The Americans “Munchkins” Review (Season 4 Episode 10)

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On the latest episode of “The Americans,” the Tim hit the fan as everyone’s not-so-favorite Pastor turned up missing and all eyes were on the Jennings, including their own daughter; retired Director Gaad had some decidedly unexpected visitors; and Martha’s father put in a word for his own not-so-“missing” daughter to Stan and Aderholt, in the deceptively-titled “Munchkins.”

We began with a painfully awkward dinner with Liz and Young’s family. Though Liz, as ever, was able to fake her way through things as if they had never happened, Don was not so gifted and had to leave the table altogether, barely able to make eye contact with Liz after what he’d done- or rather, what he thought he’d done- eventually having to excuse himself from dinner.

Back at home, Phil filled in daughter Paige about his logger father and their life in the grim, forest-laden Siberia and how both he and Liz were blessed with rough-edged mothers who were as tough as nails, with Phil’s even going so far as to demand her son get his proper wages when an employer stiffed him on that end. I have a feeling Paige can relate to the “tough cookie” of a mom part.

Gabriel briefed Phil and Liz on his end, saying the team was almost in place for the lab op and he had one last recruit in mind for it, a wayward librarian he’d spotted with a copy of “The Militant” jutting out of her purse, in addition to Hans and an “older man.” Will himself said he should be ready to go in no more than a few weeks, and quite possibly sooner.

On her end, Liz felt she could have the necessary codes within days, though it was clear that she was hesitant to drop the hammer on Young’s family and do what needed to be done. Phil, ever the pragmatist, pointed out that he felt this op wasn’t even necessary in the first place, not only for the toll it was clearly taking on his wife, which was left unsaid, but especially because of the level of danger it put them all in- something they all knew too well after the last virus-fueled debacle.

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We got our first glance of the new FBI director, Wolfe (Peter Jacobson, “House” and “Colony”), as a glum Stan recruited a reluctant Aderholt to accompany him for drinks with Martha’s father, who was visiting town this week and wanted an update on the status of his daughter. (Don’t we all?)

A frantic Alice (Suzy Jane Hunt, “Person of Interest”) unexpectedly arrived at the Jennings’ home to inform them that her husband Tim had gone missing in Ethiopia with his companion and that she was convinced they had something to do with it.

To make matters worse, she laid down a threat that she had made an incriminating tape that she had left with her lawyer telling him that the Jennings elders were both Russian spies and if her husband wasn’t found unharmed or anything happened to her, it would be sent along to the Justice Department accordingly.

This week, it was time for Tatiana (Vera Cherny) to have the loud sex, as she finally threw caution to the wind and let herself go fully, neighbors be damned. She also finally let her guard down enough to let Oleg know that she worked for the mysterious Department 12, which dealt with bioweapons.

Though she couldn’t get into detail, she asked Oleg if he could secure a female computer expert in her fifties or sixties with a flawless English accent from his former department in Moscow for help on her latest assignment. Oleg said he would, though he was curious as to why she needed someone so specific. Tatiana wouldn’t say, but she dropped a hint it had something to do with securing a sample of a virus and begged him not to mention she’d told him this to Arkady.

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Paige herself began to wonder if perhaps her parents were involved with Tim’s disappearance, as Alice had made a compelling argument- so much so, that it even gave Phil pause. He later wonders if it’s true and the Russians are responsible, then might they have something planned for Alice as well? He tells Liz he wants to try and reach out to Guillermo, their supposed contact in Africa, to find out more.

For the first time, Liz wonders in earnest if they might actually have to all go on the run after all, something she had never truly considered before now. Paige goes to the church for an update and discovers they found Tim’s jeep in Ethiopia, but no Tim as of yet. She breaks down to Alice, crying, telling her she loves her and Tim and is so sorry. Alice does the same and tells her she’s scared that Tim will never come back.

