The Americans Have A New Awareness Of The Fragility Of Human Life
Elizabeth's icy professionalism is challenged when Philip introduces her to the concept of 'morality' in our latest EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP!
A bunch of Season 6 previouslies -- and, yes, once again we see Philip bring the fire axe down as if anyone's stopped picturing it since it happened -- leave us back again with Philip, pondering his life's imponderables in the den and waiting for Elizabeth to come home. Considerately, she doesn't make us wait as long as she did him, and when she addresses him, she's still as tender and concerned as she was when she went to see him in his office...at first! She tells him she knows Chicago was hard. That's not what he wants to talk about. She promises, "I won't need you again," which, I know what she means in the context of their former relationship as colleagues, but in terms of the other relationship they're in together, it's hard not to hear it as ominous. "I don't care about that, Elizabeth," says Philip, sounding irritated. "But you do," she insists. "And I know that you worry. Don't. Philip, I know what I'm doing." "Do you?" he asks. "You're wearing a cyanide pill around your neck." (It's more like she's wearing it in her décolletage, if we're being specific; it's not like it's a string of cyanide pearls.) Elizabeth declines to answer this, and after a long silence, Philip says he has to tell her something. Elizabeth's shoulders fall with a silent sigh as she prepares herself to be barraged with more of Philip's feelings, but it turns out there is no preparing for him to tell her about Oleg (not that Philip says his name, duh); Oleg's attempts to block the people at The Centre "who want to get rid of Gorbachev"; and Philip's collaboration with him. When she asks what Philip told Oleg, he starts by saying he described her as "the most dedicated, loyal person ever to serve the organization."
If this was intended to mollify Elizabeth -- like when you start a generally negative performance review by listing the crappy employee's strengths ("I admire how you never bring the job home with you!" etc.) -- it doesn't work, as she nonverbally cues him to get on with it, and he admits that he told Oleg about the sensor, about Rennhull, about the Soviet negotiator she thinks is a traitor (not that he knows Nesterenko's name), and that she was going to Chicago.
The last one is particularly alarming: after all, if Elizabeth doesn't know whom Philip's talking to, she doesn't know if this stranger's feeding intel to the Americans, meaning her barely loose lips could have led to Harvest's death. But right now she needs to focus on Philip's treachery, bitterly recalling all the times he pretended to be so worried about her, but that it was just to get information. Philip talks over her to say he was worried about what her handlers were asking her to do. "Go to hell, Philip," she spits. Philip doesn't back down, challenging, "Breland? Rennhull? That couple with the kid? It was just one thing after another. I wasn't sure if you knew why you were doing any of it." Elizabeth asks how long Philip's been talking to Oleg, and he admits that it's been a couple of months. She can't believe it, and grits that he should have told her. He says he tried, which, did he? Elizabeth's with me: "You love to talk. If you really wanted to tell me, you would've done it." Philip quietly says, "I was trying to help you. Us." "Us" people in the marriage? "Us" Soviets? Does she make that distinction? Does he think she does? They don't delve into that as Elizabeth yells, "Oh, BULLSHIT." "You may not agree with everything that Gorbachev is doing, but he is trying to make things better," says Philip, as though now is the time to talk politics. "You lied to me for months because of Gorbachev?" Elizabeth demands, like...seriously, dude: not the play. "We've always done exactly what they tell us to do," says Philip. "I was trying to get you to think....To ask questions." P sure you have her confused with the professor from Deutschland 83, my man. "To be a human being about these things," Philip adds. Elizabeth is astonished to learn that Philip may think she's not a human being, and after a long beat, he claims that's not what he's saying. She stares until he goes on: "I always-- I would do anything for you. I did, I just did. But not anymore. And you do whatever you want, but please, some of these things? We believed in something so big. And they tell us what to do and we do it. I get it, that's how it works. But we do it. We do it. Not them. So it's on us. All of it." Elizabeth swallows hard, and while one can imagine there is an argument she could make about ends justifying means, she's just been dealing with one catastrophe after another all season and she was pretty fucking tired to begin with, so her PowerPoint on the finer policy matters on which she differs with Gorbachev enough to require various people's grisly deaths will have to be presented another day.
