Good Spies Make Shitty Parents on The Americans

Writing this in a fever haze (it's over 100 degrees in this sauna I call my apartment), all I can think is that The Americans sometimes feels like it too is in a fever haze. Whenever I watch an episode, I feel like I'm not quite there with it; and when I finally am, it finds a way to elude my grasp yet again. Constantly second-guessing the truth of the episodes, wondering who to trust (I'm always wondering who to trust when I'm in the haze of a fever). Perhaps that's why the show hasn't caught on amongst the masses yet. As great as The Americans is, not everyone wants to watch a show in a haze. Not even Glee.

Continuing right where "Stealth" left off, "Operation Chronicle" begins with Elizabeth heading out to see Jared and make sure he's alright and Philip sending out a signal from home (because, really, what are the chances the FBI are signal chasing in their neighborhood?) to figure out what's going on. They're not even sure Kate is dead, that's how in the dark they are right now.

The episode really ramps up the ever-present "Paige doesn't trust her parents" thread, with her immediately questioning her mother's "work emergency" late at night. Admittedly, I laughed at Paige's "Did a plane full of your clients crash?" but her parents are absolutely right to not find the humor in it. Paige makes a big deal about Elizabeth not being around to help her pack for her church drip, but first of all, Paige should know how to to pack, and second of all… Paige should know how to pack. Later in the episode, she even tries to listen in on a phone call between her parents and get caught and gets put in her place for it. I understand not wanting to be in the dark, but when you're a kid, it's your job to be in the dark. That's in the Bible, right?

The matter of the phone call itself is pretty important: Jared knew his parents were KGB. The why's and how's of it are not yet explained, but now they know that Elizabeth can let Jared know that she's a "friend" and can help him get to safety. The next day, Elizabeth approaches Jared in her case worker disguise with the "Surprise! I'm a spy!" secret code. He actually seems slightly upset that she's not a social worker, but to be honest, it's very difficult to read Jared's moods; he's not a very expressive kid. They take a drive, unaware that Larrick has been watching them from afar.

Jared asks Elizabeth where Kate is, and she tells him the truth, that she honestly has no idea. She does warn him though that there is a "specific danger" heading toward him and that she promises to keep him safe like his mother would have wanted. But he cannot, under any circumstances, go back to his old life. They stop at a rest stop so he can change and get rid of his clothes and bag, and then it's off to the train station so he can go to the cabin Elizabeth went to after she'd been shot.

It's kind of strange to see all of the effort Elizabeth puts into protecting Jared in this episode. While she and Philip were friends with his parents, this kid is perhaps the character most devoid of personality on this show, unless we're counting "sadsack" as a true character trait. Why did Emmet and Leanne reveal to their son who they truly were? Honestly, his lack of remarkableness makes that question practically impossible to answer. But to watch Elizabeth care for him and worry about his fate in this world still manages to be heartbreaking. I just hope the finale clues us into why he's so important, if he even is at all.

Surprisingly, Jared actually does do everything, as far as we know, right. He listens to Elizabeth about changing his clothes, he takes the train to the proper location, and he heads to the cabin for further instruction. He does everything he's supposed to do, even when it looks like he'll pull a dumb teenager—since he doesn't want to lose his old life—and make a mistake. Elizabeth is absolutely right to say Paige and Henry would fail in similar circumstances. And yet, Larrick finding Jared is kind of on Elizabeth. Maybe it's all the Castle I watch, but I feel like in this line of work, one of the first things Elizabeth should have checked for was a bug. Her mom mode took priority of her spy mode, and the effects can only lead to disaster.

While Elizabeth essentially finds a better kid (if we're being honest) in Jared this episode, Philip has to deal with shutting down second wife Martha (who's bringing home highly classified files from work now for her husband) on the very idea of having any kids. The fact that Martha wants children isn't really a surprise, especially since it can get lonely in her husband's absence, but Philip is still somehow shocked by it. He tells her that they can't have children because of his absence—in his line of work, children just aren't in the cards for him. "Martha, that's not for me. And I thought you understood that." One day Martha will truly have had it with Philip (well, Clark) and his ability to turn himself into the victim. One day.

Of course, the biggest surprise in all of this—and of the entire episode, even—is that Martha has been aware that Philip has been wearing a toupee the whole time. Martha's the best, you guys.

While Philip has his own extramarital (extra-extramarital?) problems, Stan continues to be the Fitzgerald Grant to Nina's Olivia Pope; making promises of living in the city and visiting her as often as he can, promises that sounds a lot like "making jam in Vermont" and all of the nauseating forbidden love idealism that goes along with it. He even goes to buy her a car, under the guise of purchasing it for his "niece." The car dealer tells him the car he chooses says to the intended "you mean a lot to me," but if a car were all Stan needed to show how much he cares, he probably could have fixed things with Sandra—who is moving in with her lover—ages ago.

Instead, he put all of his eggs into the Nina basket, which is why it is so easy for Arkady to convince him to steal Echo for the Russians. Nina's mission is in progress, and so far, it's working—Stan is set and ready to steal Echo to make sure Nina isn't sent back to Russia and killed. Oleg, however, is still worried that Nina will be sent to trial no matter what happens, and why shouldn't he be? First of all, Arkady is a shady bastard. Second of all, to bet on Stan is to bet on that kid who plays Mortal Kombat by button mashing. Sure, he'll win sometimes, but there's a reason you don't want him to be crowned the undisputed champion. Take a moment to think about that analogy—it's a good one. Oleg gives Nina money to run away, but honestly, Oleg has to know there's nowhere Nina will be able to go without being caught eventually. It's noble, but it's stupid.

Nina really just needs better taste in men. That's on my wishlist for the third season, if Nina makes it out of this one alive.

Meanwhile, Larrick remains terrifying, constantly lurking, so close and yet so far away from Elizabeth and Jared. As mentioned, he bugged Jared bag and is then able to find the train station. Impersonating an officer of the law (very Terminator 2 of him), he's able to figure out where Jared went, and by the end of the episode, he is only moments away from ending up at the cabin himself. There really is only one way Larrick can go come the season finale, but as I mentioned last week, Lee Tergesen is simply amazing in this role. With so very few words, his presence commands intimidation. I will be sad to see him go.

[Image via FX]

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