The Americans Send Gabriel Home
But does Commie Grandpa effectively impart his wisdom before he goes?
On The Menu
What's On The Menu At The Safe House?
At the end of the last episode, Paige clapped eyes on Gabriel for the first time in her entire life. Now it's time for some very awkward socializing!
Ice Scream: Paige is frozen with nerves.
Looks like he regrets all of this.
Tea: It gets spilled pretty much immediately: after Gabriel small-talks that he's been looking forward to meeting Paige after hearing so much about her, Paige gets right into the big talk, asking where Gabriel met her parents (in D.C., years ago); whether Gabriel's also a spy ("Yes," he tells her frankly).
Heroes: Gabriel acknowledges that Paige has been through it this year finding out all the things her parents were keeping from her: "To you, they're just your parents. They probably drive you crazy -- because they have driven me crazy from time to time. But to us, they're honestly heroes. They've saved a lot of lives. Marx says if we choose to work for all mankind, no burdens can bring us down, because our sacrifices are then for the benefit of all, and your parents have sacrificed a lot for others. They've stood for something larger than themselves, and that takes courage."
Just what every teenager loves to hear: your parents might have let you down, but they did it for the sake of the world's largest socialist state -- but hey, if they do everything right, you can go back to the Motherland and give up all your decadent blue jeans for good! Gabriel also says that Paige has shown courage by asking for the truth and facing it, but it's easier for him to say not having had a ringside seat to all the whining and Pastor-tattling.
Incremental Progress Progresses Incrementally
Elizabeth, in a new disguise, returns to the shrink's office after hours, goes up in the elevator while Norm distracts the security guard at the front desk, lets herself in with the key she made, and achieves her mission.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Back It Up, Corporal Clinger
Over Chinese food at Deirdre's, "Alex" tries to make conversation about taking her advice and getting Lotus 1-2-3 approved for his office, and whether she's ever lived with anyone, since she basically has enough dishes for herself and that's it. Deirdre, who could not be making it any clearer that she's not interested in chatting, abruptly asks whether he's planning on moving to Topeka. Philip says he isn't, but asks what if he did? "Mmm, probably this would end," she tells him. Philip:
It's hilarious how Philip's pegged Deirdre as another Poor Martha when she's kiiiiind of the exact opposite. He asks why she'd dump if he moved there, and she tells him, "I just want to be together like two normal people right now." He earnestly says he does too, and when she still can't be bothered even to make eye contact, he asks what's up, and she replies, "You're not great at letting things take their course. I mean, anybody could see that about you -- you just kind of need. A lot." Philip, thrown, mumbles that he just likes her, and she's like, then stop worrying about all this. "Okay, sorry," he says. "Good," she says curtly. "Do you want to have sex?" I'm not sure he actually does, after all that? But he sticks to the script, says yes, and mentally calculates how much longer he's now going to have to wait before asking her more useful stuff about her company and its superwheat, and how many of her grim sex faces he's going to have to gaze upon in the interim.
Alert Type: Counter-Intelligence Alert.
Issue: Stan and Aderholt are still working on that nibble they got last week from Ms. Kovalenko: she calls them to set up another meeting, at which she expresses some interest in passing on information from TASS, where she works, in exchange for lots of the U.S. government's money. She's nervous about the risk, and while Aderholt tries to be reassuring about their ability to protect her from discovery and what they would do to safeguard her son, Stan -- an actual father plus also the guy whose sunny promises ended up putting Oleg in considerable danger -- opts not to try to convince her by minimizing the potential peril for both her and said son: "We can't promise asylum. And you're right, there are risks -- big risks. You get caught, you could spend the rest of your life in a Soviet Union prison. Or worse." Ms. Kovalenko emphatically tells Stan she needs to know her son will be safe, but Stan won't tell her what she wants to hear: "We can't guarantee his safety if that happens. No one can." "We'll do everything we can to keep you safe," Aderholt leaps in to say when Stan's barely finished his sentence. After she's scurried off without either agreeing or refusing to co-operate, Aderholt snorts, "Hey, do me a favour: when I'm on my deathbed, don't try to make me feel better....Just try to soft-pedal it a bit, okay?"
Complicating Factors: Stan may have stuck his neck out a liiiiiiiiittle too far for Oleg. Agent Wolfe brings Stan into the secure conference room to say the Deputy AG actually has, as Stan basically demanded, told the CIA to lay off Oleg. The bad news is that the Deputy AG also wants Stan transferred out of Counter-Intelligence.
