The Americans Find Out How Their Socialist Friend Has Been Socializing
Mrs. Morozov may not actually go to a pot luck, but she does get lucky.
Imagine There's No Agents...
After white-knuckling it home, shattered by Gabriel's final truth bomb...
...Philip comes up to the bedroom for a debrief. Elizabeth reports that Paige is mopey about her breakup, but that it'll probably stick. When she asks how things went with Gabriel, the conversation gets a little more real than they should be right before bed probably? Unless they can also use that fingertip rubbing technique to hypnotize themselves out of anxiety-induced insomnia. (Is this more speculating than I should be doing about their sleep schedule given EVERYTHING ELSE?)
I don't know. I asked him about Renee.
What did he say?
He thinks I'm losing it.
I can't believe we're never going to see him again.
I am. All those years by our side. I just think he was doing his job.
He can do his job and still care about us.
Yeah, he could. I just think when it comes down to things, us or-- I don't know.
He's the one who wanted us to go home! He's a good person.
I think he got tired of this.
He did it a long time.
He's worried about Paige. He told me-- that she shouldn't do it. This.
He told you?
Yeah. Just came up.
Wouldn't it be a nice world if nobody had to do this.
[thirty-second stare followed by tiny "Welcome to my level" nod]
We Made A List
Rapid-Fire Exposition Delivered Around Henry And His Videogame System
- Henry has a friend!
His name is Rich.
- There's a girl Henry likes...
...who also seems to like him! Her name is Chris, but she's played by a girl named Mavis Simpson-Ernst. She is thirteen. So in the year 2004, at least one parent looked at an infant and said, "Mavis." And now she's too accomplished to change it to something less dowdy. SORRY TO ANY MAVISES READING THIS but whoever is responsible for saddling this poor girl with THAT NAME should be publicly flogged. I am not a crackpot.
- Uhhhhhhh where was I -- oh, right: Stan won't divulge anything Henry told him about Chris in confidence.
- Stan has no idea why Paige dumped Matthew, probably because Matthew himself has no idea.
- Renee's still in the picture and wants to take Stan sky diving! This honestly argues against the theory that she's from The Center: would you risk your asset like that?!
- Henry has a friend!
...K, Directorate K
Situation: Oleg comes home to find a Major Kuznetsov of Directorate K -- rolling deep with several other agents -- waiting for him in the lobby of his parents' building.
What makes it awkward? They want to search Oleg's apartment, but since his father Igor is so high up in the government, they have to ask his permission rather than just barge in. Also the fact that Oleg does actually have something to hide, even if he destroyed the physical evidence, since his mother knows and might accidentally freak out and give it away -- and, as she tells Oleg after he assures her that there's nothing they can find, "They find things even when there's nothing."
How is order restored? Major Kuznetsov leaves pretty quickly, apologizing to Igor on his way out. Igor is pissed, and tries to throw his weight around by calling in a complaint about Kuznetsov and...Ko., but Oleg tells him not to get the guys in trouble just for doing their job. He then goes to tell the Colonel about the incident; the Colonel doesn't seem too concerned, saying he doesn't know anything about it, but then, they wouldn't tell him, either. Oleg admits that he did actually do something, and tells the Colonel about pulling his mother's file without authorization. The Colonel agrees that it wouldn't look good, but that it's probably not something they'd search his room over. The Colonel also does all of us a solid by asking what he was looking for, and Oleg says she was in a prison camp for five years on a charge of "sabotage." The Colonel chuckles: "Sabotage was different then. You could be accused of sabotage if you took a pencil from your office." Anyway: these two are still square, plus Oleg has burnished his credentials as a straight shooter who can't be bought and blah blah. (I sense there's still more to be told about Oleg's mother's prison time; I'm not sure I care?)
Meet The New Boss
Who called the meeting? Claudia.
What's it about? Since she's replaced Gabriel, she's there to get an update on what Philip and Elizabeth have been working on.
How'd it go? Claudia must have taken management training, because she wisely starts with a compliment: "I was read in on everything -- you've been doing beautifully." She then says she needs them to stay on their Topeka ops a little longer, and Gabriel must have ALSO told her Elizabeth and (especially) Philip were starting to burn out on it because she phrases it as though they have a choice and could say no; whatever the case is, they're on it. Elizabeth then reports on the latest with the Morozovs: Evgheniya's students are having a Russian-immersion pot luck dinner that weekend, and Philip and Elizabeth intend to come out the other side of it with the names of everyone in the class. Philip's like OKAY, BYE THEN, to which Claudia, seeming slightly wounded, asks, "Are you in a hurry?" Philip says that's all they have, and then suggests, "Let's do this a little differently from now on." She asks how he wants it to work, and he snips, "You tell us what to do, and we'll do it." Claudia deadpans, "Isn't that how this works?" Elizabeth tries to smooth things over, saying she thinks Philip means that they know what they're doing: "We know what to think." Claudia nods: "You don't want anyone inside your heads. Fair enough. Not my strong suit anyway." I refuse to believe this could be true of the former Mags Bennett, but okay.
