The Americans recap: 'IHOP'
Martha gets an unexpected visitor.
We open on a subplot that has largely shifted to the background: pot-smoking teen Kimberly, and her father – the head of a CIA group specializing in Afghanistan.
Philip is still nursing her as an unwitting contact, and that recorder of his remains lodged in her father’s attaché case.
We haven’t really spent much time with him directly, but here we see him getting a report about some act of bloody violence. Cut to Kimberly’s birthday, and Philip cutting a cake. Talk gets a little wistful – getting older, having a family. Not screwing up.
This has been on Philip’s mind a lot. He actually has multiple families to screw up now.
One of them involves Tuan, the Vietnamese refugee who is posing as their adopted son in an operation against the Morozov family. “Does Tuan ever say anything about any girls to you? I just think he’s lonely,” Elizabeth says. She’s planning to go spend the night at their house with him. Give him a sense of belonging.
Just then, they get a call: It’s the Center, with a “doctor’s appointment” for Philip. One of Gabriel’s other operatives needs to report some information.
Over at the FBI, counterintelligence has just translated an intercept from Thailand showing a group of known KGB agents went in and out of the country at the time Agent Gaad was murdered.
“I know how you feel about squeezing Burov, but it might take years for us to get someone like that inside the KGB again,” Stan Beeman’s boss tells him. “I could be next on their list. Or you. Any of us could be a target. Let us use the tape against him and get him working with us against them.”
When Elizabeth goes to spend some family time with Tuan, she finds the house empty. It’s late, and like any worried mother she calls his friends to see where he is, but the Morozovs haven’t seen him.
Something is wrong. Elizabeth sets about searching Tuan’s room, even measuring how wide the open space is between his closet doors so she can set it back exactly as it was.
Meanwhile, Philip listens to his latest recording from Kimberly’s father. That gruesome incident he was discussing? It’s not from artillery. It’s from hemorrhagic fever — the same kind of thing that William, by way of his horrific death, helped the KGB steal from American bio-weapons labs last season.
“On the tape, a group of Mujahideen died in a hemorrhagic fever. Maybe it wasn’t about protecting us after a nuclear attack. Maybe they just wanted to use it in Afghanistan,” Philip tells Elizabeth when she returns.
“We don’t know if it’s the same virus we gave them,” she says, forever the optimist.
“It’s a hell of a coincidence if it isn’t,” he says.
She has bad news for him, too. Tuan being gone at 3 a.m. feels wrong. They decide to hit him with some surveillance to see what their son is actually up to.
When Philip goes to his “doctor’s appointment,” he meets an orthodox priest who relays some information that doesn’t mean much to Philip, but was perhaps vital to the KGB. Gabriel would have known the context.
“Will I see you again then?” the priest asks when Philip departs.
“Only if something urgent comes up. The new person who is coming to work with you should be here in two to three months.”
“When I hear things… I used to just tell Gabriel, and he always said it was very important for him that we talk them through,” the priest says, clearly craving the human contact that serves as respite from such secrecy.
“I’m sorry I just can’t meet with you on a regular basis,” Philip says. He has too many identities to juggle as is.
“I will pray for you,” the priest tells him.
“Okay,” Philip responds.
“You should try it.”
“I keep hearing that,” Philip answers.
“It is a great solace,” the priest says. “Especially when you live this kind of life.”
News about Gaad’s killers has weighed on Beeman, and so he goes for a visit with Gaad’s widow. She says it’s nice of him to come. “Not one of you from the office has been by, or called.”
“That’s awful,” he says. “I guess we’re not the best at that.”
After some pleasantries, she gets to the point: “Did you just come to visit?”
“We have a better sense now of what happened in Bangkok. It was them,” he tells her. But wait, there’s more…
“And now, I have something on someone else. An unrelated case. But the department wants me to use it to get back at them,” Stan says. “Thing is, this guy didn’t do anything. The opposite. I don’t see putting him at risk to go after other people. Revenge isn’t that important, and I don’t think it would be to Frank.”
Gaad’s widow considers this. Then she hits him with a line that’s chillier than a Siberian gulag. “He would want revenge.”
Back at the Jennings house, Henry announces that he wants to attend a private boarding school in New Hampshire. This makes sense. His terrific grades would allow him to get a scholarship, and that would lift him out of the impending doom that the finale of this show would surely bring.
His parents can’t believe he doesn’t want to live with them anymore. But they barely live with him as it is.
Let’s go back to Russia, where an old friend awaits …
Martha, Martha, Martha… (to paraphrase Jan Brady).
Last we saw her, she was browsing the empty shelves of one of Moscow’s finest grocery stores. Now she’s frying onions for her baked potato dinner-for-one.
There’s a knock at the door: Gabriel! Whom she only met once, as her life was falling apart and the KGB was spiriting her out of the United States to this current paradise as a hero of the Motherland.
She’s not exactly thrilled to see him. “How’s your Russian coming?” he asks.
“It’s hard,” she answers. Not in Russian.
“Your life will get better when your Russian improves.” He promises her a good translating job when she can speak fluently.
“Do my parents know where I am?” she asks.
