The Americans
“Urban Transport Planning”
Created By Joseph Weisberg
Where: FX
When: Wednesdays @ 10pm EST

Where We Left Off:

Last week, we saw more human collateral damage at the hands of Elizabeth, but more importantly, so did Paige. She appears to believe her mother’s story that Rennhull shot himself and she tried to stop him, but for how long? It’s interesting she would even entertain that notion, and it goes to show how much she would rather have a mother than a handler. Elizabeth also began her mission to spy on the team working with Gorbachev at the nuclear summit, which will involve her daughter as well. Phillip, still wrestling with her inner turmoil over loyalties to country and family, as well as an ever-expanding embrace of the American Dream, must decide whether or not to act on what Oleg Burov has requested of him. And poor Henry, blissfully ignorant as ever, continues to just kick it at private school and play hockey, unaware of how much danger the rest of his family has made for themselves.

What Went Down:

The episode kicks off in a place all-too-familiar for the characters and viewers of the show: the Jennings’ kitchen. So many important scenes, embraces, fights and subtle character shifts have taken place here that it’s no accident when we see Phillip consoling Paige at the table, waiting for Elizabeth to get home after the botched operation that resulted in Rennhull’s grisly demise. After Paige is sent home for the night (following a stern Elizabeth mincing no words and sparing no feelings), the husband and wife cat and mouse game begins. Phillip is clearly trying to get information out of his wife, while trying to appear the concerned husband. Phillip is now committed to spying on her, and it feels so ominous it makes you squirm in your chair. Will Elizabeth put it together? Elsewhere, Stan shows up at Oleg’s hotel and tries to coax out of him what he’s doing back in DC, but Oleg will only offer up that he’s here for a class. Stan doesn’t buy it, and after a brief and sad discussion of Nina, warns Oleg not to do whatever he’s there to do. Stan has a lot to do in this episode, as he and Aderholt offer very public asylum to the troubled married informants on the brink of divorce. With every possibility of dangerous secrets being spilled, this feels like a last-ditch attempt at keeping them away from each other but not separated, and, hopefully, out of harm’s way. Not to mention Stan and Renee having a quiet discussion over the dishes, where she expresses interest in being an FBI agent. She doesn’t want to be one of those couples that tune each other out when they talk about their days. It’s a theme this show draws on frequently: chosen careers can strain relationships, especially when they are shared careers. The closing scene finds Elizabeth working a new cover, giving some hapless mark a “security audit” in a hotel room. She is still looking for that radiation sensor, and he gives her all the info she needs to get her hands on one. He even offers up the name of his girlfriend, who works in the same security department that Elizabeth is pretending to be a part of. As soon as he turns to leave, he is strangled to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” another absolutely flawless moment in the long history of The Americans and perfect musical choices of the time period. The implications are serious, as Evan and, presumably, his girlfriend, are added to Elizabeth’s growing body count. Thus far, all three episodes have ended with someone dying at Elizabeth’s hands, and it doesn’t appear to be a trend in danger of slowing down.


Where We Go From Here:

Now that Phillip is all in for spying on Elizabeth, just how far will he take it? Seeing her treat Paige like that after what she’s seen seems to trigger him into fully committing to reentering the spy game. Even if Elizabeth has all-but resigned her role, in his eyes, Phillip is a parent first and if protecting Paige from her own mother means going down roads he wanted to leave behind, he’s ready to put on his running shoes. Stan has also left the game, being moved out of Counterintelligence some time ago, yet here he is playing by his old rules, determined to make sense out of what’s going on and put a stop to it. I wonder how long he can go unsuspicious of Renee? Fans have raised an eyebrow at her since her introduction, and now that she has flat-out told him she wants to work with him, we can only assume we are correct and that she is an assassin in hiding. Then again, maybe we are succumbing to the same level of paranoia the characters (and countries) are going through?

What did you think of this week’s episode?
Should we trust Renee, or does she have ulterior motives?
Is it possible for the Jennings’ once-arranged, now-real marriage to survive?

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