Previously on The Americans, ‘Walter Taffet’
Note: There was a lot of cross-cutting in the beginning of this episode to mirror Taffet’s interviews of FBI agents and the interrogation of the South Africans. Let’s group scenes together for a little cohesion.
Much ado about pens
Martha is talking to coworkers at the office, when Gaad tells her Walter Taffet would like to interview (i.e. interrogate) her.
Taffet asks a tense Martha about access to Gaad’s office, his office supplies, and his pens. She plays clueless and unhelpful remarkably well, much to Taffet’s frustration. Maybe Martha has a little deception in her, yet. Martha looks like she’s on a witness stand in this scene. Foreshadowing, maybe?
Next on Taffet’s list is Agent Aderholt. They go over Aderholt’s past and we learn the agent is from Oakland, was raised by his janitor father, and owned a dog named Snuffy. He worked harder than most to get to the Bureau but isn’t resentful. Taffet asks if Aderholt thinks other people resent him for being…ah, new (i.e. black). Aderholt doesn’t think being “new” is a bad thing. I wonder if Taffet will ask Stan about Aderholt, next week.
Hans keeps a lookout as Pixie Elizabeth, Emo Philip, and Iceman Ncgobo hustle their captives into an empty factory. They interrogate Todd and Venter separately. They start out with the carrot and get progressively more aggressive with the stick. Even so, they make very little headway. Time to go all in.
Todd and Venter are taken out into the courtyard and are tied up, facing each other. Pixie Liz cocks her gun but Ncgobo stops her. He wants to handle this next part. They have a way of “doing things” where he comes from. These things involve tires and gasoline.
Ncgobo puts a tire around Venter and incites him to start yelling. Venter spits words of hatred towards Ncgobo and the Communists. Ncgobo pours gasoline over Venter. “Your sentence is death.” Ncgobo lights the other man on fire as a horrified Todd looks on. Venter screams as he burns alive. Ncgobo takes out his frustration on a symbol of what he hates in the world. I could only watch once (through my fingers). In a season filled with gruesome action sequences, this was by far the most horrific.
The Jennings are highly uncomfortable but resigned witnesses to all of this. They may be killers, but they’re more the quick and painless type.
Drop that Bomb
Pixie Liz and Terrified Todd are back in the factory. He begs her not to hurt him. She assures Todd she won’t light him on fire. She’ll just shoot him, instead. That’s enough for Todd to spill secrets. He tells her Venter wanted him to set off a bomb at George Washington University. The South Africans would then blame the explosion on the Anti-Apartheid group. He tells her he was too afraid to place the bomb and it is still in his dorm.
Pixie Liz and Ncgobo shove Todd in the back of a van and head out to meet Emo Phil. The bomb was where Todd said it would be. They discuss what to do with the boy. The Jennings are firm about letting him go. To give him another chance. Ncgobo thinks they’re too soft, but relents.
Ncgobo and Philip sit in a car, waiting for Ncgobo’s ride out of town. Ncgobo tells Philip that war and marriage don’t always go together. Best keep that in mind, Phil.
Taffett and Gaad talk about the interviews. Taffett is overwhelmed with the amount of information he’s gathered. He chastises Gaad for not having video cameras installed. He can’t say Gaad wasn’t negligent in his security.
Piss-and-Vinegar Gaad asks Martha about the contingency report and Martha tattletales on the Mail Robot. Gaad demands the keys and goes to confront the machine. Mail Robot stubbornly refuses to give up any files and Gaad goes old school. Like Ncgobo, Gaad takes out his frustration on a symbol of what he hates in the world. THIS scene I watched several times. In slowmo.
Falling Apart, Together
Martha sits quietly in her apartment. Philip-Clark blusters in, babbling about his day, but finally sits next to her on the couch. She tells him she met a man yesterday. The OPR man who Philip-Clark is supposed to be. Martha tells him they found the pen and asks who he really is. Philip-Clark tells her he’s the man she married and who loves her. Martha has confirmation that all she held true was a sham. She crumbles. She begs Philip-Clark not to lie to her. So he tells her the truth. At least the truth about how he feels. He loves her and he would do anything to protect her. He asks if that’s enough or if she needs more than that. She shakes her head and the two hug. Philip-Clark realizes the enormity of what his half-confession might entail. Later, the two lie in bed. Both awake with their thoughts.
What’s up with…
Nina: Nina gets the good news that her Evi Deception has shorted her sentence. To ten years. But she’s given another assignment that would clear her, entirely. She just needs to get Anton Baklanov, the scientist they extracted from the United States to open up to her. However, this isn’t going to be an easy. Nina’s past seduction, Vasili Nikolaevich, is in charge of the facility. She asks for his forgiveness. Nikolaevich says while he will not allow his feelings to get in the way, he will never forgive her. Nina approaches Baklanov working on computer. She bats her Nina lashes and lays on the Nina charm, but if she’s not a scientist (and she’s not), he’s not having any. Especially, since she forgot the lemon. She’ll have to try, try, try again.
Arkaday: Arkaday receives a call from Oleg’s papa, wanting to know why his son isn’t back in Moscow as he asked. Arkaday stresses that Oleg is doing important work in the United States. Igor is concerned about his son, who he feels is impressionable. Arkaday tells Oleg of Igor’s call, but Arkaday isn’t afraid of the power the older Burov holds.
Paige: Paige scrolls through microfiche in the school library and finds information on Gregory. She learns of his civil rights activities and of his criminal record. Paige talks to Elizabeth about this, and her mother says Gregory’s life was hard and life isn’t just black and white. Paige says that people “can’t just go rob banks and things.” Elizabeth agrees. ”No, of course not.” We just light people on fire and things.
Gabriel: Elizabeth goes to visit Gabriel and he gives her an envelope with news about her mother. She is still alive and fighting. Elizabeth asks Gabriel for a favor. She asks that he help bring Philip’s son home.
Stan: All we see of Stan in this episode is a quick good-bye to a stressed-out Martha. He’s off to Chicago for his friend’s memorial.