After the credits, Elizabeth's in her film nerd drag, having lunch with a middle-aged white dude. When said dude looks over her shoulder and spots Jackson walking in, he fake-checks his watch and fake-wraps things up with her, so that she can be efficiently striking things off her agenda when Jackson, awkwardly zhuzhing an obviously brand-new gray suit, comes over to her table. She brightly greets him, ordering him to call her not "Ms. Gallagher" but Wendy, or she might barf, and into his wheezy donkey guffaw she says she's sorry she can't stay for lunch after all. He's been thinking a lot about the management training program at McIlraith, and has decided it could be really great for him, and get him out of Marietta. Elizabeth effusively talks up the program, saying it will take him around the world and introduce him to other people who care about culture. He hands over his CV, which she pretends to read before telling him she needs him to write up a report on what he's been doing in Nunn's office, focusing on what's important to the senator -- "The more detail, the better" -- so people at McIlraith can see how observant and organized Jackson is. Jackson starts getting shifty-eyed, so Elizabeth assures him that everyone who'll read the report has "clearances," so whatever he writes is fine. Sure, sounds legit, why wouldn't it be, hey Jackson, make sure you include any of Nunn's ATM PINs you might have observed, too.
Over to the Vault for an FBI status update. Warrants have been obtained for the garages. A suspect priest is being called in for questioning. Stan's still going through car paperwork. The FBI hasn't forgotten about Oleg...but they don't have anything new to say about him, either.
At Claudia's, Paige, Claudia, and Elizabeth watch Gorbachev give a speech about the INF treaty. "It's so weird that he's here," comments Paige, pointlessly. Seeming to realize as she's saying it that it might be a stupid question, Paige asks Claudia whether she ever met Gorbachev, to which Claudia, freighting the answer with a lot of dark meaning, drawls a "No" that's a full second long. Paige asks if Claudia's "finished" now that the treaty's being signed, but Claudia says that START is next: "The work never ends." This gives the current phase of the conversation a natural ending, so Elizabeth asks Paige to excuse them. When she's gone, Claudia expresses her condolences about Marilyn. Elizabeth nods, and changes the subject to a meeting she saw in Haskard's calendar, on the second day of the summit; Nesterenko will be the only Soviet in attendance, and she plans to put a listening device in Haskard's briefcase.
Buuuuuut something something plans God laughs. Elizabeth, in "Stephanie" drag, arrives at the Haskard house to find it eerily silent. When she goes upstairs, she sees Erica loudly and painfully wheezing as Haskard sits on the bed next to hers, leaning over her. At Elizabeth's arrival, he wastes no time: "I did it. I did it. Something went wrong. You said this was going to happen. It's my fault. It's just-- I couldn't wait." He gave Erica all the morphine he'd been saving, after Erica begged him to; she's been in her current state since the day before, but no one's seen her. He was going to call the hospital, but he decided to wait for "Stephanie." Elizabeth firmly tells him, "That was good." "Why isn't she dying?" asks Haskard gruffly. "Her system's built up a tolerance," says Elizabeth, her voice breaking almost imperceptibly. Haskard nods, in agony: "I waited too long. I knew I waited too long. I'm so selfish. I had to go to my goddamn meetings. She said so! She was hurting so much she actually said that to me. And she was right! I called my office, said I'm done! I can't come in anymore! Then I-- I gave it to her. Now this." Elizabeth's face goes hard as she regards Erica; then she tells Haskard, "It's going to be all right." He cries, shaking his head, as Elizabeth steadily tells him to say goodbye to Erica. When he doesn't move, Elizabeth orders, "Say goodbye, then leave." Haskard sniffles and leans over Erica, kissing her lips and forehead and taking a last look at her face before leaving Elizabeth to her grim work.
When Haskard's gone, Elizabeth moves over to a side table by Erica's easel and takes a brush out of a jar. As Haskard did, she lays a gentle hand on Erica's forehead, smoothing her hair back and looking around, for what must be the hundredth time, at all of Erica's work, ending with the large Olympia Dukakis (yes, I know, it can't possibly be her) leaning against the wall in the corner, and the last piece Erica was working on, abandoned on a table nearby. Elizabeth gives her patient a kiss on the forehead, takes a deep breath, puts her palm on Erica's chin to open her jaw, and then sticks the brush -- bristles first -- into Erica's mouth. Erica soon starts choking and gagging, spitting up a mouthful of extremely bright green bile, but Elizabeth remains steady, clamping her fingers around the brush handle to hold it in as Erica starts to come out of whatever morphine stupor she'd been in and her body's physical survival instincts take over. Elizabeth holds Erica's nostrils closed as Erica continues to struggle and flail, but before too long, her body relaxes and she dies. Elizabeth pulls out the brush and perfunctorily wipes the vomit off with a rag before snapping the handle in half and placing the pieces in her tunic pocket. With the same rag, she cleans the sick off Erica's face. And that's a slimy series wrap on Miriam Shor. At least they can bury Erica with her hands, unlike some other ladies who've spent time in this house that I could mention.
