The Americans, Season 3 Episode 6: “Born Again”

I should have written this review this afternoon but instead I watched a few episodes of Nashville before I had choir practice. It’s that kind of day. “Born Again” is a good episode of The Americans, as Phillip takes the next step (kind of) in his relationship with Kimmy, Elizabeth is pushed into actually recruiting Paige rather than just saying she is, and Stan seems to move on with Tori until a friend’s death leads to a warm hug from Sandra. It’s not as good as last week’s episode, but we need some episodes like “Born Again” throughout the season, and I don’t doubt that the season finale will be great.

Paige is baptised this week, which is where we get our episode title from. My one question about this is why did Phillip buy that expensive dress if she was submerged in water for it? Did she change into the dress afterwards? I was baptised when I was four months old and I wasn’t fully submerged, so I have no idea how any of this works. This episode of The Americans focuses on ideologies, for lack of a better words. Paige’s faith has led to political action with her protests and petitions, EST is a kind of spirituality course, there’s the anti-Apartheid movement that may be attacked, and of course there is the struggle between capitalism and communism. As with last week, Elizabeth has taken a backseat to Phillip’s mission with Kimmy, but when she sees Gabriel she’s pushed into actively recruiting her daughter, so she takes Paige to near where Gregory lived. This was a smart move, relating the civil rights activism she took part in to Grace’s political action, and it was a nice nod to the history of the show by going to see Gregory’s old place. I’d almost forgotten about Elizabeth’s lost love.

This was also a week of lost loves, because as Elizabeth remembers Gregory, Gabriel tells Phillip that Irina is facing trial and that her son has joined the army. I know that Phillip and Irina were lovers before they moved to the United States, but I hadn’t heard anything about Irina attempting to defect, so I wonder where that came from. Phillip is also really trying to avoid sleeping with a fifteen year old, and Elizabeth worries about it too as she sneaks a cigarette in the garage. However Gabriel is full of bad news for the Jennings this week, and needs Phillip to change the bug in Kimmy’s dad’s briefcase on a weekly basis instead of monthly. In the funniest part of the episode, Phillip tells Eliabeth as they’re smoking a joint that he told Kimberley he couldn’t sleep with her because of Jesus. The next time he sees her, he tells her something that’s based in the truth – he got a girl pregnant when he was 17 and never got to meet his son. He asks Kimgerley to pray with him, and she does. Kimberley may not believe in God, but she believes Phillip when he tells her a partial truth, and that’s more than he’s even told Elizabeth about the situation.

Meanwhile, Stan is moving on with Tori, as they have dinner at the Jennings house before going back across the road to have sex. Tori tells Stan that she wants him to be present, which is what Sandra used to say to him, so Stan tells his new girlfriend that he’s never been with anyone but Sandra in this house. He and Sandra are still married, so it’s complicated. The next day at work Stan learns that one of his friends/FBI colleagues died in a plane crash in Ohio, and the first person he calls is Sandra. When Sandra hears it on the news, she checks to see if Stan is okay, and when Stan asks her to come to the funeral in Chicago she says she’ll think about it. Even if these two never get back together, they were married a long time, and this has impacted both of them. I’m interested to see them get to a place where they can be comfortable around each other, because they have so much shared history. Their moment when Sandra drops Matthew off at Stan’s is just as tender as Phillip and Elizabeth smoking a joint. When you share your life with someone for so long, that connection never truly goes away.

Other thoughts:

  • Nina has gotten the information the KGB wants from her cellmate. I have no idea where it will go from here, but they were giving her wine with her meals, so I guess she did a good job. Annet Mahendru is great, and I love seeing Nina be good at her job while not being in any romantic entanglements. That speech about her two lovers was great though.
  • I like how all the world politics intersects. We have the war in Afghanistan, where the US supports radical faith based groups to drive out the Soviets, and now South African Apartheid, which Reagan hasn’t condemned. It appears that the person Elizabeth has been training is South African, and he spots someone who is suspected to be planning an attack on anti-Apartheid protestors.
  • What’s going to happen if Phillip and Elizabeth tell Paige who they really are and Paige doesn’t want to have anything to do with them? I know they’re spies and they’re good at what they do, but does the KGB have a backup plan?

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