The Americans Can't Stop Striking Out
While other Washingtonians enjoy the World Series (...for a while), Elizabeth craps out on a couple of missions, and Philip gets emasculated both by capitalism and by his wife.
Previously: the season's first three episodes. Now: Philip, having arrived at the meeting we saw him heading to in the last episode, is walking through a park with Oleg, comparing notes on what living in the U.S. has been like for each of them. Oleg's not sure he liked it: "It's different." Seemed like he enjoyed the luxuries kind of a lot, but maybe finding himself with a part to play in preventing nuclear war has fogged up those memories. (Also the death of the lady he was sharing those luxuries with, I guess.) Philip says he's been in the U.S. so long he sometimes can't remember "back home" at all. Oleg steers them away from small talk by saying that one of the things he learned living in the U.S. is that "they're not crazy": "We can make peace with them. Now maybe is the best chance we'll ever get." Philip, with some impatience, says he doesn't really understand what's going on, and Oleg takes a long beat before reading Philip in on Arkady's suspicions that the people who run The Center are trying to "get rid of Gorbachev": "Our country having any kind of openness or freedom, they think it means that we won't be Communists anymore." Actually, Oleg, they-- You know what, he'll either live to see the age of Russian oligarchs or die while indirectly bringing it about. Why spoil it for him? Anyway, Philip seems disturbed by this as he asks who's on the other side. Oleg names Arkady, his Deputy Chief at Directorate S, and "everybody in the whole country who is looking forwards and not backwards." Citation needed on that last one, probably. Philip skips backward conversationally to ask why Oleg left the U.S., and Oleg vaguely says it wasn't for him: "There's something rotten about it." Philip and Oleg stare at each other for a while before Philip prefaces the intel he's collected by stating that Elizabeth "would never do anything to hurt [their] country." Oleg has already heard how loyal she is, but darkly notes, "That loyalty can be used." Philip works his jaw before telling Oleg the little he knows about what she's been doing: she's focused on the summit; she's been trying to get a radiation sensor; she went after Rennhull, and he ended up dead. Oleg sighs deeply, not indicating that any of this is news to him, and then tells Philip, "They are following me now. I was clean tonight, but we can't meet in person again." And just like that, Philip's lost a bro.
Philip comes home to find Elizabeth back out on the deck -- of course, smoking. She appears to make eye contact with him through the window but doesn't acknowledge him with any kind of greeting.
Philip looks resigned, and then goes to the kitchen; after a moment, Elizabeth ditches her cig and follows. She tries to make conversation -- each word of her "How was work?" sounds like it was yanked out of her with a drain snake -- and he curtly tells her it was fine. Her declining his offer of a beer plus the shrieking harp takes us into the opening credits.
Then it's nighttime, and Elizabeth -- with Marilyn and Paige as backup outside -- is busting into the Altheon facility to use the intel good old Evan so unwittingly provided her in order to steal the sensor she needs. This whole scene is dark AF even before Elizabeth gets inside and starts shooting out lights, but she eludes the security guards we can hear conferring about what's happening just long enough to find the sensor she needs, step on a crate to try to reach it, and then slip away empty-handed as the guards are suddenly almost on top of her. One guy gets close enough for her to sneak up behind him and knock him out before letting herself into the cage that holds the sensor. The other guy yells out a slightly beleaguered "Hey!" and gets shot in the arm for his efforts, such as they are; Elizabeth then gets closer and shoots him, apparently fatally, but LIKE I SAID IT IS EXTREMELY FUCKING DARK UP IN THIS PIECE. While Paige, Marilyn, and some other guy all wait and we hear sirens approaching outside, Elizabeth returns to the cage, getting more anxious and scrabbling more desperately at the inventory. A third guard shows up and tells the rest of his team that there's someone down there in the cages before ALSO getting shot. Elizabeth turns off her flashlight and waits in the cage while the guards swarm the area. Outside, a walkie signal has Paige pulling out from wherever she's parked. From what we can see, only Marilyn is left as Elizabeth hauls ass out to the car, barely ahead of the cops screaming up at the other end of the building. I guess we'll find out later in the episode if she actually got the sensor? I hope I still care by then!
