The Americans “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow” Review (Season 4 Episode 3)

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In the latest episode of “The Americans,” the Jennings continued to run damage control on the whole Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) debacle, while Liz infiltrated a Mary Kay cosmetics ring (!) and Phil plotted a trip to the “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow”- aka Disney’s EPCOT to us laypeople. I’d have forgotten this was a spy show if this episode hadn’t also involved a deadly virus, lol.

We began with Phil and Martha, as she continued to try to adjust being with a undisguised Phil. You could tell it was still an uneasy transition, as it was clear to her it was like sleeping next to a stranger. Of course, in a very real way, Phil absolutely is a stranger, in that she hardly knows exactly what she’s dealing with.

We then head over to the Mary Kay presentation, where Liz sizes up the ladies, but obviously has her eyes on one in particular- one assumes because of her connection to one of the employees from the same lab that Will (Dylan Baker) works for. Either that, or she just wanted to up her make-up game for her latest disguises. Either way, the declaration of “We are all Americans now” was a nice touch.

After that, Phil and Liz met with Pastor Tim to try and defuse that whole situation as best as they could. Informing him that they are actually “peaceworkers” attempting to remedy tensions between Russia and the United States, Tim seemed dubious, not in the least given their known skepticism of religion- and not just Russians, but Liz and Phil in particular.

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After carefully warning Tim of the potential consequences for Paige if he told anyone he shouldn’t, they left, but it was clear that some damage had already been done, given his pointed reaction to their query of whether Tim had told anyone they were spies yet. It didn’t take a rocket scientist- or a virus expert, for that matter- to tell that he’d already told someone, namely wife Alice.

Next paying a visit to Gabriel (Frank Langella), Phil told him that they were this close to being burned as spies and that they needed to leave the country sooner than later. Naturally, Gabriel suggests a more obvious solution: killing the Pastor and his wife, but Phil and Liz point out that, now that Paige has confessed she told Tim in the first place, she’ll know something’s up if they kill them so soon after and turn against them entirely.

Gabriel tells them to hang in there and keep Paige quiet for now and he’ll talk to the Centre and see what they should do next. In the meantime, Phil passes along the virus in the mint tin once again, saying that they really can’t have it in their house with all this heat on them at the moment. Gabriel reluctantly accepts it this time around, knowing he’s right.

Back at FBI headquarters, an angry Gaad announces to everyone that anyone using the Xerox machine needs to log in their amount of copies being made, as some had come up unaccounted for. This does not go unnoticed by Stan, who recalls having seen Martha making some previously, which leads him to start suspecting her in earnest from then on, even going so far as to follow her after work.

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Liz “accidentally” runs into one of the women from her Mary Kay circle, Young Hee (Broadway star Ruthie Ann Miles, of “The King & I”) and approaches her, claiming that’s she just not getting the hang of selling the cosmetics. Young asks her if she could use some help, offering to tag along on her next few attempts to sell product door-to-door and Liz naturally accepts.

Phil talks to Paige and lets her know that he and her mother talked to Tim and that he’s pretty sure Tim told his wife. Paige is crestfallen, as she knows Alice to be a horrendous gossip. Phil tells her to go and talk to Tim again, making sure to keep from getting angry at him so that she can maintain the relationship with him, hoping she can do some damage control in the meantime.

Liz unsurprisingly proves to be a natural at selling herself- and thus, the product- to potential customers, much to Young’s shock, but not so much to ours. This leads to the two bonding and Young inviting Liz over to dinner with her family, which Liz naturally agrees to. In the meantime, Liz talks to Phil and tells him he should really try to mend fences with Stan, as having him as an asset in the FBI was a good thing.

After that, we saw the return of Claudia (the Emmy-winning Margo Martindale), who met with Gabriel to assess the Jennings situation. By this point, Gabriel, having had time to think about things, advises that they need to pull the family out of the country ASAP. He thinks that Phil was right in that trying to recruit Paige so soon was a big mistake, and one that was likely to cost them.

