The Americans Review: “I Am Abassin Zadran”

(Episode 3.12)

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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;I Am Abassin Zadran&#8221;

Any parent will tell you having the upper hand is key. If, for instance, you threaten a certain punishment (like no dessert), you have to follow through no matter what tantrum might follow. If you say it’s time to go to bed, you can’t let any amount of begging convince you otherwise. You have to be the authority figure.

Philip and Elizabeth have lost their upper hand. Paige has the best trump card ever. She hasn’t come right out and said it, but the truth is there: you don’t like what I’m doing mom and dad? I’ll tell everyone you’re undercover spies. Maybe she won’t actually do that, but the threat is omnipresent, an undercurrent in every interaction between Paige and her parents.

So Philip and Elizabeth come home to find a note from Paige informing them that she’s gone to a lecture at the church and plans to spend the night at Pastor Tim’s house. She didn’t ask permission and Philip and Elizabeth retrieve her while fearing the worst: Paige has told Pastor Tim the truth. She hasn’t, but Paige has put her trump card out there as she tries to sort out which part of her upbringing is true and which part is a lie. If Aunt Helen isn’t really an aunt, is Henry really her brother?

Paige isn’t the only family member freaking out. Stan visits Martha at her apartment under the pretext of being concerned for her. Hans warns Philip off visiting Martha that night. Later Philip tells Martha that they might have to go away. There were so many times during this episode where I thought for sure Martha was going to die. And it kills me that it still hasn’t occurred to Martha that perhaps she shouldn’t tell Clark every move she is making. But she packs her suitcase and tells Clark she is going to see her parents for a while. Clark responds by taking off his glasses and his toupee, and becoming Philip right before her eyes. I really hope Allison Wright gets an Emmy nomination for her work this season because it has been phenomenal. The look on Martha’s face as her husband’s entire appearance transforms was amazing. Maybe Philip thinks the truth is the only way to go here, and I want to believe that he’s trying to protect Martha. But I kind of feel like the more Martha knows, the more dangerous everything is for her.

Agent Aderholt has figured out there was something going on between Nina and Stan, and wonders if Stan could have planted the bug in Gaad’s office. Stan reminds him that their office is a target for the illegals. Stan is starting to put it all together than the woman he shot at the end of season one (Elizabeth) is the same person who killed Agent Amador and is probably the same person who put a bug in Gaad’s office.

The wonderful Margo Martindale returned as Claudia and some of my favorite scenes in the series are when we learn what the handlers are really thinking. For all his bravado with Philip, Gabriel doesn’t necessarily think recruiting Paige is the best idea and, like many of us, is mystified that the Centre still wants to recruit her after what went down with Jared last season.

Under the ruse of being CIA agents, Philip and Elizabeth convince Abassin Zadran to kill the other two people who have come to American with him. But not before being forced to listen to his vitriolic speech about Russia and the Russian people.

Elizabeth has decided to go visit her mother in Russia and invites Paige to go with her. How is that going to work exactly? It’s not like they can just hop on a plane, or can they? Will next season be about Elizabeth in Russia, and Philip in America?

Oleg and Tatiana convince Arkady to not abandon listening to the recordings of the mail robot just yet. Arkady thinks it’s a waste of time, but Tatiana seems to know that Arkady might be removed from his post if he doesn’t make a good faith effort with the operation.

I don’t know about you, but I got a little stressed when I realized next week was the season finale. We still have way too much ground to cover. Will Martha be found out? Will she live to see another season? What about Nina? And Kimmy? And the Russian defector who is actually a spy? Will Stan finally discover the truth? Will Philip defect? How many characters will die?

We have a lot of ground to cover next week.

Other thoughts on “I Am Abassin Zadran”:

• Just because I think it’s worth repeating every time, I’ll say it again: I do not trust that Pastor Tim. It’s probably too obvious that he’s a KGB agent as many of speculated but something is definitely up with him.
• The show seems to be flirting with the idea that Elizabeth would hurt Paige if she had to. It was particularly distressing to watch her cover Paige’s mouth.
• Give how Gabriel and Claudia reacted to the amount of choices on the diner’s menu, they would have a lot of trouble with the Cheesecake Factory.
• Anyone want to take bets on how many characters die next week? I think Maurice is a goner for sure.

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.