The Americans: “Born Again”

(Episode 3.06)

TV Reviews The Americans
The Americans: “Born Again”

Philip, Elizabeth and Nina all moved in on their marks this week.

Nina was the most cold and calculating. She pretends to be despondent and refuses to eat until her cell mate Evi confesses to her that she knew what she was doing, that she was not an innocent bystander. Nina voraciously eating a succulent meal and drinking wine while she knows she is sending Evi to certain death is definitely a contender for most chilling scene of the year. Nina is a survivor. And, she even warned Evi in her own way. “I was whatever they wanted me to be,” she tells Evi about Stan and Oleg and she was whatever Evi wanted her to be. But Evi screaming, “Nina what did you do?” will haunt me for weeks.

Philip is desperately trying to figure out a way to string Kimmie along without actually having to sleep with her. When Kimmie disrobes in front of him, he rebuffs her, telling Kimmie he’s been going to church (which he actually did for Paige’s baptism) and that he wants to be a better man. “Are you sure it’s not me?” the vulnerable Kimmie asks him.

When Philip returns home to Elizabeth he tells her “Jesus really came through for me tonight.” Elizabeth seems resigned to the fact that Philip will eventually have to sleep with Kimmie, but Philip is hoping to put it off until Kimmie is older. But then Philip learns from Gabriel that the Centre wants him to make weekly not monthly visits to Kimmie’s house, making the situation that much more untenable. Philip then tells Kimmie he had a son as a teenager (also true, as Gabriel tells him his son with Irina is fighting in Afghanistan) and asks Kimmie to pray with him. By appearing vulnerable to Kimmie, he buys himself more time. But who knows how long this can last?

Elizabeth, who tells Gabriel that Philip knows she’s moving ahead on recruiting Paige without him, begins her slow reveal to Paige. First she lets Paige know that sometimes she smokes. “I know you smoke. Henry does too. We’re not clueless, mom,” she tells Elizabeth. Paige isn’t clueless. She knows something is up with her parents, but she will certainly never have suspected they are covert KGB agents.

Then Elizabeth takes Paige to the place where Gregory once lived. She tells Paige that she and Philip were a part of social movements that involved more than simply singing songs and marching. “It’s not just about the travel agency for us,” she tells her daughter in what has got to be the understatement of the year. “I wanted you to know I’m more like you than you think,” she tells her daughter. The direction of this final sequence which intercut Elizabeth’s interactions with Paige and Philip interactions with Kimmie was brilliant. Two adolescents are about to have their innocence taken from them.

Philip also begins to work against what Elizabeth is doing, telling his daughter that he’s proud of her for going through with her baptism. “You can always do that, stand up for what you want,” he tells her. But like a typical teenager, Paige isn’t paying that much attention to her father.

Stan gets lucky with Tori, but when he learns that an old friend in the FBI died in a plane crash, it’s Sandra he wants. His affair with Nina has made him realize how much he loves his wife.

Other thoughts on “Born Again:”

• I’m still not sure where the show is going with Elizabeth’s training of Hans, but I have to think he won’t survive the season.
• Anyone else wonder why Gabriel seems to always meet with Elizabeth and Philip separately? He’s clearly playing them against each other.
• I kind of loved how Giant Henry didn’t get EST.
• Do you think Nina actually was married in her past? Or did she just make it up to make herself seem more vulnerable?
• Martha and Nina in the same episode! And Martha’s new FBI friend (who, remember, doesn’t know she’s married) got the confidential files taken off the electronic mail cart.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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