...And, okay, I guess I wasn't the only one thinking about Marilyn's disembodied hands because when Elizabeth comes downstairs and tells Haskard it's done, she goes right past a piece of 3D art that's a pair of hands, with dainty, tapered fingers, on a board. TOO SOON, SET DEC. Anyway, Elizabeth says that Haskard should go spend some time with Erica while he still can, and as soon as he's gone, she makes the best of his bereavement-related gold-bricking by opening his briefcase and photographing the policy pages she finds in the folder on top.
Back in the Vault, agents are comparing police sketches of Philip and Elizabeth, in various disguises, that witnesses have generated over the years. Given that different artists have produced these drawings, it's kind of hard to compare them -- or, I guess, it would be for the FBI agents who don't have the benefit of watching this show. Aderholt's like, "Well, they're either all the same people, or all different people." NO MYSTERY HOW THIS GUY GOT TO BE THE HEAD OF THE DIVISION!
Elizabeth's taking a moment to gaze at the large painting hanging over the living room couch when Haskard calls for her to come back up. Once he's confirmed that Erica is really most sincerely dead, he sighs and tells Elizabeth, "Pick one." Startled, she says she can't, but he says it's important to him that she take one. Her eye is caught by a couple of different pieces, but of course comes to rest on the one we all knew she'd take. And this is BEFORE Steel Magnolias! (Yes, yes, it's not really her, probably.)
When we next see Elizabeth, she's carefully wrestling the painting -- which looks completely different in daylight -- into the back of her station wagon. Speaking as someone who recently tried to get a pointer/Dane mix's traveling crate into the back seat of a small rental sedan -- and failed! -- it's extremely relatable.
In the Secret Offsite Garage Of Spycraft Featuring The Wig Depository, and back in her own clothes (including a pair of sleek leather trousers that would look good on Keri Russell and probably four other people alive today), Elizabeth stares at Erica's painting, moved and disturbed. From a bench, she retrieves a pair of pliers and turns the painting over to pull out the staples holding the canvas to the frame. When she's separated the materials, she shakes the canvas out onto the floor, but when she flicks a lighter at the corner of the piece, she falters, instead rolling it up, folding it in half, and stuffing it into her "locker," inside an air vent. However, she's only taken a few steps before she silently decides she's being ridiculous, turns back around, shakes the canvas out again, and lights it on fire, standing back to watch as flames at the two nearest corners consume it. Guess you can't really justify the risk inherent in preserving this whole painting when two days ago you saw your husband, the failing travel agent, remove some human body parts to keep your secret. And that's a series wrap on this likeness of a young Olympia Dukakis. ...I KNOW IT ISN'T.
"Wendy" opens a hotel room door to Jackson, reedily waiting in the hall. With a literal "Ta-daaaaa!," she surprises him with a gift: a briefcase, to replace the beat-up old messenger bag that definitely can't join him in his new life as a McIlraith management trainee. It's even monogrammed! He's dorkily grateful. She invites him into the suite, saying it's kind of chaotic, and since he's looking away when she picks up a garment off the couch to reveal the pair of slinky turquoise underpants she'd planted underneath, she makes sure to draw his attention with a "yikes!" After checking that he drinks -- "I don't want to corrupt you!" -- and being assured that he's twenty-one, she pours them each a whiskey as he says he brought a VHS copy of The Big Heat. Elizabeth's past having to dick around pretending to care about film, though: the time has come to LITERALLY dick around, which she attends to with great efficiency. She passes on a compliment from her colleague about Jackson's report -- that he's "a great writer": now he's earned professionals' respect for his work in a creative-adjacent pursuit. She asks him not to tell anyone he's been accepted into the program until he gets the official offer next week: now they have a secret. She tells him how McIlraith made her "a grownup" by giving her the opportunity to travel all over the world: now they're peers. "Thank God I went to Rififi," Jackson jokes. She laughs too hard, saying he made her look good, too: "Believe me, at my age." "I don't think you need to worry about that," he mumbles shyly. "What?" she asks, cocking her head and raising her eyebrows. "Oh! Hey!" Jackson stammers that he didn't mean it that way, and she chuckles, "Oh, you didn't? Well, that's sad." He backpedals: "I mean, I did, I just--" "What," she purrs. "You what, Jackson." Even this nitwit can tell a green light when he gets one, and he leans in to kiss her, smackily. Seduction accomplished!
