Previously on The Americans, ‘Open House’
Elizabeth is wearing a rat’s nest and smoking on a park bench. The Babysitter’s club makes a covert exchange with a shady guy (as evidenced by his hat). Elizabeth gets up, looking pleased.
Baby Softly Over
The Jennings discuss The Babysitter, but they really could be talking about Paige. They’ve never used someone so young before, but she seems to have skills that would make her a good prospect. As if she knew they were thinking about her, Paige comes home. She doesn’t want to do anything for her birthday but if they insist, she’d be ok with having Pastor Tim and his wife over for dinner. Her parents agree with matching strained smiles.
Philip has learned from Martha’s files that nine people are getting security clearance for the Northrup stealth bomber factory. He also tells Elizabeth about Martha’s desire to foster kids. Elizabeth asks who wears pants in the marriage (it’s very clear who does in the Jennings household), but Philip doesn’t hear as he’s watching a very creepy Love’s Baby Soft mist commercial and we’re reminded again of children taking on roles too old for their years. “Love’s Baby Soft. Because innocence is sexier than you think.” Ew, Eighties. Just ew.
A longish-wigged Jim/Philip approaches The Babysitter’s club who can’t get into a real club with their fake IDs. He can get them real ones. Kimberly tries to flirt, but Philip is a professional cool. Most likely still nauseous from the Baby Soft commercial.
Philip and Henry are doing state capital flash cards at home and guess who comes up in conversation? Paige. Philip asks if Paige talks about church and a churlish Henry asks why he’s asking. Then guess who walk in? Paige. She’s curious too. Philip tries to play if off and asks about the Pastor’s eating habits. Henry’s only request (for cheesecake) gets denied. If I were Henry, I’d be questioning my significance in the universe at this point. The phone rings and it’s…no, not Paige but Jazzersize Kitty! She delivers a coded message.
Sweet Thing, Milky Way
Stan confides to Gaad about his suspicions of The Defector, Zinaida. She’s getting a lot of access for someone they don’t know a lot about. Gaad proves to be a good boss by listening to Stan’s gut. I haven’t trusted Stan’s gut since the pilot.
The Babysitter’s club brings Jim/Philip their pictures for the new fake IDs. He claims to be a lawyer/lobbyist. Kimberly’s father (Group Leader and Saint Isaac Breland) thinks none too highly of lobbyists. Kimberly is listening to Yaz, and Jim/Philip compliments her taste in music. She tells him to call her Kimmy. Gag me with a spoon.
Stan and Zinaida are in a cafe. She says she needs to use the bathroom and Stan, whose gut is on a smoke break, lets her go. It gets back and he goes to check on The Defector who seems to actually be in the Womens’. He notices a Milky Way bar in a vending machine. I first thought there was something hidden behind the bar, but even more suspicious is how the chocolate escaped Zinaida’s notice. He’s back in the booth by the time she returns and presents her with a Milky Way bar. She immediately rips into it, while browsing the menu. Stan is enigmatic.
Philip gets Paige the new Yaz album. She is delighted. He seems resigned and slightly pained. The parallels between Kimberly and his daughter extend to musical tastes. Elizabeth enters. It’s steak over tacos and Philip wins this round of Paige-Tug-of-War.
The Jennings are discussing their favorite topic, again. Their implicit fight for their daughter turns explicit as Philip accuses his wife of cozying up to Paige for nefarious purposes. Elizabeth thinks her husband is in denial about the inevitability of Paige getting involved in the family business. She admits that yes, she is doing something with or without him. Philip walks out. Don’t Go, Philip.
Stan and his gut are at the diner after closing time. He takes apart the Women’s bathroom. He finds no suspicious paper towels, no malicious tampons. The stall walls feel the force of his frustration.
(Un) Happy People
Finally. Birthday Dinner time. Pastor Tim shares stories from his youth and we learn that, like Jesus, he is not above dying for a cause. Suprisingly, this isn’t the envisioned debacle. Then Paige breaks her news. She wants to get baptized. Silence and frozen looks. Uncomfortably polite comments. Pastor Tim tells Henry baptism is like an initiation. Paige says its like washing away the old and making yourself new again, (for Jesus). Elizabeth sips her coffee. Nope. No ironic parallels here.
In the privacy of their bedroom, the Jennings talk about Paige. She set them up like chumps. If she wasn’t so pissed, Elizabeth might be proud. Elizabeth wants to tell Paige who she really is. Philip is afraid it’ll make things worse. The phone interrupts them. The other under-age female wants to see Jim/Philip. Alone.
Jim/Philip rolls a joint, Kimberly sways (un)seductively to Only You and invites him to dance. Jim/Philip says he’s too old (he’s too old, Lolita!). He invites her to sit and sadly puts an arm around a girl young enough to be his….yeah.
- Drunk Funk: Michelle/Elizabeth plays drunk and visits her Lisa, her AA sponsor, at home. There is obvious friction between Lisa and her husband, Maurice. Lisa confides that he’s out of work and drinking, again. She’s had to send her kids, away. In other words, she’s vulnerable.
- Nina Trap: Papa Igor wants Nina to spy on her Belgian roommate, Evi in exchange for a lighter sentence. This was a nice twist for those of us that suspected Evi of being a plant. Nina tries flattery and honesty before gaining Evi’s sympathy by staging a nightmare about her fictitious husband and fictitious children.
- HonESTy: Stan and Philip go to another EST meting and Stan is called upon for a role playing exercise. Stan reluctantly closes his eyes and gets as far as picturing his wife, but the trance and his temper break when Mr. Smugly calls him an asshole. “This is bullshit,” says Stan
Spurred by the EST meeting and a conversation with Zinaida, Stan goes to visit Sandra. He finally has the conversation he couldn’t role play at EST. He admits all. To the affair, to loving Nina, to how it complicated work. He apologizes. Sandra leaves him on the lawn. The truth hurts
- Nice shot: After Paige breaks her baptism news, the camera shifts to outside the house. Paige, her father and the Pastor are framed in one window and as the camera pans, we see Elizabeth by herself in another.
- POV: The first two episodes of this season centered around Elizabeth. This episode and the last focused more on Philip. I’m a fan of this point of view filter.
- Father Time: This show is wise enough to spend time on the little moments between Philip and his kids. In the scene with the flash cards, the dialogue and Matthew Rhys’s performance is so natural and real. It adds both levity and insight into Philip’s character.