Stan and Aderholt meet with Martha’s father, Bill (Richard Kline, “Three’s Company”), who is still dubious about the idea of his daughter being a KGB agent and insists that there’s more to the story. Aderholt assures him that they haven’t stopped looking for Martha and that they will get to the bottom of this eventually and hopefully Martha will be vindicated.

Phil listens to the tape they have recorded from the church and reports back that Alice has yet to contact her lawyer again, to the best of their knowledge. Paige seems to confirm this, saying that all they did was pray together. All the while, Henry tosses a tennis ball against the garage door, making the situation all the more tense and unnerving, and reminding me a bit of a similar scene in the classic “Boogie Nights.”

Liz tells Paige that they have reached out to their contacts and are doing all they can on their end, but that Paige needs to steel herself for them to run if it comes down to it. This naturally does not go down well with Paige, who is horrified at the thought her actions might lead them to have to go and live in Russia, where she knows no one and doesn’t even speak the language. Her parents reassure her once again that they had nothing to do with it, and never would do something like that in the first place.

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A still-vacationing Gaad (Richard Thomas) stays behind a spell to get ready to join his wife for dinner, as she leaves ahead of time to secure a place. This turns out to be a bad mistake on Gaad’s part, as, no sooner than she leaves, a group of Russian thugs come into his room, wanting to talk to him.

A understandably freaked out Gaad tries to make a run for it, having no interest in whatever they want to say, and ends up falling through the window of the hotel room and impaling himself on a piece of jutting glass from the windowpane and bleeding out. The Russians, who seemingly just wanted to make him a proposition of some kind, apologize, but the damage is already done and we say goodbye to the heretofore in-the-clear former director, sadly, who dies from the accident.

After that, we’re treated to a glimpse of the long-unseen Kimmy (Julia Garner), as Phil switches out the tapes in her father’s briefcase, then joins her for a little weed-toking and relaxing. During the course of this, Kimmy lets it slide that her father doesn’t do what she thought for a living, he actually works for the- gasp- CIA. You don’t say!

We also learn that, thankfully, she has a boyfriend her own age- albeit an immature one- and that there doesn’t seem to be anything going on between her and Phil, thank God. Phil points out that her father telling her that in confidence was likely intended as a way of showing her he trusted her and that she shouldn’t betray that, as it could bring them closer together. He would know about the value of keeping secrets- and the price paid for failing to.

Paige goes to Stan’s looking for Henry and finds Matthew (Danny Flaherty) instead, and they hang out for a spell. I had been thinking Matt could be gay, but now I’m on the fence about it- he might actually have a thing for Paige instead. (Then again, there might have been a vibe with the church guy, so, you never know…)

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He tells her about how his dad had a situation at work that was taking its toll- alluding to Martha and her father and the whole undercover spy thing- which had to have hit close to home for Paige, no doubt. Paige tells him in turn about Pastor Tim being missing and ends up getting a ride from him to church.

There, they run into Zach (David Spadora), who informs Paige that Tim has been found and she rushes to find Alice, who confirms it and that Tim will be home tomorrow. She apologizes profusely for her behavior with Paige’s parents and asks her to pass along her apologies to them, which she promises she will.

Liz checks her messages and finds that she’s gotten one from Young, who is stressed about her husband’s behavior and needs to talk. She says that things have gotten worse and she’s convinced something is wrong but that Don won’t tell her what it is. She says she really needs to talk to “Patty” and it’s clear that Liz is rattled by all of this.

Paige rushes home to tell her parents the good news, much to everyone’s relief. She also apologizes for fearing the worst, and Liz says knowingly that trust is one of the hardest things to come by in their line of work and that was why her and her father are always honest with one another. (Yeah, right.)

They promise they will never lie to Paige, but allow that they may not always be able to tell her everything, either. Paige, without prompting, tells them she didn’t say anything about the tape Alice made as of yet, fearing it wasn’t the right time and not wanting to betray their trust with one another by bringing it up just yet. Her parents agree that it can wait- for now.

