“The Americans” is not a happy show, and that has rarely been more evident than in episode 2 of Season 2, “Cardinal.” With the murder of the other spy family hanging over everything, Philip and Elizabeth spend most of the episode in states of high tension.
Could the Jennings family be the next target of the mysterious murderer?
At the Jennings’ home
Things are rather uncomfortable in the Jennings household these days. While Philip rushes all over the greater DC area in search of clues about the murders, Elizabeth gets to stay with the kids — watching electrical trucks on the street and jumping at every noise.
Even the kids do pick up on the stress in the air, even if they don’t know why.
As for active spying, Elizabeth’s only real job is to help a Central American girl whose Congressional aide of a boyfriend has OD-ed in an alley. Communists really were everywhere in the early 80s, weren’t they? Fortunately, Elizabeth knows all about anti-drug food and drink, as well as motherly advice for new and young spies.
Although the fears seem to be false alarms for now, Elizabeth and Philip aren’t any closer to relieving their worries by the end of the episode. After all, they never thought Henry and Paige were in any danger. Now everything has to be questioned.
The Jennings parents would probably be even more worried if they realized just how good a little spy Paige is becoming. Without anyone noticing, the teen has managed to get the contact info for Elizabeth’s supposed Aunt Helen.
Will Paige learn that the whole thing was a ruse?
Clark and Martha
Philip (as Clark) must also face his second marriage to Martha. It’s not the most active of relationships at the moment, mostly because Martha has a nasty cold. Clark probably should rush to her side with soup, but he’s a wee bit more worried about what’s going on with Elizabeth and the kids.
That may be part of the reason why Martha suddenly wants to buy a gun. Loneliness combined with fear from those murders is not a comfortable combination. Clark is against it (probably because he doesn’t want Martha to have the ability to shoot him if she learns the truth). But at least he convinces Martha not to leave her counter-intelligence job at the FBI.
Philip and Fred
When not caring for a sick wife or freaking out about danger to his kids, Philip also has to track down murdered-Emmett’s asset, Fred. At first, this doesn’t go too well for Philip — electrically charged safe boxes will do that.
But Philip is able to earn Fred’s trust, mostly by telling the simple truth about family and that horrible murder. Fred is impressively heartbroken about this, since he and “Paul” (aka, Emmett) were actual friends.
With trust rebuilt, Philip learns a key piece of information: Fred knows that a special propeller (for a submarine?) and its calibration machines are about to be moved. Another day, and the information will be useless. Philip and Elizabeth are going to have to move quickly on this one.
Stan and Nina and the spy games
Over at the Soviet embassy, a normal day (even with Igor’s flirting to Nina) is disrupted by a walk-in. Seemingly unimportant at first, the audience soon learns that this rarely — if ever — happens. The guy in question, Bruce Dameran, works for the World Bank and really, really wants to help the Communists.
The question is: Do the Communists want Bruce’s help?
That is immediately questionable when Nina passes on the news to Stan while the two have sex. She is still angry over Vlad’s murder, after all. The FBI, however, senses no trap and immediately works to ID Dameran.
The fellow seems to enjoy doing laundry at night, but little else is learned immediately. Laundry has never seemed so sinister …