The Season 3 premiere of “The Americans” concluded with a strangled-to-death Annelise (Gillian Alexy), a scared-speechless Yousaf (Rahul Khanna) and a crisis-mode Phillip (Matthew Rhys) saying, “I can fix this.” Episode 2 of the FX series’ third season, “Baggage,” would see Phillip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) working to clean up a bunch of their past mistakes, while seriously contemplating their family’s future.
The episode began where the premiere left off, with Phillip stepping into the role of the fixer to dispose of Annelise’s body for Yousaf. As Phillip called in Elizabeth for backup, Yousaf knew he was now in Phillip’s pocket, but he made no protest, knowing Phillip was his only option. He even helped the secret-agent couple in a bone-chilling -- no pun intended -- scene as they fit Annelise’s body in a suitcase that let’s just say would not have been big enough under normal circumstances.
The scene was sure to make even the most hardened viewers of “The Americans” squirm, and it had Phillip unsettled, as well. The ordeal reignited the seemingly endless debate between Elizabeth and himself about telling Paige (Holly Taylor) -- who has become increasingly aware of her parent’s unusual behavior -- the truth about themselves and putting her on track to follow in their footsteps. Phillip was adamant about his daughter never having to, well, stuff a body in a suitcase, or worse, be the body.
Meanwhile, Stan (Noah Emmerich) was tasked with safeguarding a new high-profile defector, Zinaida Preobrazhenskaya (Svetlana Efremova), as the FBI paraded her around on an anti-Soviet propaganda tour. However, Stan had a close call in the episode that had nothing to do with his new task.
Oleg (Costa Ronin) cornered the FBI agent in an alley, threatening to execute him for what had happened to Nina (Annet Mahendru). After telling Oleg he really did love Nina, Stan just turned and walked away, daring Oleg to shoot. He didn’t -- although Stan’s slow walk to his car felt like an eternity -- and Stan went to see Sandra (Susan Misner) feeling tragically lonely after the near-death experience. Sandra was happy to see him alive, but was not exactly as moved as he may have hoped.
Speaking of loneliness, Nina spent the episode suffering through the dull day-to-day tedium of a Moscow political prison. However, there was a ray of hope when a transportation minister (Boris Lee Krutonog) showed up to work on getting her out, as a favor to Oleg.
The pièce de résistance of the episode came when Phillip and Elizabeth conducted double-team surveillance of the CIA Afghanistan team during an arranged meeting with Yousaf, the price Yousaf had to pay for the couple’s cleanup job. The job went unexpectedly mobile, with Elizabeth determined to make up for losing the list of names in the premiere. The chase led to Phillip and Elizabeth grabbing a beer in the bar hosting the CIA hangout -- Phillip quipped, “We should do this more often” -- where they were able to snap a whole dossier’s worth of photos of the agents and their cars’ license plates.
Returning home, they again entered into a debate about Paige. Elizabeth recalled when she was first given a week -- at age 16 -- to decide on becoming a spy. She broke the rules and told her mother, who “didn’t blink” as she advised her daughter to go serve her country. It was not clear whether the anecdote convinced Phillip, but it certainly left him, and fans, with something to think about until the next episode.
What did you think of “Baggage?” Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.