Episode Breakdown: The Americans – Season 6 Episode 8

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

Where We Left Off:

The previous episode gave us the intense, dramatic extraction of Harvest, thanks to Philip coming to Chicago to help Elizabeth and Marilyn. While they were able to snag him in traffic and get him into their van, they ran into an FBI blockade and Harvest was killed, in addition to Marilyn and the two agents. Philip and Elizabeth made it out alive, switched cars, removed Marilyn’s head and hands so she couldn’t be ID’d, and dumped them (along with the clothes they were wearing) in the Chicago river before leaving town. Various conversations and happenstance occurrences have led Stan to fully suspecting his neighbors of being potential spies, and he searches through their home in the middle of the night while they are away, but comes away with nothing. Elizabeth gives it to Paige straight: You’re in this for real, for life, or you’re out right now. She’s all in.

What Went Down:

We open with Philip waiting for Elizabeth to come home so they can talk. He doesn’t want to talk about Chicago, he wants to talk about Burov reaching out to him to spy on her. He admits to spying on her and reporting her activities regarding Rennhull, Chicago, and the sensor. They have a fight that ends with Philip talking about taking personal responsibility. “They tell us what to do and we do it. I get it, that’s how it works. But we do it, not them. It’s on us. All of it.” There is so much tension and weight in this scene, words do it no justice.

Elizabeth meets the intern for lunch to discuss the job opportunity she told him about previously. She wants a report on his activities with the Senator, focusing on the details of the Summit. She assures him that the only people who will see it already have clearance. The FBI discuss the investigation into the Russian Orthodox priests and the cars/garages, and Stan can’t shake his interest in Burov. Elizabeth and Paige meet at Claudia’s, and Elizabeth tells Claudia about a meeting Haskard will be attending with the Russian she believes to be the mole. She plans on bugging his briefcase, and we cut straight to his house and Elizabeth in her nurse cover. She finds Erica looking like she’s on her last legs, and Glenn admits to trying to give her the lethal dose they spoke about earlier in the season, but it didn’t work. She isn’t dying because her system has built up a tolerance. He says he can’t go to work anymore, and Elizabeth urges him to say goodbye and leave so she can take care of it. She looks around at the artwork Erica has been producing these past several months (all trapped women, often helpless and screaming, in a brilliant display of metaphor) and kisses her on the head before using a paintbrush to push her tongue back into her throat, causing her to choke to death on her own vomit while Elizabeth holds her nose closed. It’s one of the hardest death scenes to watch in the history of the show. The worst part is knowing that she did it for personal gain, hoping that Glenn will be able to move on and go back to work, allowing her mission to continue. But this one looks to take a toll on Elizabeth, even as she goes straight for his briefcase after he walks upstairs.

The FBI agents look at the collection of sketches and try to figure out if they are all the same people or different. Back at the Haskard house, Glenn tells Elizabeth to pick a painting and take it. She has clearly meant a lot to them and he appreciates that she helped end Erica’s suffering. She takes it to their stashhouse/garage, removes the canvas from its frame and burns it in a moment of heavy symbolism.  Not only can she not risk leaving evidence behind, but she needs to burn away the part of her that became truly connected to an American.

Meeting the intern again at a hotel room, Elizabeth gives him a personalized briefcase for his big (imaginary) job interview, knowing that he will carry it with him at all times. She says her colleagues loved the report and that he should expect a call soon, while they celebrate with a drink. Jackson falls into her flirty trap and they have sex. At Stan’s house, he looks at a picture of Philip and Elizabeth as Renee comes home and tells him she has an interview with the FBI next week, in the personnel department. The next morning at the hotel, Elizabeth asks Jackson to drop off a box of documents in a specific room of the State Department, which he is more than happy to do because sex.

Stan visits Curtis, a member of Gregory’s drug gang from all the way back in season one. Curtis helped the FBI track Gregory (a KGB agent), and Stan shows him a picture of Elizabeth, asking if that was Gregory’s girlfriend. He can’t be sure, but remembers that “she smoked like a chimney.” He knows he’s hot on the trail, if he can just get a positive ID…

Elizabeth calls Jackson from a pay phone and asks him to meet her with the case of documents, as her meeting was cancelled (whatever other meeting her bug was going to pick up would have happened by now). Philip visits Stavos at home and comes clean about his financial situation. Stavos said he is loyal and never told anyone about “whatever was going on in the back room,” hinting that he could have called the police but didn’t, before closing the door. Elizabeth meets up with Jackson, who looks like he’s seen a ghost. When he had gone back to grab the box of documents, there was no record of a cancelled meeting. He looked in the case and found the bug. She tries to talk her way out of it, but he’s not buying. In a surprising turn (especially for this season), she doesn’t kill him, but tries to put the fear of death into him…

She goes back to the garage to listen to the tape from the meeting. The tape reveals Nesterenko saying that Gorbachev wishes for complete nuclear disarmament, and that he will agree to drop his opposition to SDI to get it done. He doesn’t appear to be the spy she was led to believe. She gives Claudia the tape and says as much, and she says it doesn’t matter, her new orders are to kill Nesterenko. She dresses for the job, but when the crucial moment arrives, she breaks off without pulling the trigger, finally doing what Philip advised her to do in the opening scene and thinking for herself.

She meets Claudia again and admits to not carrying out the mission. She isn’t convinced he’s a traitor but Claudia doesn’t care. He needs to be killed. Claudia tells her that they keep certain information from her in order to let her do her job. Claudia tells him that Gorbachev needs to be removed, that he is giving away too much of what their country has worked for. They will alter Elizabeth’s reports on Nesterenko, to imply that Gorbachev is giving away state secrets, in order to justify removing him. Elizabeth refuses the kill order, and Claudia tells her she had better stay quiet, urging her not to throw away everything she’s accomplished in service to the cause.

She comes home and Philip is watching a Russian movie he rented. She says she wants to speak with his contact. Philip tells her Burov is being watched and asks what she wants to say to him, and she tells him everything. The Centre wants Gorbachev out and they are falsifying her reports to help their cause. Philip agrees to relay the message to Burov and Elizabeth leaves to protect Nesterenko. He tells her one of their priests needed to get a message to her and she says she doesn’t have time, telling Philip to go. “Maybe he’ll give you absolution.” She doesn’t forgive him (and the marriage is all but over), but they are united in a common goal.

Where We Go From Here:

Elizabeth hit a MAJOR milestone, appearing sympathetic to Philip’s attitude. She may not be sympathetic towards the Americans and their way of life, but she is finally questioning her orders. She feels that the Centre is betraying the cause she has fought her whole life for. With Stan and the FBI hot on their trail (between the sketches, the garages and the priests), there is now a major confrontation coming as well as a conflict of interests. If Stan finds out their plan to go against their orders, would he help? Because killing them would mean doing a favor for the KGB, in a way, since they know too much and are disobedient. And if they get boxed in, will we see the most ruthless thing that could happen to the family…the involvement of Paige (or even Henry)? Potentially as bait, or leverage, or worst of all, part of the oncoming violence?

What did you think of this week’s episode?
Can Philip and Elizabeth protect Nesterenko and thwart the Centre?
Could Stan forgive the years of deception and violence to help his neighbors?

Check back next time for another Episode Breakdown…
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