Taking A Bite Out Of Crime
Who called the meeting? Stan and Aderholt.
What's it about? The work Ms. Kovalenko's going to do for them sneaking intel out of TASS.
How'd it go? This seems like just a training-wheels session for her in that they're only talking about the logistics of how these meetings are going to go -- that she should try not to look nervous or furtive; that if she tells her co-workers she's going out for lunch, she needs to know every detail of her cover story in case any of them asks her about it afterward. She's excited about using the extra money to set aside for her son's education; he has a different dream every day for what he wants to do when he grows up -- captain, fireman, police, doctor ("He can be whatever he wants here," says Aderholt). She also wants to save up to buy a house; she only wants to use it for things that will improve her son's life. When she says that everyone at her office gets along except Yuri, the GRU officer who's the one dude everyone hates -- "He thinks he's a big man and he knows everything but he know nothing" -- Aderholt cracks that it sounds like the FBI. Ms. K doesn't get it and asks if they have a Yuri, and Stan smiles that every office does, aw. Now that they've bonded over the jobs that grind them down, Ms. K says she has another issue that she needs help with, but she's not sure they can, and after hemming about it as long as she can, she admits that she has problems with her teeth, but can't afford a dentist. (TASS doesn't have a dental plan? What the hell kind of union are these Commies even running?!!?!?!) Stan warmly says they'll take care of it, and she's so relieved she actually giggles her thanks.
It's such a sweet moment that it's impossible not to start speculating about what horrible calamity is going to end up ruining this poor woman's life.
Cancelling A Visit: The Best-Case Scenario
Having suggested to Philip that they delay their returns to Kansas, Elizabeth calls Ben from a pay phone to break the bad news. Ben sounds sincerely disappointed...
...and Elizabeth is pleased to know, Mississippi floozy or no, Ben's as into "Brenda" as Elizabeth secretly is into him. She sighs that she's being detained with work bullshit, which she crabs isn't as important as what Ben does, "saving millions of lives." Ben shrugs off her characterization of his work, since he hasn't saved them yet, but Elizabeth insists: "At least you're trying. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone wants to." But it would be a better world if everyone who has to be a spy could be more like Ben, right Elizabeth? Maybe even...you?
Cancelling A Visit: The Worst-Case Scenario
Elsewhere, Philip makes the same call to Deirdre, who DOES NOT CARE EVEN ONE LITTLE BIT.
When she's silent on the other end of the line, he babbles amiably to fill the silence with excuses she clearly does not care to hear until she finally tells him she's not mad, but she's done with him: "I've been really trying, but I just don't see this going much further." Philip, who somehow has not seen this coming, yelps that they're just getting started and can't they just talking about this in person, but she's like, NOPE: "I won't change my mind. You're not right for me, and I know it....You're nice, you're really nice. But I just need someone more-- I don't know, assertive?" If only she knew!
Okay, fine, yes, there probably is a middle ground.
This Is A Very Weird Successories Poster
Elizabeth is still training Paige in self-defense, and though she seems to me to be pretty badass, Paige is frustrated by her slow progress and "sick of being scared." Elizabeth looks past her at a particular patch of more recent drywall...
...and decides the time is right to give her some motivation with a liberal dash of horror.
I was scared like that for a long time. When I was eighteen, a man-- I was raped. And I couldn't stop thinking about it. I didn't tell anyone for a very long time.
[getting up to hug her] Mom--
[pushing her away] No no no, Paige, no. Listen to me. The thing is: I trained. As hard as I could, every day. I imagined that man's face every time I fought, and the more I fought, the better I felt, 'til one day I knew no one was going to hurt me like that again. And I'm okay. I'm not afraid anymore. And you're not going to be either. Okay?
Lessons From My Wife's Boyfriend
Situation: As she and Philip get ready for bed, Elizabeth does a little tai chi, telling Philip Ben taught her and that it's relaxing.
What makes it awkward? Philip has to be like, mine dumped me because I wasn't aggressive enough. And then they actually have to review the game tape so that Philip doesn't fuck up next time. Her theory is that Philip was too scared to hurt someone's feelings -- I assume she means after Martha, but actually Elizabeth's gotten the idea that what est has taught Philip is that "people's feelings are more important than anything else? Isn't that what it is?" Philip says that's not it; est is about there being part of him he's never thought about. "And then a forty-six-year-old Logistics Manager kicks you out of bed," jokes Elizabeth. "We're not all as attractive as you, Elizabeth," he sighs. He's right -- duh -- but she disagrees: "But you are. You can get her back if you need to."
And THEN, Elizabeth announces that she told Paige she was raped. Guys, seriously, before bed I like to wind down with an old 30 Rock. Find the mid-'80s equivalent and treat yourself.
