The Americans Face The Possibility That They've Been The Victims Of A Sick Burn
When William proves how right he was about certain disease samples getting in the wrong hands (literally), Elizabeth and Philip are forced to consider the nuclear option (not literally).
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Teach Your Children Well
Relations at the Jennings house have been strained since Elizabeth killed that homeless dude in front of Paige, which Paige then used to demand even more transparency from her parents about their work. But I guess Elizabeth's decided that a few days is plenty of time for Paige to have gotten over it, and when she comes into Paige's room to deliver laundry and gets no greeting other than a wary side-eye, Elizabeth orders Paige to scoot over in bed and gets in next to her. As they snuggle (which is pretty cute), Paige says, "If we're in danger -- if things can happen -- maybe I need to learn how to defend myself."
Elizabeth looks like she's not so sure that's actually a great idea, but she murmurs, "I can teach you a few things." Paige smiles. If this goes the way of most mother-daughter lessons, the inherent resentment and hostility might actually make it more effective?
Plot Lightning Round
So Stan and Aderholt are in just one of a whole shitload of FBI cars that have been monitoring William's apartment, and as soon as he successfully removed his Lassa fever sample from the freezer, transferred it to a little tin, and turned off the kitchen light, they've been allllllll over him, so we spend a few minutes cutting between William en route to a meeting with Philip...
...Philip, also making his way...
...and the FBI agents radioing to each other with directions or critiques (as when William's follow is too close). William has been doing this a while, though, and has pretty good situational awareness, so mere moments after Stan's radioed, "We're taking him"...
...William gets spooked and starts hauling ass toward a park. Stan, Aderholt, and apparently the entire task force give chase. William briefly hides against a bridge pediment or something, but he quickly realizes he's not getting out of this one. So when the agents get close...
...William pulls out his Lassa fever vial and smashes it into his palm, breaking the skin and smearing it all into his blood. As they swarm him and order him not to move, he replies, "I suggest YOU don't move. Might want to get me to a hospital with a bio-containment treatment facility as soon as possible."
And since the agents know exactly what William's been tasked with, they seem to take this threat as seriously as they should. It's definitely the worst thing I've seen happen in a park this year, and I also cover Catfish.
Meanwhile, at some other park, a Gary Oldmanized Philip decides he's waited long enough, gets up, and wanders off. Maybe his internet girlfriend just couldn't make it because she got in a car accident on her way to take her mother to chemo and...nope, wrong show.
Crazy Like A Soviet Fox
Name: Mikhail Semenov, a.k.a. Mischa. Age: Mid 20s. Occupation: Former Soviet dissident; current mental patient. Also! Philip's secret love child. Goal: While his broader goal is, presumably, to dismantle Communism, since that project has gotten him detained -- as a counselor at the hospital puts it, "Only a criminal or a mentally ill person would talk like that" -- his short-term goal is to do whatever's necessary to get released (though it's also made clear Mischa's only getting this opportunity thanks to "powerful friends" who just found out he's there). Sample Dialogue:
Goop! There It Is (Behind Glass)
Situation: Having apprehended William, Stan and Aderholt are keeping a close eye on him.
What makes it awkward? William's so very, very contagious that he's receiving end-of-life care in a glassed-in ward, and Aderholt and Stan are watching him from behind glass, on an observation deck well above him. The agents are trying to be compassionate -- "At a time like this, we can all just be human beings," says Aderholt. But when Stan offers to do anything William may want to make him more comfortable, William replies in classic William style: "'Comfortable.' There's nothing you or anyone can do to make me comfortable. In a few days, everything that's inside me that matters will have oozed out through my orifices. I'm a dead man. It's a very unusual feeling." Aderholt doesn't know where to begin responding to William's bone-deep Williamosity.
I realize you can't actually hear William's bitter barking laugh coming out of this gif, but I also feel it's likely your brain is filling it in.
How is order restored? It's not. I can't even say "William dies," because (spoiler alert) as far as we know, he survives the episode. Every moment Stan and Aderholt interact with William is just awkward as hell, because this dude is determined to die EXACTLY AS HE LIVED.
Oleg Is Moving Back To The Soviet Union
Arkady is disappointed that Oleg's leaving to be closer to his mother, who's still suffering since the death of Oleg's brother, though he tells Oleg, "You're a good son." But he's pretty sure Oleg's going to be bored as hell in his new job, and that Oleg won't find anyone there who's up to his standards. Of course, Arkady doesn't know that Oleg has a pretty good reason to get as far away as he can from the people to whom he just betrayed his country. I do, but I don't care. BYE, OLEG. YOU'RE NOT PART OF THIS STORY ANYMORE. BE A STRANGER.
