Oct 14, 2020
The Americans: Peacemakers (S4 E3 Recap)
This week on The Americans: Pastor Tim is not dead yet, Philip continues to experience his mid-life crisis, Paige is still confused, and it looks like it’s time for the deadly virus on the mantelpiece to go off.
We open with Philip waking up next to his fake-fake wife Martha, who is staring at him. She’s still not used to his real face. “Who is this man?” she may be wondering. Funny thing, he may be asking himself the same question.
Later that day, Elizabeth in a blonde wig is Patty, one of the “girls” at a Mary Kay cosmetics sales-recruitment get together. Mary Kay didn’t just sell cosmetics, they sold the idea of female empowerment through the use and selling of cosmetics, and were known for giving pink Cadillacs to their top sellers. An Asian woman with an accent, Yung Hee, tells her deeply personal story of getting a department store make-over and winding up with a green skin tint because the foundation wasn’t formulated for her skin tone, but thanks to Mary Kay, no more green skin! She’s as pink-cheeked as any other American. Go USA!
Philip and Elizabeth are proactively meeting with Pastor Tim. Strangely, they aren’t going with the our daughter is INSANE defense, though they are trying to soft sell what they do and play on Tim’s crunchy-ideals.
Given how The Americans has implied that the civil rights movement (Gregory), the campaign for anti-apartheid divestment (Hans), and even the Boland Amendment were all Soviet plots just like J. Edgar Hoover thought they were, one might have expected them to play more specifically on Tim’s pinko politics. After all Philip discovered a CISPES flier in Tim’s desk, and even talked about “working” him. CISPES was the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, an American organization that didn’t approve of a Central American dictatorship that killed American nuns, as well as its own archbishop. Surely in the show’s universe CISPES was a hotbed of Soviet influence. However, they seem to give up on the “at home they call us peacemakers” argument as soon as Tim brings up repression of religious groups in their country. Philip really doesn’t seem to have the stomach for the fight anymore.
Pastor Tim is strangely oblivious to the extreme peril he is in, and also places his wife in the same boat when in answer to Philip’s question, he lets him know that he told his wife, Alice, who “also understands the sanctity of confidence,” which just to be clear, isn’t an actual a thing legally, unless you’re talking about Catholic confessional. Your humble recapper is no legal eagle but does know that after the Tarasoff case in 1976, Pastor Tim would have been well aware of his “duty to warn” if someone – like say Paige – was in imminent danger. Still, for his own safety he’d have been better off if he’d mentioned that if he were to meet with an unfortunate accident some safety box somewhere would be open by someone and the truth would out.
The Jennings next errand is a visit to Gabriel to whom they are returning the revolving and possibly now leaky virus. Philip thinks they should leave the country immediately, and points out that Paige will hate them if they kill Pastor Tim and Alice. Gabriel trusts in the Center to come up with a plan, but tells them to have Paige help keep Tim quiet a little longer – because sure trusting a volatile teenager who already blabbed to her minister is a great idea.
Over at the FBI, John-boy comes out of his office doing his best Captain Quigg and yells at everyone because there were six unlogged photocopies made and that puts everyone at risk. Also who ate his strawberries? Stan has eyes on Martha.
Philip tells Paige that Pastor Tim told Alice. Paige is panicked because Alice is a known blabbermouth, like all women on television named Alice are. Philip encourages her to talk to Tim about remaining silent a while longer, but not to be angry at him. She’s like, yeah, got it, no anger. That should go well.
Martha gets off a bus at night. Stan is in a car watching her because now that Henry got that new computer even he’s lost interest in Mr. Beeman.
Yung Hee takes Patty out into the field to practice selling. Patty is a natural. Yung Hee invites her to a “family dinner.” Why is Elizabeth trying to recruit the nice Mary Kay saleslady?
Meantime, in the Soviet Union, Nina is in big trouble. She’s convicted and guilty. There’s a statement from Anton that he didn’t know what she was doing. She looks happy reading it, relieved that he’s not in trouble. She has a dream in which she’s in a room with a lot of white flowers. Stan apologizes to her, and Anton is there too. What does it mean? Who knows? But it looks like Nina, who may be about to be executed or disappeared forever into the gulag, has found inner peace. Unlike Philip, she’s done with the spy games.
Gabriel tells the Jennings the new plan. They’re going to Disney World! While they’re there, Pastor and Mrs. Pastor Tim will meet an untimely end in some way that will never be traced back to them – unless his blabbermouth wife already told her ladies’ circle. Philip protests that Paige isn’t an idiot. Gabriel is more philosophical saying she’ll never be sure and “people believe what they need to believe.”
At home, Henry sees one of the Epcot brochures Elizabeth has left around and naturally asks about going, given that his parents are travel agents and all. The plan is working splendidly!