Back in the subdivision, Stan flips through photo albums before coming upon a shot of him with the Jenningses that's so old, Sandra's in it. He peels back the plastic film and has just pulled the snapshot out of the book when Renee comes home, suggesting they go out for Thai food. And when she checks the mail...hey! She has an interview for a job in the FBI's personnel department next week! Stan's excited for her, and when she nervously asks what she'll be asked about, he assures her that it's the same kind of thing that would come up wherever she interviewed, plus whether she's "a loyal American, and if [she] can keep a secret." She sure as hell seems to have nailed the latter. What! Is! Her! DEAL?!
The next morning, Jackson's eating room service breakfast in bed as "Wendy" hurries to get ready for her day, which is packed. In fact, it's so packed...could she ask him a favour? But then, he probably can't just get into the State Department. Jackson cockily says he can get in anywhere, so she produces a box and tells him to bring it to Room 6226 and just put it in a corner -- maybe with a piece of Nunn's stationery on top with "Fred Sperber DOD" on it so no one takes it. She crawls in for a kiss, promising to see him later, and fleeing his donkey laugh as fast as she can without causing suspicion.
At the travel agency, Philip is morosely calculating and gazing through the glass at all the newly empty desks in the bullpen when he decides now is the time to touch base with Henry. Unfortunately, Henry is either actually at hockey practice or dodging his failing father's calls.
And then Stan is at a Roy Rogers, re-introducing himself to the counter guy, Curtis. Warily, Curtis says he remembers Stan (and his badge), but Stan says Curtis isn't in any trouble: he just has some questions -- about his former known associate Gregory, from way back in Season 1, and Gregory's old lady. Stan produces the old photo of Elizabeth, asking if this was the woman Gregory was hanging out with, and Curtis hesitantly says Gregory didn't bring her around much, so he's not sure. Stan asks whether Curtis remembers anything about this woman, and Curtis thinks before saying she was beautiful: "Had incredible hair, like those Vidal Sassoon ads?" Before calling in an APB on Rayna Jaymes, Stan asks if there's anything else, and Curtis recalls, "She smoked like a chimney." The camera slowly pushes in on Stan so we can all see him remembering the flower pot full of butts on the Jenningses' deck, and then Curtis gets back to work -- but first, sets a bag of food in front of Stan to thank him for treating him well back then. (a) I know Stan is a decent guy; I don't need this tertiary character of colour to fluff him as a woke cop. But (b) a bag of Roy Rogers is about all the reward any cop deserves for not racistly ruining a person's whole life just because he can.
"Wendy" calls Jackson from a pay phone to say, after all that, her client's meeting was cancelled, so could Jackson swing back and retrieve that box for her? He sure could!
Philip sadly trudges up a hallway in an apartment building and knocks on a door, which is soon opened by...Stavos, whose only greeting for Philip is an extremely appropriate sigh of disgust. Philip asks if he may come in, and Stavos is like, "No." STAVOS SPINOFF, PLEASE. Philip nods, and presses forward anyway: he just wants Stavos to know how sorry he is. Okay, I know Philip isn't a real capitalist, but still, this is gross. Don't go begging for absolution from THE GUY YOU FIRED ON THANKSGIVING EVE, DICK! "You said this at the office," Stavos reminds him impatiently. Philip nods again, and says, "You were there from the beginning, Stavos. It's not like you don't mean anything to us. You do." I mean, if the point of this scene is to make my skin crawl at how awkward and inappropriate all of this is, then it's an A+, because I HATE IT. Stavos may feel the same -- that Philip means something to him -- but as THE WRONGED PARTY, that's for him to tell Philip at the time of his choosing; Philip doesn't get to just show up places and impose his feelings on people he fucked over when they might be trying to get over it. Philip makes things worse by talking more: "And you probably look at me and you think I'm doing great, with all these fancy clothes and the nice car and the agency's remodel, but the truth is, we're in trouble. And I don't know if the business is going to survive. And we're doing pretty bad, personally, financially." You guys, this next one is like a kick to the solar plexus: "In a way, it is better you got out earlier than later. You can start to look for a job." FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU. Stavos is much more decorous than I (or possibly too shocked by how gauche this whole visit is to give voice to his true feelings), and says, "I started working for you when the business was small! I watched your kids grow up! Whatever was going on in the back room? I never called the police."
