Previously on The Americans, “Tchaikovsky”
This Woman’s Work
Elizabeth Jennings isn’t anyone’s idea of a model mother, but she is –in her own warped, amoral way—doing her best to groom Paige to walk somewhere in the near vicinity of her footsteps. While Philip wants Paige to talk about and embrace her feelings, Elizabeth is trying to keep her daughter from falling apart by driving her forward. And, of course, lying to her a little.
To that end, this episode’s mother-daughter talk focused on the importance of fighting for what you (well, Elizabeth) believes in and futility of fear. Elizabeth also is preparing Paige (us?) for a life without her mother.
“For me, not matter how risky it is, it’s okay.”
While she may not be scared of death, Elizabeth is concerned with what her mortality means for her family.
The female bonding continues as Grandma Claudia teaches Paige how to cook. Add some carrots, a little spice, and throw in contacting a warehouse manager. Kill, as needed. Voila!
These meetings may be contrived to train Paige and exchange information but they are authentic for these women, regardless. They care for each other. A little touch of home and family. How far they’ve come from the days of Elizabeth slogging Claudia.
The Boys are Back in Town
Last season ended with Philip, Stan, and Oleg thoroughly disillusioned with the spy game. Since then, they’ve found contentment in more mundane — but saner — lives. Of course, it couldn’t last and they are being dragged back in. Dragged back and dragged together.
Stan says he’s happy being out of counterintelligence so his disgruntled attitude stems from the one (annoying and boring) case keeping him in. That and now Oleg. Stan and Oleg greet each other like a couple after a contentious divorce. Assertions of innocence on one side, bitter resentment on the other. Both suspicious of the other’s intent. Even the ghost of Nina can’t bridge the gap between these (really tall) men.
But, Oleg has a new interest. Two grumpy former Soviet agents brought together by a cause. Many a relationship has been based on less. The episode ends with Oleg greeting Philip with coy eyes and a flirtatious half-smile.
Way to twist the triangle, show.
Between a Girl and a Boy
Feeling warm from her meeting with Claudia and Paige, Elizabeth takes a chance and brings home some of what they’ve made to Philip. But he’s already eaten a big American meal (of Chinese food) and takes only a bite of the Russian dish. Elizabeth disposes of the rest. Elizabeth yearns for real family and home, that family and home being Russian. Philip is living the American life and doesn’t have much appetite for the old world. As Elizabeth tells Father Andrei “He has his life. I have mine, and she’s with me.” Summing up the Jennings, this season.
The Jennings aren’t the only ones experiencing marital strife. Sofia’s antics cause the FBI to pull in the whole family. Stavos still believes his buddy Stan can mend the fence. But Stan is no relationship guru. Rene wants to be an FBI agent so they can “spend more time together.” He tells her ageism is a thing, so no. Ouch. Guess she’ll have to find another way to gather her covert intel…
It’s Off to Work We Go
Elizabeth, Paige and friends do a little Haskard surveillance. Elizabeth, undistinguishable from Patty in an Elvira wig (ha!), listens from a nearby table as Haskard entertains Russian delegates, Her eye-roll when one of them agrees to come to the Haskard household to learn more about Americans is priceless.
Since she killed her lithium-based radiation sensor contact, Claudia sends Elizabeth off to connect with the warehouse where the sensors are stored. Under the pretense of performing a security audit, Elizabeth gathers valuable information from the warehouse manager. Sadly, she has to take out yet another man to keep her cover secure. Looks like she’s 3-for-3.
In addition to nursing cancer patients, rolling through wigs and killing people, Elizabeth is still working at the travel agency. Business as usual for Elizabeth Jennings.
Philip is having more 1st World problems. He’s losing money and needs to pay to keep Henry away at his very expensive private school. He does what every flailing business owner does — buys time while he reads motivational books and tries to pump up his staff. Definitely carrot to Elizabeth’s barbed-wired stick. Though it might be fun to see Elizabeth’s motivational tactics.
It’s good to see women doing it for themselves. Even if what they are doing is scary, illegal, and bloody. I could watch Keri Russell and Margo Martindale in a series by themselves. While I appreciate existential angst as much anyone, I’m grateful it was lighter and we got more action. I’m as uninterested in the Sofia/Stavos/Bogdan as Stan is, but it looks like it will either be wrapping or ratcheting up. The Oleg pairings improved this episode considerably. They’re doing a much better job of pacing over last season.