In this thrilling episode, repatriated physicist Anton Baklonov is working on stealth technology in a Moscow lab. But he tells the lab director that his prototype won’t work without two key technologies that the Americans have: radar absorbent material (RAM) for the outside of the plane, and Echo, a computer program that determines if a stealth design will work.
It’s up to the illegals (Elizabeth and Philip) in America to get the RAM. As for Echo, Arkady Ivanovich and Oleg Igorevich are counting on getting that intel from Stan Beeman, who now has stealth clearance and a failing marriage. (Nina Sergeevna reports to Arkady and Oleg that Stan’s wife has left for a “romantic interlude” with another man, and Arkady is convinced that Stan is more likely to betray his country now that his home life is in shambles.) Stan is in love with Nina and Arkady needs Nina to get him to reveal what he knows about stealth technology.
Oleg has fallen in love with Nina, too. In a sweet moment at the Rezidentura, he gives her a Young Pioneer pin—the kind she told him she was proud to wear as a kid. When she puts the pin on her blazer, he says, “I think it’s a lucky pioneer to be so close to your heart.” But that’s before Oleg learns, from Arkady, that Nina betrayed her country. Arkady tells Oleg that Nina gave information to Stan Beeman, and that if Nina fails to get Stan to betray his country, she’ll be sent back to Moscow to stand trial for treason. Oleg goes to Nina and warns her: “If you don’t think Agent Beeman will betray his country for you, you need to run.”
In pursuit of RAM, Philip goes to see a former Lockheed employee named John Skeevers, a brilliant aeronautical engineer who was asked to leave after he started making “crackpot claims” about the company trying to poison him. (If he had top-clearance to work on stealth, it’s entirely possible that someone was actually trying to poison him.) The embittered, paranoid Skeevers is ready to talk.
At the FBI, Agent Gaad and Stan have figured out that Emmet and Leanne Connors were actually illegals working for the KGB. And thanks to the bug in Gaad’s office, Philip and Elizabeth know that they have deduced the truth about Emmet and Leanne. They also know that Stan went to see Emmet and Leanne’s son, Jared. So Elizabeth decides to go see Jared herself. She wants to know what Stan asked him. But she also feels guilty about the fact that she never gave Jared the letter from his mother, revealing the truth about his parents’ identities: “I made a promise,” she tells Philip, “and now he may have found out from an American.”
But Jared seems to know a lot more than Philip and Elizabeth realized. When Elizabeth goes to see him (again in disguise as an employee of Child Services), he says, “I’m not stupid, you know.” Later, Elizabeth spies him in a pizza parlor meeting with Kate, Philip and Elizabeth’s handler. Kate is not in disguise for that meeting, which suggests that Jared may already be a KGB spy. Did his parents tell him the truth before they died? Is Kate already his handler?
The dangerous Captain Larrick, who killed George, the KGB’s answering service, last week, breaks into Kate’s house this week. He ties her up and demands information about the people who killed his “friends” at the Martial Eagle camp. He has no idea how to find Philip and Elizabeth without her help. But she spits in his face and refuses to talk, so he breaks her neck.
The Centre can’t reach George or Kate, so they’re getting suspicious. They signal Elizabeth and Philip with Kate’s address and tell them to go check on her. Elizabeth finds a coded message on the inside of an empty toilet paper roll, and back at home, Philip cracks the code. It says, “Get Jared out.”
In the FBI safe house, a frightened Nina tells Stan that Arkady knows that she has passed information to him. And Stan, whose marriage is clearly over, assures Nina that he’ll protect her. “Nothing will come between us,” he promises.
With just two episodes left in what has been a stellar second season, “The Americans” is poised for showdowns: with Larrick, with Nina, and with Jared. I can’t wait to see what happens.