We Made A List
Rapid-Fire Exposition Crammed Into This Paige/Elizabeth Scene
- Keri Russell is, at this point, so pregnant that she has to keep this dry cleaning jammed against her body until she sits down and her midsection is obscured by the kitchen table.
- Mrs. Groovyhair had her baby.
- The baby's name is Claire Louise.
- Elizabeth's not sure how soon after a child's birth is appropriate for a visit: "I didn't have many friends, so."
- Elizabeth has already thought ahead and bought a gift for Paige to bring.
- Elizabeth figures there's no more point keeping Philip's est a secret from Paige.
Okay, est. That'll Do.
Speaking of est: then we have to cut over to Philip at his meeting, where he's "sharing" (but not really) about what made him decide to become a "travel agent," and that you choose a job before you actually know anything about it, and then life changes you and you're stuck: "And one day you wake up and you don't want to go into the office. You don't want to make arrangements for people you don't know and don't give a shit about. You don't want to do it. You just don't. Every morning, I wake up with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach." In the audience, people nod with recognition...they think. The leader asks why Philip doesn't just quit and find a new job, and Philip says he can't: "I have commitments. Made promises." The leader tries to get Philip to admit that the people in his life would cope if Philip decided he wanted to do something different with his life: "Do you think your family would no longer love you if you quit? Do you think the world would stop spinning? 'Cause I got news for you: you ain't that important."
Philip considers this, but knows it's not true. What I would like to know is how many more times we're going to watch Philip try to achieve some kind of emotional catharsis in this necessarily limited, stilted, dishonest way? Philip is conflicted about and stressed by his work. He has no confidants. He's living half a life, and he's not even getting what he should be out of est because he can't possibly tell the whole truth. We get it and we've been getting it. Unless this is building to something: that'll do.
The Centre doesn't know for sure where William is, but it knows he's not where he's supposed to be, so it's made some pretty educated guesses, none of which lead anywhere good.
It was two different intercepts, and he doesn't show up at your meeting or your alternate. I've called him three times. They've got him. The question now is William. It's not like he was so happy to do this in the first place.
I'm not saying he walked it over to them. But now that they have him, they probably have something enticing to offer.
You spent more time with him than I did.
I hadn't thought about him like that. I mean, he bitched and moaned and was an asshole. I guess it's possible.
"He Bitched And Moaned And Was An Asshole" would the perfect headline for William's obituary, btw, if he could have one, which he can't.
Dough Re: Mischa
Who's causing a family crisis? Mischa -- or, at least, he may.
How? Sprung from the crazy house after, presumably, making all the expected promises about not trying to destroy the Soviet Union anymore, he's shown up at his maternal grandfather's apartment to collect some items his mother left him before she was arrested: cash in a bunch of different currencies, and some passports, which will assist him in his mission to track down his biological father.
Which relatives have a problem with it? Mischa's grandfather seems to regard the contents of this bundle with suspicion: when Mischa tries to give him some of the cash, he shrinks away from it superstitiously. Mischa's grandfather doesn't know much about Mischa Sr.: "I saw him once....He was a boy. Like you. She loved him." "How do you know?" asks Mischa. "She was happy," his grandfather asserts.
Who's an unlikely ally? Mischa's mother, who is maybe dead but certainly out of the picture and impossible to reach? Mischa's grandfather asks how Mischa will find his father, and Mischa vaguely says, "She said she'd leave me instructions. The only thing she told me was that he was a travel agent in America." Case closed? Great job, Ma.
Spoiler: To find out how this shit ends, you'll have to wait for next season.
Exit, Pursued By A Russian Bear
Who called the meeting? Wolfe and Deputy Attorney General Warren.
What's it about? Soviet violations of treaties prohibiting the development of biological weapons, which have apparently been carried out under Arkady's supervision -- or behind his back, which is worse -- at the Rezidentura.
How'd it go? Is anything more annoying than straight white American men who actually do have the moral high ground FOR ONCE? No. As Warren and Wolfe lay out the case against William and his part in the bioweapons program, Arkady remains courteous but blank: "That's very surprising. To my knowledge, my country doesn't have a biological weapons program. In fact, it is my understanding, according to the treaties, yours doesn't have one either. So it would be shocking to discover that you're working on such a--" "We only work on research to create antidotes and medicines for the weapons we know you're making," snits Warren. The snark flies back and forth until Warren signals Wolfe, who slides a piece of paper across the table to Arkady that also lists the other recent KGB ops that have been kind of a big deal this season: Philip's fake marriage to Martha; the bug in the mail robot.
