The Americans is back in full force for season 3. It’s 1982 and there is a war in Afghanistan. Hold on to your wigs.
Sink or Swim
Elizabeth in the bath. But, no time for us to dwell on a naked Keri Russell, this scene only serves to launch us into a flashback. An eight-year-old Paige backs away from the edge of a community pool. She has changed her mind, she’s scared and doesn’t want to go in. Her mother consoles her. “It’s going to be okay,” Elizabeth says, stroking her daughter’s back. Then she shoves Paige into the pool. We’re sure to come back to this parenting style motif.
Face Meet Car… and Motorcycle.
Elizabeth is on the job in big plastic glasses and a drab blond wig. She listens to a disgruntled female CIA agent complain of sexism in the workplace. The woman slides Elizabeth a slip of paper with the names of CIA operatives working with Afghanistan against the Soviets before heading to the restroom. The agent’s commitment to female solidarity is short-lived. She makes a call on a pay phone to confess her indiscretion.
Back at the table, the agent tries a little too hard to get her mousey contact to stick around. Elizabeth is on to her, and leaves before the agents show up. She promptly ditches disguise. At least, most of the disguise. The wig stays on. Not surprisingly, this draws the suspicion of the FBI agents canvassing the area. Hey, we know one of them. It’s Frank Gaad. You know, Stan Beeman’s boss. We barely glimpse his face before Elizabeth is smashing her fist into it. An awesome fight sequence ensues. There is kicking and punching and involuntary intimacy with vehicles. In the end, a bloodied Frank watches Elizabeth slip away. It’s good it was dark and she was still wearing that wig or he would have no excuse not to recognize her. However, luck is not completely on her side. Elizabeth lost the piece of paper given to her by the CIA agent. Back to zero
EST Men Make Lousy Lovers
Philip and Stan are attending an EST seminar. Remember EST? This is the same group (*cough* cult) that Stan’s wife joined last season. Apparently, Stan is trying to find a way to relate to his wife.
The speaker throws out the term “realm of non-experience.” He explains is in these terms: If you are balling…uh, having relations…with a woman (“banging her good”) and thinking about her orgasm, you are living in the realm of non-experience. This is bad. Instead, you must focus on experiencing your own orgasm and, what, leave her to her own… devices? Question: Does Stan’s wife know about this? Sex and almost getting killed are two things that can force us into experience, the speaker says. Prophetic words. I’m sure we’ll see a lot experience, this season.
To their credit, Phillip and Stan seem as unimpressed. They go back to the Jennings’ to find Elizabeth with an ice pack to her neck. She blames groceries for her bruises and Stan blames Philip for not helping her. And I blame alcohol for his blindness. He gets thrown out, but takes a beer with him.
New Nina is No Nina
At the Rezidentura, Oleg Burov watches video footage of the mujahedeen executing a Russian prisoner while new agent Tatiana Evgenyevna watches Oleg. If she’s a replacement for our favorite double (triple?) spy Nina Sergeevna, I’m not going to be happy. Oleg voices his belief Russia should leave Afghanistan, drawing a sharp look from Tatiana. Later, Chief of Station Arkady Ivanovich, warns Oleg to watch what he says around her. They don’t know where she stands. Oleg doesn’t seem too concerned.
At FBI HQ, Stan enters Frank’s office, and we see the effects of Frank’s encounter with Elizabeth. I chuckled right along with Stan. Frank breaks the news that Stan’s Nina was convicted for treason and espionage. Mr. Beeman registers something like dismay. But then the second agent to feel Elizabeth’s wrath enters the room and amusement returns to Stan’s face at the sight of the sling and busted lip. The Americans does subtle, often nonverbal, humor so well.
Mother (BAMF) Bear
In far better condition after the fight is Elizabeth. She tenderly dabs on a little makeup and is good to go. Mother and daughter volunteer at Paige’s church group. This is surprise as we know Elizabeth isn’t exactly warm on the idea of religion. She seems to be happy to be spending time with her daughter. Though with Elizabeth, you never know. Elizabeth notices a curly-haired, moppet boy glancing her daughter. From a comical look Pastor Tim throws Elizabeth’s way, he seems in favor of getting these two kids together. Oh, Pastor Tim. Oh, moppet. Keep your distance.