Philip blanches and tries not to swallow his tongue. "I never said anything to anyone," Stavos whispers hoarsely. "And I never will. I was raised to be loyal." With that perfect closer, he takes a step back and closes the door in Philip's face, leaving him to consider that Stavos's currently precarious financial situation is also, as Philip himself might put it in conversation with Elizabeth, ON HIM, and also that he could have just lived with his guilt about firing Stavos and NEVER MADE THIS VISIT AT ALL.
"Wendy" is smoking and waiting for Jackson, whom she soon spots walking up the street with her box (heh) and looking shell-shocked. Elizabeth either doesn't notice his visible upset or thinks she can flirt her way through it, crowing, "My knight in shining armour!" Jackson doesn't say anything in response, forcing her to acknowledge his emotional state, but when he has nothing to say to her "what?" either, she puts her smile back on for the sake of nosy passersby and tells him to get into her car, which he does, keeping the box on his lap. As she starts driving, "Wendy"'s fun, sexy voice drops into a more Elizabethan register to mutter, "What, Jackson. I'm not a mind reader." Jackson's stressed enough for his Marietta accent to come back and his voice to break like a middle-schooler's as he tells her, "When I picked up your documents, there was this meetin' going on, in 6226, about water resources in Ghana. It was really packed, and so then I went in, and I got the stuff out of the corner, and then on the way out, I noticed on the clipboard by the door that they'd-- they had been in there since 11 o'clock, and that there was just one meeting before them, some, like, Summit thing." "So?" asks Elizabeth. "Well, there was no cancelled meetings," says Jackson. "Well, I don't know the way the rooms work at State, Jackson," says Elizabeth, shrugging. But Jackson, almost as white as his shirt, has more, opening the box: "Well, I looked at the files." He pulls out a sheaf held together with a binder clip, into which a rectangular nest has been neatly cut for a small tape recorder to rest in. Elizabeth takes a surprisingly long time to come up with an excuse for this one, but manages to recover and tell him it's not a big deal. "YOU HAD ME BUG A MEETING AT THE STATE Department!" yelps Jackson, thinking to lower his voice by the end of the sentence in case the recorder is still on. "'Bug a meeting,'" she laughs. "Okay, first of all, the meeting never happened, right? And secondly, my client was supposed to be there. This is, like, a way of taking notes." Jackson sputters that it's illegal, but Elizabeth continues waving off all his concerns: "My client wanted the details of a meeting to help prepare a bid for a contract. I know you're young and that might seem strange because you've never done it before, but this is the real world! I mean, this is what you do to get a competitive edge." "So then that's what the police would call this, a competitive edge?" yips Jackson.
Elizabeth tells him to hang on a second and pulls off the road, parking in an alley. Jackson starts losing it, demanding to know who Elizabeth is and what's going on. Elizabeth calmly says she knows Jackson's "a sensitive guy," which he denies: "I am not sensitive and I am not an idiot either, okay? People don't do this! I know: my father is in business. He would not do this! I will call him right now and ask him, okay?" He opens his door, at which Elizabeth grabs his other forearm, apparently with enough force to startle him. "Close the door," she orders, in her sternest Elizabeth tone. He does, but keeps himself as far away from her as he can and still be in the car as he mumbles, "I wanna go." Still holding his arm, Elizabeth suddenly finds that her natural instinct to kill this impediment to her goals is being overridden by Philip's cold open speech about what choices are on her, morally.
