The Americans “Travel Agents” Review (Season 4 Episode 7)

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On the latest episode of “The Americans,” it was down to the wire for Martha, and there were only two real questions: who would get to her first and what would happen when they did? Well, in “Travel Agents,” we got the answers to those questions, but for those people with an office pool on whether Martha would live or die, I’ve got some bad news: we still don’t know her ultimate fate. Guess that will have to wait until next week, though I’m of the opinion it’s not going to end well for Martha. We’ll get to that soon enough.

We basically picked up where we left off last week, with the Centre frantically planning a way out for Martha, making arrangements for her safe passage to Russia, with Oleg handling finding a pilot, while Tatiana dealt with the dirty details and travel route. But was she really? More on that later.

Gabriel fills Phil and Liz in on what went down with Martha in their absence, and naturally, Phil immediately blamed himself for not being there. With a forty-minute head start, Martha could be anywhere, but all concerned put their heads together to try and narrow down the places she could possibly go.

Liz leaves to check out some of them, while she sends Hans to others. Phil heads to the switchboard location to hopefully await Martha’s call- if she even bothers calling in. Phil also passes off the jar o’ rat from the last episode to Gabriel, who immediately stashes it in the freezer, grimacing at the contents.

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Back at FBI headquarters, Stan and Aderholt pull Gaad aside to deliver some bad news: the real Clark Westerfeld died as a child and it’s clearly an alias, which means that Martha is either involved with a KGB agent and doesn’t know it- which seems unlikely- or that she’s in on it and working actively against them from within.

Gaad tells them to bring in the building superintendent from “Clark’s” place, and have him sit with a sketch artist to give a detailed description of this faux Clark. Gaad is clearly rattled by all of this, not in the least because he obviously liked and trusted Martha- but also because he knows his days at the FBI may be numbered.

Phil drops Liz off on his way to the switchboard location, telling her to check in every half hour with updates. Liz tells him not to blame himself, but that Gabriel was right in that Martha might have to be eliminated if it comes to that. Phil is visibly shaken by this, but says he knows.

The FBI go over Martha’s place with a fine-tooth comb this time, leaving no stone unturned and bagging everything left and right, as Gaad glumly looks out the window, lamenting how it came to this. Martha herself is noticeably shaken by her situation and getting more and more paranoid by the minute, seeing potential agents at every turn, and generally becoming more and more unhinged. Liz checks in with nothing to report and Phil tells her to check the viaducts, where Martha liked to walk sometimes.

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Back at FBI HQ, the team take a closer look at Martha’s stuff. Aderholt identifies the church Martha went to and tells them to check there. The Deputy Attorney General (Cotter Smith, “Revolution”) suggests they blackmail Oleg with the tape they have for Martha’s location but Stan balks at this, saying if they do that, he’ll shut down and close ranks. The DAG takes note of this insubordination and later reports it to his superiors as further evidence that Gaad doesn’t have control over his people.

Martha calls her parents from a pay phone, which gets back to the FBI, who listen in on the conversation. They realize that the KGB would never have let her make this call, which means that Martha must still be out there somewhere and if they can get to her first, it might not be too late.

However, time is of the essence, as Martha is obviously saying a goodbye of sorts to her parents, suggesting that she’s about to flee the area, if not the country altogether. The FBI gets a location for the pay phone and a team heads there. Martha walks on a nearby bridge, and it’s readily apparent that she’s considering ending it then and there by jumping off, but she ultimately doesn’t.

Stan and Aderholt stake out the pay phone Martha called from to see if she’ll return, then has an idea: maybe if they contact Martha’s parents and ask them to come here, it could help lure her out if she’s still in the area. There was a photo of Martha and them together on the bridge, so Stan suspects that it has meaning for them.

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Martha calls the switchboard from a different pay phone and is surprised when Phil answers. He apologizes for leaving her at Gabriel’s and asks her where she is. Martha says she just wants this all to end and eventually tells him she’s at Rock Creek Park on the Valley Trail. He rushes there, and when Liz calls to check-in, the switchboard operator fills her in on it as well. She says that’s close to where she is and she’ll head there immediately.

Oleg checks in on Tatiana to see how things are progressing and she guiltily hides some files she’s looking at from him, without explaining why. Oleg tells her he wasn’t able to secure a pilot, but Tatiana says that, just in case, she contacted one she knew. She tells him she’ll talk to him again and tell him his services will be required after all.

Liz gets to Martha first, and from the looks of her, she’s about this close to pulling out a gun and ending this once and for all, but she doesn’t, though she keeps one hand firmly in her pocket, lest Martha get out of control. Martha is very close to full-on hysteria and asks Liz if she and Phil are sleeping together, which she denies, but that does nothing to calm her down, so Liz opts to punch her in the stomach, which I guess is better than shooting her, at least.

Liz tells Martha that her cover is blown and that everyone at work is out looking for her. Liz says she can help her, but she needs to come with her immediately. She promises to take Martha to “Clark,” but they have to go because if they catch either one of them, “Clark” will be arrested and she’ll never see him again. They leave, with Phil arriving shortly thereafter, near-in-hysterics his own self, with Martha nowhere to be found.