Resolution: Agent Wolfe says he told the Deputy AG that would be inadvisable given that Stan's on an active op, and Ms. Kovalenko would get skittish if Stan suddenly disappeared, and that the Deputy AG agreed. Stan, flatly: "But after the operation...." "Let's worry about that when we have to worry about it," says Agent Wolfe. Translation: idk maybe we'll all be dead by then???
Spoiler: Having this conversation in the secure room might have been pointless.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Just Gabbing Like Girlfriends
I guess I can't really blame Paige for wanting to talk to her parents about their spy shit and nothing else ever: gossip is fun, and this is pretty much the hottest goss she's literally ever going to hear. She and Elizabeth have barely started discussing Gabriel's imminent departure -- Elizabeth thinks he's just tired: "It's a lot for a man his age" -- when Philip comes home from Topeka. She asks if he was "working on the grain thing," and after Philip flicks his eyes upward and Paige has said Henry's not there (duh), Philip says he was. Paige wants to know how it's going, and rather than say "My fake girlfriend is negging me hard," Philip says they're making progress. Paige peppers them with more questions: will they stop it? is that their job? I guess it's not worth saying that the fundamental assumptions on which the op rested have been disproved, so they just say they're trying and it takes time -- but Elizabeth really seems to be enjoying Paige's new opinion of them as the heroes Gabriel told Paige they are.
"I knew America did terrible things, but I never thought-- I mean, people's food!" goggles Paige. Elizabeth says she knows it's hard, but that the world doesn't work the way lots of people think it does. Paige -- a child of the '70s, after all -- asks why they don't take what they know to the press, as with Watergate: "Just let them expose it to the world! They'd have to stop then!" But Eliabeth says no one would believe them. Also, this isn't a show about sexy journalists! It's a show about sexy spies!!!
Situation: Paige is re-evaluating everything she thought she knew, some more. When she stops by the church to arrange to look after Baby Groovyhair so that Pastor and Mrs. Groovyhair can go see Terms Of Endearment (lol I hope meeting fucking Flap causes the Pastor to reconsider some of his fashion choices), he also asks Paige how she's doing. She says she's doing well: she's realized there are things more important than herself. Pastor Groovyhair says that's a good thing to know, and something many people never figure out: "Jesus spent His whole life teaching us that. And realizing it leads to empathy; empathy leads us to help others, to make sacrifices in our own life for the benefit of someone else." Oh hey -- has she been praying? Paige:
"Sometimes," she says, at the end of this full-body sigh. Believable!
What makes it awkward? Paige has decided that the sacrifice she needs to make is breaking up with Matthew, as her parents wanted her to do at the start of the season. When she goes over to the Beemans' to do it, Matthew kind of just whines at her to tell him what she wants out of their relationship that she's not getting. Elizabeth's daughter after all, she first seems disgusted that he's just willing to roll over and not fight for them; then, when he reaches for her wrist to stop her leaving...
...she pretty much just convinces him that she's She-Hulk or something. It's not great.
How is order restored? Paige returns to her empty house and regards the prop books Elizabeth has given her to make Das Kapital less conspicuous.
She's even figured out how to lie to an empty room. She's well on her way to follow her parents into...travel agency!
The Farm Team
Having determined earlier which field Ben's in Mississippi to check on, Elizabeth and Philip sneak onto it to dig up a superwheat plant, and to discuss her trifling fake boyfriend.I didn't think he was like that.You didn't buy his act anyway.No, but there was something about him that-- I thought that maybe--You liked him.No, I didn't like him.It's okay to care.No, it isn't, Philip. Not for me.[silently digs the plant all the way out and carefully bags it.]Can you imagine? They'll plant this back home and make better food out of it.I feel like one of the guys in the posters.
