The Americans” returned to FX Wednesday for the premiere of the acclaimed show’s third season and it was clear from the start that Season 2’s revelation that the Centre was targeting Paige (Holly Taylor) for recruitment would be looming over Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Kerri Russell) in the new episodes. The premiere began with Elizabeth dreaming about teaching Paige to swim – by throwing the scared girl into the pool – an apt metaphor for the moral dilemma facing the Jennings this season. However, the spy couple would have bigger – or at least more immediate – fish to fry in episode 1, “EST Men.”

Early in the episode Elizabeth met with a disgruntled and disillusioned CIA operative who gave her a list of agents working in Afghanistan, where the conflict was taking center stage in the Cold War chess match. However, the operative quickly had a change of heart and ratted out Elizabeth from the restaurant phone booth. Elizabeth had an inkling that something was up and left after picking up some FBI agents hot on her trail. She disposed of the agents, but not before taking a beating herself and, more importantly, losing the list of names.

With the valuable intel having literally slipped through Elizabeth’s fingers, it was up to Phillip, who had been off attending an EST seminar with Stan (Noah Emmerich), to come through. He turned to Annelise (Gillian Alexy) to get the info from Yousaf (Rahul Khanna). She agreed to help him, but confessed to falling in love with the Pakistani ISI agent.

Meanwhile, Stan, who had dragged Phillip to the seminar as part of an effort to win his wife back, was having a rough go of things. After the seminar, which left the FBI agent spiritually unchanged, he reported to work the next day to find out that Nina (Annet Mahendru) had been found guilty of treason back in Moscow. The depressing news was coupled with a visit to Sandra's (Susan Misner), where he got into another argument with his wife after she was unimpressed with his EST dabbling. It must be lonely being Stan.

Phillip and Elizabeth visited Gabriel (Frank Langella), who pressed the couple about Paige and the Centre. Phillip got angry when Elizabeth revealed that part of the reason she was spending so much time getting closer to Paige was to prime her for the truth about their work. Phillip was still against bringing their daughter into the spy life. The other big takeaway from the Gabriel visit? Elizabeth received a tape from her mother with the message that her mother was dying.

The moment fans will be talking about, though, came at the end of the episode. With Phillip listening in, things went wrong between Annelise and Yousaf when she tried to confess her spying to her new love. Yousaf did not take it so well and strangled her to death while Phillip just listened. Phillip came into the room to find a scared Yousaf and an opportunity to get the intel he wanted. Phillip told Yousaf that the ISI agent did not have many options, but that Phillip could help him out of the mess. While the episode ended there, fans know Phillip will be looking for a little help in return. We’ll have to wait until next week to see how it all goes down.

What did you think of “The Americans” Season 3 premiere? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV