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The Americans recap: ‘Munchkins’

I knew right away there was going to be trouble when they had Richard Thomas say, “Previously, on The Americans…”

That felt like a nod, a tribute. A goodbye.

The episode begins at Young Hee’s house, where Don is pretty glum at a family dinner with Elizabeth. Last week, she drugged him and tricked him into thinking they’d had sex — part of a plan to manipulate him to gain access to the higher levels of the bio-weapons facility where William also works.

We don’t see exactly how this is going to yield results, but it feels like Don’s agony is just beginning.

At home, Philip and Paige are cooking, and she asks about his childhood in Russia. He says it was a tough life. “That’s the way you had to be. After the war, people didn’t have much. It wasn’t about what you liked; it was about hard work and protecting your family,” he says.

He tells her about working at a cooperative where they made rakes. His boss tried to cheat him once. “My mom went over there,” Philip says. “And then he paid me all of it.”

His speech is intercut with footage of Young Hee saying goodbye to Elizabeth — who we know is also one bad mutha.

In a meeting with Gabriel, he wants to know how close they are to getting the Level Four access from Don. Philip is still reluctant about gaining access to weaponized viruses, but Gabriel says the Center insists.

At the FBI, Stan’s new boss is busting chops. “Watch your margins, please,” the chief tells Agent Aderholt.

“Welcome to Munchkinland,” Stan says. He invites Aderholt to have drinks with him and Martha’s father, who will be visiting town soon.

“There’s a word for what you just did, Stan,” Aderholt says. “Entrapment.”

At the Jennings house, Alice – Pastor Tim’s wife – arrives at the door with frightening news. “Tim is missing in Ethiopia,” she says. Pastor Tim and another missionary drove off and never came back.

She thinks the Jennings and their Russian counterparts had something to do with his disappearance. “Ethiopia is a client state of the U.S.S.R.,” she says. “There are Soviet troops everywhere.”

Elizabeth tries to interject, but Alice shuts her down.

“I know how the world works,” the pastor’s wife says. “I made a tape. I gave it to a lawyer. It’s addressed to the Justice Department. It says exactly who you are.”

She tells them that if anything happens to her or if Tim doesn’t come home, that tape will be turned over to the authorities.

Needless to say, she does not stay for dinner.

Elsewhere, Oleg and Tatiana are screwing. She’s letting herself be loud, unlike last time, when he remarked about how quiet she usually is.

Their pillow talk consists of discussions about absorbing American culture through the consumption of Twinkies.

She needs a female computer expert from his department who speaks perfect English, ideally in her ’50s or ’60s, to come to the U.S. for…unspecified purpose. She confesses that she is part of the covert operative team embedded stateside, running supply for those agents. Sounds like this female computer expert is part of the plan against Young Hee’s husband.

Back at the Jennings’ place, Paige is wondering is Alice is on to something. Could her parents — or their cohorts — have been involved in the pastor’s disappearance.

Her parents are dismayed. “This is a disaster for us,” Philip says.

“For you?” his daughter asks. She thinks its convenient that Pastor Tim just randomly goes missing, which makes it much easier for his parents.

“You think we just kidnap people, and…what? Kill them?” Elizabeth says, shocked, SHOCKED!

After Paige leaves, even Philip wonders if the Center had the pastor whacked. “No, not without telling us,” Elizabeth says. “And does she really think we’d be so stupid that we’d leave Alice?”

Philip says they need to ask the Center to use some resources to find him in Ethiopia. “Now I’m thinking we may need to run,” Elizabeth says.

At the church, Paige pledges her love and support for Pastor Tim. “I know, sweetheart,” Alice says and invites the girl in for an embrace.

“I’m just so scared,” Alice says, breaking down in sobs.

The look on Paige’s face says she’s working this the best she can.

At the bar with Martha’s father, Stan tries to gather information from him while giving out as little as possible. “You’re acting like she’s the criminal. She’s not,” the old man says. He thinks maybe she wasn’t involved with the KGB, but rather some run of the mill grifter.

“Just promise me this. Promise me you won’t give up,” her father says.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Aderholt says. “I assure you — no one’s giving up.”