And THEN, fucking "Jim" is being led into the Breland kitchen by Kimmy! Last seen being informed by Philip that "Jim" was moving to Japan! Philip flirts about her having managed to find time in her busy schedule to fit him in, and she exposigizes that whenever she comes home from college, all her friends want to hang out; she's a junior at Michigan now. Philip burnishes his line-blurring older-dude cred by running down the guy Kimmy was dating at school ("was" because she "dumped his ass"; "Good," Philip tells her. "I don't like him") and teasing her about her having started drinking coffee since he saw her last. She asks what's up with him, not seeming to care much, which is good because all he tells her is that he's "looking for the next opportunity" and might "want to use [his] powers for good." Kimmy thinks he should run away to Fiji and become a coconut farmer. Philip further flirts that he'll consider it. And then Kimmy drops a bomb: she's going to Greece over Thanksgiving! So whatever plans "Jim" might have been hatching to come back over then and retrieve a tape from her dad's briefcase, that will not be happening after all. As Philip tries not to fret in a way Kimmy will notice, she asks if he's seeing anyone ("Not really"), and then makes the classic college-junior move of diagnosing an adult's problem like it's something that's never occurred to him, informing "Jim" that he's "stuck": "You're too great to be stuck. You should have the job, the relationship -- everything you want. You've just got to seize the day, you know?" Just a reminder that Kimmy's last name is Breland and not est. Philip says he's working on it.
Post-heist, Paige and Elizabeth are having coffee at the kitchen table, and apparently Elizabeth has taken Philip's advice on how to handle Paige in this role because Paige is fully talking through all her feelings about the stressful night they just spent. To wit: while Paige is sitting in the car on a mission, she's "into it": "But are you going to sleep tonight?" "You'll learn to," says Elizabeth, sounding weary. Paige asks whether she got what she needed, and Elizabeth sighs that she didn't. MAYBE IT WAS TOO DARK. "It's like that," Elizabeth adds. "A lot." Paige changes the subject to a hang she had with a bunch of people from her Sociology class, plus one of the students' brothers -- a cute guy named Brian, who Paige thinks liked her. Elizabeth, slightly quizzically, says that's nice, and Paige adds that he's an intern for Charles Bennett, a Congressman from Florida. Let's hope he's not sharing his bath salts with his staff, then. Paige is starting to say what committees this Congressman's on when Philip enters, calling her name and daddishly asking what she's there for: "Food? Laundry?" He turns on the light and, seeing Paige and Elizabeth sitting together companionably at the other end of the room, is dismayed. "Keep going," Elizabeth tells Paige -- once again, not even acknowledging her husband's return to the house, so, you know, things seem great. Paige resumes, saying that Brian's Congressman is on the Armed Services Committee, and that she thinks she can wrangle an invitation to Brian's brother's birthday party that weekend. "Right back into it," spits Philip. "Is this how it is?" Paige doesn't understand what he's getting at and looks to Elizabeth, whose only response to Philip is to squint. "I can go," says Paige, to the room at large. "We talked about what happened, it's over," Elizabeth informs Philip.
"Really," says Philip dubiously. "It's okay, Dad," Paige insists. "No, I don't think it is," says Philip. "He was troubled, he killed himself," says Paige. "Mom tried to stop him." Elizabeth keeps her eyes steady on Philip, daring him to fuck this up. "Right," sniffs Philip. "Why DID he do that, do you think," he asks flatly. Paige doesn't answer.
Philip raises his eyebrows expectantly. Paige raises hers back. "Why did he kill himself, Elizabeth," snaps Philip, turning to her. "I'm sure there was a reason."
Elizabeth is, as usual, ice: "You'd have to ask him," she replies. Paige, for some reason, decides she has something to contribute: "Sometimes bad things happen in the world, and you ha--" "Yeah, don't-- Please don't tell me about the world, Paige," says Philip disgustedly. "Why not -- we live in the world, Philip," challenges Elizabeth. Paige wearily says that if they're going to fight, she'll leave, but Elizabeth -- still watching Philip -- says they're not going to fight. "No, there's no point," Philip confirms, trudging out. When he's gone, Elizabeth assures Paige, "He loves me, he loves you. But somewhere, something got lost. This work can get to be too much for people -- even the best ones." Paige looks slightly terrified that if this work could be too much for Philip, she really might not be up for it. Elizabeth continues: "I'm so proud of you, Paige. Really proud." Paige looks so happy for this affirmation that it can't help breaking my poor dumb heart. After Elizabeth has brought their cups to the kitchen, she turns around and tells Paige, "Forget about this intern." Paige is surprised, and asks why, so Elizabeth has to tell her it's fine for her to date someone, and that if Paige wants to go after someone as a source for information, that's fine too: "But you don't mix the two things." Paige, a little too quickly, says she won't. Elizabeth then tells Paige that she's definitely not ready to go after someone as a source yet anyway: "Let's remember the goal. You're going to work in the State Department, maybe the CIA, maybe the Defense Department. The most important thing is to protect you, and to get you ready." Paige gives a brief, disappointed nod. Elizabeth nods back. The audience nods at this hint at what will be Paige's undoing this season.
