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Karen Fratti

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'The Americans' Recap: A Tale Of Two Assets In 'Mutually Assured Destruction'

Posted: 03/21/2013 2:10 am

Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 1, Episode 8 of "The Americans," titled "Mutually Assured Destruction."

The Jennings almost save the day again while tracking down a hit-man that Moscow hired to kill some American scientists working on weapons, but everything else is starting to unravel. To start, though, who hires a hit-man and then changes their mind? And what was with his hair? I'd be angry if I had a landing strip on my head, too. In any case, the Jennings botch the mission by letting FBI agents get blown up in a house. Now counter-intelligence is going to be looking for the KGB, Beeman's partner is looking for distractions, and who knows what Claudia will have to say about it.

Because Claudia has a lot to say. She's not angry about Elizabeth almost killing her -- she's livid. It's not just that she spilled the beans on Philip and Irina's fling in New York, but that she frames it in a way that has Elizabeth not trusting Philip again in terms of his loyalty to the motherland. She's right that she and Elizabeth are similar. They're both cunning, decisive and calculating women in a way that makes them powerful. I've been looking for females I respect on television and I find myself in awe of these two. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a nasty thing to do.

And it's a darned shame, because I was sort of enjoying the Jennings' goofy, 'look, we're in love' banter and they made a really good tag team when they were questioning the explosives guy in Baltimore. In a perfect world, Philip would always wear that wig. In any case, what's Elizabeth thinking? I can never tell. I can't figure out how she compartmentalizes her feelings for Philip -- because she has some, right? -- with this whole 'just doing my job' thing. Since she's so hardcore, she seems entirely capable of calling Philip's bluff and leaving him with the kids in order to better perform her spy duties. And yes, she's so icy she'd just get a hotel room and come visit and take them for ice cream on the weekend. Actually, I sort of hope that happens. They split up and remain spy partners, which would do wonders for their sexual chemistry. Then again, I make the worst predictions.

Another probably wrong prediction I would like to make is that one asset gets in trouble. While I spent most of this episode worried about Nina, I think it's going to be all Martha, Martha, Martha. I don't understand why a love nest for Beeman and Nina to meet makes her any safer. Wouldn't you rather be mobile and meet in a new place every time if you were betraying your country? Or did his boss seriously get him a room, wink wink? When Ivanovich questions her about selling American stuff, which she is totally guilty of, I was sure she was made as a mole. But she seems safe for now and free to make Beeman whistle. I don't know why, but his cheery after-glow at the meatloaf dinner and learning Russian to get the girl totally grosses me out.

Instead, Martha is going to be a problem that "Clark" will have to take care of. While Nina is sleeping with Beeman for her freedom, Martha is trying to make her prince out of Philip. She's one meeting away from ironing his clothes. Her help is tainted with her need for a man in her life. She copies files not for him, really, but because she wants him to get ahead at the agency to fit the Perfect Man (or Not A Jerk) role she's created in her head. Her attraction to "Clark," and denying Chris, is going to be her downfall. Get it through your head, Martha: you have to talk about work.

Chris has all this pent up rage for the Russians and not being able to really go to war, he takes up his crush with Martha again. Even if he's too dense to notice she's smuggling documents out of the office, he's officially stalking her. It's only a matter of time before he questions her about her "boyfriend" who visits late at night and she starts to give details about his identity to his Chris who figures out he's fake and everything falls apart.

This episode had everything good about this show all packed into one little hour. The characters are really coming into their own and we even got a closing montage to The Cure. And lots of silly wigs. I consider that a score.

"The Americans" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

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