This article has some content you might find disturbing!Reason Two executions.
The Americans Teaches A Massachusetts Mom A Tough Lesson About The Limits Of Personal Reinvention
Elsewhere, Oleg's food investigation inches forward, and one of your faves comes back for a cameo.
Philip stops by Henry's room while he does homework so that Henry can give us an update on the only storyline he's gotten since that time he broke in to the neighbours' to play videogames: he should be hearing soon about whether he's gotten accepted to St. Edward's, soooooooo...if he gets in, will Philip and Elizabeth let him go? Apparently Philip's been thinking about it, and now his view on the matter lines up with Elizabeth's: if Henry gets in, it's okay with Philip if he goes. GOSH WHAT A SURPRISE THAT THIS RAPIDLY GROWING ACTOR IS BEING SENT OFFSCREEN. Henry is happy...
...but as we see when Philip suits up as Capt. Eckert and heads over to eat McDonald's and watch TV -- morosely, on both counts -- with Tuan, the exchange has sent him into a "Cat's In The Cradle" reverie about playing airplanes with his own dad, which is (a) presumably his one and only happy childhood memory, and (b) a shock given that the deprivation of Philip's youth was such that I wouldn't necessarily have assumed he knew what an airplane even was.
Speaking of Philip and Elizabeth's dumb wiener kids: if you got to the end of the last episode super-excited for the payoff to Paige making sure her parents saw ALL the pages of Pastor Groovyhair's diary in which he described how much they'd traumatized her, SORRY, SHE'S NOT EVEN IN THIS EPISODE. I swear to God, the last two episodes are going to have to be unprecedentedly amazing in order to make up for the unbalanced load this season has been.
Natty Light Her Up
Alert Type: Justice Deferred Alert.
Issue: After a cursory update from Philip and Elizabeth to Paige's signoff on trying to lure Pastor Groovyhair out of the region with a job offer via The Centre, Claudia informs them that they have a new surprise op! The Centre thinks it's tracked down one of Russia's Most Wanted -- a certain Anna Nabrakovchek (SP?????), I'm no, who was a collaborator during World War II and personally killed hundreds of Russian prisoners on a Nazi execution squad.
Complicating Factors: Well: "thinks." The Centre has some circumstantial evidence suggestive that Natalie Granholm -- who now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, having married an American Army medic she met in Germany after the war -- is actually Anna Collabolatrek: there aren't any exit documents matching her alleged maiden name, and the timing for Anna's disappearance and Natalie's materialization line up. But there's only one photo of Anna still extant.
Philip and Elizabeth, I'm going to stop you right here: that's not a senior citizen in Massachusetts; it's Timothy McVeigh in a wig.
Further complicating matters: before sending Philip and Elizabeth on their way, Claudia confirms that The Centre did weaponize the virus: "They named it Variant V for Vitaly, his Russian name." So Philip -- who's been increasingly disenchanted by the mission...well, since we met him, really, but especially this season -- is immediately suspicious of The Centre's proof that Natalie and Anna are one and the same.
When he and Elizabeth journey to Newton to take some creep shots of her, he's bearish on the whole assassination thing, commenting when he sees her with her husband, "They like each other." "Good for them," sneers Elizabeth.
Resolution: Elizabeth never wavers in her view that Natalie is Anna, and though he's still not sure, Philip lets himself be convinced to go along with her to the Granholm house, at least to see Natalie up close and see if talking to her makes up his mind.
Spoiler: The Centre gets it right sometimes.
You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Be Interrogated By Someone Who Works Here...
