FX’s The Americans star Matthew Rhys pulls double duty for season six episode two which marks his third time as director on the critically acclaimed series. The episode titled “Tchaikovsky” finds Rhys’ character, Philip, dealing with issues at the travel agency while Elizabeth (Keri Russell) is kept busy working multiple targets associated with the arms control summit.
Season six episode two begins with the relationship between the chain-smoking Elizabeth and her retired spy husband obviously strained. Meanwhile, over at the FBI office Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) meets with Agent Dennis Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden) who lets him know there’s a meeting set up that evening at 6pm. Dennis also reveals the Bureau’s aware Oleg Burov is back in town, but not as part of the official Russian diplomatic team attending the summit. The FBI and CIA know Oleg is out of the KGB, and they know he’s claiming to be in the U.S. to attend a class on urban transport planning.
Stan and Dennis aren’t buying this cover, but they have no idea what he’s really up to.
Elizabeth continues to spy on the summit attendees and she follows Patrick McCleesh (Reed Birney) into a book store where they chitchat about the summit. (Patrick believes Elizabeth is a woman named Megan who works at the State Department.) She claims her boss thinks Gorbachev is the second coming, while Patrick reveals he and some of his colleagues don’t want to make a deal with the Russians. The discussion continues, and Patrick thinks the Russians can’t afford an arms race and want a deal. Patrick’s frustrated because he thinks the summit could win America the Cold War, if it’s handled correctly.
They make a date for lunch in the State Department cafeteria.
Stan meets with Sofia Kovalenko’s boyfriend, Gennadi (Yuri Kolokolnikov), who’s upset because Sofia’s mad at him. Stan assures him everything will be fine and even gets a hug at the end for being so helpful.
Elizabeth’s back at her nursing assignment where her patient, Erica (Miriam Shor), is demanding Morphine for pain. Elizabeth can’t give it to her because it would be an hour early, but Erica’s husband, Glenn (Scott Cohen), doesn’t listen and gives her the pain killer. Erica begs Glenn to help her end it all, tired of living in so much pain. He promises it will be over soon.
A short while later, Elizabeth gently asks Glenn if he’s planning on helping Erica end her life. He confesses he is and Elizabeth asks how. Glenn doesn’t want to talk about it, but Elizabeth says it can go wrong if he doesn’t handle it correctly. He reveals he’s been keeping a little Morphine from each bottle and that by next month he should have enough to do it.
Elizabeth tells him that might not work and could make things worse. She then suggests she’s willing to help him.
Later, Elizabeth meets with Claudia (Margo Martindale) and goes over her conversation with Glenn. Claudia reminds her she needs to keep Erica alive through the summit. Elizabeth says she’s got a lunch date at the State Department cafeteria with Patrick McCleesh, an old contact who’s working on the summit negotiations.
Claudia passes on the message that Elizabeth needs to get a lithium-based radiation sensor from another old contact, General Lyle Rennhull. Claudia doesn’t know why or even the name of the person who asked for this item, only that the order comes from the person Elizabeth met with in Mexico City.
Elizabeth realizes things are getting dicey and asks Claudia to finish training Paige if something happens to her. Claudia assures her she’ll be fine, but Elizabeth is not convinced.
Stan’s still in relationship counseling mode and visits Sofia Kovalenko (Darya Ekamasova) to talk about Gennadi. Sofia’s fed up and thinks Gennadi is cheating on her. She’s done with Gennadi, and her friend at TASS has suggested she should put Gennadi behind her. Stan reminds her she and Gennadi are doing dangerous work and they’re important. Sofia doesn’t care; she’s over Gennadi.
20 minutes in and we get the first scene with Philip and Elizabeth. She’s outside smoking and apologizes for being so busy. He asks if she wants to talk about it and she says Paige is good at this but she made a mistake the other night. Philip reminds her they made mistakes when they were learning. The conversation’s short and impersonal.
At the FBI, Dennis asks Stan about Gennadi and Sofia. Stan reports that Sofia met a guy at work and they should be worried about what secrets Sofia’s revealing to this new man in her life. Stan admits he likes working on drug dealers and murderers better than handling Russian investigations.
