The life of a Directorate S operative is a bit more stressful than average, for while most of us have our hands full with job, marriage, kids, and Ashley Madison accounts, the covert KGB agent also has to worry about the whole "executed if caught by the foreign government I'm currently infiltrating." It probably leads to a lot of fingernail chewing.
The Americans continues trying to up the ante, and while the 'micro' stories remain engaging, it's hard to appreciate the characters' tension when we already know how the 'macro' scenario plays out: however good Phillip and Elizabeth are at their work, the USSR still loses. Then again, maybe they had a hand in that as well.
Beeman (Noah Emmerich) and Phillip's (Matthew Rhys) raquetball game could be a metaphor for espionage strategies (slow and methodical vs. reckless), or it could be rehashing an old Aesop fable. In any event, Beeman has to cut out early so he and his team can totally inconspicuously meet with Nina (Annet Mahendru) - maybe try some more casual attire, G-Men - who spills the beans that the dead agent from episode 1 ("Robert") was Directorate S. Yeah, she'll be a problem.
Aside: Can I just mention how much I like seeing Missile Command in the opening titles?
Phillip is sending Elizabeth (Keri Russell) to Philadelphia based on a coded message sent by dead Phillip, but first she has to arrange for coverage from Gregory (Derek Luke), a chess playing, art collecting dude she has apparently been banging, until now. The bad news: "Robert" was married and living in Philly, both of which were verboten (or whatever the Russian word is). And on top of that, he has a newborn kid. The good news: the Feds aren't paying a lot of attention to the African-American community. Yet.
Joyce Ramirez, wife of the deceased Robert, is now under surveillance by the FBI. Gregory's pretty slick, however, and gets her (and baby Oscar) away. Phillip has to break the bad news about hubby's death, while Elizabeth promises they'll take care of the widow. Gregory also chooses this time to ask Phillip some pointed questions about his marriage, before advising him to "leave her be." Phillip isn't pleased. Gregory then advises them to kill Joyce before their cover's blown. Phillip really isn't pleased. He and Elizabeth have a spat about Gregory before he leaves to make the exchange for whatever Robert was involved in.
Gregory makes a final play for Elizabeth, but she isn't biting. Hey, this love triangle stuff would probably go down really well with Brezhnev, don't you think?
Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) isn't too pleased that Joyce slipped her coverage ("What is she, Doug Henning?"). He puts out an APB out on Joyce, who sees the TV report and puts two and two together: (you mean my strange husband who copied codes from a secret radio was a spy?). Elizabeth attempts to reassure her. Don't worry, lady: the KGB always looks after the secret wives and children of deep cover agents.
Phillip takes a walk and meets his new handler Claudia (Justified's Margo Martindale), who tells him Robert was pumping an American agent (heh) for info (aw) on the Government's new SDI technology (SPACE PLANS!). Phillip makes the buy (after the requisite pummeling of lackeys).
Beeman is musing about Joyce's "vast network of resources" when he sees the same black guy who was hanging out at the site of her disappearance. The guy gets away, while Beeman asks why some guy "in the hood" cares about a KGB spy, thus predating all known references to "the hood" by about six years.
Phillip and Elizabeth make the swap: Joyce and Oscar and the plans to "Grandma" for ... now that I think about it, that wasn't a swap at all. Back in DC, Elizabeth tries to explain her "thing" with Gregory, and apologizes for not having the same spark with Phillip. Could two sleeper agents finally find love after being married for 20 years?
And in your pleasant, Soviet-style epilogue, Oscar ends up with "Robert's" grandparents in the USSR, and Beeman contemplates Joyce's corpse, hypodermic needle conveniently in hand.
The Jenningses must take a lot of Valium, because they really haven't had a break since the season premiere. I still don't buy Phillip as a badass, and his sentimental streak continues to put him at annoying odds with what's being asked of him. Tonight's episode further humanized Elizabeth, but I never really warmed up to Gregory. Derek Luke is a fine actor, but his character seems ripe for mid-season assassination.
Next week: Reagan gets shot.
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