Tracking Down His Distant Dad Isn't Child's Play For Mischa On The Americans
As The Centre interferes with a much-desired meeting, Ben gives Elizabeth some bad news -- but it's over s'mores, so it could be worse.
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Lump: It's What's For Dinner
Philip's joylessly pounding away at Deirdre -- who, for her part, doesn't seem that into it either, if this grimace is anything to go by.
Somehow, this sends him into a memory of another joyless night from his earlier life, when his father came home with a dinner he was apparently not that proud to put on the table.
Philip's mother removes three lumps from his father's burlap sack.
I was pretty sure they were coal, but then his mother puts them on a ledge above the fire. Brown to perfection, and: enjoy!
SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THIS? Is it animal waste that they're eating because it might have trace amounts of nutrients in it and there's nothing else?! I know that seems insane, but what do I know from famine? Is this headed toward a revelation that Philip's family got so desperate that he eventually turned cannibal??? Because IT HAPPENS.
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Seriously, Though: Lotus 1-2-3!
Henry Might Not Actually Be Worthless After All
Who called the meeting? Mr. Jeffries, Henry's math teacher.
What's it about? Judging by their expressions, Henry's parents are pretty sure it's going to be about Henry's inability to count past 12 or something.
But it turns out Henry is a math whiz. In fact, he's so great that Mr. Jeffries wants to advance him to Algebra 2, unless his parents think it's a bad idea.
How'd it go? Slightly halting, given that Philip and Elizabeth are so shocked to learn their son has a talent for LITERALLY ANYTHING that they take a while to answer Mr. Jeffries's suggestion.
But after taking a moment in the car on the way home for Elizabeth to report that Evgheniya's up for a job teaching Russian at the Department of Agriculture -- Philip: "If she gets a job teaching Russian at the CIA" "There's a chance we could get every officer they're training for Moscow," Elizabeth finishes -- they arrive home very proud. In fact, they may be TOO proud, because when they tell Henry all about it, he can read between the lines of their expressions of surprise: "Paige is the smart one, she always works her ass off, and she does everything right."
Whoops. But in fairness, Henry, they haven't seen you in weeks. They're probably equally surprised to see you still have a face.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Cheater Cheater Probable Spy Feeder
I'm not saying the reason we're finding seeing Renee and Stan in bed in this episode is that Noah Emmerich directed it. That would be rude. That Renee and Stan are post-coital and that Noah Emmerich directed this episode are two separate facts. And they've been getting closer for a while: last week they had a double date with Philip and Elizabeth, and earlier they took in Romancing The Stone before dropping Matthew off with Sandra. (I'm not a hack, so you can make your own "Romancing The Bone" joke.)
Anyway, now that they've finished romancing the bone -- SHIT -- they're discussing the infidelity that ended both their marriages. Renee was the victim in her case, and asks whether Stan thinks Sandra knew about his affair. After some dithering, Stan admits, "Yeah, she probably knew for a while. I just kept lying to myself." She then feels his arm and comments that his muscles are tight. He grits that stuff is happening at work, but that he can't really talk about it. Renee confirms everyone's suspicions as she breezily suggests that he just be vague, so he guesses he was a little aggressive about something with his boss in a meeting that day -- which we saw; he bitched to Agent Wolfe that the attempts he and Aderholt have made to communicate with suspected KGB assets aren't going anywhere and that they're wasting their time -- and that he said too much. "It'll work out," says Stan.
And that's good enough for Round 2! PS Noah Emmerich directed this episode.
How Are We Defining "Sleeper Agent"?
Alert Type: Suspect Girlfriend Alert.
Issue: After he and Elizabeth declined to join the movie date, Philip is keeping tabs on the rest of Stan and Renee's evening; as he's about to get into bed, he notes that the lights in the house are out, but that Renee's Jeep is still out front.
Complicating Factors: As Philip muses: "We've been giving The Centre a lot of detailed reports about Stan. They know he's recently divorced, they know he's vulnerable. They know he's a loner that would go for her type." "You think we sent her?" Elizabeth replies. "I'm just saying," says Philip. It's crazy to think The Centre might put an Illegal on Stan...or is it? (It's not.)
Resolution: None yet; when Elizabeth returns to Topeka, Philip and Marilyn (one of the backup operatives from the Oklahoma break-in) stake out Stan's next date with her and follow her back to her apartment building.
Something To Consider: Maybe instead of looking for spy trouble they haven't been assigned, Philip and Elizabeth should start strategizing how to keep The Centre from finding out Henry is awesome at math, since that seems like it would be something they'd really like to exploit?
On The Menu
What's On The Menu At The Jennings House?