At this, Arkady's superior manner falls away. "You're being expelled from the country," says Wolfe. "You have no proof," snaps Arkady. "You killed Frank Gaad," accuses Wolfe, though Warren cautions him on that one, so I guess it didn't make it to the damning paper. "You've got forty-eight hours to get out," Wolfe concludes. Thank god there isn't a mic to be dropped.
William, It Was Really Something
Arkady thinks he's got it bad? At the hospital, William is still dying.
As Stan and Aderholt look on worriedly, William narrates his own decline: "The strain I gave myself gets to the hemorrhagic fever stage pretty quickly." Aderholt offers to contact someone for William, and Stan promises that there are channels they could use. "After so many years in your country as your unwelcome guest, there is no one," says William flatly. "They don't know if you told us anything," says Stan encouragingly. "No," says William. "They don't know that." "Did you like it?" asks Aderholt. "What you did?" "It was exciting at first," says William reflectively. "Like all new things. Auspicious beginnings, all that. I was committed to something, and I was invisible." "To us," Aderholt clarifies, but William ruefully chuckles, "To everyone. It made me feel special, like I was a star in my very own movie. Then, over time, the thing that made it special, made me special -- my secret power, as it were -- became a curse. I was alone. Isolated. Lonely, very lonely. I'd reach out to people -- not friends, exactly. Acquaintances, more like. But there was always distance, a barrier. An absence of closeness makes you dry inside." HMMMM, REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE BUT GETTING BLOCKED BY A BARRIER, KIND OF REMINDS ME OF ANOTHER SPY TRYING TO DO THAT IN HOTEL BALLROOMS ALL THE TIME BECAUSE I GET IT.
But not just Philip: listening to this, Stan is moved. In response to William's bleak description of his life, Stan adds, "But still committed." "It was the only thing I had left," croaks William.
This rings true for Stan too. MAN, as great as this season has been -- which is very -- if I could have gone back, I would have given all of Oleg's scenes with Stan to William instead. William and Stan would have been able to talk through some shit.
Russian For The Exits
Who called the meeting? Gabriel.
What's it about? William, and the repercussions of his abduction for Philip and Elizabeth.
How'd it go? IT'S FUCKING CRAZY. There's no point being cute about it, so Gabriel gets right to it: the longer William is in custody, the more risk there is for our "heroes," and it's hard to know when it will be too late to act. So? "If William talks to the FBI, risks on top of risks" says Gabriel. "When do we stop. I think you two and your children should return home....Philip, your heart hasn't been in this for a long time," Gabriel notes, accurately. "Elizabeth, you've been doing this for almost twenty years. Your job wasn't meant to be forever."
"So, what, The Centre wants us to pack our bags and come home?" asks Philip. "You've had a good long tour," says Gabriel. "The Centre would welcome you with honours, as long as you tell them you're ready. But with William under arrest, you're in immediate danger. I know -- I know, you've always been in danger. But that can dull the senses. I think it's time. I want you to go home and get your kids and get yourselves to a safe house. But of course it's your decision."
Wrap It Up
Philip and Elizabeth leave the meeting with Gabriel too shattered to speak. But after a moment of heavy silence, Philip starts the car and pulls out, which would be the first step of following all Gabriel's directives.
In his office, Arkady drinks ruefully, side-eyeing a bust of Lenin (which I frankly definitely need for my own office like yesterday), and then back at the paper Wolfe passed him. From what we can tell, its contents haven't changed.
Tatiana comes out of the Secret Closet Of Treaty Violation and runs into Oleg, who's about to go in to speak to Arkady when Tatiana advises against it; apparently, the news of his deportation has already made its way through the office. "It's a shock," says Tatiana. "We didn't always agree, but Arkady Ivanovich was a good man." "He's not dead," jokes Oleg. Tatiana smirks that she didn't mean it like that...but apparently there's also blowback on her: she's been asked to stay on and take over for Arkady for the sake of continuity, and then stay after Arkady's replacement arrives; there's no chance the authorities would let a woman take over permanently as Rezident in Washington, but it also means she's lost her posting in Kenya. Oleg is sorry for her, saying she would have done a great job. After she's briefly thanked him, Oleg looks up and down the hall and then takes Tatiana's hands and gives her his news: "I've put in a transfer to go back to Moscow. I have to be with my family. And I-- This isn't how I wanted to tell you."
