'The Americans' Season 2, episode 11: Nooses tighten in 'Stealth'

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You know a show like "The Americans" is good when it makes you care about things like a toilet paper roll. Or a small child's pin. Or the paint that killed all the bats.

All of these things matter in Season 2, episode 11, "Stealth."

Dead bats are the key to stealth technology?

The Russians are getting desperate to figure out American stealth technology and are closing in on any number of leads in this episode. Arkady and Oleg and the Embassy want Nina to turn Stan in order to get what he has access to. Baklanov over in Siberia has determined that a computer program called "Echo" is the key to making stealth work.

Then Philip gets a new lead on a scientist who knows just about everything. He's a sick and disillusioned man named John Skeevers who Lockheed let go after he got cancer. Apparently, the man thinks his illness came from the company and wouldn't shut up about it.

This is a great "in" for Philip, who disguises himself as a soup-wielding Vietnam vet who just wants to be friends. That's friends with information anyway. Although somewhat incoherent at times, Skeevers has no problem telling his new soup friend that his cancer was caused by paint fumes. Those same fumes killed a bunch of bats. They're also the fumes from a particular paint that is essential to stealth technology.

Espionage in the days before voice mail

Larick is still combing through the Soviet phone connections and has managed to find Kate the handler's house. He figures out quickly that she is indeed a handler who could theoretically lead him straight to those responsible for killing the soldiers at Martial Eagle.

But Kate, for all her youth and inexperience, is still a spy. She doesn't give up anything before Larick breaks her neck and even manages to plant a message for Philip and Elizabeth to find.

Written on a toilet paper tube is a coded message: "Get Jared out."

The murders come back ... again

Earlier in the episode, Elizabeth went to visit Jared -- the orphaned son of Emmet and Leanne -- one more time. She determines that he didn't really talk to the FBI but also that he may have some idea that Elizabeth is directly connected to his parents.

She doesn't push Jared on the subject, but she does follow him. That's when she finds out that Kate has been meeting with Jared -- no costumes or anything -- for some unknown reason.

That may just be why Kate's final message focused on the teen.

Out in the 'burbs

A host of personal life issues are rattling around the big houses on the Jennings' and Beemans' street. Sandra is back from her planned affair and doesn't know whether or not she wants to leave Stan. He doesn't seem to know either.

Paige meanwhile still wants to go be a counselor at that Bible camp and still can't figure out why her mother is so dead-set against it. At least Elizabeth relents when Paige wants to go with the church group to protest a military base with nuclear weapons. That's a cause Elizabeth can get behind.

Henry also gets involved with the quiet drama, interviewing Stan for a report on a "hero." Not that Stan thinks he's a hero -- even a commendation from the Bruce Dameran shooting isn't enough to convince the increasingly broken man of his own heroism.

Speaking of a broken Stan ...

The Soviets have decided it's time to tighten the noose around Stan's neck, and Nina has to be the one to do it. If she doesn't, it's back to Moscow for the certain doom of a treason trial.

So she's motivated. She is especially motivated when Oleg makes it clear that he both knows and still wants to protect her.

Thus, Nina goes to Stan. She is nearly hysterical as she laments that Arkady knows her treason and will destroy her. Nina claims she will never go back. And Stan digs his own grave by declaring that she will be safe forever with him.

Photo/Video credit: FX