With Elizabeth in Topeka letting Ben go down on her and Henry somewhere mathing, Philip and Paige end up alone together for dinner. What are they eating?
Chinese Green-Eyed Beans: The news of Henry's new math genius has reached Paige, who was also surprised by his move to a more advanced class -- surprised and, it turns out, jealous. "Turns out he's the brains in the family, she mopes. "And I thought studying was the key to success," jokes Philip. "You and me both," Paige mopes. Seems pretty rude to begrudge Henry his first actual storyline in like three seasons.
MSGee This Is Uncomfortable: Paige's tongue must be loosened by the Asian flavours, because she starts telling Philip how conflicted she is in her relationship with Matthew. When they first met, she had a crush on him: "He had a lot of hair and played guitar." But now that he likes her back, it seems things have changed. She thinks she was hoping that with "all the garbage in [her] life," he'd make her feel better: "Being with him only makes me feel worse, though. I don't know if it's because Matthew's not right for me, or...." She trails off for so long, Philip presses: "What?" "Or if I'm just-- I'm already so screwed up that-- Maybe I'm just-- I'm meant to be alone." Philip:
An Empty Fortune Cookie: Philip is so horrified by this statement -- something he's undoubtedly thought of himself over the years -- that he can't even manage to cough up any reassuring platitudes, so Paige just clears her plate and leaves. Yikes.
Mischa having called in to good old Joan the operator to arrange a meeting with Philip, Gabriel and Claudia are in crisis mode.
He used Irina's code?
For an emergency meeting with Philip. I've been tracking every signal Philip gets since Mischa disappeared.
So he wants to see his father. All right. How did he get here?
I'm sure it wasn't a walk in the park.
Are we talking about Mischa or Philip?
The boy. He's already been in trouble for speaking out against the war.
It's a complicated war, Claudia. He fought in it, he's not mentally ill.
His mother defected. He got himself arrested. Now he's coming to see a father he's never met. I doubt he's stable.
He's his son.
Who he's never seen. It's too risky.
You don't trust Philip!
It's not about me. He already has entries in his file that don't look good. How do you think the people at The Centre are going to feel about a meeting between Philip and his wayward son?
Shouldn't that be Philip's decision to make?
And when he tells Philip he was put in a psychiatric institution because he thinks the war in Afghanistan is a joke? What happens then? You care about him. We both do. But he's...shaky.
It's A Date
The Dating игра
Oleg's had a hard day inspecting grocery stores and watching Ruslan threaten that store manager whose son's serving in Afghanistan -- and not successfully, I might add.
So the scene he walks into at his parents' apartment is about the last thing he needs.
Who's on a date? Oleg's getting a surprise fix-up with three eligible bachelorettes!
Inna Astakhova's father used to work with Igor at the Ministry!
Olga Nikonova is Ludmila's daughter -- Oleg remembers Ludmila, right?
Elina Sachko used to live near and play with Oleg when they were kids, and she is in this to win it, leaning on their past connection as she gravely tells Oleg how sad she was to hear about his brother's death. Oleg:
Possible miscalculation there, comrade.
What will they be doing? They'll be eating the dinner all three women have prepared for Oleg! I guess the Burovs really are some hot shit if all three broads were willing to compete with each other directly for Oleg's hand like this.
Are things headed in a horizontal direction? Seems like no: Oleg motions for Igor to join him in the other room to ask what would make Igor think Oleg "would want any of these silly little girls." Igor is dismayed; he knows it was hard for Oleg to come back and was just trying to help make the transition back easier by setting him up with a nice girl, and for all Oleg knows one of them might be perfect for him! "Please stay out of my private life," Oleg tells him. Igor crabs that Oleg's just as stubborn as his mother before stomping back to whatever the ladies whipped up with the eight ingredients for sale at the store that day -- nutria casserole with a side of turnip (literally just one), I assume. But then Oleg's eye is caught by a framed portrait of his brother and starts having a feeling.
Oleg...thinks he owes it to his brother...to fuck all the ladies his dead brother can't because he's dead?
"Nothing, You?" "Nothing But Horror."
Philip's at his desk at the travel agency when Elizabeth calls from Topeka to see how he is, which seems to be an uncommon move, based on his bewilderment and her lack of anything much to say, but they miss each other, so there's that? Philip then volunteers, "I've been-- Um, I've been having these memories of my childhood....My father bringing home food and clothing."
Elizabeth asks whether Philip's father ever brought home other things. "I don't remember," Philip breathes. Guys, it's going to be a dead baby, right? THIS IS GOING TO TURN INTO SOME THE ROAD SHIT???
On The Menu
What's On The Menu At Ben's?