Tatiana is distressed, but tries to bite it back, telling Oleg, "You're a good son." "That's what Arkady said," Oleg tells her. Tatiana can't really react to this last moment of agreement between herself and Arkady before excusing herself, walking off with her dignity...to go find somewhere to cry. I'm not sure how we're supposed to feel about this? I never bought their love story, and in terms of Tatiana getting her career screwed, I didn't tell her to break international treaties!
At the hospital, William's dying has reached the nosebleed/coughing up blood phase. He can't quite focus on his audience in the gallery above, but he can still talk, and does: "I always wanted more. More information. Samples. They wanted me married. I tried. We were fighting, and I was-- I wish I could have been with her for all these years, like them. Couple kids. American dream."
Aderholt and Stan have no idea what to make of this. "Never suspect them," William adds, with some difficulty. "She's pretty. He's lucky." Well, some days he is.
Philip and Elizabeth come home and find Henry sitting on the couch in his usual manner, which is to say: uselessly. "Thanks for watching the Super Bowl with me," he pouts. Philip says they got caught up with work, and asks, not giving a tiny rat's ass, how it was. "We lost by a lot," says Henry. "It sucked." Philip barely pretends to care before saying he and Elizabeth will be back downstairs in a minute.
Across the street, Matthew and Paige seem to care even less about the Super Bowl, which I wouldn't have thought possible. It is, however, a good jumping-off point for more backstory on Matthew and Stan (the latter of whom still hasn't been home, apparently): they used to play football together. But also did Paige know Stan cheated on Sandra? When he found out, a friend of Matthew's at school said, "What? I would never cheat on your mom." "People are stupid," Paige understates. Paige wonders if it's good, though, to be able to see your parents as people...or maybe not: "Sometimes don't you just wish you could go back to being a little kid again?" Matthew doesn't know. Paige tells Matthew there was a time when she thought her dad was having an affair with someone he worked with, but that when she asked Elizabeth about it, Elizabeth told her she trusted him. But Paige doesn't know how you know: "People-- Shit happens, you know?"
And then Paige arranges herself for more kissing, which ensues -- and progresses, with Matthew even getting a hand inside Paige's sweater and touching her BARE BACK. Which she allows! WHAT WOULD LITTLE BABY CLAIRE AND THE REST OF THE GROOVYHAIRS THINK?!
In their room, Elizabeth and Philip still do not know what to do now. "You wanna pack, get the hell out of here?" mutters Philip. "Maybe," says Elizabeth, looking hunted. "I don't know." "You trying to picture them there?" asks Philip. "Yeah," says Elizabeth, not looking terribly optimistic about it...but the conversation stops there, because they hear a car door outside: it's Stan, coming home at last. "Hasn't been watching the Super Bowl," says Philip. "Work must be busy." "At least he doesn't have five FBI cars behind him, so that's a good thing," says Elizabeth. (Though maybe the only reason he's coming back is that there was no more reason for him to stay where he was once William died? But we don't know!) Elizabeth tells Philip he should go get Paige. Philip immediately stands up and goes...
...while Elizabeth stands at the window, watchfully watching.
At his house, Stan opens the door for Philip and gleefully waves him in, motioning for him to be quiet, way too excited to tell Philip about having come home to find Paige and Matthew fooling around. "Father of the bride!" Stan gun-jumps. "You're paying! You can use my back yard if you want to."
When the dads enter, the kids are HILARIOUSLY sitting as far apart as they can and still both be on the couch. Philip briskly tells Paige to come home with him, and though she seems surprised that she's being summoned, she doesn't protest.
Under Elizabeth's gaze, Philip hustles Paige back across the street, heatedly telling her, "I don't want you to see him." "That's ridiculous," says Paige. "Don't do this, Paige," spits Philip. "You have no idea. No idea." Aren't they leaving? What difference does it make?
And then they're back in the house, but to do what, we don't know. And I thought last season's cliffhanger was big! I have been so amazed this season by the way the producers have written these characters into pretty impossible situations and then managed -- not without difficulty! -- to extricate them. Now that we know things are starting to wind down, I'm excited and scared to see where things go next. And I'll be spending this whole hiatus praying the FBI's got a miracle cure for William. Stay in that anus, William's guts!!!