The end of this episode was absolutely nuts! Considering the 40-minute build up, the pay marks one of the most shocking moments of the series.
Oleg and his partner question the woman they’ve been scouting. She’s one of the higher ups in the food game and when they pressure her in questioning, they get more anger than fear out of her. She’s rather offended that government employees are coming after her. They live in a world that the general Soviet people don’t live in, oblivious to the struggles and how their country really operates. She works for powerful people and is simply doing her job in a system she didn’t set up and has no control over. This is just how things work…she’s not going to talk.
Of the Jenning kids, Henry gets some time this week. First, Philip and Elizabeth come to agree that if Henry wants to go to boarding school, he should be able to go. If he gets in, they won’t be a barrier, Henry, more interestingly, gets to tag along with Stan to the FBI for an article for the school newspaper. Stan gives him a general tour and when Henry shows him the first draft of his writing, he thinks Henry is laying it on a little thick. Henry has been more that impressed by what he saw and wonders why Stand doesn’t think his career is awesome. It’s all about relationships. In his line of work, Stan can’t blindly trust anyone. Everyone he meets must be scrutinized, it’s his job to sniff out deception from anyone, no matter their age, sex, gender or ethnicity. That kind of mentality follows you home.
When Henry comes home, Philip and Elizabeth see how excited he is from the field trip. When they ask about his day one thing in particular sticks to them: the room that can’t be bugged.
This episode sees an entire reprieve from their missions in Kansas. At their meeting with Claudia, she first relays information the asked her for previously: yes, the Center weaponized the virus they took off of William. They named it after him to boot. Not too thrilled about getting that confirmation, Claudia puts them on a new mission. The Center believes they’ve found a woman they’ve been looking for 40 years. They say she’s guilty of killing hundreds of Soviet soldiers during World War II (Dyatkovo is a town in Russia that was heavily contested through much of WWII, the location’s occupation force changed multiple times).
Elizabeth and Philip especially, are skeptical. How did the Center find her? What evidence did they find and use to finally track her down? The first task the Center wants them to do is simply stake her out. Take pictures, see how she’s living her life and they’ll take it from there.
In a short amount of time, they scope her out and report their findings (with pictures). The Center is convinced that they found their woman and want her taken out to punish her crimes against her countrymen. Elizabeth and Philip are not happy about being put on this. After the lab fiasco, they have a lot of doubts that make them not blindly follow orders now.
I’m not going to describe what happens. It’s one of the most emotionally vacillating and intense scenes in The Americans. They found brilliant actors to make the scene work as well as it does. I was left dumbfounded and what Elizabeth says afterward means it’s completely changed her. She’s been able to compartmentalize and soldier on better than Philip, but this…oof.