Oleg and Ruslan go hang out by the KGB office vodka cooler and find one of their colleagues, Nikita, already there, looking shaken. Ruslan opts for some guy talk, saying Nikita looks like his wife decided not to leave him (damn, jocular KGB trash talk is HARSH), but Nikita's in no mood to kid around: "I just finished interrogating someone for anti-State activities. He was a fool, he wasn't crazy. Some of the stuff he said -- it's true. I know better than him. Still have to send him to the mental ward." Is he...talking about.....Mischa? Is he going to come back before the season's over and give that storyline a reason to have existed? WILL THIS ALL HANG TOGETHER OR ARE WE GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE SERIES FINALE NEXT YEAR FOR SHIT TO MAKE SENSE???
Alert Type: Narc Alert.
Issue: Stan brings Henry to work with him so Henry can research a paper he's writing on the FBI.
Complicating Factors: Anything Stan may try to tell him is kind of upstaged by one of his colleagues.
HEY BUDDY. But seriously, Henry is very interested in The Vault, of which Stan says, "It's actually a secure room....It's got acoustic shielding; there's no way anyone could possibly listen in on what you're saying in there," and which Henry later describes to his parents.
Resolution: Henry brings his paper over to Stan's to read it to him.
Adorably, Stan is rapt.
Spoiler: Perhaps now that Elizabeth and Philip know that Stan's office has a super-secure room just for discussing/inspecting the most sensitive topics/materials, the time might NOT be right for Stan's little buddy to take off for boarding school after all?
Food For Thought
Who called the meeting? Oleg and Ruslan.
What's it about? After surveilling Lydia Fomina in the last episode, they got access to her office and found a ledger, so they'd like to talk to her about it.
How'd it go? Since we've been watching this plotline go fucking nowhere all goddamn season, IT IS BORING. And Fomina seems to bear out Dimitri's description of her as a terrifying mercenary in that she doesn't seem to care at all that the KGB is questioning her about this evidence specifically -- "I kept a ledger for my boss -- fine; what else do you want?" -- or that they're investigating her at all: "This is how the whole country works. It's how people get fed. It isn't going to change....It's not just me. Every official and warehouse supervisor and grocery store manager. You people -- the KGB -- you think you're above it all., but that's just because you don't have to worry about any of these things. So high and mighty." So...her confederates are going to kill Oleg in retaliation, and the reason we've been spending so much time with his parents is so we'll feel their pain when both their sons are lost due to the machinations of the Soviet state? HELP ME CARE, HERE, SHOW!!!
J. Walter Weatherman Lesson
In Which An Inadequate Back Door Lock Is Natalie Granholm's Undoing, Plus Also The Executions
I kind of feel like this very lengthy scene in which Elizabeth and Philip accuse the current Natalie Granholm of being the former Anna Nazilova is supposed to remind us of the actually great Season 3 episode in which Elizabeth has to kill a sweet old lady named Betty because Elizabeth was in her shop to mess with that very same mail robot we were reminded about earlier, and Betty had the bad luck of being there even though it was the middle of the night -- or, maybe, that this is supposed to be more suspenseful because Philip still isn't convinced that Natalie is Anna, particularly after she denies it and pretty convincingly feigns ignorance about all the facts of her earlier life. But this really isn't a similar situation at all: Betty was totally innocent, and Natalie -- as she finally confesses when her husband comes home, hoping it will mean Elizabeth and/or Philip will only kill her and not him -- actually was Anna. Certainly, a strong case can be made for why Anna joined the Nazi execution squad: she was only sixteen; the Nazis killed every other member of her family. Presumably there was a high probability that she was kept alive due to her sex and age: in addition to suffering psychological torture -- the Nazis made her dig the hole her family members' bodies were dumped in -- one assumes that the venereal diseases Claudia said Anna contracted from "sleeping with" Nazi officers, it would be hard to argue that she was able to consent to sex under the circumstances. Still, the question of complicity is a knotty one, and while Philip has been grappling with his own internal conflict about his father's work as a prison guard and wondering how far he'll go either to be the agent he was trained to be or bridle against his programming, if we know anything at all about Elizabeth, it's that she would never, ever do what Anna did.
LONG scene short: Philip pulls his gun on Anna, but hesitates.