“No, but I spoke to them and told them you were safe and being taken care of by people who respect you,” he says. “Clark thinks about you, Martha. He wanted to send you a letter, but it’s not allowed. He’s the reason I talked to your parents. He insisted. He wants what’s best for you.”
All of this is actually true. Whatever else Gabriel is, he’s not a liar.
“What’s best for me? I understand everything now, Gabriel. All of it,” Martha says, shaking her head.
Gabriel has no other news for her. He’s just checking in on her well-being.
“You can go,” she tells him. “And please — don’t come back again.”
(Editor’s note: She’s not happy to see him, but I’m overjoyed that not only is Frank Langella remaining on the show after Gabriel departed the U.S., but he gets a knock-out scene with Alison Wright.)
Back stateside, KGB eyes are all over Tuan as he checks his watch, says goodbye to his friends, and heads to a Greyhound bus station to catch a ride to… Harrisburg, PA. For some reason.
Back in Moscow, Oleg Burov has been summoned to PGU headquarters at Yasenevo, the Russian foreign intelligence service’s version of the CIA’s Langley, VA.
“Thank you for cooperating at your apartment,” one of the PGU officials says. “We need the names of every foreigner you had contact with in America. Both professionally and personally.”
Burov says they’re all in his reports.
“The reports wouldn’t have every casual encounter. Nightclubs, restaurants, bars… Give it some thought.”
Burov insists he couldn’t possible remember the names of every single individual he encountered.
“Write down whatever names you can. Give it back to us with in the next 48 hours.”
They’re especially interested in his relationship with Stan Beeman, and why efforts to recruit him as a double agent failed. They also question him about Nina Krilova, who was executed last season.
“You should know if you don’t know already,” Burov tells them. “Nina Krilova and I were involved with each other.”
“Were you angry about what happened to Nina Krilova?” they ask.
Burov, much like Gabriel, hasn’t lied at all in this encounter. He’s keeping himself afloat, and above suspicion, by telling them the facts — not what he thinks they want to hear. “I’m still angry about it,” he says. “What could I do?”
Burov is released, and he comes home to find his parents bickering. His mother leaves the room, and Burov tells his father, “I know she was in a camp.”
“She told you?” his father says. “I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want you to think about it. Every family has a story like this.”
But the old man has more of the story to volunteer anyway: “When they took her away, I thought about killing myself. She got out… we had you, your brother. You think she was the same person when she came out?” He shakes his head. “She was different. I didn’t even recognize her.”
This part was heartbreaking: “I never saw her again, that girl I knew. In the camp, she… she… a lot of husbands, they left their wives. Families were… If we didn’t have children then I would have moved on, but I stayed with her. We made a family.”
This is confusing. He just said they had Oleg and his brother after she got out of the camp. My theory stands: This logging prison where Burov’s mother was detained is the same one where Philip’s father worked as a guard. I think we’re going to find a blood connection between these two men.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Burov asks his father.
“So you could have this life,” his father answers. Such as it is.
Later, Burov goes to the prison to meet the food distributor they are pressuring to give names about corruption in the produce business. Burov brings him an apple.
The man doesn’t want to name names. “These people. They’re more powerful than you think. More powerful than KGB,” he says. Sounds like the Russian mob, the early oligarchs who would then swarm to power when Communism fell. “They control all the food everywhere. They make deals, they take care of each other. Everyone needs them. Even the party.”
“I used to think my father was the most powerful man in the world. He’s a minister,” Burov says. “When I was a kid, he liked my brother best.”
(*Cough,* maybe because Oleg isn’t his actual son!)
“He’d deny it, but it’s true,” Burov continues. “When my brother went to Afghanistan, my father could have gotten him out. My brother wouldn’t let him. He was an officer. Was an officer. Now he’s a picture on the wall.” (Great line.)
He tells the grocery man he’s worried about “the wrong people. You should worry about putting your son in a picture. We’re stronger than you think.”
The message is clear: Either he talks, or his son ends up being target practice for the Mujahideen.
“Fomina Lydia Nikolayevna,” the man says. “God help me.”
Back in Harrisburg, Elizabeth and Philip are now part of the team tracking Tuan – who ducks into an IHOP.
When he shows back up at their shared home in Virginia, they throw his Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity ass right up against the wall and put a gun to the boy’s head.
“Where were you just now?” Elizabeth asks, the concerned mother.
“I caught surveillance on me!” he says, claiming he ducked into the IHOP just to get away from prying eyes.
“Do not lie to us. We were there.”
“It’s not what you think. I’m sorry. It’s just, my little brother from my family in Seattle. He’s sick, really sick. I called to check on him,” Tuan admits, saying he left the state so he wouldn’t be caught.
“Don’t put this in the report, please. I know it’s a dumb thing to do, but I work hard. I do everything, and this has nothing to do with that.” He’s pleading now. Not in the report? He’s lucky they don’t execute him on the spot.
Afterward, Philip and Elizabeth are driving home. Tuan lives to spy another day.
“What do you think?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” Philip says.
“I believe him. Do you?” she says. “If we report it, would they send him back to Vietnam?”
“Maybe that’s what he wants. To be pulled out of this s—, and start over,” Philip says.
“It’s not who he is,” Elizabeth answers.
In one episode, the Jenningses are set to lose both their sons.