‘The Americans’ Season 4 Episode 6 Recap: The Rat

Americans Alison Wright and Matthew Rhys
Alison Wright as Martha Hanson and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings in ‘The Americans’ (Photo by Craig Blankenhorn / Copyright 2016, FX Networks)

‘Trust’ could have been the title of this excellent episode of The Americans as it is mentioned several times. In episode six of season four, Phillip (Matthew Rhys) explains to fellow Soviet spy, William (Dylan Baker), that he wants to get his asset, FBI secretary Martha, (Alison Wright) out because he fears that she is in danger and she trusts him. Phillip met with William so that he could ask William to get more Glanders bacteria since the last sample was destroyed. William tells him that it’s no longer available but he can get Tularemia, which can be easily weaponized, instead.

Martha leaves her house with her gun in her purse. Phillip, disguised as Clark, follows Martha and asks her get in his car. He tells her that the FBI may know about her and he takes her to a safe house. As Martha zones out in front of TV, Phillip meets Gabe (Frank Langella), his handler, in the kitchen. Gabriel tells Phillip that he’s acting impulsively, is flat out wrong, and that Martha should return to work.

Elizabeth (Keri Russell), disguised as Clark’s sister Jennifer, arrives with clothes for Martha and meets Phillip and Gabriel in the kitchen. She is shocked when she sees Phillip without his disguise. She asks, ‘Did you want her to see you?” Elizabeth looks hurt when she realizes that her suspicions about the depth of Phillip’s feelings for Martha are confirmed by his behavior. She is stunned again when he states that it would be better if he stayed the night with Martha instead of her.

That evening when Martha asks Phillip who he works for, he tells her the truth: that he works for the KGB. A crying Martha says that it doesn’t matter as long as we’re together. Martha tearfully asks him to make love and although Phillip’s face is hidden, he is no doubt anguished knowing that they can’t run away as Martha asks. Gabriel hears their lovemaking but seems more resigned than surprised.

Americans Season 4 Episode 6
Noah Emmerich, Aaron Roman Weiner and Brandon J. Dirden in ‘The Americans’ (Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FX)

Meanwhile, at the FBI, agents Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) and Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden) are becoming more convinced that Martha is working for the Soviets. They discuss her history and the fact that she told Agent Aderholt that she had a married boyfriend that no one has seen. When Martha calls in sick, they call her and when there is no answer they go to her empty apartment. They also go to the apartment she shared with her “boyfriend” and find that there are no photos nor is there tape in the answering machine. An examination of the lease reveals that the apartment was rented to a Clark Westerfeld.

While they are waiting for leads to locate Clark Westerfeld, they tell their boss, Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) about their findings. Gaad is incredulous at first. Later he berates himself for not realizing what Martha was doing. Stan tells him that we trust each other as a way of explaining his lack of suspicion.

The next morning Martha tearfully asks Clark/Phillip if they can go back to the way it was. He indicates they can’t and she says, “I’m never getting out of here, am I?”

Later, Gabriel tells Phillip that he must see William because the bioweapon is important to the protection of the Soviet people in the case of war. Phillip is unable to wake Martha to tell her that he’s leaving. He sees the bottle of Valium and her gun and takes it. He reluctantly meets William to get the titular “Rat,” an allusion to Martha, that died of exposure to Tularemia. As an aside, Tularemia is also known as Pahvant Valley plague, rabbit fever, deer fly fever, and Ohara’s fever, and is a serious infectious disease that is highly virulent in humans. William says that he admires Phillip for taking on the KGB, as he wanted to in a situation involving his wife, but didn’t.

In a brief scene at the rezidentura, we learn that they have been asked to exfiltrate Martha to Moscow. However, Martha awakens and finding Clark/Phillip gone she leaves the safe house. Gabriel tries to stop her, telling her, “Trust me.” As she runs out, she says that if he tries to stop her she will tell everyone that he is KGB.

So, Martha is now in a very dangerous position. She has seen Phillip without his disguise, knows that he, Elizabeth, and Gabriel are KGB agents. The FBI knows that she has been helping the Soviets. Where can she go and who can she trust?