The Americans recap: 'Crossbreed'
Gabriel can hardly believe what Elizabeth has learned about the U.S. government’s secret agriculture program. It’s not about blighting Soviet crops but about breeding a pest-resistant stalk of wheat.
“Stobert just wants to end world hunger? Like Miss America?” Gabriel asks her.
He knows this news must have hit Philip hard, since he killed a lab technician thinking the program was aimed at creating famines. Nonetheless, Gabriel sees a bright side: “If they’ve come up with some kind of ‘super wheat,’ think what getting our hands on it would mean to us. No more shortages. No more buying grain from the west. We could make it right.”
The mission will continue. Elizabeth will continue nurturing her relationship with Stobert, which is growing into a robust, healthy thing itself, while Philip will remain with Deirdre Kemp, a witheringly dull weed of a relationship.
Elizabeth sighs. “You’re spread thin,” Gabriel acknowledges.
“There’s something wrong with me,” she answers.
“It’s a long career. And there’s nothing wrong with you. Ever,” he tells her.
Back home, she briefs Philip on the meeting. “Gabriel asked me how you took the news about the guy in the lab,” she says. “Are you… fine?”
“I’ll do my job. I’ve always done it,” he says.
In addition to the continued search for wheat, she has been given another assignment: retrieve files from a psychiatrist.
In bed, Philip is haunted by memories of his family, seeing his father bring home an old boot and his mother scrubbing it clean. “My father used to bring home all this stuff. We didn’t have anything,” Philip tells his wife. “Now we have everything. It’s so strange sometimes.”
The next day, in a park, we see Stan Beeman and his FBI partner Aderholt approach a Russian woman who is watching her son play. They leave her their card, and she seems to be the first person who has even considered helping them by turning informant. It’s a brief moment, but seems to be set-up for a future plotline. (Everything in this episode seems that way.)
Back in Russia, we see Mischa, Philip’s wandering son, arrive back after his excruciating, dangerous journey to America – where he was promptly turned around by Gabriel.
“He’s home. They met him at the airport,” Gabriel reports to his fellow handler, Claudia. “They’re going to give him his old job back.”
Still, he’s haunted. “The look on his face when he left… Philip gives that look sometimes, when he’s troubled.”
“Is Philip troubled now?” she asks.
“I don’t think he’s particularly happy,” Gabriel says. Sending back the boy feels wrong to him. So does keeping it secret. “I’ve never lied to them before.”
“He’s lied to you,” Claudia says. “You did the right thing.”
Later, we see Gabriel walking at night. He goes to the Lincoln Memorial. He looks across the reflecting pool and… reflects. The Washington Monument rises in the distance.
In Moscow, Oleg Burov and his partner Ruslan continue their corruption probe by visiting the suspicious food-distributor’s apartment, where they find boxes of cash and fine jewelry.
When the man gets home, he has a choice: tell them who is paying him to manipulate deliveries, or go to jail. The man explains a little about how palms are greased and food is supplied to one group or another. But he won’t name names.
“If I answer that, I’m finished. You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” he says.
“Come with us. You can sit in a cell until you give us what we need,” Ruslan says.
This episode is full of short, choppy scenes — more of a grab bag of offbeat moments than a cohesive story. We see Elizabeth in Topeka, doing tai chi with Stobert and apparently sinking deeper into her infatuation with him.
Back in Washington, Philip presides over a surveillance crew that is following Morozov’s wife as she embarks on her new career teaching Russian to American government agents, possibly CIA operatives.
Philip and Elizabeth’s son Henry has dinner with Stan and tells him about a crush he has on a girl in his class. He hasn’t told his parents, who are barely around. Stan seems to enjoy being in on the secret.
Later we get a Mary Kay saleswoman at the door, talking about a creamy foundation that “will seal in moisture and keep your skin silky, smooth, and sassy.” Elizabeth all but slams the door in her face. I’m left wondering: Who is this woman? What purpose does this scene serve? (My impulse is to think, “Is she KGB?” but that never seems to be the case.)
