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The Americans recap: Mr. and Mrs. Teacup

“We can make peace with them. Now…is maybe the best chance we’ll ever get. That’s why I’m here.”

This is Oleg and Stan….I mean, Philip (God, I’m so used to writing about the other pairing) standing on the steps of a park at night. Philip is considering the idea of spying on his own wife, but first he needs some answers from the man asking him to do that.

“I don’t really understand what’s going on.”

“The people running The Center, we believe, are actively trying to get rid of Gorbachev,” Oleg tells him. “They can’t stand progress. It’s a threat to them. Our country having any kind of openness or freedom…they think it means we won’t be communists anymore.”

“My wife would never do anything to hurt our country,” Philip answers.

“We know how loyal she is,” Oleg says. “But that loyalty can be used. We have to know what she’s up to.” He tells Philip about Elizabeth trying to secure a radiation sensor. He tells him about the Air Force general who ended up dead.

Then he says he’s being followed, although he shook his observers for this encounter. “We can’t meet in person again,” Oleg says. But something tells me they will.

In one of the most confounding scenes ever to appear on this show, Elizabeth undertakes a heist of the sensor at the storage warehouse, but it was deliberately shot in total darkness, with only flashes of light and bursts of gunfire.

Elizabeth doesn’t get what she wants, but she does kill several guards in the failed attempt, adding to the body count that isn’t necessary for this kind of operation.

Paige is one of the drivers and lookouts who accompanies her, and afterward, even though the mission wasn’t a success, Elizabeth tells her she did well.

Paige also volunteers something. A boy at college works for a congressman. She likes the boy and was thinking about getting closer to him. Elizabeth tells her it’s fine to date; and it’s fine to work a source. But she should never do both.

And for now, at least, Elizabeth thinks Paige isn’t experienced enough to work the source — or maybe she’s being an overprotective mom, reluctant to let her daughter begin using sex as a weapon. (Later, when we see Paige wake up after a night with this guy and eyeball his congressional ID badge, it’s clear she didn’t heed this advice.)

When Philip gets home, he blunders straight into questions about the dead general, provoking ice from Elizabeth. When he’s gone, she tells Paige: “Somewhere, something got lost. This work can get to be too much for people. Even the best ones. I’m so proud of you Paige. Really proud.”

Philip has also checked in with Kimberly, the college kid whose CIA father has a briefcase that Philip has bugged. At home, he tells Elizabeth this will be the last recording for a while, because Kimberly is going to Greece with friends.

That’s unacceptable to Elizabeth.

Back in Moscow, Oleg’s father gets a call from his son, and they have a mundane conversation about how the transportation conference is going. Apparently there is a new algorithm for calculating railroad arrival times. But clearly they are communicating more than that.

Later, we see Oleg’s father meet with Arkady, whom he has been told by his son to trust, although…you can sense the hesitation in the old man.

Elizabeth and Claudia discuss the CIA recording and there may be someone on the summit negotiating team who is conspiring with the Americans. The Center isn’t sure.

Also, Elizabeth learns about Gennadi, the courier, and his wife Sofia, who were given sanctuary by the Americans. Not only is it bad that Gennadi was a courier, but he was also a star hockey player. The optics concern The Center.

“Picture him in Time, talking about how terrible we are,” Claudia says. She needs him to be dealt with. That means monitoring Stan to see if he can lead operatives to the unhappy couple.

Given that Stan has been recruited as a marriage counselor by Aderholt, he could end up leading the Soviets directly to their prey. They have been codenamed “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup.”

Things are unhappy at home for the Jennings family, too. Philip tells Henry about their money troubles and the possibility that they won’t be able to afford his tuition. At night, lying in bed, in a moment of intimacy that’s rare between Philip and Elizabeth, he tells his wife about his worries, too.

Then he asks about her. “I’m tired. All the time,” she confesses.

All of her plans are going astray. While working as the nurse for the American negotiator Glen Haskard, she convinces his ailing wife to join him at a World Series party by pledging to accompany them and take care of her.

It’s the American summit negotiators, and one of the Russians. Possibly the person on the inside who has flipped. Elizabeth wires up a recording device, and all seems to be going well until his wife takes sick at the party, throwing up all over the floor and then Elizabeth.

The recording she captures of Haskard talking to the Russian was ended abruptly by the sound of his wife getting sick in the other room.

Nothing is going right. Elizabeth is exhausted. And the end is near.

She’s still holding up better than Philip. The episode ends with a flashback: him as a young boy in Russia, starving, joining other children as they lick clean the discarded bowls of a chef.

Back in the present, he sits alone at his desk and looks at the sandwich sitting on a nearby plate. Philip may finally be an American after all.