The Americans “Born Again” Review Season 3 Episode 6

The Americans Born Again Season 3 Episode 6 08

Although a quiet episode overall, the latest episode of “The Americans” showed that things are clearly coming to a head one way or another- and soon, if you were able to read between the lines- in “Born Again.” As you might guess from the title, the episode revolved around the various character’s allegiances- or lack thereof. For Paige, it was naturally about her baptism and commitment to God, but for others, things were a bit more complicated than that. (Not that Christianity doesn’t have complications of its own, but that’s another conversation for another time.)

Liz’s allegiance has always been her country- she doesn’t know how to do or think anything differently. To that end, Gabriel said it was time to pass down that allegiance to her daughter, and that’s just what she did, albeit in a roundabout way. Indeed, a lot of this episode revolved around people doing or saying things in a roundabout way, which tends to come with the territory when you’re dealing with spy-craft, needless to say. But how does one communicate certain things they need to when they have to be careful what they say, lest it come back and bite them?

For Liz, it was to tell Paige that the two of them weren’t as different as she might have previously thought. Liz told Paige about her and Phil’s “activism” and even about the late Gregory, talking about how they all did things that weren’t strictly legal in the name of what they believed in, but were lucky enough not to get caught. Liz implied that maybe Paige didn’t necessarily need the church to do them, either. Paige mistakenly thought Liz meant she wasn’t doing enough, but Liz wisely said it wasn’t that, it was how one made what they do count for something and how one should do things for the right reasons, for something that they genuinely believed in.

Tellingly, Phil tried a somewhat similar approach earlier, only instead of taking the activist tack with Paige, which looked to be much more effective, from the look on her face; he instead tried to preach the value of being true to oneself and following one’s heart. A better message overall, but naturally, being a teenager, Paige responded much more to Liz’s approach, which is troubling, as it might lead to misinterpretation and Paige getting herself into trouble.

Interestingly, Phil fared far better with Kimberly by taking an adverse approach- a page out of his own daughter’s book, in fact. By telling Kim that he’d been reconnecting with God lately, he managed to keep her at bay from sleeping together, but even he knows enough to tell Liz that it might have to come to that eventually, depending on how long the operation lasted. Either way, it got Kim off his back just long enough to get an agent in to plant the bugs on Kim’s father’s things and in his office.

Later, he got something off his chest that he couldn’t quite bring himself to broach with Liz- the news that Irina had been caught and transferred back to Russia to stand trial. But as troubling as that was, the more troubling part of it was that the Russians knew about his son and that he was a soldier- a son, you’ll recall, Phil has never actually met, as he only found out much later after the fact, through Irina herself.

Obviously, he couldn’t talk about all this in a straight-forward way, so once again, he chose a roundabout way, telling Kim how he’d had a son that he’d never talked to or been there for and wished he could change that. He even got her to pray to that end, somewhat to his chagrin. On the plus side, the confessions once more kept Kim at bay, but for how long? She’s already clearly getting antsy about the nature of their relationship, and wanting more out of it.

All of this was bookended by a discovery of Liz’s trainee, Hans, who saw a fellow student behaving suspiciously at school and suspected he might be a spy as well. His suspicions proved right on the money, as the student was indeed covertly meeting with a known South African Intelligence agent, Eugene Fender. The Centre thinks it might be related to the buzz around the anti-apartheid movement, and planned attacks that were in motion to help discredit the US and Reagan’s dubious South African connections. The student may be one of those tasked with a terrorist attack on campus to that end, so Gabriel told Liz to keep an eye on that situation.

Another spy reaping dividends was Nina, who succumbed to pressure from her captors to get Evi to admit what she’d done. Nina did just that, playing the woman solidarity card, and telling Evi about her relationships with both a capitalist (Stan) and a Communist (Oleg) and how both had ultimately betrayed her in the end, leaving her hanging out to dry there in Russia. Unfortunately for Evi, she didn’t feel the same way and told Nina so- in the process unwarily telling her Russian captors as well via Nina.

According to her, she knew exactly what she was doing with her boyfriend, and did so willingly because she loved him and he wouldn’t betray her as Nina’s loves had. But a fellow woman would, apparently, and poor Nina had to listen to poor Evi’s screams as she was hauled away by two guards, knowing full well what Nina had done to her, more or less.

That was a heart-wrenching moment, to be sure, the worst in an episode filled with them. Nina may get her freedom yet- but at what cost? My guess is that she’ll be hearing that poor girl’s screams for many a moon to come- if not as long as she lives. Has anyone had it worse on this show? (Well, Phil’s flashbacks from last week certainly make him a solid contender, but besides that, Nina is clearly the frontrunner.)

So, this wasn’t exactly an action-packed episode, and I can see where some people might be tiring of the more methodical pacing of this season, which is choosing character forward momentum over using action to do so as it has in the past, but I can’t say I mind it. By now, we’ve all become invested in these characters, so to me, knowing more about them only helps to solidify that. My only worry is that the show wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t have something big planned, and I suspect it won’t be good. Will one of the characters get busted sooner than later? Even hurt or killed? Could be. Either way, we’re almost halfway through the season, so something is bound to go down sooner than later.

Some nice, often quiet moments throughout the episode: Paige trading in her Rick Springfield poster for one of Paris; Tori accepting that Stan was still mindful of his wife Sandra even while he and Tori were together sexually; Phil sharing the glories of Pink Floyd with Kimberly (if not us- guess they couldn’t afford the rights!)- and was that a “Wall” reference there with the bath thing?- and later smoking out with Liz and getting giggly, at least for a brief, shining moment; the sight of that office bot (!); Kimberly’s amendment to Phil’s prayer; and the look on Paige’s face when her mother told her she and her father were once “activists,” too. To me, it’s these moments that make the show for me, personally. I love it when the writers let the audience fill in the blanks instead of spelling everything out for you. It’s a sign of respect, IMHO, and one shows could use some more of in the grand scheme of things, despite how far TV has come in my lifetime.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Are they moving too slowly for your tastes? Or do you appreciate the quiet moments, too? Are you getting antsy for more action? Where do you think all of this is headed? Will Phil ultimately end up sleeping with Kimberly? Will Liz successfully recruit Paige to the cause? Will Phil allow it? Will he have a choice? What’s up with the student Hans discovered? Let me know what you think down below, and see you next week!