Paige asks her mother why she was so rude, and Elizabeth says matter-of-factly: “We weren’t going to buy anything. Being nice would just be a waste of her time.”
In a meeting with Gabriel, they fill him in on the Morozov operation, and their handler fills them in on some news of his own. He’s leaving. Going back to Moscow. They demand to know why, but he doesn’t seem to have the answer they want. “I’m just ready to go home. You don’t need me anymore. You have each other.”
Maybe he’s trying to get them to join him. “Philip, as long as you’re here, the center is going to continue to be concerned about you,” he says. “Once they start worrying about someone, they never stop.”
He dials up the alarm a little. “To be honest, I’m worried. You’ve seen too much. You’ve done too much.” But Elizabeth and Philip don’t seem like they’re going to change course. “I’ll miss you terribly,” he says.
Back in Moscow, Oleg waits in the park for the CIA contact who left him a map and a tape of him betraying the Soviet Union to the FBI. But no one ever comes.
In Washington, Elizabeth takes the first steps on her mission to steal files from the psychiatrist. Before going through the door, she blackens a key with a lighter and then sticks it in the lock, presumably to gauge the markings later.
Inside the appointment, she actually tells the doctor a redacted version of events from her own life. Like Philip, she needs to get some things off her chest. We see her visiting the home of Young Hee, the woman whose family she wrecked last season in pursuit of access to her husband’s bio-weapons lab. There’s a new family living in the house.
Back home, Philip tells her more stories about being haunted by his childhood – which he barely remembers. She urges him to discuss it with Gabriel. They trust him, and he may know more details about Philip’s family.
Turns out, he does. Philip’s father wasn’t a logger, as his mother told him. He was a guard at a prison camp where detainees performed logging as forced labor.
“Did he ever kill anyone, people who were trying to escape?” Philip asks.
“I have no idea. I never saw records like that. Some guards were cruel. Some were kind,” Gabriel said. “I didn’t know your father.”
“So that’s why you came for me?” Philip asked.
“We were always on the lookout for talented people. You were talented,” Gabriel says. “The fact that you came from a trustworthy family, that was good.”
He tries to convince Philip that whatever violence his father may have committed is irrelevant. “Those were different times. It’s hard to explain. Who knows what your father did. He had his job. A lot of things happened. You think it was his fault? He was nobody.” Gabriel sighs. “We were all nobodies.”
Back home, Elizabeth finds Paige reading Karl Marx. “They assign you that for social studies?” her mother asks.
“Pastor Tim gave it to me,” Paige says.
Elizabeth wants to know what she thinks.
“I actually agree with what he says. Except he doesn’t like religion,” the girl answers. “Nothing in my life made me feel as good as getting baptized.”
Elizabeth says she read Das Kapital when she was young, too. “My whole country came out of those ideas.”
“What’s it like there? Is everybody equal?” Paige asks.
“We have our problems. But everybody is in it together,” Elizabeth says.
“You haven’t been there in a long time,” her daughter replies.
Elizabeth smiles wearily. “That’s what your dad says.”
When Philip gets home, he asks Elizabeth if she knows anything about the labor camps.
“I know they existed.”
“I’m not sure why my mother didn’t tell me,” he says. “Maybe she didn’t like what he did. I didn’t know anything. My own parents, I didn’t know anything about them at all.”
Welcome to Henry’s world.
Back in Moscow, Oleg Burov goes to check on the imprisoned food distributor while Peter Gabriel’s “Lay Your Hands on Me” plays on the soundtrack. He considers the man’s fate and is clearly wondering what will become of him if his betrayal of Mother Russia is ever exposed.
But Stan’s blackmail of the CIA to stop the harassment of Burov seems to have worked. No one is coming for him. He goes to this roof, regards his city, and burns the letter and the cassette tape.
Back in the U.S., Paige is being taken for a ride by her parents. They’re taking her to meet one of their dearest friends.
As the show ends, Paige reaches out and shakes the hand of a kindly old man.
Just as Gabriel is ready to say goodbye, he gets one last hello.