'The Americans' Season 2, episode 7: Sex and the dawn of the internet in 'Arpanet'
It isn't as much fun, and it is a lot more deadly. Fortunately, there's some surprising non-cyber sex in this episode to make up for it.
Security breaches were different back then
With the help of Charles Duluth -- the secret Commie journalist -- Philip gets an interview with one of the geniuses behind the building of the Arpanet. The result is a complicated explanation for how the whole virtual world works, but at least "The Americans" does better than "a series of tubes."
Philip may not understand the details, but he knows enough: Arpanet is a big deal, and the KGB wants it.
Back in the day, of course, you didn't just use a hacker with a good wi-fi connection. No, Philip and Charles have to break into the academic offices for a keypad code (which Charles should know better than to write on his sweaty palm) and then into the computer lab.
This would be easier if computer nerds ever went home for the night. Since they do not, however, Philip -- dressed in a frankly amazing janitor costume -- sounds the fire alarm and sneaks in when everyone leaves. But one man doesn't stay gone. Thanks to a forgotten wallet, one of the nerd comes back.
Let's just say it doesn't end well for that guy. And let's just say that Philip's rolling trash can seems a bit heavier after he's finished his bug-the-Arpanet mission.
Later at the bar, Charles is giddy with the excitement of the mission and doesn't want to hear Philip's downer stories about having to kill people. Poor Philip looks positively destroyed when recounting all of that and probably needs the vodka cranberry he's served as the scene ends.
The whole Nicaragua thing is basically a mess
Here's the plan to expose the secret Nicaraguan training camps on US soil: Larick is going to sneak in Lucia, who will be posing as a Spanish teacher for the Americans. Then she disables a perimeter fence so others can finish the work.
There are a few problems with this. First of all, no one asked Lucia what she wanted out of the mission. And she wants to kill Larick, seeing as he's basically the devil to anyone on the Communist side of the revolution down there. Lucia, as it turns out, has a "vanished" father too, which pretty much accounts for her fervor.
But there is a bigger problem: Larick isn't actually going to the camps anymore. Instead, he's heading south to Nicaragua itself in order to build a Contra base in the butterfly-filled forest.
All hail Nina, the queen of lies!
Meanwhile, in the increasingly intense and bizarre and amazing triangle of Stan, Nina and Oleg, the woman of the group has agreed to take a polygraph. She just has to figure out how to beat said polygraph, since Nina has been lying to Stan roughly every second since she found out about her colleague's murder.
That's where Oleg gets to step in. He is well-versed in how to fool a lie detector and is happy to give Nina the benefit of experience. His method is two-fold: Clench the anus when lying and picture Oleg standing in the room.
Apparently this works. Nina passes and Stan loves her more than ever. The poor guy is practically salivating when he agrees to hand over Oleg's surveillance files and she rewards the FBI agent with the info that she'll soon know the identities of the illegal spies.
Later, when all professions of love to Stan are finished, Nina gets a bit of a celebration in a lavish hotel room. But she's not alone. Oleg is there, very unclothed and having a rollicking good time with his colleague. Nina has found herself a new man, one who understands just how much of a brain is hidden under all that beauty and apparent vulnerability.
If someone is going to make it out of all of this espionage and Cold-War insanity a winner, it may just be Nina. Seriously, picture her in the post-Soviet era, a powerful and still-beautiful middle-aged woman running half of the country behind-the-scenes. This is a woman who should be leading nations and commanding armies (perhaps with Lucia as her head general).
And not one of the men around her would ever understand how she did it.