This is why “The Americans” is thrilling even in a quiet episode with only a minimum of killing.
Philip and Elizabeth move past the killing with more killing
Here’s the thing that’s both good and bad about the lives of spies like Philip and Elizabeth Jennings: Their problems also work as therapy. Thus, an episode after everything fell apart because of killing, they deal with their problems by engaging in a little more killing.
Having vented his anger at the minister last week, Philip is mostly just sad about being kind of a jerk while he hated himself. Elizabeth helps by making out with him in the kitchen. As for Paige, Philip just wants to make amends by letting her be a counselor-in-training at some Bible camp.
Too bad Elizabeth isn’t going to go for that. Oh, the teenage rebellion that is fast-approaching the Jennings household!
But Philip and Elizabeth don’t have time for that because there’s a new mission. A Pakistani delegation — including some intelligence officers — is in town for meetings, and the Soviets want to get an inside man. The chosen target is Yousaf Rana, the second-in-command from Pakistani intelligence and a man who likes his women blonde and random.
Elizabeth is totally set to seduce Yousaf (who is something of a hottie), but Philip intervenes and suggests Annelise for the job instead. Remember Annelise? She’s the over-sexed, slightly crazy, Sweden-loving wife of the undersecretary for defense that Philip used a bunch back in Season 1.
Even though Annelise claims to be working on fixing her marriage, she agrees to go after Yousaf in order to have an important job. This is why feminism is necessary by the way — Annelise is nuts because she’s the smartest person in the room but only ever gets seen as a blonde bimbo.
That’s where Annelise has a problem with this mission too. She wants to do important, world-altering work, but she ends up being more like a prostitute. Philip manages to calm her down, but this whole mission isn’t likely to go well.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, totally poisons Yousaf’s boss down in the hotel swimming pool. It’s one of the more disturbing murders in a show full of disturbing murders.
Who carries a briefcase on vacation?
Stan is still desperately trying to figure out what’s going on with Soviet espionage into the stealth projects. This is mostly so he can destroy Oleg and save damsel-in-distress Nina. But Stan is kind of smart when he gets on the right track, so he is now obsessing over Emmett and Leanne’s murder.
It’s the right route to take. With Agent Gaad’s help and an unexpected briefcase that hides a secret compartment, the FBI now knows that Emmett and Leanne were somehow engaged in espionage. Who they were and what they did is still a mystery, but Stan is on the right track.
He even manages to gain the tentative trust of Jared, the surviving son. Could Stan soon learn that Emmett and Leanne were about more than just tee-ball and the PTA?
Russian nostalgia and Nina’s future world domination
Back in the world of oft-subtitled spy games, Arkady and Gaad reach an agreement on Vlad’s death. The Soviets will accept that he was killed by a mugger, and Gaad won’t work to destroy the intelligence operation at the Soviet embassy.
The pleasantries between these two are about as warm as the almost-April snow falling all around them.
Meanwhile, Oleg and Nina are continuing their affair, apparently in an effort to make me love both of them even more. It’s weird — Oleg seemed so awful just a few episodes ago, and now he almost seems like a hero.
Nina makes everyone and everything better, evidently.
Anyway, the two Russian lovers reminisce about simple childhoods and Lenin pins, and Nina points out that she misses those times. This is mostly because she is realizing just how good she is at deceiving and conquering the world.
Larrick is a creepy, terrifying, awful man bent on revenge
Larrick isn’t cool with men being killed at the Martial Eagle training camp. He’s so not OK, in fact, that he flies home to Washington in order to hunt down those responsible — Philip and Elizabeth.
This turns out to be quite a process. Larrick gets a telephone exchange from the phone company and proceeds to break into people’s houses with a silenced gun WHILE THEY ARE STILL HOME. Seriously, nothing has ever been scarier than Larrick standing right behind a small girl with a gun, watching her pick up a toy.
In the process of being the creepiest person alive, Larrick notices that there is a next-door basement that looks suspicious. That’s where the Soviet relay station can be found.
Let’s all take a moment now to mourn the loss of this important cog in the espionage machine. The phone-relay agent didn’t have a name. He barely had a face. But he was the key to everything in the operations, and he died bravely.
Unfortunately, this death means that Larrick now has control over much of the Soviet communications. This is going to end badly for someone, isn’t it?