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In what was a pretty unnecessary scene, which is pretty unusual for the show, we check in with Henry, who is over at Stan’s place, as per usual, hanging out with Matt. He ogles Brooke Shields in a commericial and comments on how hot she is, but Matt is unimpressed, lending credence to my “Matt is gay” theory. (Or, okay, maybe she’s just not his type, but still…)

Matt has one of Stan’s beers and Henry asks for one, too, so Matt gives him some of his. Paige comes by and Matt gives her one, too, which Henry complains about, as Matt gave her a full one instead of just giving her some of his, like he did with Henry. Paige pours Henry some of hers to shut him up, while Matt justifies his doing so by saying that Paige is older than he is at 15 and I guess can handle her liquor better? Like I said, not sure what all this was about, but whatevs.

Stan reports back to Gaad at FBI HQ, telling him there’s nothing yet. Gaad tells him about the DAG tattle-telling on him for not wrangling Stan to his liking and the Director reprimanding him over it. He says his response was to tell the Director to get the hell out of his office. It’s plain that Gaad has nothing left to lose and knows he’s going to be on his way out soon, anyway, so he might as well speak his mind.

Phil goes to Gabriel’s, where he’s told Martha is in the back. He rushes to her side and tells her he’s there now and isn’t going anywhere. He even tells her his real name- both of them- Phil, aka the Russian Formerly Known as Misha. Phil sees that she’s bruised and offers to get her some ice, also grimacing at the rat in the freezer as he does so.

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Arkady checks in with Oleg and Tatiana, telling them that everything is good to go on his end, to which they concur. However, when Tatiana sends word to her superiors later, she mentions that the virus sample is secure and will be headed their way soon, but says nothing about Martha, which leads me to believe she’s up to something.

If I had to guess, it would be that she has secured a pilot for the rat, but not Martha because she intends to kill Martha- or gets someone else to for her. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a dead rat is accorded more good will than someone who has provided such solid info for years on end at the risk of their own well-being, but such is the world of “The Americans.”

Liz pulls Phil aside and warns him that if Martha bolts again, they will have to kill her, so he really needs to get her under control by any means necessary. She also tells him he needs to give her some reason to hope to get her on the plane or else she’ll never leave, so that he should tell her that he’ll be joining her soon enough on down the line.

In a rare display of being unsure of herself and where she stands, Liz asks Phil if he would run away with Martha if the kids were grown and there was nothing keeping him here. Phil stresses how it’s not like that and he doesn’t love Martha like he does her and they kiss. He promises to join her at home later, but Liz tells him he should stay the night again to reassure Martha that much more.

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Stan reports to Gaad once again with the artist’s rendition of both Martha- which is enormously flattering, I might add- as well as of Clark. It seems there was a miscommunication, hence the accidental additional picture, when all they really needed was the one of Clark, which incidentally, looks nothing like him, either. Gaad tells Stan that he discovered that Martha and Clark were actually married and shows him the certificate to that end, pointing out the dreadful reality that his own secretary was married to a KGB agent and he was clueless about it. Yep, Gaad is completely screwed.

Phil tells Martha she’s scheduled to leave the country to Russia tomorrow, but that he won’t be going with her. He says they will set her up with a new life and take care of her for all that she’s done and that they will contact her parents to let them know she’s okay. However, contrary to what Liz suggested, Phil tells her he won’t be joining her- ever. Martha is obviously rattled by this and extremely dubious. Accordingly, no one gets much sleep that night.

That is where we leave things, and as aforementioned, Martha’s life remains in the balance, but if Tatiana’s actions are any indication, then Martha is almost certainly not long for this world. I can’t imagine her lasting more than one more episode. I think it will be like the way Nina was dispatched- quickly and efficiently, before she even knows what’s happening- but yeah, Martha is so doomed at this point. Even the bleak future of her living in Russia isn’t looking good, IMHO.

This was yet another tense episode of the show, which is becoming par for the course this season. Simply put, “The Americans” is not playing around, save in terms of ratcheting up the suspense to near-unbearable levels. I suppose the plus side is that this will all be resolved one way or another next week, but then we still have the remainder of the season to contend with, and who knows what that will hold?

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If I had to guess, I’m thinking it will revolve around the intrigue with Liz and Young Hee, who I’ve suggested has a connection to Will’s lab, likely through her husband. I think Liz and Phil will probably be tasked with stealing a more high-profile virus sample than the one Will obtained from the rat. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough, as the Martha plotline is definitely going to be wrapping up in the near future.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Do you feel for Martha, or does she only have herself to blame for her predicament? What do you think the chances are of her surviving all of this? Is there even a plane? What else is Tatiana up to, that she’s hiding from everyone? Will Liz and Phil be able to recover from all this? What does the Centre have planned for them next? Sound off on this and more down below, and see you next week!