The Americans: “Salang Pass”

(Episode 3.05)

TV Reviews The Americans
The Americans: “Salang Pass”

Already fraught with mistrust and doubt, the chasm between Philip and Elizabeth grew this week. There’s Elizabeth, who does not hesitate to kill a man so she can move her mark into a favorable position at Northrop. And there’s Philip, who is clearly in agony about pursuing a relationship with the increasingly vulnerable Kimmie.

This week we learn that Kimmie is only 15 years old. Her mom died when she was young and her father remarried a woman who took away the vegetable garden that the family loved. Her older siblings have moved away and her father and step-mother are never around. She’s a girl crying to be loved and ripe to be taken advantage of. Julia Garner is doing a fantastic job as Kimmie. My heart broke for her during her monologue to Philip.
And it’s so creepy to see Philip work Kimmie—to use her desire to appear mature against her. The scene with the rocky road ice cream and Jiffy Pop? It gave me such a pit in my stomach. But Philip does not want to sleep with Kimmie, even though Gabriel tells him, “I don’t think we can reliably run her any other way long term.” The problem, according to Gabriel, is that Philip has a conscience and a conscience can be dangerous. If Elizabeth has a conscience it never interferes with her work. If the roles were reversed, she already would have slept with Kimmie by now. For me, if Philip crosses this line, it may make his character irredeemable.

Meanwhile Philip is still trying to protect Paige and treat her like a normal teenager. He buys her an expensive dress for her baptism, much to Elizabeth’s dismay.

Stan has a deal for Oleg. If Oleg can help reveal that the defector Zinaida Preobrazhenskaya is, in fact, a double agent, Stan can trade her life for Nina’s. It seems like a shaky plan at best. Does the FBI really care that much about Nina, or is Stan just using Oleg’s feelings for Nina to get at the truth? Oleg tries to find out if there’s anything to Stan’s theory, by not so subtly questioning Tatiana, but gets nowhere.
Martha has not let go on her idea to take in a foster child which is extremely problematic. There’s no way “Clark” can even do this to humor her. He wouldn’t want to fill out any of the government forms required to become a foster parent. I continue to worry for Martha’s safety.

Elizabeth’s looooooong con on Lisa continues as she moves her like a piece in a game of chess. First she gets Lisa to live in a new home, then she kills someone so Lisa gets a new job, and finally she’s slowly dropping hints about how much money she has (Coach purse, fancy clothes, expensive dinners). She tells Lisa that she goes out to dinner with this man and answers questions about the kind of work that she does at General Dynamics. So you know Elizabeth will do something to make Lisa desperate for money and that there’s an episode in the future with Clark playing that man.

In a series of increasingly distressing flashbacks, Philip remembers being trained to sleep with his marks and the advice to “make it real.” Elizabeth wonders if sometimes Philip has to make it real with her. “Sometimes, not now,” he tells her. That may have been the most honest moment to date between the couple. Their marriage is fundamentally built on a lie.

At the end of the episode, Philip returns from Kimmie’s home after having to run out of there “like a teenager” when her parents come home. Philip asks Elizabeth if she thinks he should sleep with Kimmie. “I don’t know,” she replies. For Philip’s sake and for ours, I hope it never comes to that.

Other thoughts on “Salang Pass”:
• I love it when Philip and Elizabeth discuss their children as if they’re just your average American parents reminiscing about when their kids learned to walk.
• I need to get to the bottom of why Martha and Nina have yet to be in the same episode.
• Sometimes when watching The Americans, I’m still floored that Matthew Rhys is the same actor who played Kevin on Brothers& Sisters.
They still make Jiffy Pop. Who knew?
• Stan and Philip seem to have developed a genuine friendship. I no longer think Stan suspects Philip. How about you?

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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