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Claudia, on the other hand, thinks differently, saying that there’s still time to remedy the situation. She says she’ll talk to the Centre, but is adamant that she thinks they should stay, having spent entirely too much time building a life- and a concrete, lucrative identity- in the US to back out now. It’s obvious that the Soviets aren’t too keen on losing one of their most winning teams so easily.

Back in Russia, Nina meets with her lawyer (Alim Kouliev), who informs her that she’s already been found guilty, but there may be time to avoid “exceptional punishment” and put in for an appeal. He says her husband vouched for her and that it had been determined that he had no idea what was really going on with the note she had him pass along on her behalf. Nina asks to read his statement and the lawyer allows her to do so.

Liz and Phil meet with Gabriel again, who informs them of the Centre’s suggestion: that they should take the kids on a family vacation to the titular EPCOT theme park. While they’re gone, the Centre will “take care” of the Pastor Tim and his wife situation, making it look like an accident, but of course.

Phil balks, saying that Paige will see right through it and know that they had something to do with it, as the timing is way too suspect. Liz is onboard, however, knowing that it’s either that or they would have to leave the country.

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While Phil is more comfortable with that idea, Liz points out that, if they did that, both the kids would end up hating them, as it would uproot them from their lives, and they would be completely lost in another country, not speaking any foreign languages. Liz thinks that the EPCOT solution is the best one, given the circumstances, but Phil remains skeptical.

Paige talks to Pastor Tim, pointing out that Alice is a known gossip and things get a bit heated, though neither one outright gets angry. But it’s clear that Paige is pushing it, so she backs off and tells him to do his best to defuse the situation, as the consequences for her would be dire, but even more so for her parents.

Phil and Liz not-so-inconspicuously leave a pamphlet for EPCOT out, which Henry naturally sees and asks about. Phil says that they have some vacation time banked and that they could possibly squeeze in a weekend trip there, if Henry’s interested, which he naturally is. Henry excitedly tells an arriving Paige, who makes a beeline to the back to talk to her parents in private.

Paige admits she handled things poorly with Pastor Tim and is concerned about the fallout from it all. Paige wants to know exactly what her parents get up to when they leave at night several times a week- specifically, whether they hurt people. Of course, her parents deny any such thing, saying it wasn’t anything like that. (Yeah, right.)

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In tonight’s case, though, they aren’t lying, as the only damage Liz does to anyone is herself, when she not-so-wisely engulfs an entire pepper at dinner with Young Hee. This results in an amusing “pepper dance” moment, as the kids at Hee’s house gleefully dance around a suffering Liz, telling her to shake it off, as in the after-effects of the pepper.

Later, Hee apologizes, saying that she should have warned Liz in advance about Korean food. Liz is naturally fine about it, and laughs it off, along with Hee’s hilarious assessment of Cabbage Patch dolls as looking like kids that had been run over by a car, which is totally true.

Sandra (Susan Misner) drops by the Jennings’ house, looking to hang with them, but Liz is gone, so it’s just her and Phil. I must admit I was a bit tense during this scene, wondering if Stan would crop up and catch them alone together, but I guess he was out tailing Martha.

Phil tells Sandra that he told Liz about EST finally and that she might even attend a meeting, though he was skeptical about it. She’s delighted, but not so much when Phil tells her that Stan saw them together last time and nearly hauled off and punched him. He nonetheless puts in a good word for Stan, telling her that she should let their kid stay with him more, as he is spending entirely too much time alone and Phil thinks it’s taking a toll on him.

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Stan talks to co-worker Dennis Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden, “Public Morals”), voicing his suspicions about Martha. He also remains dubious of how Gene died, doubting it was really suicide and pointing out that it would be a clever way to throw people off Martha’s scent, if she planted that bug in the pen from last season, which, of course, she did.

