Major, major moves for Paige in this episode. I’ll save her for last as it’s the biggest plot point. I’ll start with the brief updates on the other 2 angles.
Oleg is more or less stewing. He’s made progress at work and has dodged getting into trouble from the surprise search of his home. While they found nothing and he navigated the interrogation well last week, it’s still a dark cloud following him. This episode we see him making friends with his partner while they’re on a stakeout. His partner clearly thinks well of Oleg so it looks like Oleg is making positive strides on someone he needs to trust him. His relationship with his parents is ice cold though.
Stan and Dennis’ recruitment, Sofia, looks like it’s going to start producing results soon (she’s got a hell of a smile now too).
The spike being driven into the Morozov family to get them to go back to the Soviet Union has started to hit flesh. Philip talks to Alexei (getting very little out of him) but Elizabeth gets much more from Evgheniya. Tuan’s twisted plan to get Pasha bullied so bad that it will force Evgheniya’s hand has worked. Some kids put dog feces into Pasha’s locker and it’s a fight every morning to get him to go to school. He and his mother weren’t happy to start with and this is turning into real trauma. So much so that Evgheniuya admits to Elizabeth about having the affair. Using her masterful manipulation skills (by way of motherly concerns), Elizabeth plants the seed that Evgheniya needs to fight for what she wants: her son to be happy. The seed to go back home has been planted.
Claudia tells Elizabeth and Philip that the wheat sample they got (and went back home with Gabriel) is a fantastic specimen. But the results of that effort won’t likely be seen for years. They both have to stick with their marks long term. Their faces when being told this speaks volumes about how they feel about it. As an aside, I totally misunderstood who Father Andrei is. He, just like Elizabeth and Philip was being handled by Gabriel. He isn’t a replacement (I believe Claudia is temp until a permanent one can be installed) and is now rather rudderless without Gabriel. He comes into use this episode though.
Philip still goes to EST meetings occasionally. The latest topic for this meeting is that people are machines, run with basic objectives with no free will that operates on simple stimulus. Philip is not cool with that. With having to deal with his mark in Topeka crushing him down, something he absolutely does not want to do (and feeling disillusioned with The Center’s motives) he feels the overwhelming need to take control of something in his life. What’s been keeping him grounded and what does he truly care about? Elizabeth. Their relationship was manufactured. A mission with the appropriate fake documents made so he and Elizabeth could hide in plain sight in the US. Through the years they’ve grown together and have formed an undeniable bond. Their marriage hasn’t been real and Philip wants to change that. Elizabeth agrees. They are secretly married by Father Andrei.
United stronger than ever, Paige enters the fold. This whole bit was watching The Americans unfold at it’s finest, really one of the best arcs to come together in the series.
Philip and Elizabeth come home late at night to see Paige cleaning the kitchen floor. To say she’s distraught is an understatement. Paige has continued to spy on Pastor Tim by reading his journal when she babysits for him. In it, she finds an entry about her. Pastor Tim thinks she’s a broken girl with a lost soul that may never be saved. She’s being harshly judged by someone she’s admired and respected for a long time. This puts incredible self- doubt on her. Her parents work to pull her back from the edge: this man, this judgemental man, doesn’t know her. Doesn’t know her heart, her thoughts, her dreams. They know her and know that this guy is full of it.
They next approach her with an idea. It isn’t right for her to have to be around this guy for years to come, to constantly monitor his threat level to them. What if we can get him humanitarian work overseas? At first, she’s shocked and dismisses it. How can you control another person’s life like that without their knowledge? It’s creepy and weird. They lay it out for her: it’ll be something he really wants to do and it’ll be nothing but positive for him and his family. We can’t force him to go, we can set up an opportunity, but he has to take it. It’s his choice. That seems to move her, but she has her doubts, so she asks about what has happened with “the wheat and the bugs and stuff.” They simplify what happened (lying through omission really) but they do tell her the truth. Their people will not starve because of infestation. They present the results to her so she thinks they had direct influence in stopping mass murder (an evil plot that actually never existed. Oh, and they killed an innocent man). They changed the world for the better because it was the right thing to do. They helped people and that is the sole reward for the work they must do in secret. That speaks to the core of who Paige is. It makes her feel good about what her parents do. It’s a large weight off her conscience.
This leads to the final scene and the reveal of the episode title. Paige took pictures of Pastor Tim’s journal in the hopes that they could pull info from it to figure out the ideal job offer for him. She hands the camera to them, knowing that bringing it to a photo mat would be stupid. Elizabeth and Philip get to work right away, bringing Paige right along side. They go into the garage and Paige watches her parents build a darkroom and develop the film themselves. As the pictures become legible, Pastor Tim’s words become visible and it’s horrible stuff. Elizabeth and Philip are absolutely stone-faced in anger as they read the condemnation and damnation of their daughter and themselves. Before this, Paige mentions to her parents that Harry should get to go away to school because that’s what is right for him. He’s different, he’s not like them. Paige is now completely turned away from Pastor Tim and standing next to her parents.