The Americans recap: 'Rififi'
The world is collapsing around Philip and Elizabeth and they are too busy warring with each other to even realize it. The deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Teacup has ignited a counter-espionage wildfire in the FBI, and they’ve connected more dots than ever before about the covert Soviet operation in the United States.
Philip and Elizabeth are tearing their relationship apart just when they need each other the most.
We begin with Philip dropping a heaping helping of judgment on Elizabeth. “Stan came by. He was very upset about the couple murdered right in front of their 7-year-old kid.”
“I didn’t do it in front of their kid. He was in another room. I didn’t see him,” Elizabeth shoots back.
“He saw them. Covered in blood.”
“What do you want me to say?”
He doesn’t want her to say anything. He’s the one with more to say. “I’m not doing the thing with Kimmy.” At the end of the last episode, he not only aborted that mission, but he also warned Kimmy that she was a target who should avoid going to any Communist country during her trip to Greece.
Elizabeth is pure venom. “Of course you aren’t. You were never going to do it.” Then, a twist of the knife: “You just wanted to f— her. You weren’t getting enough action here.”
She tells Philip that she will take care of the Kimmy situation.
“I warned her not to go to any Communist countries. I’m never going to see her again. It’s over.”
Elizabeth is gobsmacked. She pulls away, isolating herself upstairs. Philip has just betrayed her, their homeland, and their entire partnership. That would be a fatal mistake for most people.
At the FBI, Adherholt asks Stan to join him for a moment in counter-intelligence. “Every time I go someone dies,” Stan says.
They are joined in the elevator ride by the traitorous mail robot. Don’t ever say The Americans writers don’t have a sense of humor.
Down in the safe room, Stan learns there has been a breakthrough. They’ve ensnared an “illegal,” a Soviet spy living as an American citizen — but this one is in Chicago. They haven’t arrested him, but they’re watching. And they’re unpacking his life from afar and gleaning information that could help them track and capture other spies.
They know the Russians are trying to get a radiation center, and they’ve connected Elizabeth’s failed heist (which resulted in three dead guards) with the suicide of the Air Force general. And it’s all because the late Mr. Teacup had a pouch of diplomatic information that mentioned the sensors.
This operation is code-named Harvest.
“They’re stealing our weapons and technology,” says Aderholt, who has also connected this to the upcoming arms summit. “They want to look peaceful, but really they’re just trying to screw us.”
He tells Stan: “It’s gonna happen fast.” They’re going to find the other spies. (And we know, there are just a few episodes of the series left, so yeah. He’s right.)
“You should be here,” Aderholt tells Stan.
It’s Thanksgiving, and Philip picks up Henry from his boarding school. Henry has been detached from the family, but that may have allowed him some perspective on it. He tries to help his dad with the failing travel business. He’s offering to get a job. He’s taking a lot of liberties that make Philip feel like a loser.
Elsewhere, Elizabeth is taking in a movie. The 1955 heist drama Rififi. She’s especially interested in a young man there named Jackson Barber, who is a cinephile at night and an intern in Sen. Sam Nunn’s office by day.
Nunn would go on to co-author the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, a deal which led to the disarmament of thousands of Russian nuclear weapons. But for now, with the summit looming, Elizabeth is following up on Paige’s lead.
She may not have wanted her daughter to sleep with an intern to gather intel, but she’s certainly willing to do it.
Back home, Henry has the first of two awkward encounters with his mother. He catches her smoking and asks when she started.
“I’ve always smoked,” she says. “You’re an adult. I don’t have to hide things anymore.”
The next day, Henry and his dad play hooky. They go to a toy car race track, and when Philip’s car spins out, he screams an expletive at the top of his lungs.
Henry’s parents are losing it. (Recap continues on next page)
He intuits that something is wrong, not just at work, but between his mother and father. Philip doesn’t want to talk about it.
Back home, we get a scene of the Jennings family preparing a meal, or at least their contribution to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Stan. It’s the first the entire family has been united in a long time. Then a call comes in.
Elizabeth takes it. She’s being summoned. The Chicago operative sent an emergency signal. He’s under surveillance. It’s her job to go help him get out — although this could lead to her capture, too.
Since both of them are aware of the secret “Dead Hand” nuclear annihilation protocol that hardliners in Russia are devising, (that’s why they need the sensor, remember) capture means death. She would be expected to commit suicide.
Back home, Philip can’t believe Elizabeth is packing a bag. “It’s not going to look good. It’s Thanksgiving.”
“Figure it out,” she snaps.
He tries to converse about the issue, and she says, “Take your forum BS and shove it up your ass. One of us is in trouble in Chicago, Philip. I’m going there to help him. Someone who’s still doing his job. Someone who still gives a s—.”
If Philip felt like a loser before, he definitely feels like one now.
At the Thanksgiving meal, even Aderholt and his wife are there. He makes a remark about getting Renee, Stan’s enigmatic wife, a job in the bureau staff.
Meanwhile, Stan delivers a bizarrely political speech. “I’m grateful for everything we have in this country. Not everybody around the world wants us to live in peace and freedom. But aren’t those the things the pilgrims came here for in the first place?”
He goes on: “There are people out there who don’t like our way of life. They are afraid of it. Of us. We have an administration right now, President Reagan and his people, they know the only way to get to peace is to stand firm against those who wish us harm.”
That night, Philip is restless. He gets up and goes to the prep station, where they often meet to get into their disguises and hide the tools of tradecraft. While rooting through a drawer, pulling out passports, he finds Elizabeth’s drawings.
Whatever he was planning to do, he just goes home instead. Back in Chicago, Elizabeth is working with her accomplice on the plan. It seems very likely they won’t pull it off. Then, to relax, she sits on the bed, takes out a notebook, and starts sketching the television set.
At the FBI, things are in full swing. Dozens of agents are trying to track down automobiles purchased with cash, trying to locate anyone in the area who received a car in the same manner as the Chicago “illegal” they’re monitoring.
Aderholt lets Stan know that they’ve linked the illegals network to a Russian Orthodox priest — presumably the same one who secretly married Philip and Elizabeth.
Henry gets a call from his mother. She’s clearly thinking about the future — or lack of one. They have the second awkward mother-son conversation, wasting long-distance minutes on small talk.
Later, Henry tells his father about it and muses. “I don’t know why she’s so unhappy.”
Unhappy. This was something Philip never considered. He’s thinking of the drawings. He’s thinking of his wife, not just his espionage partner. He has isolated himself from that business, but she has sunk deeper.
He has left a dead-drop message for Oleg Burov. We see Burov begin to translate it, but we don’ tknow what it says.
Then Philip makes a call to Elizabeth. He knows she’s in trouble. He wants to know if she needs him. She says she will handle it. But it’s clear that she’s scared.
“All right. I’ll come,” he says.
“No one is asking you to do that.”
“I know. Just sit tight,” he says. “I’m on my way.”
For the first time in a long time, Philip and Elizabeth will be on the same side again.