‘The Americans’ Season 6 Episode 1 Recap: “Dead Hand”

The Americans Season 6 Episode 1 Recap
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings in ‘The Americans’ season 6 episode 1 (Photo by Patrick Harbron/FX)

FX’s The Americans, a series that has never seemed so timely, began its sixth and final season on March 28, 2018 with an episode titled “Dead Hand.” Season six is set in 1987 and episode one begins by revealing the travel agency has added staff and expanded its business. Philip (Matthew Rhys) appears satisfied with his life out of the spy business, while Elizabeth (Keri Russell) continues to put her life on the line for Mother Russia.

While Philip helps people book their perfect vacations, Elizabeth is playing nurse to an ill woman named Erica who’s a talented artist. She’s smoking more than in the past and her features have hardened.

Elizabeth looks weary, and the conversation between she and Philip is perfunctory at best. Philip invites her to join him to watch Henry play hockey, but she’s unable to due to work commitments.

Paige’s indoctrination into her parents’ hidden life appears near complete. Paige (Holly Taylor) joins her mother and handler Claudia (Margo Martindale) to watch a Russian television show with captions and smiles, enjoying the program.

Philip cheers on Henry and his St. Edward’s Academy hockey teammates. However, Philip’s not the only person rooting for Henry. He’s got a group of female admirers in the stands applauding his every move.

Paige analyzes the program, discussing the lifestyle of the characters and their economic backgrounds. She’s not impressed with the fact women are subservient to men, even the women who are in supervisory positions.

Elizabeth and Claudia question Paige about her professor’s discussion of the arms control summit. Paige reveals he spoke about the Soviet SS-20 and its specifications. However, he added that if the summit’s a success, there won’t be any need for SS-20s anymore. Elizabeth reminds her it’s hard to trust the Americans.

After Paige leaves, Elizabeth provides Claudia with updates on her assignments. Elizabeth’s taken on a lot, and Claudia worries she’s not sleeping. The summit is in nine weeks but first, Elizabeth must fly off to Mexico for a last-minute meeting.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Deputy Chief of Directorate S. Arkady Ivanovich Zotov (Lev Gorn) pays a visit to Oleg Igorevich Burov (Costa Ronin). They speak in private about Oleg’s activities and Arkady’s promotion. Arkady reminds Oleg he’s lucky not to have been shot, and Arkady then gets to the heart of the matter. He needs someone who’s willing to take risks for what he believes.

Arkady reveals the people running the organization now aren’t committed to Gorbachev. These people don’t want change and he needs Oleg to go to America now, unofficially, for the summit. Gorbachev needs the summit to succeed. A general in the Strategic Rocket Forces is supposed to meet with an officer who’s based in Washington in Latin America. Arkady’s concerned there’s someone outside the organization meeting with a Directorate S without informing him. (He’s referring to Elizabeth’s meeting.)

Arkady has met Philip before and is aware he quit a few years ago. Arkady can’t reach out to him, so he needs Oleg to meet Philip in America and try and convince him to stop Elizabeth – or basically spy on his own wife. Arkady further reveals Philip is like them and right now they’re on the losing side in Russia.

Gorbachev doesn’t have the power to get rid of the head of the KGB, and if the KGB wins at the summit then all of Russia will follow them.

The location switches to Mexico City. Elizabeth meets with General Kovtun from the Strategic Rocket Forces and he compliments her on her work. He warns her she can’t speak about their conversation, and then the conversation turns to Philip. Philip also can’t be told about their conversation.

Back at the travel agency, Philip gives his staff a pep talk. He wants them to share happy stories with their potential clients and make one-on-one connections.

At the café in Mexico City, Kovtun reveals the Strategic Rocket Forces are building a system called Dead Hand. It’s an automated response in case America strikes first and Russia is incapacitated. It’s computer-operated and is close to being finished, however they still need a few pieces of technology for it to be complete.

He hands her a photo of Fyodor Nesterenko who has the necessary technology. Nesterenko is part of the team attending the summit. Kovtun is concerned Gorbachev might have given Nesterenko permission to discuss Dead Hand with the Americans and trade it for the Star Wars program.

Elizabeth stares intently at Kovtun during this discussion, remaining quiet as he says he’s aware she’s working American negotiator Glenn Haskard. He wants her to get word to him if she discovers Glenn is working on the Dead Hand/Star Wars deal. If he is, that would result in Gorbachev being removed from power within 24 hours.

Kovtun warns Elizabeth that because she knows about Dead Hand, she can’t be arrested. She takes a small box he offers without opening it.

On the plane trip home, she opens the box to find an opal necklace. Inside is one small pill to be taken if she’s captured. She places the necklace around her neck, face remaining expressionless.

