Elizabeth’s broken promise
Back in 1966, when Elizabeth is a young and unsure spy, she hangs out with Leanne to talk about babies while washing blood off the hands from a mission. Leanne already has her first baby — the boy who is, in the present-day of “The Americans,” the teenage Jared — and has written him a letter. The idea is that if she and Emmett get killed or arrested, the letter will explain why.
Elizabeth promises to deliver that letter if necessary. And then she lets Philip impregnate her.
After the early-’80s death of Emmett and Leanne, Elizabeth now has to decide about fulfilling that promise. She seems ready to do so until she actually meets and talks to Jared. The kid is, understandably, a mess. He has also been taken in by a kind family that knows him from babysitting jobs.
Jared doesn’t know much, but he believes his parents wanted him to go to college.
For better or for worse, Elizabeth realizes she can’t hurt this boy any further and leaves with the letter. She later burns it in a dark and empty alley.
Paige meets ‘Aunt Helen’ and begins a life of espionage
You’ve got to hand it to the KGB: They think of everything. While the audience knows full well that Elizabeth disappeared to recover from a gunshot wound and not to care for Aunt Helen, that’s the story for the world. A story seems like it should be enough.
But who knew there was a “real” Aunt Helen? There truly is an elderly woman who lives in a nice little house, complete with photos of Elizabeth and baby Paige. Sure, she’s some kind of KGB spy and not really a relative, but you’ve got to admire the subterfuge!
It’s a good thing too, since Paige has decided that it’s time to meet old Aunt Helen. She skips school (covering with fake strep throat and debate-club tryouts) and takes the bus out to the boonies. Paige even finds a new friend, Kelly, who commiserates about how parents just don’t understand.
Safe bet that Kelly’s parents aren’t spies though.
When Paige arrives at Aunt Helen’s house, she is shocked to be called “Shelly” and quickly realizes that Helen is loopier than expected. But hey — no harm, no foul, right?
Nope. Paige gets home to find her father waiting for her. He knows what she did and isn’t pleased about it. A hint of a fight follows, and poor, innocent Philip even believes he has won it. This guy has a lot to learn about teenagers.
And he is going to learn it — Paige pretty much immediately calls up her new BFF, Kelly, and sneaks out of the house.
Philip and Elizabeth terrorize some poor janitor
Getting back to the espionage, Philip and Elizabeth head out to that factory that’s about to be moved. It turns out that they’re too late to read the instrument panel — that has already been shipped to the new location — but the propellers it makes are still around.
The spies learn this courtesy of a janitor named Derek. He comes upon Jackie looking in some boxes and is fortunate (and smart) enough to tell her all about his three boys who are expecting him for dinner. Considering Elizabeth’s recent experiences with families and children left without parents, this hits a rare soft spot.
All Elizabeth does is take the photo of Derek’s youngest son before leaving with significant looks and veiled threats.
Derek really doesn’t know how easily he got off this time.
Stan makes his career with a bullet, destroys it with three little words
The dangerous dance between FBI Agent Stan and KGB double-agent Nina continues as Stan tracks down Bruce Dameran, the titular walk-in we met in the previous episode.
During a rare trip home, Stan uses his family time wisely by talking to his wife about laundry. Seriously, how has this marriage survived even this long? Even when it’s for national-security purposes, laundry isn’t exactly going to bring that spark back into a marriage.
But it helps with the case, and that’s what Stan cares about.
Before the laundry comes into play, however, Stan has to track down Dameran’s job at the World Bank. It turns out that a) Dameran called in sick that morning, and b) there’s a big gala for World Bank leaders at the Marquee Hotel.
The Marquee Hotel is adjacent to a certain Laundromat.
With no time to waste, Stan rushes to the roof across from the hotel — and finds Dameran ready with a sniper rifle. To his credit, Stan does try to reason with the man a bit, but that really doesn’t work. Dameran ends up shot, screaming about injustice and the indifference of Reagan.
Because this is Stan doing the shooting, he heads over to the safe house and Nina in order to unwind. He is up for a medal and super-happy — which is probably why Stan says the sentimental and possibly fatal words, “I love you.”
At the Soviet Embassy, Nina reports on these latest developments. Arkady is very pleased — shooting Dameran in order to increase Nina’s value to the FBI was the plan all along. And Nina is proving even more capable than anyone ever realized.
This is why you should never underestimate the pretty woman. She’ll take down nations if you’re not paying close enough attention … And Nina might just do it.