Patrick Harbron / FX

The Americans Spin Murder For Their Dumb Wiener Kid

When events force Elizabeth to admit to Paige that the downtown vagrant wasn't quite the first person she ever killed, Aderholt starts unraveling the mail robot mystery, and Oleg gets cold feet about both Tatiana and biological warfare.

  • Plot Lightning Round
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    Philip and Henry are playing Defender (yes, the one from that great episode of NewsRadio) when Paige comes in from the garage, so visibly shaken that Philip is alarmed immediately. Elizabeth slides in behind her ready with a true enough cover story: she quickly says that they're okay, but that they almost just got mugged. She says they yelled and the guys ran away. Philip seems like he knows there's more to this that Henry doesn't need to hear, so when Paige and Elizabeth head upstairs, he tells Henry he's going too, to help Elizabeth settle Paige down. Good luck with that, bro, because...

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    ...Paige is FREAKING OUT. "He was dead! Was he dead?" "I don't know," Elizabeth (surely) lies. "There were two guys, one of them had a knife, and I had to, I--" Philip hugs Paige, but that's not going to help as she asks if they don't have to call the police. Philip:

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    Elizabeth reminds her idiot child that they can't do anything to draw attention to themselves. "Did you have to do that?" Paige squeaks at Elizabeth. Philip looks to Elizabeth like he'd also like to know the answer or if maybe Elizabeth just felt like going out for some wilding. "Yeah, I did," says Elizabeth.

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    Paige's eyebrows are practically vertical as she gasps that she feels sick. Philip quietly tells her it's okay, but does not underline his point by telling her the reassuring story of how he killed a kid when he was a pre-teen and hardly thinks about it constantly anymore at all!

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    After he's reported an abridged version of events to Henry, Philip comes back up with a glass of water for Paige and apologetically says he has to go out and meet "someone" for "work." Paige is still too shattered to try poking holes in his story and just nods sadly as he leaves.

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    As Elizabeth pets her ponytail, Paige asks, "How did you know how to do that?" "I was trained to defend myself," says Elizabeth, selectively. "Dad too?" asks Paige. Elizabeth nods. "It was just so fast, and I didn't even know what was happening, and he was just-- I was so scared," Paige babbles. Elizabeth says she knows. "And you didn't even seem upset after," says Paige. "How could you be calm? You-- You killed him, Mom." "I wasn't going to let him hurt you," says Elizabeth throatily, "and then it was just all happening so fast. I just--" "Have you done that before?" asks Paige. (Lol.) After a silence so long Paige has to be like, "HAVE YOU?!" Elizabeth finally admits, EVEN MORE SELECTIVELY, "To protect myself, yeah." To protect herself, to deal with people who can't shut up, for sport. You know. "How many times?" asks Paige. Elizabeth says she doesn't know, and that, at least, is probably true. Paige sighs, but has one more question: "Were you scared?"

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    Was Elizabeth scared that her life was in mortal danger? Probably not. Was she scared of exposing her skills to an unprepared Paige, under circumstances Elizabeth didn't control? Was she scared one of these punks would actually get his hands on Paige? Or was Elizabeth actually not scared at all, but strategic enough to know that saying she was will help calm Paige by making her feel like they're the same? Any/all of these could be true. Keri Russell is really a marvel. And she's acting for two!

  • Alert!
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    Domo Arigato

    Alert Type: Mail Robot Alert.

    Issue: After turning up that weird detail last week about the dead old lady at the mail robot repair shop, Aderholt is following up.

    Complicating Factors: The guy Aderholt talks to -- whose mother is the one who died -- is completely incurious about her passing. She was old; she'd had a heart condition; he didn't think there was any point seeking an autopsy. But maybe he should have looked into the matter more, because when Aderholt has a technician go over the mail robot's guts...

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    ...he finds the recording device. Staying silent, Aderholt writes the technician a note: "Put it Back Together."

