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TV Review: The Americans - Season 3 Episode 3 "Open House"

02.11.2015

SEASON 3, EPISODE 3: "Open House"

SYNOPSIS: Phillip and Elizabeth come face-to-face with their most dangerous mission yet as they try to gather more intel on the CIA's Afghan Group. Meanwhile, Paige's fate with the KGB is still up in the air and Martha tries to get Clark to commit to being a foster parent.

RECAP (Beware of spoilers, comrades!):

Few TV shows can build tension and suspense like THE AMERICANS. Tonight’s episode “Open House” was the perfect example of the edge-of-your-seat action that we have all come to expect from this awesome show. It speaks to the talent of the direction, writing, and acting that chase scenes, like the one Elizabeth is involved in during this episode, are as nail-biting as they are exciting. Of course in our heart of hearts we know Elizabeth isn’t going to be caught by the FBI. What would become of the show if that happened? But due to the strength of the reasons listed above, the scene is still just as gripping as if she were an expendable character.

Before I get too far into the recap, can we agree that THE AMERICANS is trying to kill us with hard-to-watch scenes this season? Last week we had the bone crunching sounds (and images) of trying to stuff a body into a suitcase. This week we had Phillip finally taking charge of Elizabeth’s sore tooth problem. Because she suspects the FBI has an alert out for dentists to call in if they get a woman, fitting her description, with damage to her mouth, Elizabeth has been living in tooth pain for weeks. She can’t even kiss Phillip without it hurting. So, after her close call with the FBI, Elizabeth allows Phillip to pull out the tooth himself, in their garage, WITH PLIERS AND NO ANESTHESIA. This scene shows just how far Elizabeth and Phillip's relationship has come. Elizabeth trusts her husband implicitly, and as Gabriel says, she looks at him differently now. You would have to majorly trust someone to allow that to happen. :shivers: What gross scenes are we in for next week?

Backing up, the episode begins with a telling opening scene, featuring Gabriel, Phillip, and a competitive game of Scrabble. Unfortunately, the pictures the Jennings took of the members of the Afghan Group didn’t return much in the way of blackmail-inducing intelligence. All of the members are “saints”, especially Issaic Breland, the head of the Division. Their only potential target is Breland’s right-hand-man, Ted Paaswell, who is currently in the middle of a divorce and is having trouble selling his house. The KGB may be able to entice him with money.

Gabriel is really worried about the Jennings' safety and warns Phillip that the CIA will divert a lot of their resources to protect the members of the Afghan Group, especially since they know the KGB is targeting them (thanks to Elizabeth's list). Building off of Gabriel's concern, Phillip again brings up his apprehensions in regards to Paige getting involved in the spy world. He wants his daughter to be able to make her own decisions. Gabriel agrees, but Phillip doesn’t believe him. As we find out later, this conversation also gave Phillip some upsetting intel. Now he knows Elizabeth talked to Gabriel about Paige without him present. Not okay, Elizabeth!

Meanwhile, Elizabeth (in her best power-bang wig) has been working more closely with up-and-coming South African asset Hans to quickly develop him as an agent. Hans tries to get flirtatious with her, complimenting her on always looking fashionable, but Elizabeth quickly shoots that down. It seems the tragic experience with Gregory in Season 1 and budding relationship with Phillip has made her less willing to use flirtation/sex to train another agent. Hans promises he won’t make any advances again.

Since Phillip and Elizabeth now have a target in Ted Paaswell, they decide to use his next open house as a way to gather intelligence. Utilizing great wigs and less-than-fashionable glasses, the Jennings explore Paaswell’s house and Phillip is even able to put a bug in the portable car phone (like today's mobile phone). In one nail-biting moment, Paaswell comes back to the house to grab the phone, but Phillip doesn’t draw any suspicions. Paaswell leaves, but not before giving Phillip advice about being around for his family, or else they will resent him. Sounds like advice Phillip actually needs to take to heart, especially since Paige has become so resigned to his late-night absences.

Because this is the 80s and the bug in Paaswell's phone doesn’t have a long range, the Jennings are forced to follow the agent close-by in their car. Their interests are especially peaked when it appears that Paaswell is getting flirty with his children's underage babysitter. But, little did they know, he has an FBI security team around him that notices the Jennings’ car. Thanks to the observation skills Elizabeth has showed off while training Hans, she is alerted to the FBI’s presence and a covert chase ensues. Phillip is able to do a duck and roll out of the car so he can call the Centre for help, but Elizabeth is left driving around.

Unlike the “kidnapping” scene in Season 2 that turned out to be a KGB test, this time Elizabeth genuinely is in the crosshairs of the Bureau. The action quickly cuts to Stan and Agent Gaad being briefed about the situation. The CIA wants to keep tailing the mysterious woman in the car to see if she will lead them to any other important intel, whereas the Agent Aderholt demands the FBI nab her immediately. Eventually, Gaad takes control from the CIA and orders the driver of the car to be brought in. But just as the FBI is about to pull the trigger on the trap, another KGB agent rams the tailing FBI car, giving Elizabeth enough time to escape into a getaway car. Phew!!! Even though I knew she wasn’t going to be captured, since that would pretty much mean the end to the show, I was on the edge of my seat! What a fantastic scene.

Even with this close call, the Jennings know if they can get audio on Paaswell flirting with the underage girl, they will have serious blackmail material. So, against their better judgment and Gabriel's advice, they follow him again. This time, FBI agents aren't around (which doesn’t make much sense since you would think they would double down since they know Paaswell is a target). In the car, the Jennings' conversation about Paige's future is interrupted when they hear the flirtatious babysitter coming onto Paaswell. But unfortuately he spurns her advances. Just as the situation seems to be a bust, the Jennings find out the girl is Breland’s daughter! Dun dun dun. They can use this.

 

BEST 80S REFERENCE: Hands down the best 80s reference was Phillip and Elizabeth hearing Air Supply's "All Out Of Love" come through via the bugged phone.

POOR MARTHA: Per usual, Phillip (aka Clark) is using his time with Martha to gather intel from Martha’s files. Martha, on the other hand, is anxious to start a family and is using the idea of foster children to try to open Clark up to the notion of having kids. However, Clark wants nothing to do with it. Of course we know why Phillip doesn’t want to have kids, he already has kids of his own and this marriage to Martha is a farce. Poor Martha, wasting her life and chance to have kids on a fake marriage. I still think Martha is going to “accidentally” get pregnant. Wouldn’t that make for an insane conflict?

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • With Brezhnev dead (as seen in last week’s episode and tonight, when the Rezidentura employees took down the portrait of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and put up a portrait of Konstantin Chernenko) we now know we are in late 1982, heading into 1983.

  • Oleg’s father asked the Rezident to ship him back to Moscow, but Arkady let Oleg choose what he wanted to do; Oleg chose to stay in the U.S. Guess he's NOT that interested in seeing Nina?

  • I assume the “stealth bomber” Oleg says the Americans are beginning to develop eventually becomes the B-2.

  • Charles Duluth, Phillip’s journalist asset (and KGB source) from the first and second season, is shown interviewing the Soviet defector, Zinaida. I wonder what kind of information he will be able to get out of her.

  • It’s obvious the spy in the family is Paige. Henry needs to work on his “hiding” skills.

  • Apparently the mail robot was pretty inefficient, well, when it wasn’t being used as a place for  Agent Aderholt to flirt with Martha. Is he the new Amador?

FINAL VERDICT:

Source: JoBlo.com

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