Paige Is A Potential Powder Keg In The Premiere Of The Americans
Philip and Elizabeth are trying to deal with an asset who could get Soviets closer to developing a bioweapon, so Paige's wavering BS is, like, the last thing they need added to their list of hassles.
We pick up more or less where we left off, and a still-messed-up Philip is having a hard time sleeping; apparently, killing Gene and having no one to talk to about it has brought up some old business from long ago, when he was just a scared kid hiding from bullies in a tunnel...
...and then killing one by smashing his skull in with a rock. Presumably this is the first person Philip ever killed, and while I have no doubt it scarred him for life, was it really more scar-for-life-ful than breaking a corpse's limbs to fit her in a suitcase?! Anyway: this primal scene, now that it's been unearthed, is going to continue torturing Philip in various inconvenient ways, but at this point it's somewhat convenient, since he's decided to take Elizabeth's advice and tell Martha about Gene's "suicide" and his part in it, so he might as well go sneak into her place under cover of night if he's awake reliving his childhood traumas anyway!
The Ends Justify The Genes
Situation: In order to protect Martha from reprisal for having planted a bug in Gaad's office, Philip staged the suicide of Gene the IT guy and planted incriminating items in his apartment.
What makes it awkward? Martha is extremely upset at Philip for taking this action and blames herself for Gene's death: "What have I done? It's my fault! I killed him!" Though Philip tries to calm her down using his usual weapon -- his sessuality -- every time any part of him gets anywhere near her, she shrinks away in horror. And on top of everything else, he also has to tell her that since Stan was already suspicious that something might be going on with Martha and hanging around her building, they can never meet there anymore; she's going to have to come over to his place -- but, he promises, they'll see each other there just as much as they ever did here. So that's one more chunk of the bedrock Martha thought her life was built on crumbling beneath her. #PoorMartha
How is order restored? We'll get to it later, but: it involves Philip cheating on his wife in a weird new way.
A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Glanders!
Alert Type: Bioweapon Alert.
Issue: The Americans and the Soviets both signed treaties pledging not to develop bioweapons.
Complicating Factors: The Soviets are pretty sure the Americans are anyway, so the Soviets are too. They have someone -- William -- who's been getting them pathogens, and Gabriel was to have met him, but caught surveillance and ditched. After chastising Philip and Elizabeth for having gone around The Centre to send Elizabeth and Paige to Germany to see Elizabeth's mother before she died and making them tell him they don't want him to re-retire (which Elizabeth does immediately and Philip reluctantly grunts), he tells them he needs them to check into this William dude and make sure he's clean. But first, they'll need to be vaccinated against the cooties he's potentially going to be handing off to them. Gabriel also informs Elizabeth and Philip that William has been in the U.S. even longer than they have, and he's running this op on his own: "He had a partner, but it didn't work out. Not everyone's as lucky as you two." Now, would this remark be considered tragic irony, or just the regular dramatic kind?
Resolution: Philip and Elizabeth suit up and go stake out locations they know William's going to be. The first time, Philip gets a bad feeling about making contact; the second, Elizabeth notices a green station wagon tailing them.
Spoiler: If William was just going to walk down the opposite side of various streets, the show wouldn't have cast Dylan Baker.
The Lord Knows This Is A Bad Idea
Who called the meeting? Paige.
What's it about? Her parents, the spies.
How'd it go? Very badly. Paige has been spending the time since her narc-y phone call to Pastor Groovyhair in the season finale vacillating between her competing loyalties: suspiciously probing Elizabeth for operational details over their morning coffee, then going to school and hanging back in the hallway to avoid making a potentially fraudulent Pledge Of Allegiance. But even though she obviously still trusts Pastor Groovyhair, she starts by trying to walk back her disclosure. Pastor Groovyhair tells her his office is a place where she never has to hide the truth, and that he's used to hearing secrets. He's...not used to offering helpful advice, though, evidently, because the next thing he says is, "I know this may sound crazy, but do you think your parents would be open to coming in and talking? The four of us, confidentially?"