    Resolution: A couple of agents stake out the mail robot via CCTV and watch someone who should have nothing to do with the mail robot sneak into the hall and go digging around...

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    ...but only briefly, as she gets apprehended by gun-wielding agents. Her connection to the device is what gives the episode its title: after being approached in a Roy Rogers in Franconia, she had no idea whom she was actually working for; she thought it had something to do with the Mob.

    Spoiler: Mail robot? More like a worm...can...transportation robot!

  • Meeting Time
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    Lassa Is More (Horrific)

    Who called the meeting? Philip, I guess?

    What's it about? Virginia's hottest club: Level 4. Now that Philip's passed on the access code (49263, in case you're looking for something fun to change your phone password to), William can find out whether Level 4 really has everything: Lassa fever, f. coli, human box fans (it's that thing where a Little Person sits in a window spinning his arms in circles).

    How'd it go? Last time we saw William, he was wary about playing any part in giving his bosses access to Lassa fever samples to be weaponized, and he still is. "Lassa fever's a very undignified way to go," William says evenly. "You basically dissolve inside, then squirt yourself out your anus, in liquid form. First it's 'whoosh'; then it's a trickle. The modified strain -- the strain Level 4 is hard at work perfecting -- it's even more lovely." Say what you will about his loyalty or people skills, but THE MAN CAN PAINT A WORD PICTURE. "I can't do this one, Philip," William concludes.

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    Quickly getting past his shock, Philip tries to pacify William: "You're afraid." "Who wouldn't be," drawls William. "But it's not that. I can do things I'm scared of -- I've been doing things I'm scared of for years. But this is one of the deadliest pathogens on the planet. Just say it actually gets out there and I play a part in that." "What do you want me to tell Gabriel?" asks Philip, seeming most scared that William is no longer just talking about rebelling against their orders. "Tell him the truth," says William. "Are you sure?" asks Philip. William says he is. So: deeply unsettling meeting for at least one participant. And vividly disgusting for the other!

  • Awkward
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    Just Don't Run Out Of Gas

    Situation: Tatiana's been offered a big promotion: she's going to be the Resident at the office in Nairobi. And she wants Oleg to come with her, as her Deputy!

    What makes it awkward? Oleg figures that if she's being rewarded in this manner, she must have done something pretty extraordinary. Meaning: fucking terrifying.

    How is order restored? It's not, quite yet. Oleg tells Tatiana he has to think about her offer...but what he really has to think about is how best to interfere with her work.

  • That Quote
    "You know, right before, she was telling me about this conversation she had with Matthew. Stan told him about Martha -- that she was a spy and that he had met with her father, and that it was hard. Paige is reporting this to me."
    - Elizabeth Jennings -
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  • Dialogue

    It's dangerous, what you and Dad do.

    Sometimes, yeah.

    But when I asked you that, you said it wasn't.

    We didn't want you to worry.

    Did you know it'd be dangerous when you joined?

    I wanted to serve my country.

    You never answer my questions.

    That is my--

    It's always "I want to make the world better or safer," but it's never what happened -- never the whole truth.

    I grew up in a city called Smolensk. It was almost totally destroyed during the war -- World War II. I was only two when it ended, but growing up there, it was-- Everything around me was destroyed. And the people who survived had done without food, freezing, fighting. They all worked together and fought back somehow. I guess I always wanted to be liked that, no matter what. To fight back. 'Dangerous' didn't matter.

    [exhales]

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    By the time I left, they'd rebuilt so much of it. I can't imagine what it looks like now. I wish I could take you there -- I wish I could show you where I grew up.

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  • Snapshot
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  • Dialogue
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    Mom, you don't have to sit with me if you hate it. I'm okay.

    No no no, I'm just trying to understand.

    It's not logical, it's emotional.

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  • Meeting Time
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    Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz Is How We're All Going To Die If You Don't Do Something, Stan

    Who called the meeting? Oleg.

