The Americans recap: Travel Agents
“I’ll scream… And then everyone will know you’re KGB!”
That’s where we left things last week, dangling off a cliff, and episode 7 of this season of The Americans has the KGB and the FBI trying to track down poor Martha, who was last seen hollering that line at Gabriel.
The KGB plan, orchestrated by Oleg and Tatiana, is kind of a five-point turn to get her out of the grasp of the United States government: Martha gets on a plane, small enough to literally fly below the radar. She lands in Key West, gets on a boat to Cuba, and from there the Soviet Union brings her to Prague and then on to Moscow.
At the safe house, Elizabeth and Philip return after securing the toxic rat from William. “We have a problem,” Gabriel says. “Martha is gone. She ran off. I went after her, tried talking to her. She stood on the street threatening to scream KGB.”
It has only been 40 minutes, so they start to brainstorm where she might be. “Let’s think, if you were her husband,” Gabriel says. At that, Elizabeth gives Philip a look.
Philip isn’t sure where Martha may be. He names a few places she liked to walk, her church, the zoo. “She could be anywhere,” Philip says.
“She’s seen your face,” Elizabeth reminds him.
“If you find her, bring her back,” Gabriel says. “If it’s in public and she starts screaming again… Well, you may have no choice.”
At the FBI offices, Stan Beeman and his sidekick Aderholt tell their boss Agent Gaad that they know for sure Martha’s boyfriend has a fake identity. They found the grave of a little boy who had the name Clark Westerfeld and the birthdays match. The noose tightens. Gaad can feel it around his own neck, as well as Martha’s.
Philip and Elizabeth head out to dragnet D.C. in search of Martha. “Gabriel’s right,” Elizabeth tells him.
“I know,” Philip says.
Right about…? I’m guessing it’s the need to end Martha if she starts talking too loudly about the KGB.
Back at Martha’s place, a forensic team is going through all of her things. ALL OF THEM. They’re melting her ice cubes. They’re picking apart her unopened tampons. Meanwhile, Agent Gaad stares forlornly through a window.
Philip decides to head to his KGB operator’s station so he will be able to pick up the phone himself if Martha calls.
NEXT: Martha is melting down…
Poor Martha herself is just powerwalking away some of her stress on a residential street, but every car, every FBI-looking businessman reaching inside his coat (for a hanky) sends her blood pressure skyrocketing.
She’s scared, desperate, lonely. Philip is genuinely worried about her. He can’t even finish a helping of borscht prepared by his operator. (Or hey, maybe she used too much ginger.)
At the FBI, Stan resists pressure from the deputy attorney general to blackmail Oleg at the Rezidentura, saying Oleg won’t respond to that kind of pressure. “This guy, he’s not cut like that. All that would do is wreck the operation, sir. I’m not gonna do it,” Stan says. Tough guy, Stan. Not afraid of the boss’s boss.
Martha places a heartbreaking phone call to her parents, which we hear as the FBI listens in. “Nothing’s wrong,” she says as her mother and father intuit that something’s off.
“I’m in trouble. So much trouble… It’s just not working,” she says. It’s not making any sense to them. “No matter what you hear, I love you,” she says, tears streaming down her face. (I’ve said this before, but, wow, Alison Wright is amazing. What she does with just a few words and the depth of emotion on her face is utterly powerful. Emmy voters, take heed.)
Stan points out that the KGB would never let her make that call on a vulnerable line. “They don’t have her,” he says.
The FBI tracks the call to a D.C. park, and Stan and Aderholt race to the vicinity and begin scouring for Martha. Stan notices the bridge from a photo she had of her and her parents, then wonders if the call was a suicide note of sorts, a goodbye. We’ve been wondering that, too!
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But no, Martha hasn’t done herself in. She calls the operator, and she’s relieved to hear Philip. She’s also angry. “You left me with a stranger.”
“I never should have left,” Philip says. “I’m so sorry.”
“I didn’t know if you were coming back, and it made me crazy, Clark.”
“It was wrong. I can’t tell you what a big emergency it was. But it was wrong. Can you forgive me.”
“I don’t know what to do, Clark. I don’t know…”
“Martha, we need to talk,” Philip says, desperate to bring her in – to save her.
