Airtime: Wednesdays at 10PM on FX
Episode: Season 4, Episode 1 (S04E01)
Tweetable Takeaway: .@TheAmericansFX returns with a new mission, high drama, and to tease a tragic fourth season
THE AMERICANS risk their lives and The Glanders when they get their new mission and deal with fallout form Elizabeth’s trip to Germany. There is an incredible choice of fantastic content on the small screen. Television has never seen such a field of talent and people successfully pushing the boundaries of long form narrative. That said, it’s still mind boggling to me how good the staff at The Americans is at creating bullet-proof story telling.
Little by little, we see where these people came from. Philip is haunted by memories of killing a boy who bullied and stole from him when he was young. He crushes the kid’s skull as he begs for mercy. Philip has always seemed like a proficient killer but this ruthless hidden core of his foreshadows a relentless pounding for some poor a-hole in future episodes.
Philip talks about his boyhood experience at an EST meeting, sans the brutal murder confession. The audience gives him a big applause for exploring his issues and feelings. Later, he has coffee with his friend, Sandra Beeman, and discusses marital issues like not telling his wife that he goes to EST meetings. Tori (Stan Beeman’s new GF) sees them together and gets, or constructs, the wrong idea.
My parents are Russian spies
Paige returns from Germany with jet lag and a whole new set of family issues. She has a lot of questions about how mom and dad spend their day. She seems concerned about any danger her parents might be in, but she’s also judgmental about their beliefs. My folks weren’t spies and I totally laid into them, so she’s got some pretty dangerous ammunition.
Elizabeth tells her the work they do is mainly building trust with people who share similar philosophies. Paige turns to Pastor Tim with her new dilemma. He thinks she should convince her parents to come in for a family counseling session but she tells him they aren’t the kind to talk things out. He says he’s concerned with what’s best for her and advises she just keep asking her parents for more details. This doesn’t sound like great advice. It makes you wonder if there’s more to Pastor Tim than spiritual guidance. Meanwhile, Elizabeth scans the tapes from the bug Pastor Tim’s office. She knows Paige is having difficulties but doesn’t understand the full extent.
And then there’s Philip’s B-Team wife
The man has a lot on his plate. Philip tells Martha he had to kill Gene Kraft to keep her cover safe. Martha flips out, she thinks it’s all her fault, but Philip assures her it was his decision to kill Kraft. Like every character on this show, Martha faces danger everywhere she turns. She’s only aware of some of it. She knows she has to return to work. Philip says he won’t jeopardize her safety again by visiting at her apartment but vows they’re relationship will continue.
Martha reports the FBI has discovered Kraft’s death after Frank Gaad calls a meeting with Walter Taft. Philip lets her know he feels bad about it Kraft. He seemed like a big kid with his rocket toys and models. She’s glad he’s being honest with her now. She knows it’s hard, but she prefers the honest discussions. Then, he asks her to steal surveillance reports and schedules for a special team.
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Nina tells Anton (the scientist kidnapped from America in season 3) how much she loves the peace and quiet of her quarters, though she understands it isn’t the same for him. He confesses he feels terrible that he was cheating on his wife in America. That’s how they caught him, date night. She reminds him they would have picked him up somehow.
Later, Anton tells Nina they’ve constructed an aircraft wing based on his designs. He knows they will run tests and if they do not like the results, he fears they will ship him off to a gulag and he will disappear with no one knowing, or caring. He needs one of those “Hang-in-there,” posters.
Nina’s handler, Vasili, tells her the wing tested well. It isn’t invisible but it has a low radar signature. They are pleased with Anton’s work and want her to continue their friendship. She agrees but demands to visit her husband. She’s always got an angle, I’m curious to see how this move works for her.
Disturbing secrets at the Rezidentura
This place is fascinating and could easily be its own show. Arkady catches Tatiana doing secret work he never tasked. He asks to see what she’s doing, but she tells him to talk to a Colonel from a special branch. First, he asks Oleg to keep him informed of any odd operations he sees Tatiana conducting. Oleg is clever, but this puts him in a tough spot, he’s friendly with Tatiana, but Arkady is formidable. Arkady confronts Tatiana about her secret operations, but she won’t discuss them. She works for Department 12 on bio-weapons assignments.
The new mission is sick
Gabriel is in trouble over Elizabeth’s trip to Germany to see her terminal mother. It’s even worse for him that she disobeyed his orders and went anyway. In return, he has a nasty new mission for them. They need to make contact with William, another special operative. He’s been active a long time and passes samples of military bio-weapons in development. Now, he has something big to send but Gabriel thinks he’s under surveillance. They need to be inoculated against meningitis to handle the packages.
When Philip and Elizabeth go to the pick up, Philip gets a hinky feeling and they move on. Elizabeth didn’t spot any surveillance and thinks he’s losing his nerve, but he doesn’t want to discuss it. The second time they go to pick up the bio-sample, Elizabeth spots a green station wagon that doesn’t look right. Again, they move on.
Stolen surveillance reports, provided by Martha, show no teams watching William the night Philip got spooked, but Elizabeth was right about the green station wagon. There are a few nights with no scheduled surveillance and they grab their sample from cynical snarky William. He reports the DoD is developing new germ warfare at Ft. Detrik. This sample causes Glanders disease.
Stan and Tori
Stan is sexing Tori on a regular basis. Tori tells him she saw Philip and Sandra intimate together, a huge and manipulative exaggeration. Stan runs over to confront Philip, toss him around the garage, and accuses him of having sex with his wife. They’re unrolling a big season for these people.
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
Eric Rodriguez | Contributor