A lot of my time watching The Americans is spent worrying about Martha. At least four or five times a season, I become convinced that she’s going to be killed.
And now Clark’s wife is really in trouble. Agent Aderholt, a guy who Stan says asks too many questions and is always trying to get attention, discovers the bug in Agent Gaad’s office. Martha immediately goes into panic mode. She tearfully rushes to the bathroom to destroy the tape that records the bug. Her purse goes undetected during the sweep, but how long can Martha hide? She’s Agent Gaad’s assistant. They’ll definitely be looking at her.
And the discovery of the bug has made Martha question her relationship with Clark more than ever before. She’s not the naïve, starry-eyed assistant we met in Season One. She’s savvy enough not to tell Clark that the bug has been discovered, claiming that she left her purse at work (that excuse won’t work for long), and she tells Clark she wants to see his apartment (which of course the KGB has ready and waiting). But Martha is not a trained agent. She’s not able to keep from Clark that something has gone terribly wrong. She claims she’s just not feeling well, but Clark knows something is up. Allison Wright was fantastic in the episode. I was so nervous and panicked for her—an actress that can make you feel those emotions so intensely is doing excellent work. And kudos to the show for putting the bug, something Martha planted in Season One, back in play.
Philip learns from Paige that Elizabeth has begun her slow reveal. She’s also sending weekly updates on Paige to the Centre. “Am I going to come home one day and Paige is just going to tell me she knows who we are?” Philip wonders. Paige, for her part, loves the idea of having parents who were activist. Elizabeth’s doing recruitment by 1,000 tiny cuts and her actions are beyond Philip’s control. He’s so filled with rage and despair that he opts to spend the night with Martha. But, as discussed, that turns out not to be a stress-free evening either.
Stan is still struggling with the end of his marriage, and is devastated when Sandra tells him it’s time for them to finalize their divorce. On top of that, Agent Aderholt is making him question if Nina was as honest as she seems. “She could have shot JR for all I know,” Stan says. He tells Matthew about his time undercover in an effort to grow closer to his son.
Philip finally tells Elizabeth about his son with Irina. Philip and Elizabeth move more in on Lisa, who is mildly suspicious but about the wrong things. And Hans helps Elizabeth and Philip capture a South African official. The Americans is teaching a master class this season on how to keep multiple story lines going, while also keeping the audience hooked.
Other thoughts on “Walter Taffet”:
• The episode was directed by Noah Emmerich, who plays Stan on the series. He did a phenomenal job.
• It was definitely a relief to get a break from the Kimmie story line this week.
• Philip’s wigs in this episode were fantastic. The blond pompadour when he met Lisa and his long black hair at the end of the episode were amazing.
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.