“Talk…” she scoffs. “You’ll just tell me some version of the truth that’s not very true.”
She finally admits she’s at Rock Creek Park and tells him the trailhead where she’s waiting. First on the scene is Elizabeth, who approaches Martha like she’s an escaped wildcat – slowly, quietly, and with one hand on a gun in her pocket.
Martha hits Elizabeth with the most ironic line of the episode: “Are you sleeping with my husband?”
“No,” Elizabeth says. “Martha, please come back with me. We should talk with Clark about all of this.”
Martha starts to flip out, her voice rising, her temper flaring, and Elizabeth moves in – whoomp. At first, I thought this was it for Martha, figuring Elizabeth had just knifed her. But no, Elizabeth just knocked the wind out of the woman’s lungs, silencing her. For now.
“Martha, there is nowhere to go. They know who you are. They’re coming for you, and they will find you. They’ll arrest Clark. His life will be over,” Elizabeth whispers as Martha gasps for oxygen. “Do what I say, and you’ll live. You’ll live.”
By the time Clark arrives at the trailhead, Martha and Elizabeth are long gone.
NEXT: “What’s your name?”
At the Rezidentura, Tatiana tells Oleg she has secured a pilot to help Martha escape. She needed one for another operation. (I’m thinking it’s the infected rat that William secured.) “So we’re fine,” Tatiana says. Something is brewing between these two. Romantic? Treacherous? Not sure yet. Maybe both.
Back at the Jennings neighborhood, Henry and Stan’s son are stealing beers from Stan’s refrigerator. Paige comes over to get her brother and busts them for underage drinking. But she’s learning collusion. “Can I have one?” she asks.
At the FBI, Gaad tells Stan that the deputy attorney general went to the director with tales of Stan’s disoebedience. Gaad backed Stan: “I told him the deputy attorney general needs to get the hell out of my department.”
“I bet that went over well,” Stan says.
Gaad says he learned in Vietnam not to fall down and play dead. “Then again, with the bug in my office, and Gene, and now Martha, I’m pretty much dead already.”
Philip gets to the safe house and is relieved to find Martha resting in the bedroom. She’s bruised by Elizabeth’s hit, but no permanent damage. “What’s your name?” she asks.
“Philip,” he tells her.
Martha shakes her head. “The name you were born with.”
“Mikhail,” he says. “But everybody called me Mischa.”
“Mischa…” she says.
It’s probably the truest moment that has ever passed between them.
Downstairs, Elizabeth tries to have her own moment of clarity. “If she runs again…”
“I know,” he says. It could easily be curtains for Martha.
“Tell her you’ll join her,” Elizabeth says. “She needs that hope.”
But there’s more.
“If you could go back, with Martha… If our kids were grown and you could just get out of this whole life…would you? Go with her?” Elizabeth asks.
“Are you crazy?” Philip says.
“It’s not like that at all,” he says. Elizabeth doesn’t look so sure.
“You should give her that ice before it melts,” she says.
“I love you,” Philip tells her. What they have is more than just a partnership forged by their profession and necessity. This is what Elizabeth needs to hear, but we still don’t know for sure. As Martha said, You’ll just tell me some version of the truth that’s not very true.
At the FBI, Stan brings in drawings of Martha and Clark Westerfeld, the boyfriend. Gaad has some news for him. “Not boyfriend,” he says. “They seduced — and married — my secretary.”
Whatever happens to Martha, Gaad’s goose is cooked. “I’m in charge of FBI counterintelligence, and my secretary married a KGB officer,” he says.
At the safe house, Clark explains to Martha that she’ll be flown out to Russia to lead a new life. “I know it’s not easy. It’s the only way,” he says.
“How soon before you’ll come?” she asks.
He’s no longer lying to her. “I won’t.”
Martha is heartsick. “Not even to visit?”
She’s losing everything she knows. Her family, her friends, her job — her whole life is gone. Now her husband is gone, too. She doesn’t even speak Russian. “I’ll be alone. Just the way it was before I met you,” she says.
At the Jennings home, Elizabeth prepares for bed. She looks at herself in the mirror, asking questions that can’t be said aloud.
At the safe house, Martha and Clark are lying beside each other, unmoving but wide awake. Waiting for the next thing. The last thing.