How is order restored? They get up the next day and keep doing the same stuff because they have no choice?
Wrap It Up
Elizabeth has a one-on-one with Claudia, who tells her that the side piece Evgheniya met when she was totally not even kind of at her students' pot luck is named Bruce Taubner, and that he's probably on his way to being the Deputy Chief of the CIA's Moscow station. "He's married, with two kids. The Center will probably want her back in Moscow with him so they can use the affair against him." Elizabeth says that Pasha's not doing well, and that Evgheniya's still resentful of having been moved to the U.S. in the first place: "We'll talk to Tuan. We're close to the family now." Claudia then just sits there in silence, so Elizabeth recognizes their shared humanity and tries to have a normal conversation, asking where she went. Claudia says she went back "home" for a while, to see her daughter and grandchildren, but the kids didn't know her, and she's obviously still wounded by it. Claudia, in turn, asks how things are for Elizabeth; she says, "Things have settled down. "And Paige?" asks Claudia. At Elizabeth's tension, she says she's not asking on behalf of The Center, but Elizabeth is still guarded; they're getting along, she says, adding, "Paige is figuring things out." Claudia asks what she wants for Paige, and Elizabeth says, "I want her to believe in something. I want her to care about things that matter." "Her mother's daughter," says Claudia, kindly. "I guess," shrugs Elizabeth. Claudia asks if that's what Philip wants, too, and she says they don't talk about it much: "We'll never see eye to eye on it." Claudia asks how things are for the two of them otherwise...
...and Elizabeth fixes Claudia with her steadiest liar's gaze as she assures her, "Things have been good." Fortunately, Claudia hasn't been read in on everything, and has no follow-ups on tai chi.
Philip calls Deirdre again and gets her machine. But this time he's not the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's really hoping makes it happen. He's the guy in the rated R movie -- you know, the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet: "Listen, I don't know how to say this, but I'm married, and things haven't been going well, and it's complicated, and I didn't want--" AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW, as soon as he drops THAT tidbit, Deirdre picks up! He's still got it.
And then the Eckerts have just finished telling Tuan about Mrs. Morozov's affair and what happens now: "The key is she should want to go back, think it's her decision." Tuan asks how they know the affair's even going to continue after she returns, but Elizabeth says that's The Center's problem once she's there. Tuan thinks for a moment, and then says there are some "real assholes" at school who torture Pasha; they go after Tuan sometimes too, but one of the guys likes him, so if Tuan got in with them and they all ganged up on Pasha, they could make his life so intolerable that Mrs. Morozov would insist on taking him home: Tuan is Pasha's one and only friend and lifeline at school. Philip cautions that they might just change schools, but maybe not if he was miserable enough. "It could work," says Tuan quietly. I feel like a lot of viewers are going to find it almost harder to watch than the actual murders since...you know, most of us don't know what it's like to be murdered, but we do know what it's like to be ostracized, and the thought of people assembling a planning committee to do it to you is really inhuman and awful. ANYWAY: Elizabeth and Philip briskly say they'll be back Thursday, but Tuan tells them again that they need to spend more time at the house: "It hasn't been a problem yet, but it will be." I still just think Tuan is mostly lonely. Move in his grandma Claudia and you could help two lonely people out of their isolation!
Elizabeth stops Paige morosely flipping through the channels by suggesting a walk, where she asks if Paige is upset about Matthew. "It's fine, I'm fine," says Paige. "He was just a boy and I don't even want to be with him. It's silly." "No, it isn't," says Elizabeth (even though it kind of is). Paige changes the subject to the one she probably hasn't stopped thinking about since she first found out about it: "Do you still think about it? What happened to you?" "No," says Elizabeth. "Not ever?" asks Paige. "I mean, I guess sometimes I do," says Elizabeth. "I feel like I don't know how I could ever get over that," says Paige. "Other things become more important," says Elizabeth. Paige guesses she means her job, and Elizabeth says she also means Paige and Henry. (Less so Henry, I assume.) Paige asks if Elizabeth likes what she does, and Elizabeth says what she's kind of been saying for the whole episode: "I wish I didn't have to do it, but I'm proud to help my country." "If you didn't have to serve your country like this, what would you do?" asks Paige. "I never thought about it much," says Elizabeth, before admitting she'd be a doctor. Elizabeth's like, "What's wrong with that?" and Paige yips, "You have no bedside manner, Mom!" "That's true," says the very self-aware Elizabeth. "But I'd do it somewhere they really needed my help. In the Third World somewhere, where maybe it wouldn't matter if I wasn't so perfect at that." But the tragedy is that, unlike Ms. Kovalenko's son, Elizabeth didn't get the chance to dream of all the ways she could be of service to the Soviet Union, and to humanity. If Elizabeth ever ends up in a lab coat and stethoscope, there'll also be a very unconvincing wig.