Paige, in fact, does not. Pastor Groovyhair accepts that for now, but tells her that she's never going to feel better if the only person she tells about her confusion and fear is him, and also that if people are getting hurt, they "have a responsibility." Paige doesn't seem to react to that last bit with as much alarm as I do, babbling, "You think everything is about talking, but they're not like that! I've lived with them for all these years, I know! We can't. Tell. Anybody else. Ever." Pastor Groovyhair says that, in that case, they'll focus on what's best for her -- so maybe her next task should be getting Elizabeth and Philip to tell her more about what they do? She thinks she could try. Pastor Groovyhair promises that they'll figure out what to do next. From Paige's perspective, it's a good meeting in that I think she probably is reassured by it. It's also good for the viewer: Pastor Groovyhair is either legitimately laying the groundwork for his intention to involve authorities at some future point, OR his encouragement for Paige to gather more intel on her parents bolsters the theory that he's also some kind of covert agent. I just hope Paige's parents don't kill him too soon; I do love to hate him.
Philip and Elizabeth have to chat about something while they sit outside a café swirling wine around. Why not their malodorous son?
When did you get Henry that cologne?
Who did, then?
I don't-- I don't know, he must've bought it.
Yeah, I know!
It's poisoning the whole upstairs -- I had to open up all the windows!
I told him, deodorant is fine. He doesn't need cologne.
He doesn't even shave!
Just Going To Go Ahead And Pick That Scab In Public, Are We?
And then Philip's back at an est meeting (seminar? encounter group? hang?), telling the story of the time he beat a fellow child to death in the Union Of Socialist Soviet Republics. As you might guess, it's...somewhat bowdlerized. The est leader (instructor? facilitator? priest?) asks how Philip feels -- in the present tense -- and Philip says he's angry. "Anger is a concept," says the leader. "How do you feel? In your body?" "Strong," says Philip firmly. "Powerful?" asks the leader. "I don't-- I don't know," Philip murmurs. "You got in a fight," says the leader. "You were a kid. What's the big deal." "It's not just that," says Philip. He still has his eyes closed and seems like he miiiiiiight be on the verge of explaining what does, in fact, make this a big deal, but then he snaps himself out of his trance and manages to keep his mouth shut, starting to get off the stage and saying he didn't even hurt him that much. (The blood-spattered flashbacks we're seeing throughout this scene beg to differ?) The leader tells him that, to forgive himself, he has to "create a space for it to exist": "You're confusing the feelings for the event itself. But they're different. The kid was bullying you. Why isn't he asking you for forgiveness? Did you ever talk to him about it?" He didn't. "Why not?" "Because he moved away." Uh, I'll say. Big applause from the supportive group for this share! Hey, is Philip going to figure out any time soon how extremely reckless it is for him to be telling stories like this to groups of strangers and also laying bare his insecurities and probing all his hidden vulnerabilities OR DO I HAVE TO DO IT?
When Philip gets home from his estery, he joins Elizabeth in the Secret Basement Of Spycraft, where we see that the recorder she just brought in from the trunk of her car has been surveilling...Pastor Groovyhair! As she scrubs through, we only hear him chatting boringly with people we don't know, but as Philip enters, Elizabeth sighs her dread: "I just keep picturing her walking in there and spitting the whole thing out." YES. AS YOU SHOULD BE. Elizabeth's always been the more cold-blooded half of this couple, and I'm relieved (for her sake) to see that she can separate her love for her daughter from her suspicion that someone who just found out some shit about her has a BIG MOUTH and prepare to take the appropriate steps. (Do we think this show might make Elizabeth expatriate her daughter to the Soviet Union or even maybe assassinate her? I...think I might!)
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Secret Secrets Hurt Someone (Like Your Formerly Fake Now Real Wife)
Philip still seems to be experiencing a pretty high level of anxiety when Martha lets herself into "his" studio apartment, where he waits on the bed (for the earth to swallow him up). As soon as she confirms that he's there, she starts crying that everyone at work knows Gene is dead and that they're all freaking out. Philip promises that they're safe -- they're together -- and gives her space as she kind of glances around curiously, finally taking a seat on the bed. Now that she's had a chance to digest Philip's disclosure, she has some salient questions about it, that she asks with relative calm: "Did he know? Gene, did he-- Did he know that it was going to happen?" Philip assures her that he didn't, and that he did everything he could to make it easier. She notes the use of the word "easier" and asks whether he was in pain; Philip tells her he wasn't, and that it was "very fast." Given his line of work, Philip's assessment of such things might be relative? But I doubt Martha really wants to pull at that thread.
