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Doubt is becoming a supporting character in episode 3 of ‘The Americans’

For all their chastising of Russian agriculture consultant Alexei Morozov (Alexander Sokovikov) — for betraying his country and removing his family from Russia against their will — it seems the Jennings can’t seem to shake the growing idea that their country may be headed in the wrong direction.

As this penultimate season progresses, doubts continue to creep across their face like frown lines, framing the question taking shape in the back of their minds: If they had to go home, could they? Would they recognize the country they left behind?

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The most telling scene in “Midges” (March 21) is another moment featuring the series’ trademark lack of dialogue. Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russel) are trying to track down a potentially deadly insect that could wipe out Russia’s entire wheat crop. On returning to their Oklahoma hotel room from a meeting with a fellow operative, Elizabeth immediately turns on the radio to cover their voices (force of spy habit, perhaps?). A country song fills the space.

After noting the similarities of the American Midwest and the Russian countryside, Phillip wonders aloud from the edge of the bed, “We have all this, too. Why can’t we grow enough of our own crops?” The question lingers on both of their faces for the better part of a minute, while the song continues to play in the background. Finally, to break the silence and ease the sudden tension, Elizabeth dons Phillip’s cowboy hat and stands before him: “Think they’ll make me the Queen of the Rodeo this year?”

A silent pause, then Philip smiles and the two begin to slow dance. Their surprising tenderness is something that Philip and Elizabeth often find hard to express with each other, but it’s a telling moment at this point: Are they beginning to feel comfortable about where they are? There’s still a firm steadiness that often flickers in Elizabeth’s eyes, especially when recalling the selfishness of someone like Morozov, but even that is softening; Philip has often waffled in his faith of the Russian long game. As he starts to see more of America, and the surprising similarities of these two powerhouse nations, he may be realizing democracy isn’t all that bad.

Which leads us to wonder: If they do end up sticking around in the U.S., but must take on new identities, what personalities would they inhabit? They both make pretty mean cowboys…

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Paige (Holly Taylor), meanwhile, is growing more and more isolated from her own reality. On a date with Matthew (Danny Flaherty), she’s full of distant gazes and long expressions, to the point that teenage boy Matthew notices, asking if everything is okay. Responding that the world just seems like a messy place right now and it’s hard to know what to do about it, Matthew, in an attempt to comfort, reassures her that there’s actually nothing they can do about it.

“Are you sure you’re OK? Are your parents fighting at home or anything?” Matthew asks when this answer doesn’t quite soothe her.

Paige, using the new technique her parents recently taught her for getting through emotional situations, rubs her thumb and index finger together under the table, and expertly lies about how she it’s just a history paper weighing on her mind.

“I just looked him right in the face and lied to him. It was so… easy,” she later recalls to Elizabeth down in the laundry room. In an attempt to bring her further into the fold, and hopefully relieve a little of her worry, Phillip and Elizabeth had told Paige about their mission to Oklahoma, and what’s at stake for their people back in Russia.

It appears that, even without realizing it, Paige might just becoming more and more like her parents every day.

Stray Observations From the Field:

  • Missing from yet another episode, it appears Henry (Keidrich Sellati) has continued his sudden interest in hanging out at the library.
  • Oleg (Costa Ronin) seems to be fitting well into his new role of sniffing out corruption within the KGB, ruffling the feathers of a department leader and her excessive amount of fresh tangerines.
  • Martha (Alison Wright) is alive and doing well! Or, as well as you can do when your grocery store shelves are devoid of food.
  • Stan (Noah Emmerich) and Agent Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden) do their best cliche G-Man portrayal yet this episode, running around town in trench coats trying to hunt down new KGB informants.

“The Americans” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.

Category: TelevisionTV Shows: The AmericansTV Network: FX

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