The Americans recap: 'The World Council of Churches'
Pastor Tim gets an offer he can't refuse
They got to Pastor Tim. They tempted him into biting the apple, and he didn’t even know it.
While he and Paige are saying their farewells after a successful afternoon of food-banking, the good reverend tells her he has accepted a job with the World Council of Churches in Argentina, running their interfaith mission.
He has her parents to thank for that career boost, although he doesn’t know it. And he certainly doesn’t realize he’s being moved out of the picture.
“Wow,” Paige says. “Wow.”
“We’re going to miss you, Paige.”
“You and Alice have been really good to me. Meeting you changed everything for me,” she tells him.
“We’re going to keep in touch,” he responds.
She wants to know who will be the next pastor, and he says that’ll happen in the weeks ahead. He has two months before his departure. (If he can keep his mouth shut and not get a dose of polonium tea from the KGB before that.)
At home, Paige breaks the good (?) news to her parents and asks how exactly they pulled the strings to make this happen.
“The Soviet Union has worked hard for peace. We have connections all over the world,” her mother says.
“With religious institutions?”
“Some of them fight for justice. Which is good enough for us,” Elizabeth answers.
Paige takes off her cross necklace and drops it in the trash. With Pastor Tim’s departure, a part of her faith is leaving, too. She’s been maintaining it just to keep up appearances.
Elizabeth retrieves the cross from the rubbish. “You have to wear it until he’s gone,” she says.
Over in Moscow, Oleg Burov is being grilled over his relationship with Tatiana at the Rezidentura. She was running point on William the bio-weapons mole, and his exposure (to the FBI, not the Lassa virus) must have come from some sort of tip-off.
Burov admits he had an intimate relationship with her but denies they ever discussed operations. This is a tense exchange because he’s lying. He is the one who alerted the FBI to William’s actions. Specifically, he told Stan Beeman — and the KGB knows Beeman was involved in William’s arrest.
“Is it really just a coincidence that Beeman was involved in disrupting an operation run by an officer you were sleeping with?” one of the agents asks.
Burov plays it well. He hasn’t lied before, and it doesn’t seem like he’s lying now. He uses logic as a shield. “Beeman works for counterintelligence in Washington, D.C. If the FBI got onto a big operation there, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t involved,” he says.
Back in the states, Beeman and Aderholt have a surprise encounter with Sofia’s new boyfriend, the hockey player, who knows everything about her work with them.
Gennadi Bystrov tells them not to worry, but those two FBI agents are nothing but vaguely smiling balls of panic at the moment. “I’m not political. Your country, my country, important both sides try to understand and get along,” he says. “No war, I hate war.”
He wants to help them, since he wants to help Sofia, his future wife, and her son. Their son.
Philip and Elizabeth meet with Claudia and tell her things are proceeding apace with Pastor Tim. They also reveal they’ve been talking about whether it’s time for them to end their tour in America.
“I understand,” Claudia says. “I find when officers start to think seriously about it, it’s usually time.” She adds, “It takes two or three years to adjust. Longer for the kids. But people don’t usually regret coming home.”
Passive-aggressive Claudia. Never fails.
Back in the U.S.S.R., Burov is alarmed to see that everyone who helped him on the food corruption probe has now been arrested. He asks his superior officer to consider leniency for some of them, who were just doing what the broken system required of them.
Later, he gets good news. Leniency has been granted. But the whole investigation has unraveled because it reached so high into the party’s upper echelon that no charges will be fired against the biggest operators in the scam.
The little fish were let go, but the big ones got away, too.
Back in the states, Elizabeth learns that life for the Morozov family is getting bad — just as they planned. The goal is to send Evgheniya back to Moscow so she can continue her affair with the CIA operative she was tutoring. The only way the Jenningses could think to make them return home was to make life hell for their son, Pasha.
“Alexei is not taking them back,” Elizabeth tells Tuan after the meeting. “Evgheniya is not going to change his mind. And she’s not going back without her husband.”
They have to rethink this. But Tuan has some ideas…
At the FBI, Beeman and Aderholt express alarm about Sofia sharing her collaboration with her new fiancé. They don’t think she’s conning them, but they’re not sure about him. “If she’s a part of this, she’s the best long-game player I’ve ever seen. Honestly, we’re worried about her. If she’s already blown, and they’re using her, my god,” Stan says.
“We don’t know anything. Maybe it’s working, maybe it’s not,” his boss says. “We’ll find out.”
In other words, the FBI is fine with her being at risk.
The Jennings family has a meeting with Pastor Tim, giving him a compass as a congratulations/going-away gift.
“Before you go, we wanted to get your advice on a family thing. Do you think we could ever take Paige and Henry back home?” Philip asks.
Why. Are. They. Doing. This?
If Pastor Tim objects, if he thinks they’ll take an action that will harm the kids, he will totally blow their cover. This is a massive, unnecessary risk.
“Does Henry know anything?” the pastor asks.
He does not.
“Does Paige know you’re thinking about this?”
“Not yet,” Philip tells him.
“We will talk to her soon,” Elizabeth promises.
“Paige and Henry are teenagers, so at this age the transition would be a very difficult one for them,” the pastor says. “But in a few years it won’t be your decision to make anymore. I wish I could tell you what you should do. But I don’t know.”
Back home, Henry reminds his parents that he would like to be sent to a high-quality boarding school by preparing them dinner with the help of his girlfriend, Chris. Henry is in a whole other show, living the life of a normal American teen.
Over in the Soviet Union, we see Philip’s other son, Mischa, working in a factory, living the life of a normal Russian teen, I guess.
A man comes to meet him, Philip — er, Mischa’s — brother. He invites the young man for dinner, where the family has a quiet meal in the shadows, talking about Mischa/Philip like he’s Fight Club — the thing you never talk about.
While Paige continues to marvel at her parents for having fake names (seriously, she hasn’t gotten over this in all the episodes since she learned they’re Russian spies?), Burov is back in Moscow having a heart-to-heart with his own father about his disillusionment with the Party and its tolerance of corruption.
“Everyone feeds at the trough. I’m sorry to say,” his father tells him.
“I don’t, Oleg. Never did. Never will,” his father says. “I raised you and your brother to be good, honest. But the ones who control things, they don’t want change. They’ll fight back and they’ll win.”
But if they keep trying to accuse Oleg of wrongdoing, his father is ready to fight. “I couldn’t help your mother. But I can crush people now.”
In D.C., Philip and Elizabeth drive over for some family time with Tuan. They’re fretting about what will become of Henry and Paige if they retreat to Russia.
“Who will they talk to until they learn Russian?” Philip wonders.
“They’ll learn fast. They’re smart. I think Paige would do well there, after she got used to things. I think she’d like it,” Elizabeth says.
“Maybe…” But Philip has other questions. “Would they just go around Moscow as Paige and Henry Jennings?” They don’t have “real” Russian names to claim as their own.
“They should take your name,” Elizabeth suggests.
“What about you?”
When they meet up with Tuan, he has alarming news. To nudge the Morozovs back to Moscow, he convinced Pasha to attempt suicide by slashing his wrists.
“He hates his life here. They find him, they find the note, they’ll take him back,” Tuan says.
“Pasha could also end up dead,” Philip says. He’s not about to let another innocent die because of their missions.
They call the Morozov house, but no one answers. It’s time to take a walk.
We end on a cliffhanger, and Pasha is the one dangling…