Wrap It Up
Elizabeth has potted the superwheat in a bronze pot, wrapped it in cellophane, tied it with a bow, and brought it over to Gabriel's to bring back to the Soviet Union with him -- oh, and to bask in his praise for the way she and Philip have raised Paige: "She doesn't think the world owes her happiness, which is no small accomplishment growing up in this country." "Sometimes I think we put too much on her," Elizabeth fishes, and Gabriel lets himself be caught: "Noooo. She has a big heart. She's not a quitter. She'll find her way." Elizabeth asks again why he's leaving, and he sighs, "It adds up. Some of it's okay, Elizabeth. Some of it isn't. But it adds up." Elizabeth, smiling sadly, asks what they're going to do without him, but Gabriel seems like he's not sure what he's going to do with himself: the only people he has left in the USSR are a cousin and a nephew. Oh, Gabriel, no. You forgot your good friend MARTHA! As Elizabeth squeezes Gabriel's hands, he tells her he'll be leaving that night: "Send your husband to say goodbye."
It's sweet. Particularly since she's obviously his favourite.
Elizabeth comes home to the news that Paige dumped Matthew and that it didn't go great. Elizabeth gently tells her, "I know how hard that must have been. I'm proud of you." The way to Elizabeth's heart? Showing you can stomp on someone else's without falling apart yourself.
Renee and Stan have rented Breaking Away, though Stan seems distracted -- maybe because Renee is telling some dumb story about her own trip to Bloomington and the time she skinny-dipped right where the scene they're watching was filmed. SAVE YOUR COMMENTS FOR THE END, RENEE. She finally notices Stan doesn't give a shit about her Pop-Up Videos fun facts and pauses it so he can tell her what's up; he declines...for a minute, before giving her a brief and highly redacted version of his work issues: though he doesn't give the details of his op, he does say he's working on something that is keeping his "boss's boss" from having him fired, for now. If Renee is collecting information on Stan, that seems like a pretty hot tip?
When Philip comes home, Elizabeth tells him the Matthew news, so he goes upstairs and actually gets onto the bed in case she wants, like, a hug or something? "Paige, I know how you feel," he says. "Like you're-- you're different from everyone else, right?" "It's, like, a million times worse than that, Dad," she mopes. "I felt that way before any of this." "Well, I still think you're a beautiful girl, and in time you'll get used to these things," he assures her. "Just like your tough-ass mom, not that she really had that many feelings to begin with," he does not add.
Oleg -- who told his mother earlier that his CIA problems seem to have evaporated (before getting emo about his dead brother some more) -- is at some kind of archive, where he's handed his mother's file. Other than her foxy old photo, we don't find out what's in it or why she went to that prison camp...yet! (It'll be pretty funny if it turns out that she was running tangerines.)
Philip starts out well at the safe house, telling Gabriel -- who seems like he's just been sitting there in silence since Elizabeth left (there's no law against reading a magazine, bro) -- "I'm sorry you're leaving. Really." "That's good of you to say," Gabriel replies. "We've had our ups and downs. I'm glad it's all ending on this," he adds, indicating the plant. "Something good." Philip sits heavily and looks pained as Gabriel tells him, "I doubt we'll ever see each other again." In light of that, I guess, Philip decides to get out all his questions while he still can: "You said when you were younger, you did terrible things. What things?" "When you signed up, how much did you know about what we did, before and after the war?" Gabriel asks. Philip says he didn't ask questions. "Well, it was bad," says Gabriel. "It was worse than you could imagine. People were shot, worked to death in the camps. Some were counter-revolutionaries, but some-- some hadn't done anything. Just people. I did it too." "Why?" Philip asks. Gabriel: "To set an example. Oh, who knows. The organization was filled with people who were scared and confused." "But not you," Philip mutters. "No," says Gabriel. "I believed I was acting in the service of a higher purpose, but I was just scared. It was terrible, terrible times, and a lot of us-- a lot of us didn't make it out of it."
"I have to go," says Gabriel, getting up and putting the plant in a bag. When he's gotten to the door, Philip blurts, "Is Stan Beeman's new girlfriend one of us?"
"Are you serious? You're losing it, Philip." "That's not an answer, Gabriel," says Philip, saving me the trouble. "NO," spits Gabriel. Philip:
"It's possible The Centre wouldn't tell me because they knew you'd ask me this question," Gabriel admits. "As far as I know, she is not one of us." But he's still disgusted, which may be why the last thing he tells Philip is very different from the praise he heaped on Paige when he talked to Elizabeth before.
"You were right about Paige. She should be kept out of all of this."
And Philip is reminded that sometimes it's actually awful to be right. Like when events may have been set in motion, your daughter's life is on its way to being ruined, and you just pissed off the one guy who might help you in his very last minute in your company.