'The Americans' Season 2, episode 4: Claudia, failure and religion in 'A Little Night Music'
Still, it can be tough to watch. Brilliant, of course, but still tough. Why can't Philip and Elizabeth just have happy lives?
Oh right, the spying thing ...
A refusenik the Soviets want back
Strangely, this episode of "The Americans" begins in a synagogue. That's because there's a refusenik physicist named Baklanov giving a lecture about the horrors of the Soviet Union and the wonders of making it to the US.
Unfortunately for the professor, the Soviets want this guy back. His work may hold the key to stealth technology, after all, and everyone wants that.
But he's not going to just start working with the Soviet Union again, not after religious and political persecution followed by difficult emigration. That's why the KGB -- working through Philip and Elizabeth, of course -- is going to kidnap him. They call it "forced repatriation," which is an awesome euphemism for plain old kidnapping.
It doesn't go so well. The Jenningses grab Baklanov outside of a mistress' apartment, but they're not the only ones staking out the location. Another man and woman materialize to fight off Philip and Elizabeth. Although the man is easily beaten -- thanks to Elizabeth's suppressed frustrations and the car's trunk-lid -- the woman gets away. And she takes the car (with the physicist inside) with her.
This may be very, very bad for our beloved spies.
Bad news for spy bosses
Both the FBI and the KGB make life difficult for their bosses in this episode. Over at the FBI, Stan is shocked to learn that he won't be getting that commendation after all. Instead, there's an investigation into counter-intelligence, and Agent Gaad is taking the fall for a KGB spy existing in the first place.
Being the head of the local KGB isn't much better. Arkady Ivanovich is dismayed to learn that his new agent, the well-connected Oleg, has gone over his head to get higher security clearance. This means that the slimy, totally not trustworthy Oleg now has access to Nina's reports about Stan.
He doesn't have evidence of her hidden treason yet. But he will. And that cannot possibly be good for Nina.
Claudia wants to catch killers
Claudia is back!
Philip and Elizabeth aren't exactly thrilled to see the older woman though. They only barely trust her at this point, and Claudia's suggestion that they all go rogue to catch Emmett and Leanne's killers doesn't help.
But they're scared. Philip and Elizabeth are scared enough, in fact, that they move to track down a likely killer. That is Andrew Larick, a Naval instructor at Annapolis who was being blackmailed by the dead KGB couple because he is gay.
To get to this man, Elizabeth seduces a young and nerdy computer guy in the Navy, Brad Mullen. A little classical music and some trauma from a rape -- supposedly committed by Larick and covered up by the military -- and she has Brad hunting down private files.
He hasn't gotten them to her yet though. Hopefully, Elizabeth's apparent stage fright isn't going to ruin the mission first.
Trouble on the home front
Life is tough in the Jennings household -- not to mention in the increasingly tense love nest shared by Clark and Martha. That's a situation that might be about to crumble, by the way. Philip-as-Clark picks a few fights so he can leave for the rest of his job, which leaves Martha alone and about to declare Clark a spouse on a job application.
There's even more stress with Paige and her ongoing teenage rebellion. Kelly, the girl from the bus, turns out to be a religious kid and drags Paige to her singsong-y youth group at a local church. Obviously, Paige doesn't share this outing with her parents.
They find out though. Elizabeth catches Paige reading a Bible, which starts a bit of a fight between parents and child. Not only do they have to worry about lying, now the Communist parents need to worry about their daughter taking the "opiate of the masses."
A few more prayers at the dinner table, and this could blow up completely.