Philip comes home and they all decide to go the that very weekend. When Paige comes home, Henry tells her that it was all his idea. She just looks at her brother like “You are a poor little idiot who still believes in the tooth fairy.” She tells her parents she needs to speak to them “alone” and naturally Henry doesn’t care because it’s not like he’s family. She tells them the conversation with Tim didn’t go so well, and then she asks, “Do people get hurt?” To which Elizabeth gives a non-answer answer: “You know us better than that!” Paige is like not so much and then asks where her dad is too nights a week – another question that doesn’t get answered.
Elizabeth/Patty has dinner at the home of new Korean best friend. There are several children, Yung Hee’s mother, and other assorted family members, including Don, who everyone makes fun of because he drinks wine with Korean food. Patty is eating with a fork because she is neither Asian nor Jewish. She gets a pepper and even though her spy training probably included the ability to eat spicy food without flinching, she flinches, and the family makes her do the “pepper dance” which seems like something a real family would do, unlike her fake family where there are no such rituals. After dinner, Yung Hee and Patty smoke and drink coffee alone, and talk about stuff. Patty doesn’t have any kids, because Paige isn’t ready to join the KGB. We still don’t know what the center wants with Yung Hee but she’s written as the funny, warm bestie you’d love to have, so it’s going to be really sad when Elizabeth finds some way to completely screw her over and/or drop a car on Don.
Over in the Jenning’s neighborhood, Sandra has just dropped off her son at Stan’s, and stops by to say hello. Philip invites her in, but mentions that Elizabeth isn’t home. Let’s hope Stan isn’t at the window watching with binoculars. Philip tells her how Stan almost decked him, but he leaves out the part about how it could’ve led to the zombie apocalypse. Philip mostly takes a “Who could blame him?” attitude, and tells her what a mess her ex’s life is.
At the FBI, Stan’s one time nemesis, the Token Black Agent (henceforth TBA) grabs a letter from the Mail Robot, so we can be reminded of its existence. It’s from the Director, telling all the agents to avoid the use of the phrase: “The FBI feels” in correspondence, as the FBI doesn’t have feelings” a policy that probably didn’t change till after Clinton was elected when feeling were made mandatory. TBA mentions this content to Stan, who uses this as an opportunity to rip at an old scar when he says, “You had feelings about me,” meaning suspicions from back when he discovered the pen with the bug in it.
To be fair, Stan had suspicions about TBA too. Stan doesn’t buy the Gene did it theory, even though, as TBA points out, Gene is actually the type the KGB would go after plus no forced entry or sign of struggle at his apartment. Stan tells TBA he thinks Martha could do with a little watching, which he’s been doing in his spare time, which he has a lot of given that he has no family and since he and Philip broke up, his only friend is Henry and there’s nothing weird about that at all. Stan would like TBA’s help tracking Martha. TBA says he won’t track her, but he will take her out to dinner because everyone assumes that poor Martha must be lonely for some male attention seeing as how she’s a spinster and all.
That one guy who works at the Jennings’ travel agency and has occasional lines and will probably turn out to be the one who turns them in at the end tells Philip how great it is that he’s taking his kids to Disney World because sometimes “we” get so busy “we” forget what’s important. Given that the Jennings are usually not in the office, who knows what it is he thinks his employers are busy at.
Elizabeth comes in and when they’re both alone he tells her he has an alarm in his head saying, “Run, run, run,” but she doesn’t and she’s the boss of him. She points out that if they moved to a country where the kids don’t even speak the language, they’d hate them. Philip feels like Paige is lost to them no matter what they do. She reminds him they have to meet Gabriel.
They find Gabriel on the floor, barely conscious, and there’s blood indicating he fell. Gabriel with his last bit of strength tells them to run although he probably doesn’t mean back to Russia, which Philip would be all for. They figure it must be the glanders. But how? (Wonder if that seal could have been broken when Stan grabbed Philip by the collar?)
Elizabeth offers to stay behind while Philip goes to find William, but they both wind up going to meet him.
William doesn’t know why they wanted to meet, but when they tell him about Gabriel, and mention the blood, he does a half-nod like he’s taking it in, and then he takes off running. They catch up, and Philip gets him on the ground and spits in his eye, thus exposing him as well. They all go to William’s hermetically sealed apartment, where he talks about all the allergies he suffers as a result of all the vaccines he’s taken. Have they made him autistic too? At least he didn’t tell us that vaccinations are a gobmint plot. Everyone gets shot up with some broad spectrum antibiotic that may or may not work, and then they go back to Gabriel’s. He’s not dead yet. William takes the sample which Gabriel had placed in a thermos in the freezer and puts in the oven to kill the virus. He complains about the seal on the vials, which he’d already warned the Center about, but we’re talking about the Soviet Union, where by the 1980s nothing worked including nuclear power plants. Then William explains they’ll all have to get injections every six hours, and they’ll be in quarantine of at least thirty-six hours – more if they have symptoms, so it looks like the Jennings won’t be going to Disney World, and Paige will be parenting her brother.
So is the hit on Tim and Alice already set up? Will Stan and TBA bond over surveilling Martha? Will Sandy cut her ex a little slack? And why exactly is Stan so lonely and miserable given that he has a cute girlfriend? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.