As Jackson watches Elizabeth watching him, it seems like he knows he might be facing mortal danger right now -- I honestly don't doubt that's how strong her grip is -- but Elizabeth, uncharacteristically, gives him a chance: "Listen to me. Don't mention this to your father. You're old enough now to keep some things to yourself. Don't mention this to anybody. Do you understand?" "Can I go?" he grunts. "Tell me that you understand," Elizabeth orders. "I don't understand!" says Jackson helplessly. The camera switches to a shot of the whole car from up the alley so we think we're about to be spared a close-up kill shot, but when we get back into the car, Elizabeth just stares at Jackson a while longer, and then the better angels of Philip's nature take over her body, and she lets go of him: "Go back to school. Enjoy your last semester. And go into the pavement business. I don't think McIlraith is the right fit for you." She actually shrinks away from him a little before yelling, "GO!" Jackson scrambles out of the car and hauls ass up the alley, leaving Elizabeth to catch her breath and make sense of what she just didn't do.
And then Philip is in a men's store fancy enough for there to be classical music playing, grimly trying on a suit under the solicitous gaze and plentiful compliments of the attending salesman. Trying to look like less of a failure for his meeting with Henry's friend's successful dad to receive helpful business advice? Or just straightening up to head back to the bank and go full capitalist by taking on even more debt?
Back in the Secret Offsite Garage Of Spycraft Featuring The Wig Depository, Elizabeth takes off her Wendy makeup and listens to the tape from the meeting. It's Nesterenko, telling the other officials in attendance that Gorbachev asked him to convey the message that he was completely sincere in what he told Reagan at their earlier summit in Reykjavik: his goal is the total elimination of nuclear weapons, so he's opposed to SDI, though not yet prepared to disavow it publicly. Nesterenko has, however, been authorized to tell the people present at this meeting that if they "agree to complete nuclear disarmament, he will drop all opposition to SDI....Full elimination: this is his greatest dream. For his legacy, for President Reagan -- for the world."
This does not seem to be what Elizabeth expected this supposed traitor to say!
Falling in step with her at a park, Claudia tells a smoking Elizabeth, "You smoke too much." "So I've been told," Elizabeth drawls. Claudia asks about Haskard's briefcase, but Elizabeth tells her she couldn't plant a bug in it what with Erica's death and all and had to get into the meeting via Jackson -- and also that Nesterenko didn't say anything suspect. "Doesn't matter," says Claudia evenly. "We got new orders. You need to take care of him. Today or tomorrow." Elizabeth says nothing, but takes another drag on her cigarette as the two take diverging forks on the path. I THINK it might be symbolic!
Philip, minimally disguised in glasses and a blond mullet wig barely visible under a watch cap, walks up a street and into a video store, where he chooses a tape. Given his current mood, it probably should be Ghostbusters or something just as mindless, but we all know it won't be.
Elizabeth, in a new disguise that's very Generic Washington Wife, stakes out the building where Nesterenko's been working, and soon sees him come out with a couple of colleagues. She gets out of the car with a large knife folded into a section of newspaper, which she tucks under her arm, but when she gets close enough to stab Nesterenko, she either changes her mind or loses her nerve -- maybe both! -- and walks on...
...seeming confused that her mind has overruled her body's training once again.
And at home, Philip puts the tape in the VCR and prepares to watch it on the tiny, tiny TV. Not so long ago it wasn't safe to keep zharkoye in the house, but sure, go ahead and rent a Russian movie, why don't you.
Elizabeth is waiting in the apartment when Claudia returns. "I didn't do it," Elizabeth informs her. "Nesterenko." When Claudia asks what happened, Elizabeth responds with a question of her own: did Claudia listen to the tape? "He seems like a decent man," Elizabeth opines, "not a traitor. We haven't seen or heard him do anything to prove--" "It needs to be done," says Claudia simply. Elizabeth doesn't know what she means. "It needs to be done whether you're convinced or not," says Claudia, coming into the room to sit across from Elizabeth. "I've been protecting you. We protect you from knowing everything so you can do your job. But if you've lost your confidence--" "I haven't lost my confidence," Elizabeth says, disgustedly. "Then what?" Claudia asks. After a beat, Elizabeth haltingly says, "I just-- This time, I need to know!" Claudia replies, "Back home, we have a leader who has no sense of our history. No sense of our ideals, no sense of how we've sacrificed to build a great nation and the price we've paid. He's giving it all away. Some right here, this week, to the Americans. Some back home, month by month, week by week. It's almost too late to stop him." Aghast, Elizabeth asks what this has to do with Nesterenko. "After you've taken care of him," says Claudia, "we'll make a slight alteration to the reports you've been making on him so it appears he was trading away a highly classified defense program for Gorbachev." "They told me you didn't know about that," Elizabeth breathes. "We were protecting you," says Claudia, adding, "I'm sure you understand there's a chance that this could go badly. As long as you didn't know all of these details, nothing would happen to you. If it didn't work out, you were just doing your job." Elizabeth squints: "And if it does work out?" "We quietly take these reports to certain members of the Central Committee, key military leaders, and regional Party secretaries who understand the situation we're in," Claudia tells her. "Enough of them will be outraged. Gorbachev will be removed! He probably won't even come back home." Elizabeth, still quietly horrified, asks, "So: Mexico. Everything. It was all this. To get rid of Gorbachev." "We also had to get Dead Hand to work," Claudia adds, casually. "I'm sure you understand that." Elizabeth asks who ordered this, and Claudia tells her it was The Centre: "The very top leaders there are all behind this. They're also working with certain high-level military leaders, like your friend from Mexico." "But not the Party," says Elizabeth hoarsely. Claudia shrugs: "We're all in the Party!" For a party, it doesn't seem like much fun. "I won't do it," says Elizabeth. "I can't make you do anything," says Claudia. "But, Elizabeth, keep quiet. After all these years serving your country, don't throw it all away now."
