The Americans Review: “Yousaf”

(Episode 2.10)

TV Reviews The Americans
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<i>The Americans</i> Review: &#8220;Yousaf&#8221;

I’ve been wondering all season why we kept seeing the man who communicated orders with Elizabeth and Philip through veiled phone calls. It was such a mundane thing to keep showing us and something The Americans had no interest in showing viewers last year.

Now we know why. Larrick returns from Nicaragua with an agenda. He’s going to find Philip and Elizabeth, and when he does, I’m pretty sure he intends to kill them. Larrick finds the man who communicates with Philip and Elizabeth and kills him. Although there was a kill switch to destroy the communication switchboard, there’s a problem. One phone line still works, and it’s the line that goes to Kate, Elizabeth and Philip’s incompetent handler. I totally think Kate will crumble when questioned by Larrick and lead him straight to Philip and Elizabeth. Lee Tergesen is so fantastic as Larrick—he’s calm and deadly frightening. That scene where he’s walking through the house watching the little girl look for her toy was haunting. You just knew he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her if he needed to.

While Larrick is hunting them down, Philip and Elizabeth are assigned to get intel out of a man named Yousaf. Philip decides that Annelise, the wife of the Undersecretary of Defense who we haven’t seen since last season’s second episode, is the one for the job. Philip tells Elizabeth he last saw Annelise six weeks ago. What? Philip does things we don’t get to see? I like the idea that Philip and Elizabeth are constantly working so many angles that even we don’t get to see all that they’re up to.

Elizabeth worries that Annelise isn’t ready for the job, but Philip is convinced she will be. Annelise eventually sleeps with Yousaf (while Philip listens in the next hotel room) and positions herself to get the necessary intel. Meanwhile poor, clearly unstable Annelise thinks Philip is a Swedish intelligence officer and that’s she’s doing all this because the Swedish government needs her. After she sleeps with Yousaf, Annelise rightly freaks out. “You turned me out,” she screams at Philp. It was a poignant reminder that what Philip and Elizabeth do on a daily basis is a dirty, dirty business.

Stan is continuing to investigate any connection between the murders and the Department of Defense meeting. Gaad is back at work and is immediately suspicious of Emmett having a briefcase on vacation. Upon further inspection, he discovers the briefcase has a secret compartment. That’s all Stan and Gaad need to see to be convinced Emmett and Leanne are KGB agents living as U.S. citizens. Stan goes to talk to their son, Jared. He asks Jared if he ever thought his parents acted strangely or kept secrets. “When you get older, you realize your parents are just people,” Stan tells Jared.

But Jared isn’t having any of it. “My mom was in the PTA, and my dad coached t-ball,” Jared tells him. During this scene, I kept thinking Stan really needs to be talking to Paige. She would be all about her parents having secrets. No matter what happens, I really hope poor Jared can go on believing his parents were who he thought they were. That poor kid has been through enough.

Stan goes to see Nina to see if she has any information on illegals and unknowingly gives Nina a huge piece of information—now the KGB will know that the CIA knows. “I have nothing to do with illegals, Stan,” she tells him. But somehow I doubt that’s true. Stan also doesn’t sleep with Nina claiming he has to get back to the office. But then tells her that his wife is having an affair. Could that be the reason he spurned Nina’s advances?

Meanwhile, Paige wants to be a counselor-in-training at church camp over the summer. Eager to smooth things over with Paige, Philip is inclined to let her do it. Elizabeth is against the idea, especially when she discovers Paige has been practicing forging her signature. What I love about this whole story line is if you take out the KGB spy intrigue, this could be a plot line straight out of Parenthood.

The KGB is acting rashly. When Philip tells Kate they should stop with the Yousaf assignment because he doesn’t know anything, the KGB instead decides to kill Yousaf’s boss so Yousaf can rise in the ranks. With only three episodes left this season, things are going to get even more complicated.

Other thoughts on “Yousaf”:
—So just to review after getting caught by Paige in a very compromising position in the season premiere, Philip and Elizabeth have sex in the kitchen where either kid could walk in at any time.
—I really hope we see Claudia again before this season is over.
—That song that played while Elizabeth killed Javid and Annelise slept with Yousaf was “It Must Be Done,” an original song composed by Pete Townshend and series composer Nate Barr.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Americans? Do you think Kate is going to live through next week’s episode? Will Annalise have a nervous breakdown? Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.