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Paige is shaping up to be quite adept at her “job,” I think. Be that as it may, she does wonder when they are going to fill Henry in on what is really going on. They say that depends on Henry, implying that they will tell him when the time is right.

Paige lets the matter drop, for now, but it’s clear that, after this experience, she thinks that should be sooner than later, as Henry might end up blindsided by it otherwise, given what almost went down- and easily could for real if things don’t go their way next time. I guess Henry’s video-game playing, blissfully unaware days are numbered.

Tatiana meets with Arkady and tells him that someone or the other is untrustworthy and that they should sever contact with them, but we never find out who. The two are interrupted by a secretary, who passes along a message to Arkady that is obviously about Gaad.

He won’t elaborate, but says that it involves a mission that the Soviets perhaps shouldn’t have done in the first place. He’s not wrong- I suspect that it will come back to bite the Embassy in the end, however unintended the consequences.

As far as I can tell, they may have been trying to recruit Gaad, sensing he might have been vulnerable to such a thing in lieu of his being let go. I don’t think that he would have been, though, so this was a botched mission all around.

Aderholt passes along the bad news to Stan that Gaad is dead, though he doesn’t know any details as of yet. Director Wolfe calls a meeting shortly thereafter, presumably to announce the same thing to everyone there.

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Liz meets with Gabriel to tell him the good news about Tim. He informs her that their people had indeed been looking for him, but that it’s good things went down the way they did for all concerned, trying to put a happy face on things. “You sound like Phillip after an EST meeting,” she says, snarkily.

Liz confirms she’s ready to move on getting the codes from Young Hee, but is admittedly worried about the effect it will have on her family, convinced it will destroy them. Gabriel sympathizes and says there’s nothing wrong with feeling compassion for others.

He asks her if he should find out if there’s another way to do things without having to resort to what Liz is about to do and she says that she’d like that, having gotten attached to Young. As have we all, really, right? Hopefully, Gabriel will pull through, but I doubt it.

That is where we leave things for now, and so ends another tense episode of “The Americans.” This one was important, as it both brought all the wheels into motion into play and showed how things were all coming together, but also how one quick, unexpected occurrence can throw everything into doubt and bring everything crashing down if one isn’t careful. Just ask Gaad.

Thankfully, that was not the case with the Jennings family- for now- but if anything, this episode confirms how close everything is to falling apart at a moment’s notice, something I think we forget from time to time as the show often lulls us into a false sense of security.

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Here, we got a firsthand look at what happens when things go bad, via Gaad, and what happens when the worst is narrowly avoided, as with the Jennings family all around. But it could have easily gone the other way around, and the show doesn’t want us to forget that. Rest assured, we won’t.

I also found it interesting that the show wasn’t about what I thought it was going to be about from the title, “Munchkins,” which was our introduction to the new director and a look at the way things were being run under his new regime. Instead, Wolfe’s introduction was basically a throwaway and we never really saw his “munchkins” in action.

As such, I think the real munchkins here were the people working for the Russians and not just the Jennings family, but Gabriel, Oleg, Tatiana and Arkady, as well as the wrong-headed ones sent to try and talk to Gaad in Thailand. We got a firsthand look at how things can go well- and how they can go completely sideways at a moment’s notice, no matter where one’s loyalties lie.

As we head into the final three episodes, it will be interesting to see whether Phil and Liz pull off their latest mission and remain intact- or if things don’t end well for them, either. While I don’t see anyone in the Jennings family meeting an untimely end just yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if things end up going a bit sideways for them again, as well. We shall see.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The Americans”? Did you also wonder if the Russians were involved in Tim’s disappearance? Do you think Alice will hand over the tape- or will she keep it, just in case? When do you think Liz and Phil will end up filling Henry in on everything? Is Paige born for this? Will Gabriel manage to find away around Liz breaking poor Young’s heart? Sound off on this and more down below, and see you next week!