If I were Claudia, and had been handling Elizabeth for a matter of years, I would be very worried about finding myself on the receiving end of one of Elizabeth's hardest looks. Also: but so then is Elizabeth's refusal to follow this order what will activate Renee to do it instead? FINALLY?????
Back to Philip, and his movie -- The Garage, which apparently is a comedy, though what we see of it revolves around a public meeting at a co-op over whether its members should disagree with "the board," so...a comedy like Transparent is a comedy, I guess.
As Philip watches the movie, Stan watches Philip -- or, to be precise, watches the Jennings house, with its lights on at night, for once. When Renee comes in to ask what Stan's looking at, he claims, "The moon," and she agrees that it's pretty tonight. (It's fine.) She asks if he's coming to bed, but apparently he's got more moon watching to do. And right on cue, Elizabeth's car pulls into the drive.
At the house, Elizabeth lets herself in from the garage, pointedly waits for Philip to pause the tape, and tells him, "I need to talk to your guy." Philip is shocked, and asks why. "Just tell me how to get in touch with him," she demands. "Dead drop," says Philip wearily. Elizabeth frowns, saying he had told her they met, but Philip says Oleg's being watched now. Undeterred, Elizabeth orders him to give her the contact plan. "What do you want to say to him?" he asks. Elizabeth frowns and swallows. Philip waits, and when she doesn't answer, tries, "Look--" "No," she interrupts. Philip looks surprised by this rudeness, like the cold open FROM THIS EPISODE never happened or something, and gets up as he says he was "just trying to figure out the best way to deal with all this crap." "And you settled on betraying me?" she spits. "I was putting our country first, which is what you would have done," he answers, just a little sarcastic. "I'm sorry," he adds...maybe also sarcastic. "Can you get him a message for me," says Elizabeth flatly. "Yes," he replies. She blinks, and then, still looking away, says, "Tell him that what he's worried about is happening. The leaders at The Centre are trying to get rid of Gorbachev. Claudia just told me. They want me to kill that negotiator that I was worried about, Fyodor Nesterenko, but he's not bad. I've been watching him. They want to falsify my reports, make it seem like he's trading away a highly classified military system to the U.S., but he's not. Our people are working with the military, like that general I met with in Mexico, Kovtun. They want to get this done so that Gorbachev doesn't even come back from the summit." Elizabeth? Leave the recapping to the professionals. I don't come down to where you work and try to pull off leather pants. "Can you relay that message for me," she concludes, not asking. Philip says Oleg will have the message the next afternoon. Elizabeth says she has to go back out: "They might still go after this guy." Philip asks if she needs his help, because even though he said before that she wouldn't have it anymore, things are obviously different now. Elizabeth declines, and starts to take off, but Philip stops her to give her a note from Father Andrei that came while she was out. She can't go, and hands the note back, telling Philip to meet him: "Maybe he'll give you absolution." Hardcore atheist burn! If this means the whole next episode -- the penultimate one of the WHOLE SERIES -- is going to be an hour-plus-long re-flashback to that fucking secret wedding, I'm going to take a canvas of my own and light it on fire in FX's lobby.