I wonder what my neighbors think was happening to me while I was exclaiming at the screen during The Americans tonight. “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup” is an episode that could easily have been titled “Things Fall Apart.
Philip (Matthew Rhys) is just not making it as s businessman. He rushed his expansion of the travel agency, taking on too much additional overhead too quickly and not seeing a return on the investment within the expected timeframe. As a result, he has to call Henry (Keidrich Sellati) in his boarding school hallway and tell him that he doesn’t know how they’ll be able to pay the tuition for him to attend the school during his senior year.
He also, finally, loops in Elizabeth (Keri Russell) to the financial troubles, although she doesn’t ask for the details and he doesn’t offer them. He’ll need to cut back, but he doesn’t know if that will help. Financial strain, coupled with the new stress of spying on Elizabeth and reporting back to Oleg (Costa Ronin) about what she’s up to, is bringing him way down. He has no idea what to do, so he puts on his cowboy boots and scoots to line dancing with his coworkers for a break from the heaviness.
Elizabeth isn’t doing much better. She managed to extract the info she needed about how to gain access to the warehouse where the radiation sensors are being kept last week, before having to inconveniently kill her source in a hotel room. Everything goes more sideways when she attempts to follow through on the plan to steal a sensor. By the time she scurries out of the pitch-black warehouse (in a super long, very dark scene) and jumps into a waiting car to escape, she has killed at least three guards, nearly been caught and emerged empty-handed.
She hopes to redeem this botch when she sees an opportunity to surveil both Glenn Haskard (Scott Cohen) and Fyodor Nesterenko (Alex Feldman), a Russian working on the treaty negotiations whom she was asked to pay special attention to by the General she met in Mexico city. Haskard has been invited to a World Series party that Nesterenko will be attending, but he doesn’t want to leave his sick wife at home. When he shares this with Erica (Miriam Shor) in front of her “nurse,” be-wigged Elizabeth suggests that they all go to the party, with her ensuring that Erica will be fine.
Elizabeth sneaks Haskard’s lucky baseball jacket to a woman who installs a listening device in it, and everything appears to be going smoothly– to the point of Nesterenko pulling Haskard aside for a private talk– when Erica becomes violently ill in the dining room. Her projectile vomiting ruins the party for everyone, and it cuts off Nesterenko and Haskard’s conversation just as it’s about to get juicy, leaving Elizabeth with nothing. (This is when I was shouting “Oh! Oh no!” at the TV, likely worrying my neighbors.)
At the end of the long day in which Philip has had to tell Henry about the money issues, Elizabeth finds him in bed with the bills, failing to make the numbers balance. She tries to reassure him, but he can’t be comforted. The tenderness in her concern opens a door between them, and he attempts to step through it. He turns off the light, and they turn to each other in bed. He strokes her arm and asks her how she is, then kisses her gently.
She whispers, “I’m tired. All the time.”
It’s an intimate moment that reaffirms their love for each other, but it doesn’t solve anything.
Also happening in this episode:
- It turns out that Philip hasn’t been 100% retired– he’s still working Kimmy Breland (Julia Garner) when she’s in town. He visits her while she’s home on break from her junior year of college, and she tells him that he’s stuck, without having any idea how true that is. She’ll be leaving the country over her next school break, so Philip won’t be able to retrieve another recording from her father’s briefcase before the Summit, much to Elizabeth’s dismay.
- Claudia (Margo Martindale) comes to Elizabeth with the task of determining whether Stan (Noah Emmerich) has been running Russian courier Gennadi (Yuri Kolokolnikov) and his wife, Sofia (Darya Ekamasova). Their very public defections in the wake of Sofia’s loose lips have made The Center worry that they’ve not only had a compromised courier, but that the former national hockey hero might embarrass Russia by speaking ill of his homeland in the American media. Elizabeth passes the job of tailing Stan, to see if he will lead them to a safe house, to her underling Marilyn (Amy Tribbey), telling her not to use “Julie” [Paige (Holly Taylor)] because she’s “too inexperienced.” (Or because she’s known Stan for 10 years. Whatever.)
- Paige is getting ambitious. She tells her mom that she’s been invited to a party, and that there’s a guy there who’s interested in her. Brian (Luke Slattery) is an intern for someone in the Defense Department, and he could be a good source. Elizabeth admonishes her to either date someone or groom them as a source, but never both. Then she says that Paige should not be grooming sources anyway, because she needs to be protected until she has a job in a government agency and can fulfill her purpose. Paige seems to hear what mom is saying, but after the party she sleeps with Brian and wakes up looking longingly at his work ID.
UPDATE: I overlooked the notable music placement for this episode on first viewing, but on repeat, Eddie Rabbit’s “Driving My Life Away” playing while Philip line dances jumped out and hit me.
Ooh, I’m drivin’ my life away, lookin’ for a better way for me
Ooh, I’m drivin’ my life away, lookin’ for a sunny day
Keep driving, Philip. Keep looking for that better way!