Paige has a healthy debate about Judge Bork over dinner with her parents, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), and Dennis Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden). Dennis’ wife, Janine (Eboni Booth), agrees with Paige when she asserts Bork doesn’t believe in women’s rights or anti-segregation laws. The talk turns to Henry, and Stan’s proud he’s a high school hockey star.

The women do the dishes and Elizabeth listens in as Renee (Laurie Holden) and Janine talk about how Stan and Dennis hardly ever see each other at work. Elizabeth learns they’re still working on one case involving a “couple.” Renee confides that she doesn’t like being kept in the dark about what’s going on in Stan’s life.

Oleg prepares for his trip and his wife’s worried he won’t return. She doesn’t think he needs to take the weight of the world on his shoulders, but Oleg realizes this is for the good of the country. He assures her he’ll be back, but she doesn’t believe it.

Back in Washington DC, Elizabeth watches for her target from a nearby coffee house. She looks exhausted and unhappy.

Oleg arrives at the Potomac Inn.

Elizabeth arrives to take care of Erica and brings food for Erica’s husband, Glenn. Elizabeth tells him Erica was bragging that he’s saving the world, and he admits he hopes he’s at least doing his part.

Philip shows off his dance moves at a bar. He’s genuinely having a good time with his employees, totally into line dancing.

Oleg leaves a mark on a mailbox, indicating he wants a meeting. Philip notices it as he’s driving to work. It disturbs him, but he continues driving. He arrives at work and attempts to concentrate but can’t. He heads home a little early.

Paige takes over the seat in the coffee house previously occupied by her mother and watches the building across the street where the summit is being held. Paige isn’t the only person eyeballing the building.

The Americans Season 6 Episode 1 Recap
Matthew Rhys in ‘The Americans’ season 6 episode 1 (Photo by Patrick Harbron/FX)

Philip responds to the meeting request by picking up what looks like a stick left on a brick. Inside the stick is a note that he deciphers.

That night, a Navy man approaches Paige’s car and warns her she’s sitting in an unsafe neighborhood. She was reading a book in her car and claims to be just waiting for a friend. The man’s name is Hanley and he reveals there are sensitive buildings close by. He asks for her phone number and a second form of ID. She offers up her college ID. He then asks her out for dinner but she declines, saying she’ll take a rain check. He holds onto her college ID, saying she’ll get it back on their date Saturday night.

Paige pleads for her ID, promising she won’t skip out on the date. He doesn’t return it and walks away.

A lookout in the coffee house buzzes Elizabeth who’s been circling the building in a car. She lets her female passenger out onto the sidewalk right in front of the targets as they emerge from the summit. The passenger has a listening device and Elizabeth can hear the discussion while driving slowly down the street. For now it’s mostly about their families.

Later, Paige apologizes to her mom for screwing up and letting Hanley take her ID. Elizabeth tells her it’s okay and that it happens, but Paige is worried. Elizabeth thinks it will be fine because Paige gave the man a fake name, fake address, and fake phone number. Plus, he was just a security guard at the Observatory not a police officer.

After leaving Paige, Elizabeth tracks down Hanley and kills him. She retrieves Paige’s ID before calmly walking away as he bleeds out.

Philip and Oleg meet in a dark park at night. Oleg informs Philip they need his help. Gorbachev doesn’t have the power he needs to get rid of the people who don’t want any changes. He reveals there are people who want to stop progress and Elizabeth met with one of them. Philip claims Elizabeth just does her job and is good at it, but Oleg thinks she’s being used – or she’s one of the people who are working against Gorbachev.

When Oleg tells Philip he knows where he stands regarding the summit, Philip reminds him he’s no longer involved. Oleg finally lays his cards on the table. He informs Philip they want him to find out what Elizabeth’s doing and stop her. Oleg talks about his own situation and that he’ll be arrested and shot if he’s caught. He’s only in Washington because the future of Russia is being decided right now. He’ll wait for Philip’s answer, leaving him on the park bench with a newspaper.

Philip beats Elizabeth back to the house. They talk about the summit and Philip says it would be good if Russia and America made a deal. Elizabeth thinks that would just mean Russia would get rid of their weapons while America builds up theirs.

Philip’s worried about Elizabeth, telling her she smells like cigarettes and her “whole way of being is off.” He thinks the last few months have been getting worse and that it’s finally getting to her. He wants to talk but she says she’s beat and the summit’s a big deal. She’ll talk about whatever he wants tomorrow. They get into an argument and Elizabeth continues to say she’s exhausted and doesn’t want to have a discussion at 1am.

She doesn’t want Philip’s speeches, she wants sleep.

Philip looks lost as she walks away after glaring at him with ice in her eyes.

In her bathroom, Elizabeth stares at herself in the mirror and she looks death warmed over. She opens her necklace and then closes it again.

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