Philip is working in the armchair in the corner of the bedroom when Elizabeth comes up and tersely tells him, "You were out of line with Paige." "I'm her father," says Philip, just as testily. "We have a deal," barks Elizabeth from the bathroom. Philip says that maybe they need to renegotiate it. "You're happy to have Henry do whatever you want," Elizabeth false-equivalences, which Philip obviously has to call her on: "You put her life in danger." "Her life was not in danger," says Elizabeth dismissively.
Philip makes a face so hilariously incredulous that it seems like Elizabeth might hear it being pointed at her, because it actually makes her look at him and, after a beat, promise him, "It won't happen again." "How do you know that," says Philip. "Because she learns from her mistakes," says Elizabeth. Philip furrows his brow, but decides not to get into it further since he has to deliver bad news in the form of the tape he just retrieved from Kimmy's: "Last one before Christmas." Elizabeth, her voice tightening, says that's a problem: "We need to hear what they're saying before the summit." Philip's like, my name's Paul, that's between y'all. Elizabeth breathlessly says she's going downstairs, and that Philip shouldn't wait up. Pretty sure my dude didn't plan to.
Then we're in Moscow, as Oleg's father Igor receives a call: it's Oleg, eager for news of his wife and son and brimming with excitement about all the things he's learning in his operations research course at George Mason! They have an amazing new algorithm for compiling railroad timetables! Igor wants to hear all about it and even takes notes! [whispering] I think they might be talking in code.
In a park, Elizabeth slides a small, folded envelope into Claudia's coat pocket, telling her what it is and that she hasn't listened to the whole thing yet, but that Breland & Co. think a General Balashov might resign "because Gorbachev didn't consult him about a short-range missile deal in the negotiations." They also kept referring to "our guy inside," who couldn't get away right now; she couldn't tell if that human source was in the U.S. or the Soviet Union, but it could be someone on the negotiating team. Claudia says that something else came up. Elizabeth had reported to her about what she overheard Renee say about a case Stan was still working in Counterintelligence -- WELL: [all the stuff we already know about Gennadi and Sofia's "defection"]. Claudia wants Elizabeth to find out if this courier was, in fact, Stan's asset: "If it is, he has to be dealt with. Bad enough a courier. But this one was a player on our national hockey team. After they debrief him, he'll go right into their propaganda machine. Picture him in Time magazine, talking about how terrible we are." Claudia really looks sick at the thought of it, so it may be a relief when Elizabeth changes the subject to what they should do next with Paige. Claudia suggests another movie, and Elizabeth shrugs: "Honestly, it's-- It's all good. It's almost like going back there myself." This yearning for any traces of Soviet life only seems to break Claudia's heart more than the tale of the treacherous hockey-playing courier did.
Then we're at Dupont Circle Travel, as Henry returns a phone call from Philip. It starts off badly, with Henry yelling "Stop!" and Philip thinking he's addressing him, but it's actually some kids fucking around and making noise in the hall where Henry's pay phone is. Then it gets worse, with Philip taking forever to get to the reason he had called Henry initially, which is to inform Henry as gently as possible that, to expand the travel agency, Philip took on debt he's not making enough money to repay, and as a result Henry's probably going to have to leave St. Edward's before his senior year because Philip won't be able to afford Henry's tuition. Henry takes a while to get it. Henry's a reminder that you can be good at hockey without being especially bright. But Philip still feels like a failure. Capitalism: Not Even Once.
Then we're watching Nesterenko get surveilled by a team including Elizabeth, Marilyn, and Paige: they've trailed him to a hotel and know which room he's in. After Marilyn has briefed Elizabeth on their status, Elizabeth gives her an envelope full of maps and head shots: they think Gennadi's just been moved into a safe house, and are particularly watching out for Stan. She instructs Marilyn not to use "Julie" on the Gennadi detail because she's too inexperienced and not, for example, that Stan could probably clock Paige Jennings even in a floppy hat and glasses.
