Previously on The Americans, ‘Born Again’
It’s nighttime at the Jennings’ and the radio is broadcasting news about Pakistan. Philip turns it off and checks up on Paige. She tells him about her trip to Kenilworth with her mom and is moved by their work in the Civil Rights movement. Inspector Clouseau Henry makes an appearance to ask his usual questions and listen in. The younger Jennings might have a future at The Center, methinks. Paige asks what made her father stop believing in change. He says he still believes, but other things became more important.
Elizabeth is on the bed working on her weekly update on Paige when Philip walks in. Elizabeth isn’t hiding what she is doing anymore. Philip confronts Elizabeth about taking Paige to Kenilworth without discussing it with him and she says she gave him fair warning. They have different definitions of the truth.
The next morning, Elizabeth in a Goolag-Nina tracksuit (foreshadowing?) tells Philip that a Ruben Ncgobo, from National African Congress, will be coming into town. He is #3 on South Africa’s most wanted list and will serve as the dangling worm to lure in the South African Intelligence.
South African Assignations
Hans and Elizabeth are in a car, watching Todd, Hans’ suspicious South African classmate. Elizabeth tells Hans about Todd’s meeting with South African intelligence officer, Eugene Venter. It’s The Center’s belief they will stage an attack they can blame on the student Anti-Apartheid movement. They watch as Ruben Ncgobo walks up to Todd. Elizabeth says The Center hopes Venter will try to kill Ncgobo and they can catch him in the act. Hans is to act as lookout for patrol cars and honk twice in warning.
A notably un-wigged Elizabeth, meets with Ncgobo. She admits to him she has kids, but they have no idea what she does. Ncgobo shares he has four sons. He’s afraid of their materialism and lack of principles. He worries his sons will be killed for what they own. Better they die for what they should believe.
Stan joins Gaad and Aderholt in Gaad’s office. Gaad has trouble with his pen and unscrews it to investigate. A keen-eyed Aderholt spots the bug Martha planted in Gaad’s pen. Ugh, this guy is nosy AND good at what he does. Gaad quietly dismisses Stan and Aderholt.
Martha’s Spidey senses tell her the jig is up. She goes to the restroom and tries to disable the receiver she carries in her purse. She dismantles it as much as she can and runs water over the receiver, wrapping it in a paper towel and putting it back in her purse.
Martha is back at her desk and they are sweeping the office for bugs. She tries to keep calm as they go over her purse. She breathes a small sigh as she passes detection.
Her relief is short lived as Gaad comes by the titular Walter Taffet from Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). They ask to speak with her. Her luck holds as they just want her to supply a list of Gaad’s visitors. After she leaves, Gaad and Taffet discuss how it could be anyone. Even Gaad, himself.
A very scared Martha comes home and reminds us that, yep, Chekov’s gun is still hanging around. It’s not ready to go off quite yet, so she tucks it away. She then does a little snooping. The only thing hiding in Clark’s drawers is the Kama Sutra.
My Two Wives
As if he heard her thinking about him, Philip tells Elizabeth he’s going to Martha’s. Elizabeth tells Philip about Ncgobo’s four sons and his wish they become fighters. Elizabeth feels for the family living in in a war-torn state. Philip points out they don’t have many choices (“our situation is entirely different, Elizabeth”). Elizabeth agrees (“Whatever, Philip”).
Clark-Philip escapes his strained situation with Elizabeth and goes to see Martha. Unfortunately, she is not the solace he was seeking. A very Elizabeth-like Martha lies by omission about her day being uneventful. Then she lies outright about leaving her purse at work. Philp-Clark tries to get sexy, but Martha wants is to see his apartment.
It’s a good thing that Communist spies are so thorough. Clark-Philip takes Martha to his “bachelor pad.” She seems slightly mollified that it exists and asks him if they can ever live together. He says he can’t have a normal life, but maybe normal isn’t so great. She looks sad and makes her excuses. For the first time, Clark-Philip is one who is left.
So Philip goes back to his other wife. As they spoon in bed, Elizabeth apologizes for not confiding in him about her talk with Paige. This peace offering prompts Philip to confide in her about Misha, his other son is in Afghanistan.
The next morning Philip and Elizabeth see their kids off to school and Philip tells Elizabeth that something is up with Martha. He thinks it’s about the foster kid situation.
Hans watches as the meeting between Todd and Ncogobo takes place. A barely recognizable Philip sits at a separate table looking appropriately sullen in an emo wig while Elizabeth sports a cute cropped pixie in a nearby vehicle. They spot Venter’s car approach and it’s action time.
Emo Philip bumps into Venter on the sidewalk.
Pixie Elizabeth stops her car to ask a woman loading her car with groceries, the time. The baguette-laden woman doesn’t know the time and gets a bullet in her forehead.
Hans is double-honking like mad in his car. There isn’t a lot of time.
Venter and Emo Philip are still grappling in the street until Elizabeth comes along and helps her hubby by hitting Vedar with her van. Philip manages to wrangle Vedar into the van.
Ncgobo leads Todd into the back.
The ensemble peals away, leaving Hans to look on.
What’s up with….
- Minx-y Michelle – Elizabeth-Michelle introduces her sexy consultant-turned-boyfriend Jack, to Lisa. Philip-Jack, in the most ridiculously, unsexy orange wig that clashes with his eyebrows, lays on the charm.
- Annoying Aderholt – Aderholt finds a picture of Stan and Nina. He asks Stan what she’s like. Stan says she was a good little spy and told him everything. Aderholt asks if he’s sure. Stan covers for his intimate relationship with Nina by admitting no one can ever be sure. Over pizza, Stan confides in Philip that eager-beaver Aderholt irritates him. And he’s black. Did some of that ‘cism rub off on Stan while he was undercover?
- Bummed Beeman – Sandra brings Matthew over and Stan apologizes for inviting her to Chicago. But he still sees her as his wife. She feels differently and suggests a divorce. Later, Matthew and Stan actually speak to each other. Stan open opens up a bit about his undercover work. Stan says he had to pretend to be friends with terrible people and he was scared.
- Bathroom scenes – We’ve spent a considerable time in bathrooms this season. The Jennings have exchanged their basement for their master bath. Stan breaks apart the one at the diner and now Martha breaks apart in one at the office. I’m going to wait until the end of the season to opine about the symbolism of toilet paper.
- Continuous story telling – I’m happy we’re focusing on a few stories per episode, this season. It allows the show to flesh out each storyline and give us smaller, nuanced moments between characters like the scene with Stan and Matthew. It also gives us much needed breaks from other plots. I was glad to get some distance from the uncomfortable Kimmy situation. This episode was one of the more continuous ones and flowed quite well from one scene to the next.
- Martha’s state of mind – Very curious as to what Martha is thinking. Her world has just fallen apart. She has doubts about her husband for the first time and might come under some serious suspicion at work. This could culminate in her spilling her secrets and perhaps using that gun in despair. She also has lost her immediate usefulness to Philip which is also a little scary for her future.
- Noah Emmerich – Sad Sack Stan directed this episode and he did a great job. The tension of the Martha scenes and the ending choreography were well done and very in keeping with the tone of the show.