At the Jennings house, Paige’s parents tell her they reached out to colleagues in Ethiopia and are doing everything they can for Pastor Tim. “What if she sends the tape?” Paige asks.

“We might have to leave,” Elizabeth says.

“You and dad?”

“All of us,” Philip says.

“Where…? Wait, are you serious? Henry, too?”

“We couldn’t leave him behind,” Philip says.

“Everything you say is crazy. Go back to Russia? I’ve never even been to Russia. What are we going to do there? You can’t be Russian spies in Russia… Who are you going to make disappear there?”

“Paige!” her mother cries. “We had nothing to do with that.”

Now we catch up with Agent Gaad on vacation in Thailand with his wife. In the “previously, on…” we saw Stan telling Philip that his old boss was headed there for a getaway. So it’s safe to assume that this information made its way to the Center, and they have now sent three goons to Gaads’ room with a “proposal.”

Gaad resists; then he tries to run, and in the attack, he is thrown through a glass door. The jagged edge of the broken pane has sliced into his belly. He is bleeding out. The goons watch without helping.

“Sorry,” one of them says. “I’m sorry.”

And Gaad is dead. He never even found out what they wanted.

Later, at the Rezidentura, Arkady gets word of the failed Gaad mission and regrets ever authorizing it.

Also back in the U.S., Philip is collecting a tape from Kimmy, making her first appearance this season after being a major source of weirdness last season, when it seemed like Philip might have to seduce her to maintain access to her home — and her CIA operative father. (He didn’t – thank God.)

He didn’t know Kimmy even knew what her father did, but as they smoke weed on the porch, she tells him. Philip tells her not to share this information with anyone else. “Telling it breaks your father’s trust,” he says. “The secret could bring you and your dad closer together — but only if you keep it.”

Sounds like he’s talking to his own daughter.

Paige goes over to Stan’s house to see if Henry is there. He’s not, but she ends up hanging with Stan’s son, who tells her about the secretary at his dad’s office who just disappeared, causing havoc in the division — and with the woman’s poor father.

Paige files this away in her ever-growing Worry File. She gets him to take her to the church, where she checks in on Alice and discovers that Pastor Tim was found, safe and sound. He ran out of gas and got lost.

“I feel like I can breathe again,” Alice says. “It’s a miracle.”

Alice apologizes for accusing Paige’s parents. “I’ve never been scared like that before.”

“It’s okay,” Paige says. “They understand.”

They don’t, really. Paige apologizes for doubting them.

“The hardest thing we do in our jobs is trust,” Elizabeth tells her. “We never know if people are telling us the truth. But the one thing Dad and I have is we always tell each other the truth. We can’t always tell you every detail about our job, but we will tell you what we can.”

“And we won’t lie to you,” Philip says.

Paige says she doesn’t think they should ask for the tape right away. Her parents think it’s a smart decision and decide to invite their daughter’s trust by trusting her.

“When are you going to tell Henry?” Paige asks.

“A lot of that depends on Henry,” Elizabeth says.

Out on the street, Elizabeth checks her messages and has one waiting from Young Hee, who breaks down crying about Don’s increasingly bizarre behavior.

At the FBI, Stan gets word of Gaad’s murder. He is stunned.

At Gabriel’s, Elizabeth says she is ready to move on Don to get the codes, but Gabriel senses a problem.

“You know, it’s possible for people like us, who give everything to our country and the world, to forget ourselves,” he tells her. “What are they like, the family?”

“They’re close,” she says. “And loud. Big. You’d like them.”

“Well, you like them,” he says.

“I suppose I do.”

“It’s okay,” he tells her.

“What if we couldn’t get in this way?” she asks.

“You’ve already done the hard part.”

“No,” she says. “The next part is the hard part. After that, they’ll never recover.”

“Elizabeth…your feelings matter.”

“No they don’t,” she says. “Or they shouldn’t.”

“They can sometimes,” he says. “Let’s ask. How about this? Before we take the last step, I’ll ask them to look for another way in. There’s no harm in asking… Do you want me to ask?”

Elizabeth is quiet a long time. “Yes,” she whispers.

Whatever they have planned for Young Hee and Don must be unspeakable.