Speaking of a floppy hat and glasses: that's what Paige has on as she gets off a hotel elevator and starts making her way up a corridor. As soon as she's passed the door she's monitoring, Nesterenko comes out with a couple of guys (neither of whom I recognize), who continue chatting in the hall; Paige flips her purse around to snap a few photos behind her as she walks away from them. Gadgets!
Then Stan and Philip are out for drinks, Stan catching Philip up on the latest with Matthew, who's twenty-one and thinking about moving in with his girlfriend after college; Stan doesn't think it's a great idea, and if Matthew replied by saying he's not interested in a divorcé's relationship advice, Stan doesn't repeat it. TOTALLY OUT OF THE BLUE, Philip asks whether Stan ever worries about money. "I got a government job," says Stan, which could mean either "I know my income is stable" or "I don't get paid enough." Maybe both! But it turns out he is kind of bragging: he doesn't pay alimony, and his employer matches contributions he makes to his retirement fund. Philip looks as if he, like Renee, is on the verge of seeing whether Stan could help him get a job at the FBI. Stan concludes by saying he doesn't do a lot of luxury travel, but that he's doing all right: "Why, is everything okay?" "YEAH," says Philip, too loudly, and then sighs and muses, "In business, there's always this pressure about growth -- that if you're not growing, you're not succeeding....But why? When you think about it, what is so bad about staying the same? Not taking on more responsibilities, more headaches -- more time! Bills keep coming either way." Stan cheerfully says he thinks about what his father told him: "The more you want, the more you get. And that's both good and bad." "Yeaaaaaahp," says Philip bitterly. Fun night out for the boys!
In Moscow, Igor meets Arkady. First, we learn that despite the bright spin Igor put on it when he was speaking to Oleg, his mother and wife are worried sick and Igor is anxious for Oleg to return. Arkady can't bring him home yet. He repeats to Igor the official line -- that Oleg is putting himself at risk like this because of his principles: "And that's because of you." Igor seems like he regrets making Oleg, like, believe in stuff.
Philip's sitting up in bed looking over bills -- so sexy -- when Elizabeth slides in next to him in her silky camisole, cooing, "You rich yet?" Lady, read a room. "I wish," mutters Philip, capitalistically. He admits that it's not good: "It's just not adding up. Maybe I moved too fast -- the expansion, the extra people." "I know, I keep forgetting their names," Elizabeth sighs, insensitively, while Philip droops as he silently remembers their names, and those of all the family members they're supporting, thanks to him. Elizabeth suggests that maybe Philip just needs to cut back, but he doesn't see how cutting back would fix it. Already sounding defeated, Philip says he's trying, but he's not sure he can turn things around, adding that he told Henry he might have to return to public school. "Really," says Elizabeth, as though Philip were a nodding acquaintance and Henry someone she's heard of but never met. "How did that go?" Philip sighs deeply before admitting, "I don't know." Elizabeth sighs back, and then replies, "Well, he's your department." OH IS THAT HOW PARENTING WORKS? I mean, if this was the division of labour upon which they agreed when Paige started going out on ops, okay, but if Elizabeth thinks her ceding Henry to Philip means Philip will stop having opinions about the way she handles Paige, I...suspect she is not correct. Anyway, she lies down and gives Philip an expectant look, at which he sets down his paperwork, snaps off his light, and lies down to face her. "How's Paige?" he asks. See, I told you. "She's fine," whispers Elizabeth. "You know, you can ask her yourself -- I'm not keeping her from you." Philip says he knows. Apparently, this talk of one of the few topics they have in common has made him horny, because he reaches out to stroke Elizabeth's bare arm. "What about you?" he asks. "What?" she murmurs. He leans in closer and kisses her gently. "I'm tired," she whispers. "All the time." Philip, rightly, looks more disturbed by what this must mean for her mental health than he is hurt that she's not in the mood to do sex on him right now, and presently Elizabeth has rolled over to her other side, out from under Philip's arm and away from his face and leaving us all just to make do with our memories of them 69-ing, back when the '80s were still young.
And then Stan's driving through an older residential neighbourhood, trailed from a safe distance by Norm and Marilyn.