S'mores: A post-coital Elizabeth is handed a s'more, and tells Ben she's never seen someone make them inside before. "That's the whole reason to have a fireplace!" Ben enthuses. You Americans and your fucking s'mores is definitely what I am thinking and probably what Elizabeth is thinking. Like, they're fine? But why a graham cracker? If the idea is that it's a cookie that isn't so sweet that it all gets overpowering, why not go savory nd make it on a saltine or a Ritz cracker? I AM NOT A CRACKPOT.
Wheat: "So, the Peace Corps, Egypt, cooking exotic foods, science, sex....What is it that you do, exactly?" Elizabeth asks. WELL: it seems Ben's time in the Peace Corps brought him into contact with children who were dying of famine, and inspired in him the desire to end food insecurity forever. He explains that he's working on developing the hardiest possible wheat strain -- one that can grow anywhere and resist pests and fungi. And now he's close to developing the strongest wheat strain in the world! He admits that Agricorp would then sell that strain, but the work he does will make food supplies cheap and reliable, all around the world, wherever people are victims of famine: "It might never happen again." TURNS OUT BEN'S DOING EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE THING YOU THOUGHT AND SO WAS THAT LAB DIRECTOR PHILIP KILLED, WHOOOOOOOPS.
Wrap It Up
Philip is so tormented by his memories that he's gone back to est. Well, this is probably not great.
Mischa, as Joan had directed, is waiting in Bess Truman Park, looking pitifully excited for the meeting we know is going to be an enormous letdown. Damn you, dramatic irony! He's been scanning the park for possibles, but even though he's never met Philip, he knows enough not to think that Gabriel's sitting next to him is anything but an unfortunate mistake until Gabriel addresses him: "I am not whom you were expecting, I know."
"No Russian," orders Gabriel. "Not here. Do you speak English?" "Little," says Mischa, wary. Gabriel says he'll take Mischa somewhere they can talk, but Mischa wisely resists the suggestion that he leave a public place with this probably KGB operative and makes enough of a scene to draw the attention of another park patron, so Gabriel just lowers his voice to tell Mischa that seeing his father is impossible: "It would put him in terrible danger. It is not safe for him." "But I come for him," says Mischa, breaking all our hearts. "You understand?" "I do," says Gabriel. "It must be very hard, but if you love him, you must forget this. You cannot see him." "Forget father?" asks Mischa incredulously. "No," says Gabriel. "Not here. I will get you home. You will be safe. But you cannot see your father here. Maybe someday. But not here."
I don't have a joke. It's very sad! Irina, what have you wrought?!
Elizabeth comes home from her latest trip to Topeka, and after confirming that both kids are out of the house, she gently delivers the good yet also bad news: "We got it wrong. [Ben] isn't looking to poison us or our food. He wants to save people....From pests, drought, whatever....He wants to feed the world. So the bugs in the lab were there to test the crops for resistance, to make sure they could survive anything." Philip asks whether Elizabeth believes Ben, and she says she does: "He wants to end hunger." Philip: "So the guy in the lab, the one we--" "We didn't know," says Elizabeth.
This seems not to comfort Philip at all for some reason! Before Elizabeth can say anything else, Philip backs away from her, telling her he's going to meet Tuan. Lucky Tuan, Philip's going to be great company today.
After gravely studying the map he was passed...
...Oleg goes to the appointed meeting place, but either leaves before the agent shows up, or got the date wrong?
And at the Eckert house, Tuan tells Philip that Evgheniya got the job; she starts next week. He adds that Pasha will be over that weekend, so it would be good if at least one of his "parents" could be there, but Philip is still in a terrible mood and can't get it up either to consider what it takes to keep their op running as it should, nor to notice that part of the reason Tuan might want Philip or Elizabeth there is that he's lonely.
If you're in such state that McDonald's food can't turn it around, I honestly can't help you, Philip -- not even to tell you that you need to live long enough to enjoy all-day breakfast!
Tuan looks like he's trying to figure out how to be the adult in this situation when Elizabeth appears -- she's smiling, but her voice is so tight and weird that Tuan figures out he should probably excuse himself. When she sits opposite Philip, he murmurs, "That guy in the lab-- That can't happen, ever again." "We'll be more careful," says Elizabeth immediately. "'More careful'?" spits Philip. "This has been hard for me. For a long time. You know that, right?" YEAH, DUDE, WE'VE ALL SUFFERED THROUGH YOUR FUCKING EST SCENES. "I do," says Elizabeth. "Look -- when we know this kind of thing is coming up, maybe it can just be me." As usual, in order to get shit done, a woman has to volunteer to do both her job and that of the nearest inadequate man. But that's not going to solve the problem. "No," he tells her. "No! It's us, Elizabeth."