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The Americans recap: The Rat

A vulnerable character edges toward extermination

Posted on

Craig Blankenhorn/FX

The Americans

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

Calling this episode “The Rat,” is a little mean to Martha, but okay…

The feds are close on her trail, and Philip is the only one in the KGB who is convinced her cover has been blown. “I brought her into this,” he tells Elizabeth. It’s fascinating to see how much she means to him. This “fake” wife is not so fake after all.

Martha packs her handgun and turns off a Today show broadcast featuring a woman talking about how she no longer feels the need to be married. That has never been the case with Martha. Throughout this series, we’ve gotten the sense that this unwitting KGB asset was something of a lonely heart.

When Stan Beeman and Agent Aderholt go through her history back at the office, we get confirmation: Only child. Never married. Engaged to a high-school sweetheart, but that was long ago. “He dumped her after she got pregnant,” Aderholt says.

“She put the kid up for adoption?” Stan asks.

“She had an abortion. In 1964 — back when it was dangerous.”

“And illegal,” Stan adds, not very sympathetically. He studies her photo. “Do you find Martha attractive?”

“There’s something sexy about her,” Aderholt says.

“Not much of a romantic life,” Stan says. “Except for that thing with Amador.”

“Who was murdered,” Aderholt says.

“Yeah. I’ve been thinking of that, too. A lonely existence, a few scattered relationships, nothing longterm.”

“And then this new boyfriend.”

“A married boyfriend.”

“Who she can never bring around.”

Elsewhere, Philip meets with William, the KGB’s man in the American bio-weapons lab. “We need another glanders sample,” he says. “You’ve done it once; you can do it again.”

“Yeah,” William says. They all just spent the weekend desperately hoping to inoculate themselves against the disease. “I really want to do that again.”

“You’ve been waiting 25 years for this, William. It’s why you did this. Now’s your chance, and when it’s over, you’ll return a hero.”

William scoffs. “Yeah, in a coffin.”

He tells Philip that research on glanders is almost over. He can’t get a sample of that, but he might be able to get his hot little hands on some tularemia, which sounds like a flower you might want in your wedding bouquet. (But it’s actually a bacteria that mimics the bubonic plague and can cause lesions, fever, and inflammation of the face and eyes.)

Or as William puts it: “Nasty stuff.”

Philip tells him he’s worried about his source, Martha, and expresses frustration about the KGB’s lack of urgency on the matter. “Our bosses don’t know what they’re doing,” William says. “You’ve figured that out. Right?”

“She trusts me.”

“Yeah,” William says. “That’s always a problem.”

NEXT: On the run…