    What's it about? Weaponized Lassa fever -- MUST BE WEDNESDAY, RIGHT?!

    How'd it go? Very efficient and therefore very effective. Since he just had that whole conversation with Oleg last week about ending their relationship, Stan knows Oleg wouldn't have contacted him about meeting again if it wasn't a big deal, and to ensure Stan knows that it definitely is, Oleg comes in hot, saying that the USSR has any number of excellent scientists, but no money, which is a bad combination: "All those brains with what they're doing. Without the right resources, they get their hands on things that they-- They cannot always handle it the right way." In Oleg's view, the Soviets are doing things that are too dangerous, and Oleg can't tell them to stop (I guess, in part, because officially he doesn't know about them), but that if the U.S. knew that treaties were being broken, it would be forced to act -- if Stan were to bring it to the right people. "I will," Stan intones. Oleg is bringing him one thing, and after this, they're done: "Do you know anything about biological weapons?" "Not really," says Stan. Oleg says that the military is working on producing them, but he doesn't know where: "They send some of the work out somewhere else. We have someone there. That place or one of those places. That's it." You can tell from his reaction Stan is fucking horrified!!!

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    OH SHIIIIIIIII

  • Wrap It Up
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    Like Wolfe doesn't already have enough to worry about with MailRobotGate, now Stan has to bring him this weaponized ick intel. Once he's heard that they've had someone pick up their mail robot dead drop, Wolfe orders everyone away except one car with a camera and puts everyone else on the Lassa report. LASSA FEVER FEVER!!!

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    Philip picks up William and brings him over to the safe house, where Gabriel pours tea and puts on his most sensitive, understanding face to open the discussion: "Philip tells me you're having second thoughts." "I started this because I believed in something," William monologues. "I was young. Idealistic. It's hard after a while to keep that up. And now this. How can I believe in this? With all the damage it can cause?" Gabriel soothingly agrees that it can be hard to believe in "things that kill people," but broadens the discussion to what William's actually doing this for: "You haven't seen the people you're defending in too long. I think you have to see them, William."

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    "What the hell does that mean?" bleats William. Some of Dylan Baker's line readings in this role, I swear to god. It's obviously the grimmest shit, but he is perversely hilarious. "You've given almost your whole life to your country, to your people," Gabriel rumbles. "It's time -- time for you to come home. And they're waiting for you. You'll be a hero. You'll find a wife, you'll have a family. I know you've lost your sense of why we do this, but I promise you: it matters. You'll do this one last thing, and when you go home, you and your loved ones and all of our people will be safer because of it."

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    This is such a masterful manipulation that Philip is blown back in his seat. Gabriel did not get to be this old by being bad at handling spies.

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    After William's gone, Philip comments that he didn't think Gabriel would be able to change William's mind, but Gabriel doesn't characterize the exchange that way: "Deep down, he loves his country more than anything. And he wants to go home....I didn't change his mind. I reminded him who he is and gave him what he wants." "And if that wasn't who he was anymore?" asks Philip. Gabriel doesn't know. Philip adds that he agreed with William, and Gabriel allows, "I'm not sure who was right about this one." "You can always count on Elizabeth," says Philip, with a mix of fondness and rue. "You're good for each other," says Gabriel. "She's steadfast. You need that."

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    Reflectively, Philip comments, "The Centre made a good match." They've been gabbing at the door so long at this point that Gabriel says he has to sit down, and sinks heavily onto a stair. "I used to think I'd do better, serve The Centre better, if I kept to myself," he muses. "You work alone, there's no one there tearing away at you. But you go to shit anyway. And you're still alone." I think that's true in every job, to be fair? My typing accuracy is TERRIBLE these days.