After a moment, Philip sits next to Martha (who immediately scooches over, though just a little) and describes Gene's toy-filled apartment, though not -- as he'd previously told Elizabeth -- that they reminded him of Henry's, for...obvious reasons. As she cries, Martha tells him she's glad he's telling her this; she wants to know everything, even if it's hard. And since Martha's the only non-est person to say such things to him, he walks through the opening she's left him, telling her he's been remembering things from his childhood: "Dumb stuff, but you know how some of it makes you think, 'I wonder if this is why I act this way, or why I'm so angry about that." Martha:
At first, I read this look as pure horror, but what she says is, "Thank you for telling me that. It's better. You'll see." He gives her kind of a queer look back, which she asks about; after a moment of hesitation, he tells her, "I did what I did to take you out of danger. I won't put you back in." Martha takes his hand and replies, "We have to decide things together." Philip's like: great, get us some surveillance reports. But aside from the transactional part of their relationship -- which is, after all, the reason it ever started -- Philip's sharing any part of his slow-motion panic attack with Martha when he hasn't given Elizabeth any inkling what he's going through is potentially troublesome for his legal wife: he's being far more intimate with his fake one.
On A Wing And A Prayer
Who called the meeting? Vasili.
What's it about? Nina's ongoing project of winkling out Baklanov's secrets.
How'd it go? Nina already knew that, since Baklanov's abduction and return to the U.S.S.R., the Soviets have built a prototype of an airplane wing he designed, because he told her they showed it to him. But Vasili confirms that account and adds that it seems to meet all the requirements the Soviets wanted it to, so people are pleased. Nina says Baklanov will be happy to hear it, and Vasili's like, WILL HE, THOUGH? Nina, less certainly, says he seems to like the work. (She doesn't tell him the other stuff Baklanov's been telling her, like the fact that the Soviets were able to snatch him up because he was seeing his mistress, or how he daydreams about the work camp he feels he's inevitably going to end up in, and where he'll get ground up into dust, while his son never finds out what actually happened when his father disappeared without saying goodbye...so I guess she cares enough about Baklanov other than as an asset to keep his suicidal ideation just between them?) Anyway, Nina assumes that Vasili wants her to continue, in which case she has a request. Vasili informs her that requests are not being taken, so she says it's a demand, then: she wants to see her husband. We don't find out what Vasili says in reply, so let's call it okay shading into "probably leading to her death for impertinence."
No Arkadies Allowed
Situation: Arkady's noticed Tatiana doing secret stuff behind closed doors around the Rezidentura.
What makes it awkward? Even though Arkady seems to outrank her, when he demands that he let her in, she refuses -- not defiantly; even sort of sheepishly -- and directs him to ask a Colonel Umametev at The Centre what's going on. But first, he asks her pal Oleg about it, and doesn't seem cheered by Oleg's pretty transparent evasions.
How is order restored? It kind of isn't? He pulls Tatiana in for a meeting to say he did talk to Umametev, but that this is still his Rezidentura and he's not cool with her working on anything involving viruses or bacteria. She pretty much just tells him she can't talk about it. Stalemate!
William, It Is Really Something
Name: William. (More likely "William.") Age: Mid 60s. Occupation: Spy. Goal: To supply material to arm Soviet bioweapons. Sample Dialogue: "This is to meningitis what bubonic plague is to a runny nose."
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Stan vs. Philip
Elizabeth and Philip have just pulled into their garage from their pathogen handoff with William when Stan comes wandering up the driveway, forcing Philip -- who'd been looking curiously at the item of which he's just taken delivery -- to tuck it into his jacket. Elizabeth and Philip smoothly lock into friendly neighbour mode; when Stan asks to speak to Philip alone, Elizabeth smirks, "Boy stuff?" What else? Elizabeth, probably assuming she won't care about whatever they're discussing, goes inside, leaving Stan to start making accusations: "Tori saw you with Sandra? At a restaurant?" Apparently, Tori characterized their manner as "intimate," to which Philip says he doesn't know what that means. Stan's made an assessment himself, though! "Are you screwing my wife?!" Philip wearily sighs, but before he can say anything at all, Stan slams him up against some shelves, so roughly that Philip can't help glancing down at the virus container in his jacket with concern that this Stanhandling might have broken it open and exposed them both to ick that's (a) fatal and (b) incriminating.
"I went back to est, all right?" says Philip. So much for keeping Sandra's confidence! "And she was there. We went out after. That's all. We've always been friends." Will that do?
Winner: Stan certainly wins the fight, but inasmuch as its packaging protects the vial from being compromised...
...let's also put one in the W column for good old bubble wrap!