Elizabeth meets with General Rennhull who claims he doesn’t want anything to do with her. She asks for the lithium-based radiation sensor and he says no, warning her not to contact him again. Elizabeth won’t be dissuaded and demands he bring the sensor to her on Thursday or else.
Stan watches Gennadi enter a restroom at the airport carrying a briefcase. He passes info to a man in the adjacent stall.
Elizabeth goes through security and signs in for a tour of the State Department so she can make her lunch meeting with Patrick McCleesh. She wanders into a nearby restroom without being noticed while the tour guard is speaking. Elizabeth changes into her “Megan” disguise as her tour group notices she’s no longer with them.
Elsewhere, Philip approaches Jeremy – one of his travel agency’s clients – and learns the man’s using a budget travel company to book his trips now. He apologizes and says he’ll come back for their next vacation booking.
Back in his office, Philip informs Stavos that Jeremy booked his trip through someone else. He wants to know what happened and Stavos apologizes for not checking in with Philip before losing the client. Jeremy had a long term relationship with Philip, but Stavos didn’t refer him to Philip even though he kept asking what Philip would think about the travel arrangements Stavos suggested.
Elizabeth and Patrick sit down for lunch in the cafeteria. She watches security guards going table to table and convinces Patrick to eat outside. Patrick reveals a secret, swearing Elizabeth to silence. He says White House Chief of Staff Don Regan has been worried that President Reagan has become forgetful and unfocused. Reagan is misinterpreting what Russia is offering and doesn’t understand what the Russia/America arms deal really entails.
Elizabeth immediately reports in to Claudia, telling her Patrick learned Reagan is going senile. They’re not sure what to do with that information. Paige (Holly Taylor) arrives and Claudia puts on a record by Tchaikovsky.
On their walk home from Claudia’s, Paige asks if their people ever use sex to get information. Paige says she’s reading a book about it, but Elizabeth claims that sex is never used. She tries to cover by saying that sometimes when you’re working a target, a relationship can develop that could lead to something intimate taking place. Lines might be crossed and it’s never black and white.
Later that night, Elizabeth (dressed as Megan) meets General Rennhull in the park. He never wants to see her or any other Russians again, and he refuses to give her the sensor. He claims he’s never been a traitor and had assumed he was doing the right thing last time he met with the Russians. She warns him he’ll be exposed, disgraced, and will go to jail. However, if he brings her the sensor, they’ll never come to him again. It will be over.
Elizabeth gives General Rennhull one more chance to deliver, setting up a meeting for Saturday night. She walks away before he can answer.
Back at Erica’s house, Elizabeth takes photos of Glenn’s work while he’s away from his desk. Erica’s still in immense pain yet she continues to draw. Elizabeth watches as Erica goes through a particularly difficult moment, and then Erica forces Elizabeth to try her hand at drawing.
Henry and Philip have a chat on the phone, and Philip expresses disappointment in Stavos’ handling of the long-time customer they lost. Henry wonders why his dad passed the customer off to Stavos when he’d always been the one booking the family’s trips, and Philip laughs and tells his son he sounds like Stavos.
Paige keeps watch as her mom heads into the park on Saturday night to meet with General Rennhull.
Elizabeth approaches the meeting spot and General Rennhull pulls a gun, declaring he’s not going to jail and he’s not betraying his country. She begs him to not pull the trigger, saying she’s sorry she pushed too far. She sinks to her knees and tells him she’s a mother of two, continuing to beg for her life.
As she talks, Elizabeth takes her purse off her shoulder and sets it on the ground. She springs into action, launching herself at General Rennhull as he fires two shots that miss. They land on the ground, struggling over the gun. Elizabeth gets it under the General’s chin and fires. She winds up with a dead General and a face covered in blood.
Paige races up and Elizabeth yells at her to return to her car and follow the plan. Elizabeth then grabs the gun, picks up her purse, and runs off.
More on The Americans:
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 1 “Dead Hand”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 3 “Urban Transport Planning”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 4 “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 5 “The Great Patriotic War”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 6 “Rififi”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 7 “Harvest”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 8 “The Summit”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 9 “Jennings, Elizabeth”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 10 “Start”