The eighth episode of The Americans saw the dynamic KGB duo of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip (Matthew Rhys) on the outs. Ugh, those arranged sham marriages just never turn out for the best. Of course, most couples having issues aren’t forced to work as undercover spies together while sorting their stuff out.
The episode opened with Elizabeth cracking some codes sent over from the center. As it turned out, the Russians had hired an assassin to begin picking off the U.S. missile specialists cultivating a new super-weapon. Then, poof, they changed their mind. With no working means to call off the hits themselves, the center enlisted some in-America help. As usual, it would be up to the Jennings to clean up the mess, and if they were to fail, it’d be their bums on the line. It would be too difficult to protect fourteen scientists all at the same time, right? Wrong. Phillip would need to concoct a scheme to cover all their ground at once. From a distance, the “couple” watched as one of the scientists and his wife got into their car. Elizabeth found the fact that they’d been married thirty years and still held hands heartwarming. Boom, there goes the car. Of course, Phillip had waited until the old fogies left the scene first.
The FBI got word quickly, but the KGB wasn’t too fond of using car bombs. They had some sort of omniscient threat on their hands, but decided to up their security while the hunt for the culprit was on. The Jennings had succeeded at putting the government eye on the scientists, but why? That night, Elizabeth met with Claudia (Margo Martindale), who I just realized has been redubbed “Grannie.” Grannie informed Elizabeth of issues within the center. Some, like Elizabeth, felt killing the scientists would be the safest means of preventing nuclear war. Others believed it would only escalate things to war. More importantly, Grannie attempted to bond with Elizabeth, mentioning a feeling of camaraderie with her. Elizabeth, on the contrary, was still burnt from that faux-interrogation. As a token of her invested trust, Grannie tipped Elizabeth off to Phillip’s indiscretion with Irina. Elizabeth didn’t want to believe it, but inevitably came around to the idea. Is their marriage real, or are they just doing their job? Elizabeth had begun leaning towards the latter.
The FBI finally offered Stan (Noah Emmerich) and Nina (Annet Mahendru) an official safe house to conduct their meetings. Nina, of course, thought Stan had requested it for other reasons. You know, sex stuff. There, the two did seem to grow “closer,” but Nina also mentioned unrest within her workspace. She didn’t have the information, but she knew something was amiss. Stan continued to remind her that their budding relationship is real, and that there is a future for her once everything blows over. Later, Nina would get called into the office of the head honcho at the KGB headquarters. He began asking questions about American commercial goods, their value in Russia, how enticed she was, etc. Nina didn’t break a sweat, but knowing she was guilty of trading KGB caviar for stereo equipment to hock made her think she was done for. In actuality, he gave her a promotion.
The only contact Claudia handed to Elizabeth was that of a weapons dealer they assumed the assassin was using. The man attempted to dodge Elizabeth’s questioning, even prompting his little girl to pull a gun on her. Thankfully, Phillip disarmed the kid, and the two got down to business. Normally a client would kill him for talking, but because they were on the same side, he offered them photographic evidence from the man’s visit.
Still, the Jennings had nothing to work off of from the FBI’s side of things. Poor Martha was once again dragged into the game. Phillip continued to woo her with his now classic “Clark” disguise. Unfortunately for him, he’d have to set his absolute un-attraction to her aside. Martha wanted some goods of her own, if you know what I mean. In exchange for quashing Martha’s urges, she promised to help him yet again, even going as far as to dig for information within her boss’s files. Phillip feigned worrying for his position in his “special FBI department.” Hasn’t Martha thought to look into this sham cover job by now? Later, she photocopied some of the files containing information on newly arrived foreign suspects.
The Jennings were set to bring their signature family meatloaf over to Stan’s for dinner. Apparently, Elizabeth’s horseradish infused main course totally trumped Stan’s wife’s crappy potatoes. Elizabeth’s coldness at dinner tipped Phillip off to her animosity towards him. At home, they recalled their first meeting. He remembered thinking he’d lucked out. She brought up the fling Phillip had in New York with Irina, and that was that. Phillip attempted to apologize, but Elizabeth had shut down for good. From that point forward, they were strictly business.
Phillip had to suffer through another unfortunate date night with Martha, but eventually she handed him the paperwork she’d stolen in order to help him “get promoted.” Duped, Martha, so duped. At home, Phillip and Elizabeth scoured the files until they found a match with the photo the weapons dealer had handed them. Now, they had a face and a hotel room.
The assassin was a crafty fellow. He decided to target an FBI agent as opposed to confronting a scientist head on. After flirting with a floozy of a wife, the man snuck into the FBI agent’s hotel room and implanted something in the back of his walkie-talkie while the coupled screwed in the shower.
After completing his task, Elizabeth and Phillip confronted the assassin in his bedroom. Much to their dismay, the man refused to believe their allegiance and threatened to blow them up with a covertly placed explosive device. Assassins can’t be too careful! Is there really such a thing as a quite explosive? After a bit of a scuffle, they managed to disarm the man, but not before he pressed the detonator. Thankfully, Elizabeth managed to toss the bomb into the bathroom where he’d been contained. The aftermath was, well, liquid. That’s how you make goop!
I appreciated Nina’s final talk with Stan surrounding the difference between an FBI agent, essentially a cop, and a spy. Spies don’t want their targets prosecuted. They want to bleed them dry. She thought she was being sent back to Moscow for execution. Instead, she got promoted. She promised she would use her new position to earn her keep and eventual escape route.
Sadly, Phillip and Elizabeth were too late. The bomb had already been planted in the FBI agents walkie-talkie, and he made his way to a scientist’s house. The explosion sent shockwaves through the FBI headquarters. Still, the chief refused to start a war, promising just redemption for their fallen friends if the KGB could be pinned. At home, Elizabeth and Phillip got word. Elizabeth blamed her emotional anguish for the loss, while Phillip blamed the failure on the center’s lack of general togetherness. Phillip, still distraught over Elizabeth’s shortness with him, reminded her that the days of divorce being taboo were long gone. If she wanted out, they could separate, and no one would give a damn.
What did you all think of The Americans, Season 1 Episode 8, “Mutually Assured Destruction”? Do Phillip and Elizabeth stand a shot? Are you more concerned with Stan and Nina’s budding romance?
Thanks for reading my Recap and Review of The Americans, Season 1 Episode 8, “Mutually Assured Destruction”!