'The Americans' recap: 'Lied? What's that even mean to us?'
"The Americans" -- "Gregory"
How do you know your life has become impossibly complicated? When you have a secret life from your secret life. KGB spies posing as American surburbanites Phillip and Elizabeth have lived in an arranged marriage, with children, for 15 years, and just recently bonded in a way that made it possible for their professional marriage to evolve into a genuine romance. But, as Gregory told Elizabeth, you can't do that on a lie, so some secrets had to be revealed first.
Who's Gregory, you ask? In due time. But suffice it for now to say that his name is the title of this episode.
First, Phillip and neighbor/FBI superagent Stan are squaring off in that racquetball match they were talking about, and it brings up -- as nearly every Phillip/Stan interaction does -- questions about whether or not Stan might still have suspicions about Phillip. For instance, when Stan tells Phillip, "The thing about racquetball is, it's not about power or speed. It's about strategy, about making your opponent move too fast and tire out, and then make a mistake."
Like an undercover spy trying to play it cool around his FBI counterintelligence agent neighbor, hmmm?
Or, when Stan's serving, after Phillip accidentally (or was it?) thwacks a ball into Stan's back, and Stan says, "My serve … get ready to run."
Like an undercover spy trying to evade his FBI counterintelligence agent neighbor might eventually be forced to do, hmmm?
The match ends when Stan gets paged (paged!) on a work emergency. "Where I come from, you leave, you lose," Phillip says. Stan: "If that's how you want to win." Phillip, to himself: "I'll win any way I can."
Stan the man
Stan's emergency is a meeting with Nina, the Russian embassy employee he flipped last week. Nina has some demands, and some serious concerns about her safety, but she also has a juicy bit of information for Stan: A KGB operative was killed a couple of weeks ago by stabbing. He died at an area hospital, the same night agent Nikolai Timoshev disappeared.
Phillip, meanwhile, is having breakfast with daughter Paige at a diner, where she's reading a teen mag called "Girl's Life" (with "Facts of Life"-era Nancy McKeon on the cover … nice detail) that alarms him with its cover stories about "What To Do About His Ex-Girlfriend," "Here Comes the Bride," and "Bath to Babe in Under a Minute." When he tells her Elizabeth will not be happy that she's reading that stuff, and Paige asks how her mom will even know, a stranger sitting nearby says it's "maternal ESP." "You have a lovely daughter," the strange woman continues, and Phillip suspiciously starts to check her out until he reads a newspaper classified ad that alarms him.
At the travel agency, he tells Elizabeth that the ad was placed by Robert, their KGB cohort, the one who was killed in the Timoshev kidnapping in the pilot, the one who's been dead for two weeks. Dead men place no classified ads, Elizabeth points out, but Phillip says he's the only one who knew the code in the ad, and the ad is requesting a meeting in Philadelphia, so they need to check it out.
"Put Gregory on it," Phillip tells his wife.
Who's Gregory? Who's Gregory??
Elizabeth arrives at an apartment complex where a man is playing chess in the courtyard. She tells him they should talk inside, and they go to his apartment, where she asks him about his new artwork and they tell each other they've missed one another, before she jumps right into the details of how she needs him and his team to cover the meeting in Philadelphia. We're getting the feeling these two definitely know each other well. But how well? Is it a personal relationship or strictly business?