Patrick Harbron/FX
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May 23, 2018 at 11:12 PM EDT

Who is Elizabeth Jennings? Who is she really?

That’s something the character has been trying to keep hidden from the world since the beginning of The Americans, but she may finally be figuring out the answer for herself.

The penultimate installment is called “Jennings, Elizabeth” because that’s what Stan types into the Automated Case Support database at the FBI as the episode begins.

Nothing. He finds nothing. No past or current investigations involving her.

He also finds nothing about Jennings, Philip. Or their business, Dupont Circle Travel.

With only one more episode left in the series, there are bound to be consequences now that bring a sense of finality to a show that is bound to finally expose the Jennings family for who they really are. But what’s surprising is how this episode allowed some of the major figures — especially Elizabeth — to fundamentally change who they are.

While Stan is typing their names into his FBI computer and dropping by to peruse the travel agency, Elizabeth is monitoring Nosterenko, the Soviet arms negotiator who is being targeted by The Center for assassination for no reason except to destabilize Gorbachev during the nuclear summit.

Elizabeth refused to kill him, but she knows The Center will simply dispatch someone else to do the deed. So she’s on stakeout duty.

While she keeps her vigil, we begin to see flashbacks to her youth, as a young trainee. First she’s sitting in a grim apartment, then she is walking the street when she stumbles on a horrific accident. A motorcyclist who collides with a man on horseback.

One of the men is still alive, begging for help, but young Elizabeth darts away. Later, she tells her handler that she was following protocol: Never do anything to distract from the mission. But her trainer says that only applies in America. “You don’t leave a comrade to die on the street in Moscow.”

After popping in on Philip at the travel agency, Stan then places a call to Pastor Tim, who is looking tan and fit in Buenos Aires, where The Center set him up with a cushy flock to get him away from Philip and Elizabeth. He knows their true identities, although they softballed what they really do.

Stan pesters him with a few awkward small-talk questions, then gets to the heart of it: “This conversation should stay between us. I’m speaking to you as a law enforcement officer now,” he says. “Is there anything I should know as an FBI agent about the Jennings family? Anything about them that concerned you?”

“I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but I’ve always been impressed with them,” Pastor Tim says.

Dead end. (Recap continues on next page)

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FX’s period drama—starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys—explores the the Cold War 1980s through the professional and personal lives of the Jennings family.
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