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'The Americans' recap: 'I Am Abassin Zadran'

‘The Americans’ deliver one man’s bloody answer to the question of family vs. country.

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Patrick Harbon/FX

The Americans

TV Show
run date:
Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell
Current Status:
In Season

“I’m sorry to drop by unannounced. It’s so hard to talk around the office these days.”

Good Lord, what a terrifying reveal! After several expository installments, this penultimate episode of season 3 of The Americans was a live-wire of action as some of the slow-build machinations of The Center came to fruition and a few loose-cannon actions threatened to upend everything.

The sentence above is spoken by Noah Emmerich’s Agent Stan Beeman, lately an avuncular presence on the show as he bonds with the Jennings’ outcast son Henry, but as he utters that line he is the Sword of Damocles, dangling over that family’s head.

Matthew Rhys’ Philip is heading over to Martha’s house for the night, and he’s still so nervous about how she’s absorbing the news that her husband has been manipulating her for information that they send Hans the KGB intern to scout her place in advance. As Philip, disguised as “Clark,” approaches her home, Hans drives by and gives him a signal.

Then we cut to Martha, the indispensable Alison Wright, musing about changes to her apartment. “I keep thinking I want to paint, blue or something bolder. Then you have to live with it. And the smell, it lingers you know. Much longer than they say.”

The camera pans to reveal who is sitting at her kitchen table, and it isn’t “Clark.”

“Hmm. It’s a nice place,” Beeman says.

Since it wasn’t clear to me right away what kind of signal Hans gave Philip (I assumed it was “all-clear”) the tension was unbearable as I waited for Stan’s good-buddy Philip Jennings to walk through that front door in his “Clark” disguise. How could he possibly explain that? The solution could only be a bloodbath.

Soon it becomes clear that Beeman is on his own rogue operation to flush out the person who planted the listening device in FBI headquarters. He’s not so much accusing poor Martha, but he wants her to know she can count on him if there’s anything she needs to get off her chest. You know, away from the office, where it’s not so safe to talk anymore.

He’s scanning her apartment, seeing the book she’s reading, looking for something. My God, is he going to spot a wedding picture of her and “Clark”?

You’ve got to hand it to Martha. She may have been bamboozled for a long time, but she is now quick on her feet. “I hear the gossip at work about your marriage. And you should talk to somebody, but I’m not the right person,” she says. Way to turn it around on him and hit the bull’s-eye of his insecurity.

Stan takes his leave, and Martha goes to a drawer where she removes that wedding picture. Quick, Martha. Very quick.

I’m losing faith in the idea that she may be working with Gaad to bring down “Clark” and his operation.

When Philip arrives home, he breaks the news to Keri Russell’s Elizabeth. Hans waved him off. “Hans did good,” he says.

Things aren’t nearly so good between Philip and Elizabeth.

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NEXT: Strain in the family …