“The Americans” recap: “It must be done”

In last night's episode, jealousy mounts and Elizabeth prepares to kill

Topics: the americans, philip jennings, elizabeth jennings, kerri russell,

"The Americans" recap: "It must be done"

In this episode, Philip and Elizabeth’s official mission involves the Pakistani intelligence service. Their handler, Kate, informs them that members of the ISI will be in Washington for four days to meet with the CIA. Their target is Yousaf, a young, European-educated intelligence officer likely to be susceptible to the charms of a beautiful American woman. Elizabeth is prepared to seduce him, as she has done with countless other targets. But Philip, who enjoys a newfound tenderness in his relationship with his wife, and doesn’t like thinking about her with other men, suggests that his recruit, Annalise, do the dirty work.

Elizabeth worries that Annalise doesn’t have enough experience. Annalise may be able to make initial contact, but will she be able to maintain the relationship and keep up the lies, to keep gathering intelligence for years, if necessary?

Captain Larrick returns unexpectedly from Nicaragua. He’s back seeking vengeance on the KGB, whose botched operation at his Martial Eagle training camp resulted in three deaths. Larrick finds the secret KGB switchboard in the basement of a Bethesda house, where one man, in a room full of phones, signals Philip and Elizabeth (and other illegals) by making coded calls. Larrick kills the man and takes control of the switchboard. He has the number for Kate, Philip and Elizabeth’s handler, so it’s only a matter of time before he uses it to wreak havoc.

Agent Gaad has been reinstated as the director of counterintelligence at the FBI, thanks to the maneuvers of Arkady Ivanovich. Last week, Gaad went to meet Arkady, his counterpart at the Soviet rezidentura, at a diner. Gaad was at risk of losing his job because of Moscow’s pressure on Washington to investigate the suspicious death, last season, of Vlad, a young diplomat. Gaad told Arkady that if he went down, Arkady would go with him. This week, Arkady comes to see Gaad at home. (Note: Gaad’s house, so obviously in brownstone Brooklyn, cannot pass for any neighborhood in Washington, D.C.) Arkady has convinced Moscow to accept the DC police’s version of what happened to Vlad. Arkady has saved Gaad and himself. But he shows Gaad a picture of Vlad, a young man who didn’t have the stomach for the KGB. “He wanted to be a doctor,” Arkady says. Gaad reminds him that the KGB killed Chris Amador (Stan’s old partner): “You target our people, we target yours.”

Back at work, Gaad helps Stan with his investigation of Oleg Igorevich Burov. Burov arrived at the Soviet Rezidentura in January, just two weeks before the DOD’s secret Stealth technology meeting in Alexandria. Since Oleg is in charge of Line X, the Soviets’ science and technology projects, Stan is convinced that he is responsible for kidnapping Baklonov, the scientist, as part of a larger plan to steal the Americans’ Stealth technology. Stan is also now suspicious that the murder, of Emmet and Leanne, in an Alexandria hotel room, was related to this Stealth operation. It is Agent Gaad who discovers a secret compartment in a briefcase found in Emmet and Leanne’s hotel room. “This is an intelligence service,” Gaad says.

So the FBI now knows that Emmet and Leanne were “illegals.” Stan goes to see their surviving son, Jared, to see if he thinks his parents had any “secrets.” He also shows Jared a sketch of the two illegals he’s searching for (Philip and Elizabeth in disguise). That sketch, drawn from a description by one of Philip and Elizabeth’s targets last season, is so obviously Philip and Elizabeth that it is impossible to believe that Stan doesn’t recognize them.

In bed with Oleg Igorevich Burov, Nina Sergeevna reminisces about her childhood in the USSR. She was a Young Pioneer, who was proud to wear her Lenin pin at Pioneer camp. Oleg is proud of his work on Line-X: he believes that by stealing the Americans’ stealth technology, he will be “restoring world balance.” But Nina is nostalgic for a simpler time. Her life now is so complicated; she’d go back to Pioneer camp if she could.

Paige is also dreaming of summer camp. She wants to be a CIT at a church camp this summer. Philip, who feels guilty for ripping up her Bible and being so harsh when he learned that she’d given all her money to the church, is open to the plan. But Elizabeth refuses to let her daughter turn into a “Jesus freak.” When Elizabeth is emptying the trash in Paige’s room and discovers a piece of paper on which Paige practiced forging her mother’s signature (for the camp application), she flips out. Paige didn’t turn in the forged application—she didn’t want to lie—but her mother says she still can’t go to the camp. By episode’s end, Paige is in her room “with the door locked.” I really hope next week doesn’t bring a suicide attempt.

Annalise, per Philip’s instructions, has made contact with Yousaf. But Yousaf doesn’t know much about the top-secret mission that brought him and his boss to Washington. Yousaf is #2; until his boss, Javid, is out of the picture, he won’t know have any real information. So the Centre orders Philip and Elizabeth to take out Javid. They learn that the man swims in the hotel pool in the evenings. So while Annalise seduces Yousaf in his hotel room, Elizabeth dons her swimsuit and prepares to kill.

The real star of this episode was Pete Townshend, who composed a song called “It Must Be Done” especially for “The Americans.” The song was used during a brilliantly choreographed sequence, in which Elizabeth murders her Pakistani target in the hotel pool, while Philip’s contact Annalise has sex with her Pakistani target in a hotel room. Both women do what they have to do, even if they don’t like it. Afterward, a nearly hysterical Annalise comes to Philip’s hotel room, furious that he pimped her out. She’s a new recruit, who has never before been used this way. Unlike Elizabeth, she hasn’t hardened to the task. Philip couldn’t bear the thought of Elizabeth sleeping with another man, but by putting the vulnerable Annalise on the job, he may have compromised the operation.

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