In her hospital bed, Erica is sketching and having a mostly civil conversation with "Stephanie," who says she looked at some of Erica's paintings in the basement: "I liked the one of the woman in the kitchen, with the broken eggs." "That's my least favourite," snips Erica. "Why?" asks Elizabeth, who's come pretty far in her efforts toward art appreciation for it even to occur to her to pose the question. "Too sentimental," says Erica. Elizabeth nods. "When I first got sick, and I found out about it," says Erica, "I kept thinking, 'Well, okay. At least I've got the work. It'll be there forever. It's the best of me. Something to leave behind.'" That's how I feel about my made-up correspondence between Debra Messing and her agent. Erica goes on: "Really, who cares, who cares?" See, Erica, you had me and then you lost me. "All those hours, just-- Honestly, I wish I'd spent them with Glenn. Just being with him. Doing I don't know what, just-- Doesn't matter." Reflection time over, Erica orders Elizabeth to sit, and hands her a pad, telling her to draw the vase on the dresser across from them. "You've got a strong stroke," Erica observes once Elizabeth has started. Elizabeth smiles shyly and chuckles that it's terrible. "No, it's just flat," says Erica. "Well, it is a piece of paper," Elizabeth gently jokes. Erica points out how the light hits the vase, and tells Elizabeth not to touch what she's already drawn: "Everything else, make a little bit darker."
Elizabeth has seriously set herself to her task when Haskard enters, having just hung up the phone with Martin, who's apparently actually having that World Series party he'd proposed in the last episode. Erica tells Haskard he should go, but he doesn't want to watch the game without her. "Oh, I've lost interest in baseball," and if you've ever seen Miriam Shor in anything, you know how easy it is to believe her as she delivers this line. Haskard laughs. "I can't believe I ever liked baseball," she adds. I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU EVER DID EITHER TBH. Elizabeth, still sketching, waits a beat before "casually" offering, "I could take you." Erica looks shocked, but Elizabeth shrugs: "A party's still a party." Haskard seems to like the idea, but Erica mutters, "No one wants to see someone like this." "Don't say that," says Haskard lovingly. "I've taken sicker people places," says Elizabeth. "You know, I'd be there -- have your wheelchair, your meds." "You make it sound fabulous," drawls Erica. Haskard agrees that maybe Erica should get out. "Yeah?" she challenges. "Last time?" He shakes his head slightly. Elizabeth briskly says she thinks it would be good for everyone: "Change of scenery, little baseball." Haskard nods at Erica, who still looks dubious, but lets him convince her.
At the FBI, one of Stan's new colleagues tells him about a case involving some dude, and air rights, and wiretaps, and just as I'm falling asleep, Aderholt calls him down to the Vault for an update on Oleg -- who, since they've been watching him, hasn't done anything untoward. They're going to stay on him another twenty-four hours, but it sounds like that's all they can do since they're stretched so thin. Stan comments that they'll have to get pretty lucky, catching him doing something on that short a timeline; Aderholt's going to try to get a couple more guys on him intermittently. Then, amused, he changes the subject to Stan's honeymooners: "Mr. and Mrs. Teacup are giving everybody a headache." Relocation can't get Gennadi and Sofia to agree to anything without Stan's intercession. "Jesus Christ, Dennis, I'm done babysitting those lunatics," barks Stan. "I've done everything I can!" Aderholt says that Relocation doesn't complain a lot, so they should help them: "See what the problems are and check in on them every couple of days until they go." After checking that Aderholt has no one else who could take this over, Stan very reluctantly agrees.
Philip's back at the office pushing papers when he suddenly seems to remember there is one place he can still go to experience joy.
My dude loves a honky-tonk bar! And after his initial hesitation back in the season premiere, even Stavos is there with Rick and a couple of other members of the Dupont Circle Travel crew, just a-stompin' away to Eddie Rabbitt.
Philip, you are stomping on my heart.
And then we're in a montage! From the line dancing, we cut to Elizabeth, retrieving Haskard's special Japanese baseball jacket while Erica sleeps.
At an upscale purple-lit bar, Paige drinks and flirts with Brian the Congressional intern.
Elizabeth hands the jacket off to Marilyn; she brings it to a seamstress who carefully sews a wire into the lining.
Philip takes a boot-scootin' break to smile at his employees while they, uh, still are his employees.
Brian and Paige flirt and kiss on the street.
Marilyn returns the jacket, and Elizabeth puts it back where she got it, Erica having slept through the whole thing.
Before leaving the bedroom, Elizabeth pauses at a portrait that definitely isn't a young Olympia Dukakis unless it is.
