Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 10 of FX's The Americans, titled "Yousaf."
Wig count: Just two. But two very serious ones. I guess the show is always about dualities, but tonight it was right up in our faces.
Both wigs were donned to complete a mission in which the center turns a Pakistani ISI agent who's in town. Instead of having Elizabeth do it (and she almost does, coyly asking for a newspaper), Philip decides that Annelise should be the one to seduce the man. Thing is: it's going to take a lot longer than the four days they have, so they decide to kill the man's boss in a pool so Yousaf will be a better source. They're playing the long game. Two things are going on here. The first is that Elizabeth and Philip had a conversation the week before about thinking "what Elizabeth does" is easy. So he takes that responsibility from her. But Annelise isn't as tough as Elizabeth and after seducing Yousaf, officially freaks out on Philip (or whoever she thinks Philip is, I missed the name). Since Elizabeth is so wound up, it's almost like he gets to see how his wife feels.
The role switching continues as Elizabeth heads to a pool to drown the ISI boss. He fights back, and she ends up in the same sort of position that Philip did last week at the training camp: suffocating a struggling victim. Once it's over, she heads home and sneaks a cigarette and they have a silent sort of conversation. This bookends the great opening sequence, where Philip can't sleep because of the all the kills last week. She offers to make him eggs, backs him up against Paige, and they have sex. All the sneaky things that go in that kitchen!
But in all, they're getting closer by proxy. And their jobs are taking a toll.
In other dualities, is little Russian girls at camp and Paige at Jesus camp. Nina and Oleg have a moment reminiscing about summers as children -- he vacationed in the Crimea, she at a summer camp where she got to wear little red Lenin pins. Is she playing him or being honest about how stressed her life is making her?
Paige is a little sneak herself; she wants to go to camp for three months with the church and work as a junior counselor. Obviously, Elizabeth would rather have her get a job at the movie theater in town than go to camp with a ministry. She catches Paige trying to forge her signature and in the end calls the minister to forbid it. Paige is really interesting to me and I like this very slow set up for what I feel like is something. Last season ended with her curious in the laundry room, how far and what kinds of questions can she start asking now? She's going to probably see or hear something so weird. I could watch her grow up for five more seasons.
There are two other subplots that actually have all the action. You know that KGB operator who hides in a garage and calls the Jennings? Crazy Larrick finds him, breaks in, and shoots him. And then just stares at all the phones and the little network they have going. He even picks a line and it ends up being Kate, the handler.
Gaad gets back to work after Arkady drops the investigation into Vlad's death and helps Stan find a secret spy briefcase in Emmet and Leanne's evidence. Beeman goes to talk to the poor kid -- asking about his parents' friends, if they had any secrets. I couldn't tell if like Paige, he maybe did feel something off was going on; you can imagine the same conversation with her might prove fruitful. Luckily, the Jennings were never introduced to the kids, so there's no real way to link them. Unless you start looking at that carnival? The way that plotline has surfaced in such a smart, substantial way to the FBI makes me want to hug this show.
Only three more episodes left in the season, which means things are about to get even better.
Let me know what you think in the comments or tweet me @karenfratti.
"The Americans" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.