Aderholt doesn’t buy it, saying that it was highly unlikely that Martha could be up to something so nefarious. Stan says her behavior is a little suspect lately, and he saw her going someplace several times a week that wasn’t her house, even going so far as to take a bus, and it wasn’t her parents, as they are dead. Aderholt thinks it could be a boyfriend, but Stan isn’t having it and asks him to come along on a stake-out. Aderholt refuses, but says that he will ask her out to dinner to see how she reacts.

Nina has a troubling dream that appears to be a funeral-type setting, where everything is near-blindingly white and flowers are everywhere. She sees Stan there, who says he is sorry, then Anton, who looks forlorn. Could this mean that trouble is on the horizon for them both? Maybe not Stan, but Anton is a distinct possibility.

Phil secures the reservations for EPCOT from a co-worker, who tells him that it’s good he’s thinking of family. Phil remains on the fence about the whole thing, but Liz points out that she likes what they’ve built together in America, and that they should do anything to maintain it- even something as extreme as this. She reiterates that the kids would probably hate them more if they uprooted them for a foreign country.

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They go to Gabriel’s, where they are stunned to find him on the floor, with blood nearby. Was he exposed to the virus? Gabriel can’t say one way or another, but it’s obvious he wants them to get out of there. They eventually end up getting in touch with Will, who takes off when he realizes that they may have been exposed to the virus.

Phil outright tackles Will and holds him down, spitting in his face! Now exposed to whatever they might have, he agrees to go with them and see what he can do, though he’s clearly not happy about the situation, saying they should have just killed Gabriel and put him out of his misery.

They go to Will’s place, where he first vaccinates himself with some antibiotics, then Liz and Phil, respectively. Will says it might not work, but it’s the best he can do. They go back to Gabriel’s, where Will injects him with the vaccine as well. Will takes the virus from the refrigerator and puts it in the stove and turns it on to a specific temperature to destroy it while they wait to see what happens.

We then see an excited but oblivious Henry gleefully playing videogames, no doubt with visions of EPCOT in his head, as a wary Paige looks on, obviously envying his cluelessness about what’s really going on right under his nose. I think it’s safe to say that Paige wishes she could go back to the time when she was likewise blissfully unaware of what her parents were hiding.

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Back at Gabriel’s, Will tells them to hunker down, as they’re going to be there for a while, at least 24 hours. They will need to take four injections of the antibiotic every six hours, possibly more if symptoms reveal themselves. That means, sorry to say Henry, that the whole EPCOT trip will have to wait. TBH, though, I remember being a bit underwhelmed by it as a kid, anyway, so maybe he’s better off, lol. Should have gone with Disneyworld!

This was a decent enough episode, I suppose, if a bit uneventful, for the most part- at least until the end. It’s obvious to see where some of this as headed, so the set-up was a necessary evil, but it was also sort of laughable- one assumes intentionally so- that the big assignments/missions this week involved infiltrating Mary Kay cosmetics and planning a trip to EPCOT! It’s funny how mundane these things can be, at least on the surface, but when you take a closer look, not so much underneath.

But I suppose that’s the real triumph of the show, when you think about it: the way it combines the ins-and-outs of a “typical American family” with the oft-harsh realities of what it means to be a spy and what is required of you in some instances. It’s brilliant, even if the show can be a bit on the poky side sometimes.

But hang in there, kiddies, I have a feeling we’re going to get some action soon enough, especially with things coming to a head with the Pastor Tim situation and the Jennings’ cover closer than ever to be blown. I know it can be tough going at times, but the show almost always redeems itself in the end if you’re patient.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Were you disappointed there wasn’t much action? Or do you find the more ordinary elements of the show to be fascinating, especially when viewed through the lens of a spy set-up? Did you like seeing Claudia again? Do you think that Gabriel was really exposed to the virus, or was it something else? (I suspect he’s ill, but not from the virus.)

Will Liz and/or Phil have to take matters into their own hands and kill Pastor Tim and his wife? How will Paige react to that if they do? What did you think of EPCOT as a kid, if you went back in the day? Sound off down below, and I’ll MIC-See you real soon!-KEY-Why? Because I love you! Мышь… 🙂