Elizabeth seems to get lost in it. SEE, ART IS IMPORTANT, ELIZABETH.
And the next morning, Paige gazes at Brian while he sleeps, before gazing right over his shoulder at his Congressional ID lanyard draped over his shucked-off clothes. SHOULD she work him as a source? HMMMMMM.
And then it's the day of the party. As Elizabeth backs the wheelchair up to the house, Haskard helps Erica up the walk and carefully seats her in it. Erica, peaked, looks like the strain of just getting over there has drained her strength and replaced it with regret, and Elizabeth leans over her shoulder to say she'll be with Erica the whole time.
Inside, Elizabeth wheels Erica into a quiet space away from the TV while Martin and Haskard -- fittingly -- double-team an answer to Nesterenko's question about why Minnesota's team is called the Twins. Haskard keeps an eye on Erica while Elizabeth bustles off to bring her some water, and hurries over to check if she needs anything. Erica bravely tells him to go watch the game, and Elizabeth, having returned, promises him that they'll be okay. As soon as he's gone, Erica tells Elizabeth, "I shouldn't have come." Elizabeth puts a comforting hand on her shoulder, telling her it's good to be out. Elizabeth watches as Haskard and Nesterenko take off to another area on the ground floor, which is when Martin's wife Hollie appears, spots Erica, and tries to make conversation, saying Martin's told her Erica's an artist. "I was," says Erica. "You still are," says Elizabeth. Hollie says she'd love to see some of Erica's work sometime, though not in a way that suggests she's about to bust out her Filofax to pick a day or anything, and when Erica doesn't volunteer one, their transaction is over and Hollie excuses herself to "check on the kitchen." Oh no, she was too slow and now it's a conservatory! Once she's gone, Erica urgently says, "I don't feel good," and her tone is such that everyone knows what's about to happen -- everyone except Elizabeth, apparently, who just leans forward to ask, "What?" less than a second before Erica lurches forward and vomits on the floor. I know Elizabeth isn't the most nurturing, but she did raise two kids. How she could not recognize the signs of an imminent puke, I am sure I don't know. Stupid Martin just watches from in front of the TV as Erica shudders forward again -- this time vomiting up what certainly appears to be blood, and not a little. Haskard hears her this time and rushes in to comfort her as Hollie takes off to get towels and everyone else pretty much just stands around uselessly. "What am I doing here?" burbles Erica to Haskard. He assures her that they're going to get her home -- and they'd really better do it fast, because here's where Erica retches again and ejects another mouthful of blood, this one landing on Elizabeth's lap. Nesterenko hurries up and starts mopping up the mess with the materials on hand -- stupid little cocktail napkins with baseballs on them -- but Elizabeth looks impressed that he's taking the initiative.
Back in the wig warehouse later, Elizabeth gets out of her Stephanie drag and listens to what the wire in Haskard's jacket picked up before Erica got ill at the party. Nesterenko starts by saying he's sorry about Erica, and that it must be hard on Haskard, who rather brusquely thanks him. Nesterenko goes on to say he imagines it must be difficult for Haskard to concentrate on their work with Erica's condition on his mind. "Sometimes," Haskard allows, "but other times it feels like it might be-- Oh, shit." That would be where Erica threw up blood. Elizabeth, disgusted, drops her earpiece. Erica is so inconsiderate!
And then we're back at the travel agency, as Philip pores over papers and picks at a bag of chips. He takes a break from looking at all the numbers that aren't balancing and glances to the right where, in the foreground, half a turkey sandwich waits for him.
This reminder of the food he'd forgotten was even in the room sends Philip into a flashback. The back door of a restaurant or bakery opens, and a man emerges holding several dirty pots and pans. Half a dozen urchins -- one of whom is wee Philip, who we first met when he was starving in flashbacks in Season 5 -- are waiting in the alley and set upon this guy as he (kind of disgustedly) hands them the dishes. The kids have brought their own utensils from home; Philip takes his stew pot to one side and starts scraping the bottom with a spoon to get up whatever traces of edible food are still on it, making room for a girl who seems to be floating from one dish to the next.
And in the present, Philip continues staring at the sandwich, because while his troubles with his business are causing him a lot of stress and making him feel a lot of uncertainty about the future, he's pretty sure that, whatever happens, he and his family won't literally starve. That, or he regrets getting turkey instead of roast beef. MAYBE BOTH!