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‘The Americans’ USA vs. USSR fan react: Sex, lies, and listening devices

Season 3 | Episode 11 | “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov” | Aired Apr 8, 2015

The creative minds behind The Americans are setting the perfect pace for a 13-episode season: Drain the life out of your fans one week, then let them regroup the next with low-key scheming and a few sex scenes. After last week’s big revelation, this week feels like a lot of talking … and preparing for what will likely be a pair of bombshell episodes to end the season.

So who won this week’s battle of the Cold War superpowers, USA or USSR? Be sure to cast your vote!

Agent Gaad is kicking himself for having classified conversations in his office, instead of in the vault. There are rules for a reason, he argues when Stan tries to cut him some slack. –Minus USA

But, as the slow-going analysis of the pen’s recordings is proving, the bug is only an asset to the Soviets if they can pull useful intelligence from it. At the Rezidentura, Arkady calls on Oleg and Tatiana to help with Operation Zephyr, digging through every minute of tape from Gaad’s office.

By the end of the episode, all they find are conversations about broken vending machines and American football, along with some mysterious beeps. +/–TBD. Only time will tell.

Taffet schedules an appointment with Martha. After their computer guy marvels at Taffet’s powers of deduction, she thinks he’ll see right through her. Philip/Clark shares some tips: Stare at his nose, not into his eyes, and remember, he (or she) who knows the most, has the upper hand. An expert liar teaching a good girl how to break bad.

At the interview, Taffet brings up her love life, and she tells her lies, as the camera takes a tight shot on his nose, the only thing in focus in the frame. I wonder how long she can lead a double life before she breaks. +USSR

Elizabeth/Michelle stops by Lisa’s place. Maurice is there and wants in on the action Elizabeth/Michelle is getting from the “consultant”—plus, he wants double, because of Lisa’s high security clearance. They’ve fallen right into the Russians’ trap. +USSR

Nina and Anton, the Scientist, are growing closer. They speak, in English, about his work, and his son. He thought Nina was there to entice him, like other women sent his way by the government, but he isn’t so sure now. She sneaks into his bedroom and finds a bundle of letters Anton has written to his son, Jacob, hidden in the mattress. Later, she slips and says the boy’s name, admitting she was in his room. But she promises not to tell, and he just might believe her. +USSR

Paige has more questions for her parents—are they really married? Is she their biological daughter? Is the travel agency real? What about their friendship with Stan Beeman?—but they remind her to keep quiet unless they are sure no one’s listening.

Later, Elizabeth finds Paige seeking some silence in the garage. Elizabeth shares stories about her father’s death, and of growing up poor in Russia, and sharing an apartment with three other families. Paige remains suspicious, and isn’t sure if she can trust anything her mom says. She’s feeling so many things: curiosity, anger, distrust, even love.

Paige ends the episode by closing the bedroom door on her parents, after learning Elizabeth can’t return to Russia to say good-bye to her own mother. Is this disillusionment? A realization that Elizabeth was telling the truth? +/–TBD (Another potentially explosive moment in the episodes to come)

Philip seems worried about the mission to gather intelligence at the hotel. Is this foreshadowing of a mission about to go south? Is he jealous? Maybe he has reason to be. Elizabeth meets the manager for steak and hot sex in her room. Later, he shows her the breakthrough technology that allows him to record room reservations … on a computer! She uses a makeup compact to make an imprint of the key they’ll need for the CIA meeting, while Philip distracts the staff as an angry guest. +USSR

I love the way this show plays with gender and relationship dynamics. Elizabeth surprises us by taking violence and casual sex in stride, while Philip is often emotionally disturbed by what he’s asked to do in the name of the cause. Tonight, though, Elizabeth very clearly enjoys her time with the manager, until she’s sitting alone in the dark of the garage, startled by feelings of guilt. And the next time she comes home after getting groped in the hotel office, she strips naked, climbs into bed with Philip, and gives him oral sex (a reversal of her time spent with the manager). Was this an apology? Or the only way she really knows how to show love to Philip? (No points, just commentary)

Yousaf tells Philip the CIA recruited three of the Mujaheddin’s commanders for the meeting in the U.S., possibly to talk about a new weapons system that could knock Russian aircraft right out of the sky. And, Yousaf warns, these aren’t the type of men that can be turned. They’re serious soldiers, happy to murder any Soviet they find. +USSR intelligence gathering

The men also reminisce about Annelise, something Philip tries to use as leverage with Gabriel to get Elizabeth a plane ticket to see her ailing mother. “I had an agent I slept with for three years, and I got her killed,” he spits. “I broke her bones and shoved her in a suitcase.” (Thanks for the reminder.) Gabriel thinks Philip is falling apart, and questions if he can handle whatever might be coming next. Isn’t that the question of the season?! +Philip for standing up to Gabriel

WINNER: USSR. Like comparing fine Russian caviar to fish caught on the Jersey shoreline in the ‘80s, it’s no contest. But I’d bet a mint-condition Teddy Ruxpin the USA scores big in the next few weeks, and the USSR will face some big problems from within.

The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10/9C on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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