Are you crying? I’m crying. The Americans keeps its streak of making me yell at the TV alive for a third week straight with “Rififi.” This week the neighbors heard me saying, “OH NO! OH NO!” Find out why by reading on…
Henry (Keidrich Sellati) wasn’t in last week’s episode at all, but this week he drove most of the action. He came home for Thanksgiving break, and although he was back in the family home, he still managed to get in a scene where he’s talking on the phone to one of his parents.
“Rififi” opens with Philip (Matthew Rhys) confronting Elizabeth (Keri Russell) in their kitchen. He tells her that Stan (Noah Emmerich) came by for a beer, upset about two defectors who were killed in front of their seven-year-old son. Elizabeth snaps that she didn’t kill them in front of their son– she didn’t even know he was there.
Philip replies that he won’t do the Kimmy thing and warned her not to go to any communist countries while she’s traveling. He’ll never see her again. It’s over.
Elizabeth loses her temper with him, accusing him of never having planned to do it in the first place, but he volleys back that he had planned to because somehow she’d gotten him to agree to it.
She storms out and goes to Paige’s dark, empty room, shutting the door firmly behind her. He follows her upstairs, waffles a bit in the hallway about which direction to turn, then chooses to go alone into their bedroom and closes the door equally firmly.
It’s with this tension in the air that Philip collects holiday weekend Henry from the bus depot.
On the car ride home, Henry, true to his M.O. of being the least in-sync member of the Jennings family, tells Philip that he doesn’t want to leave school. Philip sputters for a moment, as the financial need to withdraw Henry isn’t flexible, but Henry explains that he will apply for additional scholarships and get a summer job working in a tannery. He has put in three years of hard work at this fancy school, and if he doesn’t get his diploma there, it will have been a waste.
Henry has also told a school friend’s rich dad about the travel agency’s issues, because he is a dolt. Philip sputters again, aghast at his son having told a wealthy man about his business failure. Henry begs Philip to consider talking to this man, accepting some business advice from him and potentially winning him as a client. Maybe this is the moment Philip decides he needs to lay off three of his employees, or maybe he already knew that was coming.
(Sidenote: Philip listens to country music in the car! It’s not just for line dancing!)
Henry comes home to a chill he isn’t used to. He notices that Elizabeth has been sleeping in Paige’s room and that his parents aren’t really talking. He tries to get Philip to open up to him about it while they’re playing hooky at the slot car racing track the next day, but Philip insists everything’s fine.
Henry also calls Elizabeth out on how much she’s smoking, pretending he wants to bum a cigarette off of her while she’s out on her smoking patio. She actually offers him one, commenting that she’s always been a smoker but that now she doesn’t have to hide things from him. (Except her secret double-life that his sister knows all about, but hey.)
Philip lays off his staffers while his family is home cooking for a pot luck Thanksgiving at Stan’s. Then he comes home in gym clothes, indicating that he blew off some steam on the racquetball court on his way home. He tries to dodge Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry’s plea that he come help cook, but they insist. Henry throws Paige a look regarding the frosty silence between their parents, but the phone rings before the family cooking session can get any more awkward.
It’s “work” for Elizabeth. Claudia (Margo Martindale) calls her in because a Chicago colleague, working on the same cyanide capsule mission Elizabeth is on, is under active surveillance. They have to get him out immediately, or he’ll have to eat that capsule.
Elizabeth ducks out on Thanksgiving, rushing to Chicago for this mission and leaving Philip stag for Stan’s pot luck. He and the kids go with their dish, joining Stan and his wife, Renee (Laurie Holden), who is DEFINITELY A SPY. Also there are Agent Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden) and his wife.
Stan delivers a pre-meal toast about how there are people who don’t believe in the American way of life and want to do us harm. He extolls the virtues of President Reagan, calling on everyone who cares about our country to fight for the way we live. Paige squirms a tiny bit, Philip looks uncomfortable and RENEE LOWERS HER EYES. (Because she is definitely a spy.)
When Philip and Henry get home from Stan’s, Philip goes searching through all of Elizabeth’s spy stashes in the house, and one in an offsite garage, trying to figure out what she is up to. He finds enough that he sends a coded message to Oleg (Costa Ronin), but we don’t know what it says.
When he gets home, he learns that Elizabeth has called Henry from her work trip, just to talk about his life and ask how school’s going. Henry tells Philip how weird it is because Elizabeth never calls him at school and they barely talk. He says he doesn’t understand why she’s so unhappy, which rings an alarm bell in Philip.
He ducks out to a payphone and surprises her with a call. He asks how it’s going, and she tells him not well. The plan looks extremely risky. She has one helper with her, but maybe if she had more help, it would be safer.
He asks if she’s asking him to come. She is not. He suggests that maybe she can just come home, opting out of this mission. She lashes out at him. She will not come home.
He tells her he’s coming.
She says again, hope showing in her harried face, that nobody is asking him to do that.
He tells her he’s on his way.
And I yell, “OH NO! OH NO!” at the screen.
Why? Because it’s Aderholt’s team who has the Chicago guy under surveillance. Counter Intelligence finally has a lead on the “Illegals” they’ve been trying to catch for as long as Stan’s been in DC. Aderholt has pulled Stan into the investigation to honor the time he’s already invested by making sure he’s there at the end.
The FBI has learned so much from surveilling the Chicago operative that they’re using that information to search for the DC Illegals. Whether they see Philip and Elizabeth trying to pull out the Chicago guy, or just find them by tracking the cars they’ve been buying for cash and storing in random garages, they’re closing in now.
Can the Jennings survive this? Right now I think the only way is if Renee gets caught first.
Notable song placement for this episode is Tears for Fears‘ “Ideas as Opiates,” which plays as Philip searches Elizabeth’s things.
Say what you want
Say what you will
Cause I find you think what makes it easier
And lies spread on lies
We don’t care
Belief is our relief
We don’t care
One more storyline that was overshadowed by the intensity of “homelife through Henry’s eyes” is Elizabeth working to recruit a new source, a young intern in a senator’s office who may be able to feed them information about the summit negotiations. She targets him at a screening of Jules Dassin‘s Rafifi, which gives this episode its name. The film is about a successful heist, after which everything goes terribly awry, leaving the thieves dead at the end. Is that what will happen with the operation in Chicago? A successful extraction of the Illegal there, followed by a series of explosive events and deaths?
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