he loves. Martha is just another screwed up thing weighing down his conscience.
John-Boy is drinking at his desk because what the hell, he’ll be canned any second anyway. Stan shows him a sketch of a very attractive woman whom he doesn’t recognize. It’s Martha. The sketch artist working with Clark’s landlord didn’t realize that they only needed Clark’s sketch. The picture of Clark looks like it could be anyone, and Stan certainly isn’t thinking that it’s his bestie Philip.
John-Boy shows Stan the marriage license for Martha and Clark. He seems to be taking the idea of his secretary’s being married to a KGB officer rather personally — like it was all about him or something, which leaves Stan in the awkward position of suggesting maybe it wasn’t.
Over at the safe house, Philip tells Martha the truth, not some version of it, but the actual thing itself. She’s got a one way ticket to Moscow and he’s not coming with. Not even for a visit. He tells her they’ll treat her with respect and “honor her sacrifice.” She tells him she’ll be “alone” just like she was before they met. And let us ponder that for a moment because basically the show is saying that even an awful fake relationship is better than no relationship at all.
And lest we think this is all a ruse and Martha will wind up dead in the back of the van with a needle in her arm like that unauthorized spy-wife from a couple of seasons back, we see Arkady telling Oleg and Tatyana that they have her, and all Russia is happy.
So it sure looks like Martha will be getting on that plane. Will we follow her new life in the USSR? Wonder if Stan will take another look at the sketch of Clark and begin to notice a resemblance? And maybe someone should introduce William to the lonely telephone lady. They might have a lot in common. One thing we’ve learned this season on The Americans, life is tough but it’s easier if you’ve got a help mate.