The Americans: Season 5, Episode 2

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THE AMERICANS — “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow” Episode 403 (Airs, Wednesday, March 30, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: (l-r) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings. CR: Craig Blankenhorn/FX

It’s just a little thing, but if you practice it, it’ll always be there for you. – Philip Jennings

Last night’s episode was by no means one of the best we’ve seen from The Americans, but it was still good television, because it always is. In case you were at all lost by what happened in St. Clair, Illinois, let’s start there. Gabriel, after Elizabeth and Philip discussed with him what took place with Hans during the exhumation to get the viral sample, talked to them about how crops involved in trades to Russia were arriving in contaminated or greatly damaged condition. The idea was to figure out the cause, by studying some of the crops in a proper enclosed environment.

Tuan’s mark, Morozov, is an agriculturalist, and his expertise appears necessary to complete the mission. What he knows could help save Russian lives or explain what’s leading to incomplete or ravaged food sources. So, all of this led to Elizabeth getting into the greenhouse to explore on her own, and led her to the shower scene with midges falling off her body in large numbers. Honestly, it was pretty disgusting, but it was supposed to be. I’m not an insect fan anyway, especially very small ones in packs, because they usually accompany an unclean or dangerous area. These crops are hanging off a cliff at this point, hopefully by more than a daisy for Russia’s sake.

So it’s a problem for the Russians, and now they’ve got to find a way to curb it in order to ensure the populous and the allies are fed and they get what they’re expecting after making trades. For Morozov, his usefulness currently keeps him breathing, but as soon as he bellowed “I hate Russia” at dinner, everyone else at the table except for his wife wanted him dead, including Pasha. This guy’s life expectancy is already shorter than Pastor Tim after Paige opened up to him a little bit. He gone…real soon. Tuan may actually feed on his entrails.

Paige and Matthew’s relationship progressed to the bra stage, and it happened after Elizabeth tried to convince her not to see him during the sparring session. By the way, relax your shoulders. One interesting thing that’s at least partially noticeable is Holly Taylor growing up, in terms of she seems a little taller, a little leaner, and appears stronger. It would sync up well with what she’s doing on the show, and it may just be how she was shot, but she seemed much more like her mom than her brother this week.

It’s actually kind of touching how Stan is trying to protect Oleg, even though his attempts have failed. He went to the Deputy Attorney General, after his pleas to the CIA fell on deaf ears, but in the end, a spook rolled up to Burov on the street and invoked Beeman’s name to try and press him. I suppose Stan could have contacted a guy to warn Oleg, but it’s doubtful. No one buys Stan’s idea that Oleg can’t be turned, which isn’t hard to believe, considering they think Beeman turned him once. They don’t know the REAL backstory of Nina, and certainly there was a budding friendship between the two men over their shared history. Maybe it was friendship by necessity, but they don’t hate each other.

Outside of Oleg, who looked positively terrified after being confronted outside his home in Moscow, Stan is working to get under Renee’s purple leotard. Last week, he handed her a water cup. This week, he’s gone on a date with her, introduced her to Philip before racquetball, and gotten a yes to a second date. Laurie Holden enters the show to play the love interest, and she’s certainly far more fetching here than covered in dirt and zombie brains on AMC. Noah Emmerich gets around. You could create a pretty entertaining conspiracy theory that he picked her while working on The Walking Dead, but in truth, she was just the right person for the job.

Is this the one that sticks? Is Stan going to get his heart broken AGAIN? If he does, he might actually kill himself before Philip and Elizabeth have a chance to buy a new suitcase for him. And while we’re telling jokes about heavy moments, I would totally watch a show with Noah and Brandon J. Dirden riffing on women while on random stakeouts. That would be money. A see-through piano? Gold.

Stan worrying that Paige isn’t doing particularly well pushed the Jennings’ to the breaking point, but the reaction in the final scene is surprising. “I’m sick of treating her like a goddamn kid” led to the sit-down in the bedroom, and the odd thumb-forefinger gesture. While the trick sounds ridiculous, I remember when I was a kid being told I could write my hopeful dream on my forehead with my index finger and many times, it would come true. It happened a few times, and I always believed the technique was the reason.

For Paige, it’s envisioning family and where she comes from that’s important here, because it’s a focusing mechanism. In the same fashion as the very best or most absurd of superstitions, you can make it work for you if you believe it. What will be intriguing to track going forward is how often the show gives us close-ups or shots of Paige rubbing her fingers together in certain situations, because it can illustrate with no words the state of her psyche at any given time.

Tuan is scary, but he likes leftovers. He also thinks Pasha is weak and easy to manipulate and control, talking about how stupid it was to say he’d rather die back home than live here. He’s probably right in his thought (at least based on his family’s experience), and he’s also probably right that it was a robin’s nest. I’m not a big bird guy, so I have no idea. Not afraid of them, but I’m more comfortable with them at a safe distance doing their thing. I also like a leftover or two, so maybe I’m also scary? The transitive property gives me the willies.

What we learned is Paige can keep seeing Matthew, but cautiously. Matthew is a major pest for Elizabeth and Philip, as is Morozov. Oleg is being pestered by the CIA, which also leaves the organization as a pest to Stan Beeman. Stan successfully pestered Renee, and is now pestering the rest of the intelligence community to listen to him. Paige’s parents are pestering her and interfering in every facet of life. Henry wishes someone would be a pest to him, or he could be a pest to them, because that would mean someone knew he was alive.

And then there are the midges.

Yes, “Pests” was a pretty apt title for this week’s episode.

I’m @JMartOutkick. I did the right thing. Not for money or because Clay twisted my arm.  

Written by Jason Martin