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    Matthew brings Paige home to his empty house, and after some joking about when she's going to get her license, we learn that Stan hasn't been home in a few days. Paige says she's sorry, and Matthew -- without much rancor -- comments that Stan's the one who had wanted Matthew to live with him part-time and now he's never here. Paige says she's glad Matthew's back, and admits that things have been weird at her house, but then catches herself before she says why. She changes the subject to a band he used to have (which broke up due to its sucking) and a girlfriend named Celery, and then...

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    ...Paige successfully recruits her first asset.

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    When Paige gets home, her parents are in the kitchen putting groceries away (by which I mean Keri Russell is hiding her torso behind both the kitchen island and the paper bag standing up on it). Paige eagerly tells them about Stan's having been out of the house for several days. Actual spies:

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    "Is that important?" asks Paige. Elizabeth mom-ishly asks what's going on with Paige and Matthew, and she daughter-ishly says she's not dating him. Philip asks if she wants to, and Paige semi-changes the subject to Henry's relationship with Stan and whether it might not be bad for the family. Philip tells Paige that she doesn't need to worry about that; Elizabeth says she just needs to be careful whom she opens up to. Paige says she's not opening up, they're just talking: "You talk to Mr. Beeman all the time; he's practically a member of the family." Philip says that's different. Paige asks how, so Elizabeth changes the conversation back, making sure Paige knows she doesn't have to be friendly with Matthew for their sake, but when Philip concurs, Paige has an answer all ready for that one: "You wanted me to worry about Pastor Tim and Alice." Elizabeth -- without rehashing old business like THAT PAIGE HERSELF MADE THAT NECESSARY WITH HER BIG STUPID MOUTH -- sternly says that was a very different. Paige's tone gets increasingly plaintive as she rants on: "When I wanted nothing to do with them, you told me I had to stay close to them, no matter how shitty I felt about it!...You always say we'll get through this but you never say how!"

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    But before Philip and Elizabeth can take turns kicking the lip off Paige, she answers the ringing phone; it's for Philip. And it's probably not a subscription offer for the Post or...wow, what else? Who the hell else used to phone you out of the blue? A Gallup pollster?!

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    At the FBI, Aderholt hangs up a call from the Louisville field office about a William Crandall: "Born Paducah, February 7, 1927; died Bowling Green, July 12, 1932, age five" -- and thanks to Stan and Aderholt's canny winnowing of the Foster Medical employee records to the ones who'd actually be of use to the KGB, Stan gets straight to a file with the same name...

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    ...OH NO, WILLIAM, RUN!!!

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    Back at the Jennings house, Philip has barely hung up the phone before Paige is asking him who it was. Philip just says he has to go; New Paige isn't trying to hear that: "But what was it?" "Work!" snaps Philip, exasperated. "What's going on?" Paige demands. Philip testily says he can't get into it right now. Paige whines that they told her they'd stop lying to her, to which Elizabeth says that their pledge to stop lying doesn't mean they're going to be telling her absolutely everything now. Paige then orders them to tell her whether they trust her, and Philip decides he's going to have to say something or else live in the kitchen until Paige dismisses him, and tells the most concise, least illuminating version of the truth: "I'm going to meet with a man we work with and he's going to hand something over to me that our country needs." "What?" asks Paige, hesitantly.

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    "Part of a weapon that our army will use to fight, if we're ever attacked," says Elizabeth.

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    Paige: "Great." Remember ignorance, Paige? DOESN'T SEEM SO BAD NOW, HUH. YOU MIGHT EVEN SAY IT WAS BLISSFUL.

For 1991 Week we guess:

What are the members of the Jennings family probably doing in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapses?

  • Paige is doing mission work in Guatemala when she hears the news, and weeps with relief that her time with the Groovyhairs is finally at an end
  • Philip, having traded up to a Corvette, feels validated when he sees a curly-haired blond teen driving one in a TV show set in Beverly Hills
  • Elizabeth is learning Mandarin either "for fun" or because "you never know," depending on whom she's talking to
  • Henry still doesn't know he's the only member of his family that isn't in the KGB, but he's gotten pretty good at Sonic
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