Enjoy the Guilt
Elizabeth and Philip visit an old friend/new handler. It’s a nice, warm dynamic between these three. They eat, they catch up and all is Chicken Kiev and Frusen Glädjé until the subject to Paige comes up. Gabriel has communicated the Jenning’s desire to keep their daughter out of the espionage loop to Centre but urges them to consider a Plan B. Our Mother-of-the-Year tells Gabriel that she’s nudging Paige in the right direction…her liberal church being a good start. It’s just going to take a little time. Gabriel seems mollified. Philip seems pissed. Elizabeth seems, well, Elizabeth. Gabriel tells Elizabeth to do the dishes like a “good American woman” and pick up an envelope he’s left for her in the kitchen.
Philip later confronts his wife about shilling their daughter out. Elizabeth doesn’t do a great job of easing his worries or even showing that she cares about them. Tension rise between them and we’ll have to wait and see if this Paige will divide them. Ha.
Oleg, Oleg, Oleg
Arkady tells Oleg about Nina’s verdict. In contrast to Stan’s subtle facial twist, Oleg reacts by pacing and yelling. Nina didn’t report all her meetings with Stan to the Russians. Is it her aversion to paperwork or was she in love with Stan? Arkady asks if Oleg still wants to help her. Oleg, ever the man, says yes.
Looking for alternate ways to crack the mujahedeen, Philip to goes undercover as Scott, a handler for the Swedish government. He meets up with Annalise, the nutty wife of a State Department official to find out what she has learned from her Pakistani official mark, Yousef. It’s never easy with Annalise and she tells him she’s fallen in love with Yousef. Naturally, this doesn’t keep her from planting her face into Philip/Scott’s lap but, she regrets it afterwards. So there’s that.
Annalise later meets with Yousef while Philip/Scott listens in. Yousef wants to set her up in a nice little flat somewhere. It’s all very passionate and romantic until Annalise decides to come clean and tell him she’s been spying on him. So he strangles her and she dies. Phillip/Scott enters the room and the two men square off, their dead lover between them. Yousef prepares to leave before Scott/Philip reminds him of his predicament. He’s in a foreign country with no easy way of escaping the repercussions of his actions. “I can help.” Philip/Scott says, “I can make this go away,” Jennings have their in.
- Martha, Martha Martha – Martha is at a shooting range and not having much luck hitting the target. Enter Stan to give her some advice. She takes off her glasses, focuses on the site and, what do you know? The kid’s a natural.
Guns aren’t the only thing Martha’s into. We get a quick scene of her getting kama sutra-ed with Clark/Philp. She seems to be having a good time. He seems a little dazed and confused in his glasses and wig. Maybe he was thinking about her orgasm.
- She’s NOT a robot – Elizabeth has opened the envelope she found in Gabriel’s kitchen and finds a tape. There are no subtitles as she listens to a woman’s voice, but tears fill her eyes. We learn later from a conversation with Philp that her mother is dying.
- Beeman Blues – Beeman talks to his wife (wearing the mommy-est jeans I’ve ever seen) about his experience at the EST seminar, but she’s not buying his fake enthusiasm. She challenges him and he blurts out the truth. She can’t handle the truth and walks off. Poor, clueless, adulterous, Stan. He’d make a very bad spy.
- A mid-ranking official from the U.S. Canadian Institute — a Russian think tank studying, you guessed it, the United States and Canada — is soon to arrive in the United States. FBI will be responsible for her safety as the KGB will likely seek to stop her from spilling secrets
- Elizabeth, in yet another wig, seems to be training a young agent with an interesting accent in the art of tailing. Cars, that is.
- While Paige is flipping channels (catch the young Jason Alexander Hershey’s Kiss cameo?), we find out Soviet President Brezhnev has died. History tells us that his successor will be the Jenning’s current boss, KGB chief Yuri Andropov.